For those who may’ve missed it, China staged a grand military parade with a total of 50 formations and more than 12,000 troops in Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War 2.
While U.S. allies in Asia, like Japan and Taiwan, are paying close attention to the military hardware on display, motorcycle enthusiasts can cast an eye to the two-wheeled escort featured during the event. Clutch and Chrome would never claim this biker-take on the parade comes anywhere near the global importance of the media’s reporting of the event, it does however lead us to an interesting story.
The V-Day military parade was led by 45 units of CFMOTO escort motorcycles. The CFMOTO CF650G motorcycle was selected as the escort motorcycle after China resumed this top protocol arrangement and security measure for visiting foreign leaders in 2014, and has been used 115 times since.
What caught the eye of Clutch and Chrome is a version of this motorcycle available not just in China, but around the world and the pretty warm reviews it’s received.
The 650 NK is the sole CFMOTO model available to riders in many countries; United Kingdom, across Europe, Australia and even in the United States. The powersports manufacturer is world-famous in China and rated as "the best domestic motorcycle" by the nation’s MIIT (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology).
Better known internationally for their All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and Utility Task Vehicle’s (UTV) the lineup does feature this naked sportsbike, the 650 NK.
CFMOTO 650 NK
Reviews from different countries rate this liquid cooled 649.3cc parallel twin, DOHC, 8-valve motorcycle as ‘well-built and well-engineered’. Featuring Ducati EFI with high-tech Nickel Silicon Carbide cylinders, the ride delivers 60.35 HP and 41 lb-ft of torque.
Enjoying a relatively light dry weight of 419 lbs, the riding position has been reported as being top notch as is the quality of its build. And this is where its gets interesting.
All the reviews Clutch and Chrome watched had the same message, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, CFMOTO absolutely love Kawasaki, or more precisely, it’s ER-6n.
‘What CFMOTO did was blatantly take a Kawasaki, dismantle it and copy just about everything,’ one reviewer went as far to say.
Two things, Clutch and Chrome can’t verify that ever happened and as is noted, the Kawasaki ER-6n is a great motorcycle. Kawasaki has since updated that model so the visual cues aren’t so obvious, but when the 2012 ER-6n is placed alongside the 650 NK, the similarities are striking. It jokingly made us wonder if NK in the model name stood for 'Not Kawasaki'.
At the end of the day, none of this matters to most riders. What does is how well it rides and is it priced right? When CFMOTO started distributing this model outside of China in 2013 a reviewer called it a ‘staggeringly good first attempt’.
In all our research, Clutch and Chrome couldn’t find anything but good things said about the motorcycle’s performance and handling. The front brakes were noted as being a little soft, but as was pointed out, at this price-point that could be considered a just picking.
Speaking of price, the CFMOTO 650 NK has a starting MRSP of $5,499 making it less expensive than Kawasaki’s equivalent, leaving riders with the next question of reliability and support.
Established in Hangzhou, China in 1989, CFMOTO has built strong market share in over 60 countries, so the company certainly isn’t going anywhere. With its focus on the U.S. CFMOTO has pulled together a seasoned team for the North American market. According to its website, the corporate focus is about ‘Lasting Value, from initial cost to long-term ownership’.
A quick look at its dealer locater map and it appears the country is pretty well covered with exceptions currently in Nevada and Idaho.
CFMOTO Dealer Network
All this leaves the buying decision resting on the same thing it always does, the rider’s gut-feeling.
As motorcycle sales continuing to strengthen it will be interesting to see how new entries into the motorcycle marketplace such as CFMOTO play out, with both their product as well as the interesting back stories and would-be intrigue.