2022 CFMOTO 700CL-X | Road Test Review

CFMOTO 700CL-X
The CFMOTO 700CL-X is a naked middleweight with a mix of scrambler, street tracker, and sportbike styling elements, and it’s an absolute hoot to ride. (Photos by Kevin Wing)

Last summer I traveled to Minnesota, home of the CFMOTO U.S. headquarters, to test the company’s new lineup of motorcycles. On a flat, paved, tar-snaked road course at the Minnesota Highway Safety & Research Center, about a dozen journalists and influencers buzzed around on bikes ranging from the 125cc Papio minibike to the 800 ADVentura adventure bike.

Related: 2022 CFMOTO Motorcycle Lineup | First Ride Review

Launches featuring multiple bikes are like eating at a buffet: You get to taste a little bit of everything, but you don’t get the full experience of a dedicated entree. After the day at the track, I logged 350 miles on the 650 ADVentura, an affordable, middleweight adventure-styled touring bike with saddlebags, and I got to know the bike better.

But the CFMOTO I kept thinking about was the 700CL-X, a feisty middleweight naked bike with scrambler styling.

CFMOTO 700CL-X

At the end of the trackday, when all the photography was done and we were given free reign, I hopped aboard the 700CL-X and played cat-and-mouse with two of my fellow scribes. John Burns was on the 800 ADVentura, and Ron Lieback was on the 650NK naked bike.

Related: 2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura | First Ride Review

Our bikes were like the Three Bears. Papa Bear was the 800 ADVentura, with a 799cc parallel-Twin that cranks out 95 hp with a curb weight of 509 lb. Mama Bear was the 700CL-X, with a 693cc parallel-Twin that makes 74 hp and weighing 426 lb. Though hardly a toddler like CFMOTO’s Papio, Baby Bear was the 650NK with a 649cc parallel-Twin that makes 60 hp and has a weight of 454 lb.

CFMOTO 700CL-X

Try as we might, with pegs scraped and boot soles beveled, we could not break ranks. We’d bunch up in the corners, but John and I protected our lines so there were no chances to overtake. We’d draft each other heading onto the front straight and then pull three abreast with the throttles pinned, but there was no fighting the displacement advantage. Burns would pull ahead of me, and Lieback would be on my six, filling my mirrors.

Chasing buddies around a track for bragging rights over beers is always fun, but beyond that, I was really digging the 700CL-X. A wide, upright tubular handlebar gives it good steering leverage, and its light weight made it easy to throw into a corner or weave around the chicanes made of traffic cones. The real kicker was the 700CL-X’s throttle response. In Sport mode, giving it the whip revved up the Twin, and at around 7,000 rpm, there was a loud below from the exhaust and a surge in thrust, almost like V-Boost on the old Yamaha V-Max. Having a $6,499 motorcycle deliver that sort of thrill took me by surprise, and I wondered, What is this thing?

CFMOTO 700CL-X

CFMOTO 101

Although well-established in the U.S. market in the ATV and side-by-side segments, CFMOTO is not a familiar brand for most American motorcyclists. Founded in 1989, the Chinese company’s first decade was focused on supplying parts, components, and engines to major powersports manufacturers. In 2000, CFMOTO began building motorcycles, scooters, and off-road vehicles.

Related: Chris Peterman, CFMOTO USA | Ep. 40 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

CFMOTO has been selling its off-road vehicles in the U.S. since 2002, and after gaining a solid foothold in that market, it established its U.S. headquarters near Minneapolis. In 2012, CFMOTO began importing motorcycles to the U.S., but it met with limited success and pulled out a few years later. Reviews of CFMOTO’s motorcycles were generally positive, but American buyers are averse to new brands. Furthermore, many view Chinese-made motorcycles as being of inferior quality to those made in Japan, Europe, or the U.S.

CFMOTO 700CL-X

Thanks to its well-established production expertise and capacity, in 2014 CFMOTO entered a strategic partnership with KTM and began manufacturing 200 Dukes and 390 Dukes for the Chinese market. In 2018, the two companies started a joint venture that allows CFMOTO to license and manufacture some of KTM’s engines. CFMOTO’s 800 ADVentura is powered by the 799cc LC8c parallel-Twin from KTM’s 790 Adventure. Starting in 2023, KTM’s parent company Pierer Mobility will distribute CFMOTO’s motorcycles in some European markets, an arrangement similar to the recent announcement that KTM North America will soon take over distribution of MV Agusta motorcycles in the U.S.

CFMOTO 700CL-X
The 693cc parallel-Twin is held in place by a tubular chromoly-steel frame. Machined finishes are a nice touch.

While brand or country of origin are important for some buyers, others place a higher priority on style, performance, price, reliability, and dealer experience/proximity. With an MSRP of $6,499, the 700CL-X offers good value and is less expensive than other middleweight naked bikes like the Honda CB650R ($9,299), Kawasaki Z650 ABS ($8,249), Suzuki SV650 ABS ($7,849), Triumph Trident 660 ($8,395), and Yamaha MT-07 ($8,199). The 700CL-X is covered by a two-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, and CFMOTO has about 200 motorcycle dealers in the U.S.

Here’s Lookin’ at You

CFMOTO 700CL-X
A tall, wide tapered aluminum handlebar gives the 700CL-X good steering leverage, and its solid chassis holds a line well.

Through its partnership with KTM, CFMOTO’s motorcycles are styled by Kiska. With its minimalist profile, tubular handlebar, bobtail with a one-piece seat, Y-spoke cast wheels with an 18-inch front, and Pirelli MT60 semi-knobby tires, the 700CL-X has the stance of a street tracker. Retro touches include a round headlight, a round gauge cluster, a single front disc, and a stubby exhaust shaped like a Foster’s Oil Can. One can see hints of the Ducati Scrambler in the 700CL-X’s tubular-steel frame, brushed aluminum tank panels, swingarm-mounted license plate carrier, and machined finishes on its engine’s faux cooling fins.

CFMOTO 700CL-X
Y-spoke cast-aluminum wheels are shod with Pirelli MT60 semi-knobby tires that provide good grip.

With the exception of its switchgear and the layout of its LCD instrument panel, the 700CL-X doesn’t look cheap, and its fit and finish are on par with more expensive bikes. It is illuminated front and rear by LEDs, and it has a unique, bright-white headlight surround shaped like one of those Craftsman four-way flathead screwdrivers I used to have on my keychain. The turnsignals are self-canceling, the clutch and brake levers are adjustable for reach, the brake lines are steel braided, and the cleated footpegs have removable rubber inserts.

CFMOTO 700CL-X
Embedded within the unique star-shaped headlight surround is a white LED daytime running light.

Motorcycles at this price point are usually limited to basic features, but the 700CL-X has throttle-by-wire with two ride modes (Eco and Sport), a slip/assist clutch, standard ABS, and cruise control. Most notable, in a class where the most one can typically hope for is spring preload adjustment, often only at the rear, the 700CL-X has a fully adjustable 41mm inverted KYB fork and a linkage-mounted KYB shock with a progressive spring rate and adjustable preload and rebound. Brakes are supplied by J.Juan (a Brembo subsidiary in Spain), with a radial-mount 4-piston front caliper squeezing a 320mm disc and a 2-piston rear caliper pinching a 260mm disc.

CFMOTO 700CL-X
A very tidy tail.

Time to Ride

The 700CL-X is very approachable. Its dished seat is 31.5 inches high and provides decent support. The bike feels compact and light, and the tall handlebar allows the rider to sit mostly upright. Thumb the starter, and the CFMOTO’s 693cc DOHC parallel-Twin burbles to life, settling into a syncopated rumble. The engine compresses fuel and air with forged pistons that move up and down via fracture-split connecting rods.

CFMOTO 700CL-X

Roll on the throttle, and the engine spins up quickly with no drama. Concerns about vibration and heat never crossed my mind, and the throttle-by-wire delivers crisp response without any vagueness or abruptness. When we rolled the 700CL-X into Jett Tuning’s dyno room and John Ethell ran it on the big drum, it sent 62 hp at 9,200 rpm (redline is 9,500) and 41.6 lb-ft of torque at 7,400 rpm to the rear wheel. The dyno curves show a notable bump above 7,000 rpm that corresponds with that boost sensation I mentioned earlier – a little extra kick in the pants to keep things lively.

CFMOTO 700CL-X

Lightweight, modestly powered bikes like the 700CL-X are some of my favorites to ride. Unlike today’s liter-class fire-breathing beasts, I don’t feel any guilt about not being able to use the bike’s full power, nor inadequacy for not being able to exploit its capabilities. I mostly kept it in Sport mode because the milder throttle response of Eco mode felt like a letdown. If I were commuting or taking a weekend escape, then I’d use Eco and cruise control to conserve fuel.

But all I did on this test ride was flog the darn thing – I couldn’t help myself, and my fuel economy suffered accordingly. Pushing the 700CL-X hard through a series of curves was a blast, taking me right back to the fun I had last summer chasing John Burns and outrunning Ron Lieback. Some bikes just bring out my hyperactive inner child.

CFMOTO 700CL-X
We tested a 2022 model. Updates to the 700CL-X for 2023 will include new traction control, some styling changes, and fresh colorways.

While the 700CL-X was solid and responsive and its suspension took a hammering without complaint, the single-disc front brake wasn’t quite up to the task. Stopping power was decent, but feedback at the lever was numb, and it exhibited some fade after repeated hard stops. A second front disc would probably help – or an upgrade like the setup found on CFMOTO’s 700CL-X Sport, a cafe racer version with top-shelf Brembo Stylema front calipers and an MSRP of $6,999.

After logging hundreds of miles on the 700CL-X on city streets, freeways, and winding backroads, there were a few things that left me wanting. The first is the small fuel tank, which holds just 3.5 gallons. (Other bikes in this class have fuel capacities ranging from 3.7-4.1 gallons.) During this test, I averaged 41 mpg, which works out to 143 miles of range. Exhibiting more throttle restraint is the sensible solution, but where’s the fun in that? I’d rather have more fuel to burn.

CFMOTO 700CL-X
Brushed aluminum side panels make the fuel tank appear large, but its capacity is only 3.5 gallons. The 700CL-X runs on regular unleaded.

The second is the instrument panel. When less expensive bikes like the KTM 390 Duke – which CFMOTO builds for the Chinese market – have color TFT displays, the monochrome LCD display on the 700CL-X seems like an unfortunate way to save a few bucks. Other than the road in front of us, the instrument panel is the main thing we look at when riding. The 700CL-X’s gauge provides plenty of info, but the perimeter tachometer is hard to read, the text for some of the info functions is too small, and I couldn’t figure out how to reset the tripmeter without also advancing the clock by one hour. If I didn’t do the time warp again with each fill-up, I had to press the “Adjust” button 23 more times to correct it.

CFMOTO 700CL-X
The LCD display shows speed, gear position, rpm, and other info, but the perimeter tachometer is difficult to read.

Lastly, the self-canceling turnsignals shut off too early. Hit the button and they’ll flash four or five times and then stop, which sometimes happens before the turn is executed.

GEAR UP:

Good Times

Over the past 15 years, I’ve ridden and tested hundreds of new motorcycles of nearly every size, configuration, and style. Because my passion for motorcycles runs deep and my tastes are omnivorous, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every motorcycle I’ve ridden. Some aligned with expectations, some fell a bit short, and a few went above and beyond, exceeding expectations because something about their styling, character, or performance – or all three – felt special.

CFMOTO 700CL-X
If you’re looking for a unique, exciting, affordable middleweight, the CFMOTO 700CL-X is worthy of consideration.

That happened to me last summer. As I worked my way up through CFMOTO’s eight-model lineup, the 700CL-X caught my eye because I like scrambler styling and I’m a sucker for gold wheels (which come with the Coal Grey colorway; the Twilight Blue colorway has black wheels). Then I rode it and was surprised by how responsive the engine was, especially that extra kick above 7,000 rpm, and it had a nice bark to its exhaust. It was also light, agile, and fun to ride.

The 700CL-X exceeded my expectations – not just for a motorcycle built in China, but for any motorcycle at this price point.

CFMOTO 700CL-X

2022 CFMOTO 700CL-X Specs

Base Price: $6,499

Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles

Website: CFMOTOusa.com

Engine

  • Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
  • Displacement: 693cc
  • Bore x Stroke: 83 x 64mm
  • Compression Ratio: 11.6:1
  • Valve Insp. Interval: 24,800 miles
  • Fuel Delivery: Bosch EFI w/ throttle-by-wire
  • Lubrication System: Wet sump, 2.3 qt. cap.
  • Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet slip/assist clutch
  • Final Drive: Chain

Chassis

  • Frame: Tubular chromoly-steel trellis w/ cast aluminum swingarm
  • Wheelbase: 56.5 in.
  • Rake/Trail: 24.5 degrees/4.3 in.
  • Seat Height: 31.5 in.
  • Suspension, Front: 41mm inverted fork, fully adj., 5.9 in. travel
  • Rear: Single shock w/ linkage, adj. spring preload & rebound, 5.9 in. travel
  • Brakes, Front: 320mm disc w/ radial-mount 4-piston caliper & ABS
  • Rear: 260mm disc w/ 2-piston caliper & ABS
  • Wheels, Front: Cast aluminum, 3.50 x 18 in. 
  • Rear: Cast aluminum, 4.50 x 17 in.
  • Tires, Front: Tubeless, 110/80-R18
  • Rear: Tubeless, 180/55-R17
  • Wet Weight: 426 lb
  • Load Capacity: 368 lb 
  • GVWR: 794 lb

Performance

  • Horsepower: 62 hp @ 9,400 rpm (rear-wheel dyno)
  • Torque: 41.6 lb-ft @ 7,400 rpm (rear-wheel dyno)
  • Fuel Capacity: 3.5 gals
  • Fuel Consumption: 41 mpg
  • Estimated Range: 143 miles

The post 2022 CFMOTO 700CL-X | Road Test Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Racing forward: Pamplona hosts MotoGP™ & F1 CEOs

Domenicali, for his part, explained how F1 focuses on “the sports and entertainment project.” Also very aware of the needs in terms of sustainability, Domenicali delved into the need to explore new markets and celebrated the “great success” of having a Grand Prix in Miami this year and the next new venue being none other than Las Vegas. “Improving the offer” is always a key premise and Domenicali, thinking of new generations, explained that “young people need intensity, frequency and content.” 

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here

Racing Homologation Programme for helmets Phase 2 launched

Jorge Viegas, FIM President: “The first aim of the FIM was always the safety for its riders. After the experience of phase 1 of the FIM Racing Homologation Programme for helmets (FRHPhe-01), the FIM and DORNA are fully satisfied with the efficient results for the safety of riders. The FRHPhe-02 represents a milestone to increase the level of safety for our riders, and to introduce an FIM standard for Off-Road riders. The FIM got involved in this project, with a lot of work alongside the helmet manufacturers, our promoters, and with our Technical Stewards feedback. I expect that some manufacturers will propose helmets compliant with FRHPhe-02 to our riders before the target of the 2026 season, and they could manufacture them not only for FIM championships but also for national federation events, for safety in Off-Road.”

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here

New Gear: Scorpion Covert Ultra Jeans

Scorpion Cover Ultra Jeans

The Covert Ultra Jeans from Scorpion combine comfort, style, and protection in one pair of pants. With Cordura/DuPont Kevlar single-layered weave, the heavyweight 12.5 oz denim has seven times the abrasion resistance of typical denim for a blend of comfort and protection.

Read all of Rider’s apparel reviews here.

The Covert Ultra Jeans feature a water-resistant coating to keep your legs dry, and the breathable single-layer construction drastically reduces bulk for added comfort.

Hip armor pockets and adjustable armor pockets for the knees allow riders to insert extra protection if desired.

Scorpion Cover Ultra Jeans
Scorpion Cover Ultra Jeans

The Covert Ultra Jeans are available in a traditional 5-pocket design with tapered fit and integrated 3M reflective swatch at the lower hem for $199.95.

The post New Gear: Scorpion Covert Ultra Jeans first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Living with an ‘Iron Barrel’ Royal Enfield Bullet 500

2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500
My time machine: a 2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500. (Photos by the author)

Why on earth did I recently pick up a 2006 “iron barrel” Royal Enfield Bullet 500? In a word, nostalgia.

The last bike I had to kickstart was a used 1970s Honda Trail 70 that I got on my 10th birthday. It was loud and burned oil, and I terrorized the neighborhood’s backroads at a blistering 30 mph. That bike was life, and it made me feel like Evel Knievel. Some of my friends’ parents thought I was a bad seed as a result, but I was just having fun and caught the adrenaline bug early (and some of the suit-wearing dads were probably jealous).

2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 / Honda Trail 70
Look out world, here I come!

My first streetbike was a used 1989 Honda NT650 Hawk, which was fast in its day and a real performer, and I’ve craved that rush ever since. Fast forward to today, and I’m riding a supercharged Kawasaki Z H2 that doesn’t disappoint.

I guess I’m about to age myself, but it’s been 33 years since I last kickstarted a bike (at 15) and here I am kickstarting a streetbike in 2022 – a new-to-me 2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500. That sounds fairly new, but these bikes are anomalies as they’re basically 1955 designs. India had strict tariffs for decades that kept foreign competition out, so there wasn’t an urgency to update what became a timeless design. It’s like a Volkswagen Beetle on two wheels.

2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500
The first Royal Enfield Bullet was built in England in 1931. The last one was built in India in 2020.

The first Royal Enfield motorcycle was built in 1901 by the Enfield Cycle Company of Redditch, England. In 1931, Royal Enfield introduced the Bullet, a single-cylinder motorcycle available in 350cc or 500cc displacements that was built in the UK until 1966. Like many other British manufacturers at the time, Royal Enfield suffered a slow, ignominious decline and finally went belly up in 1970.

Related: The Royal Enfield Story

In 1955, India’s Madras Motors was granted a license to build Bullets, and Royal Enfield India was established as an independent company. It thrived, outlasting its English cousin and growing into one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers, headquartered on India’s southeastern coast in Chennai. Bullets were produced essentially unchanged for more than five decades until they were upgraded in 2008 to an all-aluminum unit construction engine (UCE) with fuel injection. Bullets continued to be produced until 2020. In 2022, the iconic Bullet styling was reborn in the Classic 350.

Related: 2022 Royal Enfield Classic 350 Review

Why Subject Myself to This?

The pre-UCE Bullet’s reputation is interesting; it’s a quirky, no-frills, underpowered bike with quality control issues and bizarre maintenance needs, but it’s also one of the most iconic models in history. In fact, it holds the claim as the longest-running motorcycle model in continuous production: 90 years, from 1931 to 2020. It beats the venerable Harley Sportster, which was produced for 66 years (1957-2022).

Related: Evo Sportster | End of an Era

2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500
The breezy engine room of my “iron barrel” Bullet 500.

Technicalities aside, no other bike from the 21st century provides such an “old world” experience as an Royal Enfield Bullet with cast iron cylinder barrels in an aluminum head. Even Harley changed to all aluminum engines in the mid-1980s to keep up with foreign competitors. I just had to know why a traditional Bullet is such an icon. Or to think about it another way: What was it like riding in my grandfather’s day? (Hint: horrible.)

This particular bike is a solid runner, but it has multiple issues and took many nights in the garage to get it where it is today. There’s some piston slap (likely an issue with bearings), the timing gears are a bit worn, and the transmission is so sloppy that every gear change is a potential false neutral. Finding actual neutral is challenging enough that it could qualify as an Olympic event. Since operating this bike is more art than science, I wear old sneakers so I can really feel the shifter.

2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500
The neutral light is like my North Star.

Kickstarting a bike that’s loud, obnoxious, and problematic takes me back to the Honda that my dad rolled into the kitchen when I thought a pair of shoes and jeans were my only 10th birthday gifts. 

I’m Not Embarrassed

When I’m on my Kawi Z H2, I feel kinda cool. It looks futuristic, sounds amazing, and is almost always the fastest bike on the road. Only a handful of other naked bikes can compete – Ducati V4 Streetfighter, Aprilia Tuono V4, Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS, you get the idea. It’s never about image and always about having fun, though on rare occasions I do pretend to be Batman (minus the cape). What can I say? When stopped at lights, people sometimes stare and even ask questions. It’s just one of those bikes.

2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500
What are you looking at?

My Royal Enfield Bullet, however, elicits different kinds of stare. Some people think I’m broke and desperately trying to get somewhere on an old, loud, crappy bike. Others give me a nod of admiration. Some recognize it for what it is, while others simply appreciate vintage bikes – or a motorcycle built in 2006 that looks like it was built in 1955.

Related: 2010 Royal Enfield Bullet C5 Classic Review

Let’s back up for a second. Like I said, it’s not about image, but this bike just screams for attention. The exhaust is already loud, and there are rattles and knocks that would scare an antique chainsaw. When I can tune out the clatter and hear the distinctive thumping of the 500cc Single, however, it starts to make sense. There’s a legit icon underneath the proverbial rust (although there’s some real rust too). The noise tends to quiet down in 4th and 5th gears, and having a sense of what bikes were like in the mid-20th century is kind of cool. When parked, I’m amazed that so much ruckus can come from such a small bike. It’s like a rabid chihuahua.

2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500
Classic analog gauges served motorcyclists well for decades. We don’t need no steenking TFT.

Riding the Mean Streets of L.A.

Los Angeles is an interesting place to ride. Some of the best motorcycling roads are located within reach – the Pacific Coast Highway, all the legendary Malibu roads (Mulholland, Latigo, Piuma, Stunt, Decker, etc.), and the Angeles Crest Highway, to name drop just a few. But cruising through the city is a different experience entirely. Traffic is notoriously bad, as are the drivers, but a bike like the Bullet 500 is designed for this. Have you ever seen the chaotic car, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian, and animal traffic in India? It’s pure mayhem.

That said, I’ve never ridden a streetbike like I do the Bullet. I’m more focused on engine noise and when to shift and am hesitant to exceed 50 mph as the engine complains in no uncertain terms. I already feel like a hospice caregiver forcing my patient to jog, so pushing it to a sprint is probably ill-advised.

2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500
Ye olde kickstarter.

Let’s start on a typical cold November morning. The kickstand is missing, so it’s a centerstand-only affair, although that’s ideal for kickstarters. The bike originally came with a points ignition system, but somewhere along the line it was upgraded to an electronic ignition. That’s a more reliable system but negates a traditional way to kickstart the bike. You want the piston at top dead center, and with points, the ammeter (next to the speedometer) can signal this position. It doesn’t work with an electronic ignition, so I just go by feel and when it seems close enough. I’ve reached a point where it starts within three kicks when cold. That sounds positively archaic, but prior to getting my Bullet truly road worthy, it could take 10 or even 15 minutes to start. I don’t care what kind of shape you’re in, that’s exhausting.

After a few minutes of questionable rattles and knocks, it’s warmed up and ready to roll. I maybe use 50% of the throttle as I again don’t want to push it, and that makes an already slow bike even slower. We’re talking about 23 hp (when new). There are drum brakes front and rear, so I plan stops accordingly as it’s like slowing a freight train.

2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500
Going nowhere fast but having fun.

Lane splitting is easy as the bike is loud and narrow, but overtaking cars just isn’t a thing, and those ubiquitous pay-as-you-go electric Lime scooters can easily pass me. It’ll comfortably cruise at 50 mph and blend in as a bona fide motorcycle, though. Honestly, I’d be miserable if this was my only bike (see supercharged Kawasaki Z H2 above), but as a second or third bike, it’s entertaining, and I’m no longer concerned it’ll leave me stranded. It even handled a recent 25-mile ride like a champion asthmatic senior Great Dane with hip dysplasia.

Night Riding is a Lesson in Improvising

Everything works during the day (relatively), but things change after dark. The headlight turns on (you can also turn it off), but it draws too much power and tries to stall the bike. It’s an aftermarket unit and the battery charges fine, so I’m not sure if it’s an alternator thing or just the wrong third-party light. The speedometer doesn’t light up at all, although that’s likely just a blown bulb. Thankfully the motorcycle gods have left the neutral light intact because if that didn’t provide its faint green glow, the already difficult transmission would be nigh impossible to deal with. It’s important to ride this bike often to keep it healthy, as even parking it for a week can cause issues, including oil settling (called wet sumping). Therefore, I’m forced to ride at night on occasion. 

2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500
Night rider.

My current solution is to (allegedly) use a very powerful handlebar light for mountain bikes. It’s brighter with a wider spread than the stock headlight and designed for rough terrain, so the heavy engine vibrations aren’t problematic. I’m not sure about the exact legalities, which is why I allegedly do it. And it allegedly works very well. The beam even lights the speedometer on its way to the street. The permanent solution is either a stock headlight or new alternator, and I’m hoping the former is the answer.

Is It Worth It?

Back when my bike was new, Rider tested a 2006 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 ES Electra X, which is an upgraded, premium edition. Things were a little problematic even then, so you can imagine what the years, multiple owners, and almost 20,000 miles can do to a very old Indian design. It amazes me that this Bullet was sold new in 2006, but I also appreciate it. It’s not for everyone – and I’d only recommend it as a second bike – but the overall experience is unlike anything built after the early 1970s. Build quality is questionable, regardless of mileage or abuse, and as mentioned earlier, it’s quirky by even the most charitable standards of today. I also have a 2022 Royal Enfield Continental GT 650, which is basically a 1960s cafe racer without the headaches, and it might as well be from a different manufacturer. Royal Enfield has come a very long way, and the Continental can (kind of) rival a modern Triumph.

2022 Royal Enfield Continental GT
My 2022 Royal Enfield Continental GT is a looker and a runner.

So, is it worth it? Yeah, but only for the right person. This is all about riding a historic model, understanding its shortcomings, and appreciating how far motorcycles have come. It’s a snapshot of the 1950s, not the 21st century, which is an important distinction. Don’t let “2006” fool you. If I didn’t have my other bikes, I’d likely hate the Bullet, but as a niche ride that doesn’t have responsibilities (as in, actually getting me somewhere fast), this iconic piece of British-Indian engineering will always have a home in my garage.

The post Living with an ‘Iron Barrel’ Royal Enfield Bullet 500 first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

2023 KTM 890 Adventure | First Look Review

2023 KTM 890 Adventure

KTM has announced that joining the recently unveiled 2023 KTM 890 Adventure R is the new KTM 890 Adventure, a bike the company called “the ultimate master of all conditions and distances.”

Related: 2023 KTM 890 Adventure R | First Look Review

The 2023 KTM 890 Adventure features a liquid-cooled 889cc LC8 parallel-Twin, a 6-speed gearbox, the PASC slip/assist clutch, Bosch EMS with throttle-by-wire, and Dell’Orto throttle bodies with an integrated knock sensor for handling varying fuel quality while off the beaten path.

For 2023, one of the most significant changes has been made to the fairing between the front of the bike and the fuel tank.

2023 KTM 890 Adventure
2023 KTM 890 Adventure in Orange

A connected fairing section offers improved protection from the elements, and it is now further reinforced to offer more security and more load-bearing capability for larger GPS devices. The KTM 890 Adventure also has wider panels on the tank and side panels. 

For suspension, the reworked WP APEX 43mm fork now comes with adjustment for rebound and compression, accessible from the top caps. The APEX shock, engineered and slotted into the bike to minimize height, has new settings orientated for the demands of adventure riding.

2023 KTM 890 Adventure

A new ABS unit is informed by the six-axis IMU to enable full braking power in a range of scenarios. The improved ABS is synced with the ride modes, allowing Offroad ABS (maximizing braking control through disengagement on the rear wheel and lowered intervention on the front) to be activated automatically in Offroad or Rally mode.

2023 KTM 890 Adventure

The KTM 890 Adventure can be clicked into Street, Offroad, Rain, and an optional Rally mode to adjust engine and traction control character, and a Demo setting allows the rider the chance to try the full gamut of optional rider aids for the first 932 miles (1,500 km) before deciding whether to purchase and keep them permanently.

2023 KTM 890 Adventure
2023 KTM 890 Adventure in Black

The 2023 KTM 890 Adventure has a new higher windscreen that offers increased protection and is inspired by the product used on the KTM 450 Rally, and the two-part seat has a new soft foam structure and a slimmer front fender for aerodynamics and rain protection.

2023 KTM 890 Adventure

The overhauled 5-inch TFT display has revised hardware (bonded mineral glass for extra scratch and glare resistance), and KTM says the redesigned software system of menus and infographics makes alterations to the behavior of the KTM 890 Adventure even simpler. The backlight changes intensity as it reacts to the environment, and a new feature for 2023 enables riders to list their ‘top 10’ calls by the last ones made or favorites list. The Turn-by-Turn+ navigation allows the rider to add extra customization to their navigation details on the go from the bike’s TFT menu without having to stop and fish around for their mobile device.

2023 KTM 890 Adventure

Sportier graphics and more dynamic looks (the plastics are color injected and using in-mold decals where possible for extra resistance, as seen on the KTM offroad bikes) comes with other practical additions such as the new aluminum engine and tank protector. Other additions include a handlebar switch with hazard warning, Pirelli Scorpion STR tires for offroad emphasis, and LED indicators.

2023 KTM 890 Adventure

The 2023 KTM Adventure has a 5.3-gal fuel tank and has a dry weight of 441 lb.

Related Story: 2021 KTM 890 Adventure R | Long-Term Ride Review

2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R and 1290 Super Adventure S

2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R
2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

The 2023 KTM 890 Adventure and 890 Adventure R machines join the flagship 2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R and 1290 Super Adventure S, both of which were completely redesigned in 2022.

Related: 2022 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R Review

Both bikes return for 2023 and are still powered by the liquid-cooled 1,301cc LC8 V-Twin engine with a 6-speed PANKL gearbox, PASC slip/assist clutch, and Keihin EMS with throttle-by-wire. Both also have a 7-inch TFT display and Rain, Street, Sport and Offroad ride modes as standard, as well as an optional Rally mode with nine levels of adjustable traction control intervention. Offroad ABS mode allows for dirt-specific ABS application on the front wheel while disengaging the rear ABS.

2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

Suspension on the 2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R is provided by a fully adjustable, long-travel WP XPLOR fork with separate compression and rebound damping and a fully adjustable WP XPLOR PDS rear shock. On the 2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, WP APEX Semi-Active Technology (SAT) suspension adapts the damping rates in real time according to Sport, Street, Comfort, or the optional Offroad, Auto, and Advanced, and the WP APEX rear shock with 200mm of travel and new hydraulic preload adjustment (20mm) offers 10 steps of adjustment or, as an optional add on, three levels of automatic leveling in Low, Standard, and High.

2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

The KTM LC8 and LC8c ADVENTURE range will begin shipping to authorized KTM dealers from December onward. Pricing hasn’t been announced as of publication.

For more information, visit the KTM website.

The post 2023 KTM 890 Adventure | First Look Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Tackling the Trans Euro Trail on a BMW Airhead

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
Albania via the TET exceeded all my expectations; it’s truly an ADV riders’ paradise.

The seeds for my journey on the Trans Euro Trail were planted in 2015, when I toured Europe on my BMW R 100 CS. I had the briefest sample of Albania, an afternoon riding the most dramatic mountainous landscape on a pristine ribbon of tarmac. Smooth riding perfection soon turned into a perilous off-road trail that put my bike and me well out of our comfort zone. As snow fell and my extended sump rebounded off rocks, I made a rare sensible decision and turned back to Montenegro, vowing to return better prepared one day.

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
The author modified his 1982 BMW R 80 ST with late-’80s GS parts such as the tank, seat, fairing, bash plate, front wheel, and rear shock.

This time around I took my 1982 BMW R 80 ST. It’s not a true off-road bike, but modified with a wide handlebar, a 21-inch front wheel, a longer rear shock, and a bash plate, it’s more than capable of taking on tricky terrain. With countless days on Wales’ toughest greenlanes, plus an enduro race under my belt, I was ready to take on Albania properly.

Read all of Rider‘s BMW coverage here

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
Throwover panniers have more than one use.

Choosing a route was easy. The Trans Euro Trail is an incredible resource. With nearly 32,000 miles of off-road trails mapped across Europe, it’s a lifetime’s worth of riding. The Albania section covers 500 miles, which could be a day’s riding on tarmac but is a lot longer off-road. Free GPS routes are available at TransEuroTrail.org, and there’s even a TET app for Android phones that allows you to download all the routes.

Related Stories:

Getting There and Sampling the Trans Euro Trail

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
The Trans Euro Trail is 500 miles of Albania’s toughest trails, stretching from beautiful beach resorts of the south to snowy mountains in the north.

Albania is inconveniently located nearly 2,000 road miles away from my home in Wales. No doubt there’s some spectacular riding on the direct route, but I’ve traveled its roads plenty of times before, and there are too many motorway miles that crush spirit and wear out knobby tires. Instead, I took the ferry to Santander, Spain, with further ferries taking me to Sardinia, Sicily, mainland Italy, and finally to Albania. It’s a great alternative route with fewer motorway miles, beautiful landscapes along the way, and overnight ferries costing not much more than a hotel room – and you can sleep while the boat does the work for you.

The route also gave me a chance to sample other sections of the TET and get a feel for what to expect from it.

When the ferry landed in sunny Santander, I headed south to join the TET at the nearest jumping-on point. As soon as my wheels left the tarmac, I hit thick, wet clay, and within 800 yards, I was on the ground and struggling to pick up the heavily loaded bike as my boots slipped in the slick clay. For a moment I just stood there, staring at my once-pristine bike wedged in the mud on its side. Maybe I wasn’t as ready for this as I thought.

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
Rain on the plain in Spain led to muddy sections of the TET.

Eventually I got the bike upright, and the next 10 miles was an arduous crawl through deeply rutted clay across unremarkable farmland. The Michelin Anakee Wilds, usually a very capable 50/50 tire, failed to get any real grip as the clay filled the tread, and I had to paddle my feet just to stay upright. The bike was caked in clay, filling every gap between wheels and frame and baking itself solid against the hot engine. I was dirty, hot, exhausted, and soaked with sweat.

Is this what the TET is about? I can fall off my bike in muddy fields back in Wales anytime I want.

As I made my way to Barcelona via the Pyrenees, I hopped on and off the TET at convenient points, using paved roads to make up some miles in between. Thankfully the riding improved in both trail quality and scenery, although I was occasionally hindered by deep snow in the higher ground. 

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
Forty years on, the BMW Airhead is still many riders’ go-to machine for long distance adventures.

I rode a short section of the TET in Sardinia, fast gravelly trails over beautiful hills, and for the first time I could see the wheel tracks of other bikes.

In Sicily, I enjoyed a few easy days of touring and sightseeing before making a beeline for Brindisi on the southeast coast of Italy, where I boarded the overnight ferry to Vlorë in Albania.

My Welcome to Albania

On arrival in Albania, I realized my first mistake: I had my passport, motorcycle insurance, Covid pass, and international driving permit but no vehicle registration documents, which turned out to be vital for crossing borders in this part of the world. In the early hours of the morning, I woke my fiancée back home to email a PDF copy. The border guards were not overly impressed, but it was enough to get me through.

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
Albania’s troubled history lays in plain sight throughout the country, everything from huge monolithic war monuments to thousands of bunkers built during the 44-year reign of communist leader Enver Hoxha.

To join the TET, I took the most direct route, which seemed like a major road when looking at Google Maps. On arrival, that road turned out to be a stone military road built by the Italians during World War II – and barely maintained since. The frugal suspension travel on the stock ST fork made for a bumpy ride as I tried to pick the best line across the stones. As spectacular as the views were, it was tough going.

If this is just the road to the TET, how hard is the actual TET?!

When I joined the TET to make my way to the most southerly point of the route, I was surprised to find a smooth tarmac road that winded up in the hills past some spectacular monolithic war monuments before turning to dirt as it dropped down to the warm sunny coast. A spectacular ride, not too challenging, and I finished the day with a pannier-cooled beer on the beach watching the sun go down. A trail rider’s dream!

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
The grueling trails aren’t without reward.

The next day, I began making my way back north and inland, using tarmac roads to skip the section of the TET I’d already done. When I rejoined the dirt trails, they once again wound into the hills, passing tiny villages of makeshift homes, friendly farmers herding livestock, and rivers cutting their way through gorges and flowing under precarious bridges. One thing the TET has done is bring commerce to these faraway places that otherwise see very few tourists. Groups of trail-weary bikers buy drinks and food and camp in the fields – or in my case, take refuge in the basic B&Bs that cost next to nothing to stay in.

The Trans Euro Trail to Some; the Daily Commute to Others

It was my third day in Albania, but I’d already been away from home for 15 days. The trails had been spectacular, but I’d heard they were tough, and so far I hadn’t experienced too much of a challenge. That was about to change.

After an early-morning meal of a banana, cheese triangles, peanuts, and some unidentified tinned fish purchased at a small corner shop, I dropped down the mountain into the town of Gjebes where I saw a battered old Kawasaki 200 trail bike. Its owner soon appeared and introduced himself with well-spoken English. His name was Djem.

When I checked the GPS that morning, I noticed the TET offers two options: a straight(ish) 10-mile section or an alternative 40-mile detour into the hills labeled as “wet option.” The shorter section follows the river, so I asked Djem if it could be ridden this time of year.

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
A solitary donkey, hauling hay through a remote village … just another day in the Albanian hills.

“Sure, I’m going that way to work this morning. You can follow me, but I’m running late.”

Djem set off at a pace down the mountain trail, ably carving the best line at speed, which I tried to follow while taking liberties with the ST to keep up. So far on this trip, I’d ridden with a “this bike has to get me home” attitude, but that was thrown out the window.

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
During drier spells, the route along the river bed can save a major detour into the hills.

As advertised, we left the road and dropped onto the vast rocky riverbed. Djem weaved a line from bank to bank, bouncing over the stones and occasionally plowing through the river. As exciting as chasing Djem was, after five minutes, I thanked him and said farewell. He left me with one bit of advice: “When you see the second village, make an exit. After that the water is too deep.”

Realizing our last river crossing was rather photogenic, I decided to take the opportunity to take a much-needed rest and shoot a picture. I made the crossing several times until I was happy with the shot and continued on my journey – only to completely misjudge the climb up the riverbank that I’d just done five times over and topple into the river.

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
It only takes one moment like this to feel a long way from home.

My bike was upside down, and my phone mount fell off and went floating down the stream with the phone inside. Petrol was pouring out of both carbs, so I immediately shut off the taps. With the bike at an awkward angle on the riverbank, I couldn’t get it fully upright with the weight of all the luggage. I was forced to drag the bike to a more favorable position, which meant the whole bike was now in the river. After a lot of swearing and my new deadlift personal best, I got it back upright. Thankfully the bike suffered no damage, and I came out with just a nice lump on my shin as a prize. I managed to rescue my phone from farther down the river, but it was fully drowned and lifeless. 

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
Fir of Hotova National Park.

After draining the carbs and a few nervous cranks of the starter motor, the ST spluttered back to life, belching a plume of damp, oily fumes as it cleared its left cylinder. With a dead phone and no GPS to follow, there was just the small matter of navigation. I could see where other vehicles had traveled for the most part, but in sections the pathway seemed to disappear into rocks, leaving me aimlessly bumping around the riverbed searching for a passable route.

Every now and then the reappearance of Djem’s wheel tracks reassured me I was on the right track, only to disappear into water, nowhere to be found on the other side. I plunged in and out of the river, one time beaching the sump on a hidden rock and losing all traction. After that, I began walking the river crossings first to assess a safe route, my boots filling with water as the crossings got deeper. I started wondering if, while focusing on my riding, I’d accidentally gone too far. After nearly two hours, I was relieved to see the second village, and I rode back into relative civilization. Finally, a chance for a drink in a modest Albanian refuge and to empty the water out of my boots.

This was my big adventure for the day, but to Djem it was just another commute.

The Climb to Theth

In stark contrast to the slog across the riverbed, the next day involved fast, open, well-graded trails. For the first time, my speed stayed consistently above 30 mph, and I made good progress, leaving only 75 miles of the TET remaining by the time I reached my accommodation. It was a smart-looking hotel from the outside, but inside it was barely decorated and revealed some dubious building standards, such as a 230-volt socket in a wet room within splashing distance from the shower head and a polished public balcony with no railing.

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
Albania’s many gravel roads are slowly being replaced by tarmac.

After surviving an overnight stay in the hotel, I was ready to take on the final section, a jaunt into the Albanian Alps arriving at Theth, one of the country’s top tourist draws. The trail started as tarmac but soon degraded into tough, rocky, technical riding on a path not much wider than a small car and a plunge to certain death as the reward for lost concentration.

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
The back road to Theth is a tough trail with very little margin for error.

By midday I felt like I’d been climbing forever, but I’d only covered 12 miles of the road. The ST was already losing a significant amount of power due to the altitude. It wasn’t until late afternoon that I finally reached Theth, but the effort had been worth it. The harsh, desolate landscape gave way to an oasis of color and beauty in the hills. Charming little houses dotted a towering, snow-tipped landscape, with a blue crystal-clear river running through a deeply cut gorge.

Albania Trans Euro Trail TET
During the winter months, the main road into Theth is impassable due to the snow, cutting off the village from the outside world.

Mercifully, the ride back out of the hills was a smooth tarmac road, albeit with 6-foot walls of snow towering on either side, razor sharp hairpins, and a dizzying descent down the mountain. Despite the evening drawing in, the air warmed as I got closer to the sea, the roads opened up, and the ST regained power as it breathed more oxygen. Not only did the 40-year-old BMW complete the Albanian TET, but it had excelled as a riding companion.

When it comes to an adventure bike, less is certainly more. Traction control, ride modes, adjustable windscreens, and TFT displays are all just distractions around what you really need: a solid, dependable machine that’s easy to live with day to day and can be fixed with basic tools on the road. The ST is light for an adventure bike, coming in at just over 440 lb with fluids compared to a whopping 550 lb on the latest R 1250 GS. In fact, with most of Albania’s vehicles being around 30-40 years old, the ST fit right in!

I don’t like describing my bike as a “classic.” The word suggests a machine kept for its history and novelty, but Airhead BMWs aren’t there yet. To me, they still cut it amongst the best, and their work is not yet done. With the Albanian TET under my belt, I’m now looking toward the next adventure on the ST.

The post Tackling the Trans Euro Trail on a BMW Airhead first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Watch the FIM Awards live on the 3rd December!

As well as celebrating the title winners from the motorcycle racing classes, the FIM Awards will also highlight the following: the Women in Motorcycle Trophy, the FIM Environmental Trophy, the FIM Family Trophy, the FIM Trophy for The Future, the FIM Road Safety Trophy and FIM Touring World Challenge.

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here

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