Best Lightweight / Entry-Level Motorcycle of 2022: CFMoto 700 CL-X
After years of KTM owning this class with its 390 Duke and (390 Adventure), there’s a new kid in town – new in the US, anyway – in the form of the CFMoto 700 CL-X. It’s only fitting, really, since CFMoto’s Chinese manufacturer and KTM have a decade-long history together. That same Chinese OEM had a pre-existing relationship with Kawasaki also, and if CFMoto’s 700 CL-X isn’t powered by an engine eerily similar to a Versys 650 parallel Twin, I will eat my cat. In fact, the 700 CL-X is powered by a Versys twin that’s been stroked by 4mm, to 83 x 64mm dimensions – a thing Kawasaki’s never had the decency to do. That takes it to 693 cubic centimeters, and a claimed output of 74 hp at 8,500 rpm (and 48 lb-ft at 6,500 revs). Which makes this one a tad larger than our usual Lightweight winners, but for $6,399, how can you not supersize it?
It feels almost as fast as a Yamaha MT-07 blasting down the ⅓-mile front straight at the “testing facility” CFMoto took us to on day one of our little press junket, near their lovely hometown of Plymouth, Minnesota. Not only is it a sweet little engine, the rest of the package is surprisingly nice, too: CF is on a mission to change minds about Chinese motorcycles, and after our brief encounter with, I think, seven of its new bikes, I’d say it’s well on its way. The new 790 KTM-powered 800 Adventura is even more impressive, but wasn’t available in time for this year’s MOBOs.