CFMoto’s Papio isn’t currently offered on the UK market but in other countries it’s sold as a rival to Honda’s MSX125 Grom as a pint-sized fun bike it recently spawned an electric derivative. Now the company is on the verge of launching a retro-inspired version of the machine that looks even more tempting.
Revealed in Chinese type-approval documents, the ‘CF125-8’ carries decals reading ‘Papio XO-1’ – which appears to be the title it will bear in showrooms. It shares the same engine as the standard Papio, CFMoto’s own air-cooled single-cylinder, and the same chassis, but gets different suspension and completely new styling that channels 1980s vibes.
The bike’s specifications give a clue as to why we’re denied the current Papio, as despite its designation as ‘CF125’ it actually has a 126cc engine making 9.4hp at 8,500rpm. That means it’s 1cc too big to qualify for L-plates under European and UK rules, instantly slashing its appeal to customers. It’s a shame, because the Honda Grom has been a success and a lower-priced CFMoto model would surely appeal to plenty of buyers.
The electric Papio Nova, which we scooped last April and was officially unveiled in November, might be the solution to that problem, but we’ll have to wait to see whether it comes to this country when more details of the restructured CFMoto distribution become clear. From this month, KTM has taken over responsibility for importing CFMoto machines to the UK and Ireland.
The Papio XO-1 isn’t electric (yet), but a battery-powered version based around the Papio Nova may well join it when it’s officially launched. The Chinese type-approvals show a machine that has the same 1214mm wheelbase as the normal Papio – that name is a play on the Honda Monkey, by the way, as ‘Papio’ is the genus of ape that baboons occupy – and weighs 114kg ready to ride, again matching the standard Papio.
Where the stock Papio has right-way-up forks, the XO-1 version has upside-down versions, and the rear end is also revised to suit the XO-1’s swingarm-mounted licence plate. The XO-1’s bodywork is also entirely new, dominated by that old-school fairing with twin, circular headlights. They’re modern LED lights, but the style – with the two lights set into a black background – could be straight from a 1985 GSX-R750.
Low, clip-on bars and rear-set footpegs make for a different riding position compared to the standard Papio, which has tall, wide bars and lower pegs mounted further forward, and the fuel tank has the sort of boxy shape that modern bikes have long since eschewed in favour of more complex surfaces. The stepped seat puts the pillion relatively high, and the passenger pegs hang from the subframe instead of mounting on extensions of the rider’s footpeg brackets, as on the normal Papio.
As well as the type-approvals, CFMoto has filed patents related to the new bike that show it from additional angles, including the rear. Here we see that the exhaust, which wraps around the left of the engine rather than running below it, exits from a single, central pipe under the seat. That might be more 1990s than 1980s, but it helps clean up the bike’s appearance.
In countries where it is offered, the standard Papio costs a fraction less than the Honda MSX125 Grom, but unless the company can fractionally reduce the capacity of the engine to slide under the 125cc cut-off point it’s unlikely to be offered here in petrol-powered form.
An electric version is much more suited to Europe, and since bolting the Papio XO-1’s panels, bars and pegs to the battery-powered Papio Nova should be a relatively straightforward job (particularly since the fuel tank appears to be a cosmetic cover), there’s a good chance that when this machine is officially revealed later this year an electric variant will also appear.
We’re not certain at the moment, it will depend on an electric version being made. The current petrol Papio uses a 126cc engine, so it’s a bad fit for EU/UK learner rules, but an electric Papio Nova was shown at EICMA last year (the European reveal suggests it will be on the market in Europe). Since the XO-1 is essentially a bodykitted Papio, it shouldn’t be too hard to translate the same look onto the electric one.
CFMoto is very much into ‘family’ styling – the normal Papio uses the same headlight style as the 300NK, for instance. So, if they’re going ‘retro 1980s’ for the Papio XO-1 then there’s got to be a chance that there will be retro versions of other models (which would also help amortize the development and production costs for those headlights).