We’ve all known it would happen sooner or later, but now the inevitable has finally occurred. And I made a mental note of it: On a crystal clear Australian fall day in April 2012 in the Victorian country town of Broadford, just north of Melbourne, I came face to face with the future of global motorcycling when I spent half a day aboard a bike called the CFMoto 650NK. This is China’s long-awaited debut middleweight motorcycle (or long-feared, depending on if you’re a customer, or a competitor), the first ‘real’ bike to emanate from the world’s largest motorcycle market that is the People’s Republic.
As such, it’s a first rung on the climb up the engine displacement ladder that’s certain to fuel an increasingly irresistible attack on Western markets by Chinese manufacturers. Powered by a DOHC parallel-twin eight-valve motor with 180-degree crankshaft (so, one piston up/one down), chain camdrive and a gear-driven counter-balancer to smooth out the vibes, there’s no denying that this is a pretty direct rip-off of a Kawasaki ER-6n, even down to the overall styling. But it’s the first motorcycle to come out of China with an engine larger than 250cc and, after riding it, I’m convinced: it’s a game changer.
For the complete test on the CFMoto, click here.