Nick has been out putting some KM on the CFMOTO 650MT staff bike since lockdown lifted. Check out how he thought the bike handled various different terrains... Words: Nick Ware.
It’s been about a month since my last check in with the 2021 CFMOTO 650MT and with NSW lockdowns easing across the state, I’ve finally been able to get out and see what this thing can really do with a decent adventure ride outside of my LGA, as well as more road miles.
I was stoked to hear we’d be heading out for a proper bush ride, as the recently fitted Avon Trailriders had seen nothing but tarmac and a few short fire trails over the last month or so. Check out our first impressions and full Trailriders review here. With state-wide lockdowns, the bike has barely left the basement – bar a few runs to work and back to keep the battery charged! I was more than ready to get out for the day and see how the bike holds up with some serious dirt and big bore adventure bikes.
See all our updates on the 650MT staff bike here…
We planned a 200km loop out through Ourimbah State Forest and Red Hill Road where we’d jump on the gravel tracks out to St Albans, grab a drink and some lunch and loop back around. With me on the 650MT, Jeff on the 2021 Harley Davidson Pan America and Mike on his WR250R, I was definitely at the bottom of the scale in terms of suspension travel, traction and horsepower!
I wasn’t particularly worried, the travel on the 650MT had impressed me in previous rides and I knew the Avon’s would hold their own no problem. I packed the SHAD hard panniers full of water and three fresh bananas (remember this one for later) and we were off around 7:00am.
The ride up through the State Forest was very rough and severely rutted after the recent rains, the millions of lifted Nissan Patrols and LandCruisers didn’t help much either. Honestly, it didn’t give me much hope for the rest of the ride and the 650MT really struggled to keep up with the bigger bikes over 50-60km/h. Looking back, I think I was just expecting a little too much from the primarily tarmac designed bike. The WR250 and Pan America were gone, and I gave up chasing and settled down, waited for the dust to clear and began picking my lines a little more carefully.
The bar risers I’d installed a few months earlier really helped when standing, I was at the perfect angle and could putt around fairly slowly and methodically, avoiding the bigger ruts in an attempt to save the front forks and rear shock. After slowing down and choosing the lines I’d take – rather than just floating like Mike and Jeff and letting the suspension do its thing – I really started to enjoy the ride. It was slow – around 60-70km/h tops – but a lot of fun.
As the roads smoothed out, the 650MT really came to life. I’d started to doubt its capabilities in the rougher trails, but once we’d hit the gravel roads the bike really proved its worth. It was stable and comfortable, and I started to understand what the suspension was capable of and what it wasn’t. The smaller ruts and bumps on the average gravel road were soaked up with ease and the grip provided by the Avon’s was absolutely unreal.
On the dirt, it’s so predictable and really increases your confidence off-road. The ABS was great and was working like to crazy. The Avon’s were beautiful and would lock back in like they were on rails after holding a nice big slide out of a corner.
After arriving at St Albans, we took our much-needed lunch break, I enjoyed my banana smoothie courtesy of SHAD Panniers and Ourimbah State Forest. I stupidly put them in there loose! Rookie mistake. Now on the ride back I started really pushing the bike, I really wanted to see what it could do. I only had two “Oh Sh$%” moments, where the back slid out a little too far, but a leg down and some counter steering stabilised and kept me off the dirt. The run back on the gravel roads was quick and the throttle was wide-open but I was nervous for the ruts. The poor bike bottomed out more times than I could count and I’m fairly sure I’ll be feeling it in my lower back in a few years, but it held up and got me home with a massive grin on my face.
The CFMOTO 650MT really is as tough as they come. It’s unbreakable.
We were pulling out of Ourimbah State Forest when I noticed the coolant dripping from the front forks and down onto the ground. I couldn’t believe it; I’d put the poor thing through hell for five hours. I was sure it’d overheated, blown a hose or cracked the head, but, as I should have known, it was just the coolant reservoir cap that had popped off during one of the spine crushing bottom outs and sprayed a bit over the front forks. The CFMOTO 650MT really is as tough as they come. It’s unbreakable.
Now I’m not one to recommend a bike based on longevity, but man, I put that thing through hell and it is still like brand new. Not once did it stop, get hot, not start or not get me where the serious off-roaders went. It’s a top bike and has seriously proved it’s worth. I’d recommend the Avon’s on it before you even leave the shop, a set of bar risers and the panniers and you’re set. I guarantee you’ll love it. I’ll check back in next month with another update!
CFMOTO 650MT WISH LIST:
Custom Seat (Taller)
2021 CFMOTO PROJECT 650MT ABS Specifications
Price: $7490 Ride-Away
Warranty: Two years/unlimited kilometre (currently extended to three years)
Colours: Athens Blue or Nebula White
Claimed power: 41.5kw [55.6hp]@9,500rpm (LAMS Restricted)
Claimed torque: 62Nm [45.72ftlb]@7,000rpm
Dry weight: 213kg
Fuel capacity: 18L
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, eight-valve, parallel-twin four-stroke, 180-degree crankshaft, 649.3cc, Bosch Fuel injection, dual 38mm throttles bodies, Unifilter airfiler, Castrol oil Gearbox: Six speed
Clutch: Multiplate wet Final drive: Sealed chain
Chassis: Tubular steel diamond frame employing engine as fully-stressed member, extruded steel swingarm with tubular steel bracing, handlebar riders, SHAD luggage system
Suspension: USD fork, adjustable, travel 140mm, cantilever monoshock, preload adjustable, travel 145mm
Brakes: Continental ABS, dual 300mm steel rotors, twin-piston calipers, 240mm rear rotor, single-piston caliper
Wheels & Tyres: 120/70ZR17, 3.5 x 17 MT alloy (f) and 160/60ZR17, 4.5 x 17 MT alloy (r) Avon Trailrider
Seat height: 840mm
Instruments: LCD display