2015 CFMoto 650NKS: LAMS Review

Date 30.6.2015

Presented by
  • Motorcycle Trader

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Big-Bore LAMS Test

Learner riders now have great choice with the second generation of large-capacity LAMS bikes. Motorcycle Trader took seven contenders on a 1500km round trip with surprising results. Read the intro here.

Contender #3: CFMoto 650NKS

A reduction in power from the original 52kW at 8500 to 41.5kW has provided CFMoto with a LAMS contender. Our test bike is the ‘S’ version with a low $6490 rideaway price. Made in China, the CFMoto at half the price of other bikes in this class surprises with its comfort performance.

ON THE ROAD

Four of our testers left Motorcycle Trader HQ together on the CFMoto 650NKS, the Suzuki Gladius, Benelli’s BN600S and Yamaha’s Street Triple 660. The surprise in the ‘group of four’ was the CFMoto. It’s fast in a straight line and out-accelerated all but the Triumph. Its 41.5kW coupled with healthy, but unspecified, torque gives it spirited performance but maximum torque isn’t produced until higher up the rev range which had it on the back foot against the bikes with big torque produced lower down.

It also produced the equal top speed of the group. If you see one on the road, don’t take it lightly. They race these at the Isle of Man under their British brand name, WK.

Another plus for the CFMoto is its seat comfort. It’s claimed height of 795cm puts it third lowest in the group and it suits shorter riders. Some riders had minor issues with the angle of the ’bars but there was general agreement that you could put up big distances on this bike with ease.

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CFMoto’s NKS was the heaviest of the bikes and had the least developed suspension. Combined with its CTS tyres, it was the least happy in the fast, twisty sections but wasn’t left behind. Given its price, some of the money you save could go for a replacement shock and better rubber to make the most of its willing engine.

Paradoxically, apart from the Ducati, it looks like the lightest bike in the group and its compact dimensions, including width and seat height, put it second only to the Ducati Monster for shorter riders.

The CFMoto 650NKS is $800 cheaper than its brother in the LAMS range, the 650NK. The ‘S’ model has CTS tyres rather than the Continentals on the NK and slightly different instruments and brakes. With a competitive engine, a comfortable ride and the same warranty as every other bike in its class, plenty of new riders will probably be asking why they should pay more.

The CTS tyres were fine for our purposes but didn’t inspire confidence. Long term, the Continentals on the NK would provide more security. If you’re just getting to your job and back or going to uni, the cheaper bike is definitely an option.

Don’t forget, it’s as fast as anything in its class even if it uses a little more fuel. Oh, and its $6490 price is ride away, no more to pay – considerably less than half the price of the more expensive bikes in the group.

What really matters about the performance of all of the test bikes is, at normal road speeds, they all have plenty in reserve for overtaking and it makes them safer in that they can do it quickly with composure.

STYLING

The 650NKS stands apart with flashes of both classic and modern styling. It looks impressive from most angles but it has the least presence of all the bikes while you’re sitting on it and looking forward. It gives you the impression that the other manufacturers have tried harder to reward the rider and the flexible instrument/headlight shroud doesn’t help. It will probably be there forever, though, and minimalism is fast becoming the new black.

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Older members of the MT crew preferred the Kawasaki and the Suzuki to the moderns but What everyone was unanimous about, though, was, for new riders, the old-fashioned analogue dials were much easier to read than the ‘modern’ digital ones.

The 650NKS stands apart with flashes of both classic and modern styling.

Read more on the LAMS review contenders:

LAMS review intro
Ducati Monster 659
Triumph Street Triple 660
Suzuki Gladius 650
Benelli BN600S
Kawasaki ER-6nL
Yamaha MT-07


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