CFMOTO breaks into the real-world sports category with more capacity and a sexy set of clothes. At a competitive $7990 rideaway, is the CFMOTO 450SR enough to convince the conservative nay-sayers? Snaggy jets to the other side of the planet to find out…
What we like:
- Super modern bodywork
- Well priced
- Likely category leader
Room for improvement:
- More tech please
- Taller riders will struggle to fit
- A touch more power please
So, the scenario put to me when asked to review the all-new CFMOTO 450SR in Turkey wasn’t immediately as attractive as it might look on paper.
Cop this lot. 28 hours in economy transit to ride a racetrack I’ve never seen, in torrential weather, then 28 hours back, three days later. Just to spice the mix was the fact that this was to represent the first time I was stepping back on a track since breaking 11 bones at McNamara Park and undergoing 18 months of intensive rehab to regain some semblance of Snag-normality. Ooh, can I? Please?
Yes. That was the equation laid before me in order to attend the global launch of CFMOTO’s lightweight sports offering, the 450SR.
But, with zero hesitation I eagerly accepted the invitation. Huh?
Am I going soft in the bonce you ask? Well, yes, but that’s not important now. Fact is I was excited to be the sole Australian invitee to the global launch of what represents the genesis of a brand’s serious entry into a segment in which I fully expect it to compete strongly, and perhaps even come to dominate, all in pretty short order.
Indeed, this is the sort of opportunity that gets an old moto journo’s spidey-sense tingling. I really like the idea of lightweight motorcycles that offer a degree of real performance and I’m certainly intrigued by relative newcomers. The bait was all there.
More than that, I happen to know that big things are in the wings at CFMOTO. Like (looks around furtively), come closer… My little sparrows suggest a 1000cc, V-four is coming, but you didn’t hear it from me. Hang on, yes, you did.
Yes, ignore CFMOTO at your peril.
Read my lips. This brand is here to stay and the hardware, along with the supporting network is now at the level that demands global attention. So, that’s what we are giving it – our professional focus. That’s why I rushed to get on the plane and be part of the global phenomenon that this bike represents.
OK. That’s the setup. What about the bike in question? So glad you asked.
The SR lights the wick on a candle that I predict will grow in years to come, but also one that is relatively new to showroom placement, so it simply had to be pretty. We buy with our eyes first and the bike gets a big Snaggy-tick on that front. GP-inspired winglets take centre stage and are claimed to impart two kilograms of downforce to the front end at 120kmh. But they look grouse and I reckon that’s gonna count for lots more than any physical assistance. All day.
All that sexy body work can be sheeted home to the brand’s concept SR-C21 first seen at EICMA in 2021. Now, concept bikes are fun, but almost always become shadows of their original swoopy designs and suggested performance. It’s rare that designers and engineers remain on the same page. Building a bike that has to meet usage and regulatory restrictions normally sees a pale iteration of the, usually non-running showcase unit wobble into the marketplace.
Well, refreshingly the 450SR has remained pretty faithful to the concept. It’s a looker and sets a bit of a new standard in the category. Very pretty indeed.
It’s small, both compact in its footprint, and tight at the controls. Of course, the 179kg wet weight had to be achieved somehow, and it wastes no space. Larger riders will feel the tuck but think similar dimensions to sporty 250s of the past and you’ll be on the mark. Getting under the paint was a bit of a task on the track and a tight tuck is imperative to get the most from the 449cc parallel twin’s 34.5kW at a very revvy 10,000rpm.
To help with those tight ergos, three seat heights are available to tailor your posture here – 795mm/785mm/815mm with 795mm job the standard equipment.
Back to performance. Truth is, I was on the limiter fairly regularly – even in the horrendously wet conditions at Istanbul’s Intercity Park.
Incidentally, 190kmh is the claimed top speed on the SR, and while that seems a touch optimistic to me, it’s in the ballpark.
Brakes seemed fine, with nice feel, but I’d be lying if I said I put them to a real test with the sheets of still water laying in wait to upset the day for the overzealous tester at the track. The hardware differs from the concept’s dual setup, with a single 320mm disc and a four-pot radial caliper. It’s still a Brembo arrangement, supported by Bosch ABS.
There’s a 5-inch TFT curved display and the bike comes with the brand’s ‘T-box’ which offers including navigation; track lap times, ride history and statistics; remote vehicle status, including a fuel indicator; the ability to conduct over-the-air software updates; new security features, including movement sensors, vehicle location and even set up a virtual electric fence to alert you of vehicle movement or theft.
Drivetrain dynamics are highlight. Gearbox shifts are effortless – hot knife through butter kinda slick. Top marks there. I’d love to see the bike fitted with a quickshifter, but price dictates that the electronics suite that the bike really would benefit from, are not fitted. A trick traction control setup would lift the SR into another realm, but also add weight and significant pricing increases. I suspect the next iteration will get these sophistications, but the idea is likely to get bums on saddles with the price attraction that this first 450 offers in spades.
Oh, by the way, customers who pre-order and place a $500 deposit during the promotion period will receive over $650 worth of free Genuine CFMOTO 450SR accessories with their motorcycle delivery in April.
So… The lightweight sports category gets new life. For we oldies, think how much fun the Honda VFR400 offered. Light, easy to deal with power and a competitive price. That bike became a track day and Sunday blast favourite, and CFMOTO looks to be superbly positioned to exploit those very factors all over again. They are going to sell, in pretty big numbers.
And keep your eyes peeled for that 1000cc V-four…
Snag’s career in motoring journalism spans 29 years with stints at major bike mags Australian Road Rider, Motorcycle Trader and AMCN along with contributions to just about every other outlet worth a hill of beans. He was editor of Unique Cars magazine and hosts his legendary podcast ‘Snag Says’ when he gets off his date.