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CFMoto 800MT Sport (2024) – Review

By Martin Fitz-Gibbons

Riding for over 20 years and a journalist for most of them, MFG's two-wheeled experience is as long and as broad as his forehead. Owns an MV Agusta Turismo Veloce and a Suzuki SV650S, and is one half of biking podcast Front End Chatter.

Posted:

30.05.2024

Price

£8599

Power

90bhp

Weight

231kg

Overall BikeSocial rating

3/5

 

Flagship adventurers regularly top £20,000, mid-range roadsters are now north of £10,000, and even some 125s cost more than £5000. Perhaps it’s time to think outside the box in the search for a canny new-bike bargain, to look beyond familiar brands – and even familiar countries. Perhaps it’s time to start taking Chinese motorcycles seriously.

CFMoto may be relatively unknown in the UK, but they have a global presence: over 4000 dealers spread across more than 100 countries and regions, with four dedicated R&D centres. They’ve been making motorcycle parts since the 1980s, entire bikes since the 90s, and have had a successful partnership with KTM since the early 2010s. In fact, they’re now so trusted by the Austrian firm that they actually build their 790 Duke and 790 Adventure models, as well as supply the engines for Husqvarna’s new Svartpilen 801.

CFMoto also build and sell an expanding range of bikes under their own name – bikes that are now being distributed across Europe by KTM’s parent company, Pierer Mobility. And, as a result, it’s a range of bikes you’ll find in an increasing number of UK dealers. At the top of that lineup sits the 800MT: a 90bhp twin-cylinder all-rounder boasting a price tag that significantly undercuts any equivalent Japanese or European rival. So, is this the breakthrough moment, the first time a big bike from a Chinese brand combines a convincing, capable package with unmatched value for money? We spent a week with one to find out. 

Pros
  • At least £1000 cheaper than any Japanese or European rival

  • Comes with cruise control as standard

  • Four-year warranty and 18,000-mile valve-clearance checks

Cons
  • No traction control or quickshifter

  • Throttle response is jerky in lower gears

  • Overall sense of refinement and sophistication still a step behind

2024 CFMoto 800MT Sport - Price

Let’s get straight to the important bit: the CFMoto 800MT Sport costs £8599 on the road. That’s £1100 less than a Suzuki V-Strom 800RE, and nearly £1500 cheaper than a Triumph Tiger 850 Sport. We’re not talking pocket change here – they’re some serious savings.

To dive a little deeper, the 800MT isn’t a single model but three. There’s the Sport, the base model we’re testing here, which comes with cast wheels and a relatively stripped-down spec. Above it sits the 800MT Touring (£9199), which includes spoked wheels, a two-way quickshifter, handguards, a centre stand and more. At the top of the trio is the 800MT Explorer (£11,990), with higher-spec rider aids including six riding modes, tyre pressure monitoring, traction control and even a rear-facing radar.

But if you’re not swayed by fancy tech and simply want a solid do-it-all bike for rock-bottom money, this Sport version is where to start. And its pricing seems just as attractive if you’re looking at buying on PCP finance. You can ride away on a new 800MT Sport for just £89 a month, as we write this review in May 2024. You’ll need to put down a deposit of £1489.75, and it leaves an optional final payment of £4207.50 after three years if you want to keep it. That’s all based on riding 4000 miles per year, with the interest rate a competitive 4.9% APR.

2024 CFMoto 800MT Sport - Engine & Performance

The 800MT is powered by a CFMoto-built version of KTM’s 799cc parallel twin. It’s a motor we first met in the 790 Duke back in 2017. All the fundamentals are unchanged: same bore and stroke, same 285° crank, same internal gear ratios. Performance, however, is reduced. The 800MT Sport claims peak power of 90bhp at 9250rpm, with peak torque of 55lb·ft at 8000rpm. For a 2024 UK-market 790 Duke, it’s 94bhp and 64lb·ft – not much between them for top-end power, but a sizeable difference in midrange torque.

And on the road, you do notice the missing grunt. Below 6000rpm or so there’s gentle, easy, fairly linear drive, but the 800MT’s motor is happiest with some revs under its belt. Keep the rpm up and it returns a decent turn of pace – there’s plenty of speed in the engine, but its power delivery makes you work for it. Sportier-minded riders will love it; others might find it a bit frustrating that you can’t just leave it in a high gear and let the motor lug you along in the way, say, Suzuki’s V-Strom 800 can.

Vibration is well-managed from tick over through to the redline, thanks to a pair of balance shafts cancelling out the worst of the unpleasant tingles and lumpiness. Throttle response is rather herky-jerky however, especially riding slowly in the lower gears, and you can feel some hunting on a steady throttle at cruising speed. Neither are terrible problems, but they are both noticeable. They’re also both especially curious given how lusciously smooth and refined the same motor feels in the current 790 Duke as well as the latest Husqvarna 801 Svartpilen. Clearly “same motor” doesn’t necessarily mean the same mapping, or quite the same sense of refinement.

The lever action for the 800MT’s slipper clutch is light enough, and the gearbox shifts easily and positively, though there isn’t a quickshifter. More surprisingly, there isn’t an option to add one as an accessory either. It’s doubly peculiar given the 800MT Touring and Explore both come with a two-way quickshifter as standard. So the tech exists, it’s just not available to add separately to this entry-level Sport model.

There are two riding modes – Sport and Rain – but, unusually for the class, the 800MT doesn’t have any traction control. Again, there’s a system on the top-of-the-range Explore version, but not the Sport or Touring models.

Cruise control, however, is included as standard. It works from 4th gear up above 25mph, though it does feel like a slightly crude system – you can’t push the throttle forward to cancel it, and it has a habit of wavering around your target speed by a couple of mph either way. It’s definitely a welcome feature when you do need to cover distance, and it’s especially impressive given so few rivals even offer it as an option, but it’s not the slickest cruise system out there.

 

2024 CFMoto 800MT Sport- Handling & Suspension (inc. Weight)

On the move, the 800MT steers steadily, with a surprising sense of heft at the bars. Claimed kerb weight is 231kg, a bit chunkier than the class average, and weight feels like it’s carried quite high up. Into corners it’s precise, tracking the course you set without having any ideas of its own, but it’s definitely not the most responsive or agile steering. For an 800cc machine, it needs a bit more time and effort to change direction than you might initially expect. Perhaps that’s something to do with the chassis’ extremely relaxed 28° rake angle.

Suspension is by KYB and boasts impressive adjustability. The forks can be tweaked for preload as well as both rebound (left leg) and compression (right leg) damping. The shock has preload adjustment, via a pair of locking nuts (no remote handwheel, sadly), plus a rebound damping adjuster at the bottom of the shock. The ride quality is mostly fine, though it can stray into feeling harsh over sharper bumps. There’s 160mm of travel at the front and 150mm at the rear, so it’s definitely an adventure bike with a small ‘a’ – it doesn’t have the clearance or the bump absorption to do any tricky Ténéré-style off-roading.

Wheels are cast, with its 19in front and 17in rear wearing road-focused Maxxis MaxxVenture tyres in conventional sizes. Brakes are by J.Juan, with four-piston radial calipers at the front which, surprisingly, are backed up by a lean-sensitive cornering ABS system. Bite and power are both good, if not quite up with the best setups in the class.

Beneath all the bodywork, the 800MT uses a tubular steel frame and bolt-on subframe which both look, to our untrained eyes, an awful lot like the equivalent parts from a KTM 790 Adventure – though we can’t say for sure how closely related they really are.

2024 CFMoto 800MT Sport - Comfort & Economy

The 800MT Sport might be described by some riders as a middleweight, but it feels like a physically large machine. The seat is tall, feeling higher than its claimed 825mm, as well as fairly wide towards the front where it meets the fuel tank. This design choice brings both good (a broad, spacious, supportive seat) and bad (not the easiest for a shorter rider to get their feet down).

The riding triangle between bars, seat and pegs all feels very roomy, and you definitely get the sense you’re sat inside the bike, rather than perched on top of it. As such the wind protection is pretty decent too, especially with the adjustable-height windshield set to its highest position. The mechanism to adjust the screen height isn’t the slickest – it uses a pair of handscrews on both sides of the screen, which means you need both hands to raise the screen, hold it in place and retighten the screws, so you can’t change it while riding. But, once it’s pulled as high as it goes, it gives a pretty decent-sized shelter to get behind.

Combined with the cruise control and an engine that’s pretty smooth in top gear at motorway speeds, the 800MT Sport actually munches miles pretty effectively. It offers a decent range too, thanks to having a 19.2-litre fuel tank, and claimed economy of just over 50mpg. Our testing put it slightly lower at 48.6mpg, but that’s still good enough for a theoretical range of over 200 miles.

2024 CFMoto 800MT Sport - Equipment

The difference between “cheap” and “good value” is how much you get for your money. When it comes to the 800MT Sport the standard spec list is kinda curious: very impressive in some areas; but also surprisingly lacking in others.

As with all bikes now, we need to consider both the physical and the electrical. In terms of metal and plastic parts, the standard 800MT Sport comes with everything you see in the pictures. So as standard you get the engine crash bars, as well as a rear rack and pannier-mounting rails, but no hard luggage. That’s sold separately, a three-piece set of metal boxes costing £1168.99. It also comes with LED fog lights, controlled from a button on the left bar. And within the cockpit there are two USB charging sockets as well as a 12-volt, cigarette-lighter style power socket. On the flip side, you don’t get handguards or a centre stand.

As far as gadgets and rider aids goes, as mentioned previously there are two riding modes, cornering ABS and cruise control all included as standard. The dash is a good-size 7in colour TFT unit, and the layout offers speed, revs, gear position and fuel gauge all pretty clearly. The downsides are that glare makes it hard to read when the sun’s behind you, and once you start diving into the various menus and sub-menus navigating it all doesn’t seem especially intuitive. You also don’t get any form of traction control, nor heated grips, nor a quickshifter – and none of these are available to add as optional accessories.

Which brings us to perhaps one of the areas where the 800MT is most obviously lacking: its official list of CFMoto-made bolt-on goodies is best described as ‘modest’, verging on ‘lacking’. Perhaps it’ll grow in time; or perhaps it’s deliberately sparse in a bid to entice customers into picking the more-expensive 800MT Touring and Explore models instead.

 

2024 CFMoto 800MT Sport - Rivals

At first it might seem like KTM’s 790 Adventure would be the most obvious rival, given both use the same engine and both are built by CFMoto. But it isn’t really. The 800MT has little to no off-road ambition – at least, nowhere near as much as the KTM. Instead this is a road-focused all-rounder, with its cast wheels, 19in front, lack of long-travel suspension and keen pricing.

With that in mind, there are a number of other bikes that make much more directly comparable rivals. Think Suzuki’s new-for-2024 V-Strom 800RE, a similar-capacity parallel twin designed squarely for road use and stonking value. Or Triumph’s Tiger 850 Sport, which offers reduced spec and performance than the rest of the Tiger 900 range, but for a lot less money. Or BMW’s recently overhauled F800GS, which just scrapes a sub-£10k starting price and promises to be an accessible, relatively affordable all-round adventurer.

All three bikes come in at £1000 to £1500 more than the 800MT Sport, and the spec differs slightly from bike to bike. But if you’re looking for a comfortable, upright, manageable mid-range machine offering similar levels of performance and practicality, these are the three bikes setting the standard that the 800MT has to live up to.

Suzuki V-Strom 800RE | Price: £9,699

Read more
Power/Torque

83bhp/58lb-ft

Weight

223Kg (Claimed, Kerb)

Triumph Tiger 850 Sport | Price: £10,095

Read more
Power/Torque

84bhp/60lb-ft

Weight

192kg (claimed, dry)

BMW F800GS | Price: £9995

Read more
Power/Torque

86bhp/67lb-ft

Weight

227kg (Claimed, kerb)

2024 CFMoto 800MT Sport - Verdict

The 800MT Sport is a good bike, at a genuinely intriguing price, that’s just missing a final coat of development polish. There’s nothing fundamentally amiss anywhere, just a few rough edges, a couple of small irritations and a handful of odd choices. In its favour is its spacious comfort, strong top-end power, and four-year warranty. There are even some specific areas where the 800MT is superior to every other bike in its class, such as standard-fit cruise control and cornering ABS. The fact you can ride away on a 90bhp bike that’s this versatile for just £89 a month, means it’s well worthy of consideration.

With all that said, it’s also true that the 800MT’s overall refinement and sophistication isn’t on the same level as its European and Japanese equivalents. The throttle response isn’t as smooth, the suspension isn’t as plush, the steering isn’t as easy, the dash isn’t as intuitive to navigate. It’s all close – probably far closer than most riders would expect a bike from a Chinese brand to be – but objectively it’s still a step behind.

So, is the CFMoto 800MT Sport the best-value new bike on sale in 2024? Probably not, unfortunately. Ridden back-to-back with Suzuki’s V-Strom 800RE (check out our imminent group test video on the Bennetts BikeSocial YouTube channel), all three testers concluded that the Japanese bike’s £1100 premium (or its extra £20 a month) is worth paying for.

But if you think there’s a gaping chasm between the riding experience offered by Chinese-made bikes and more familiar brands, well, that’s simply not true in this case. The 800MT is impressive, will comfortably defy most riders’ expectations, and proves the gap is closing at an astonishing rate of knots.

If you’d like to chat about this article or anything else biking related, join us and thousands of other riders at the Bennetts BikeSocial Facebook page.

2024 CFMoto 800MT Sport - Technical Specification

New price£8599
Capacity799cc
Bore x Stroke88mm x 65.7mm
Engine layoutParallel twin
Engine details8-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled
Power90bhp (67kW) @ 9250rpm
Torque55lb·ft (75Nm) @ 8000rpm
Transmission6-speed, chain final drive
Average fuel consumption50.4mpg (claimed) / 48.6mpg (tested)
Tank size19.2 litres
Max range to empty205 miles
Rider aidsCornering ABS, cruise control
FrameTubular steel
Front suspension43mm KYB upside-down forks
Front suspension adjustmentPreload, rebound and compression
Rear suspensionKYB monoshock
Rear suspension adjustmentPreload and rebound
Front brake2 x 320mm discs, four-piston J.Juan radial calipers. Cornering ABS
Rear brake260mm disc, two-piston J.Juan caliper. Cornering ABS
Front wheel / tyre110/80 R19 Maxxis MaxxVenture MA1
Rear wheel / tyre150/70 R17 Maxxis MaxxVenture MA1
Wheelbase1531mm
Seat height825mm
Weight231kg (claimed, kerb)
Warranty4 years
Servicing9000 miles, valve clearances at 18,000
MCIA Secured RatingN/A
Websitewww.cfmoto-motorcycle.eu

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars (three stars for bikes of 125cc or less), based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard

  • An ignition immobiliser system

  • A vehicle marking system

  • An alarm system

  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.