Take a look at CFMoto ATVs and Side X Sides. No longer are they the intriguing yet largely unknown models mostly seen at powersports expos, the brand and product line have evolved. Today the CFMoto lineup features a full compliment of ATVs and UTVs designed for work and play, and each comes with features that are normally considered “extras” on traditional brands. You might not be as familiar with the CFMoto lineup as you are with models from Polaris, Honda, etc., but judging by what we’ve recently tested and seen at their Minneapolis area headquarters, CFMoto is here, and they’re here to stay.
CFMOTO BRAND BUILDING – CFMOTO HISTORY
CFMoto was founded by two brothers with nothing more than one part - a motorcycle kick stand - and an immeasurable amount of work that makes an ant colony look like a bunch of loafers in comparison. The brothers quickly expanded their capabilities, and in the three decades since, they still supply products to other powersports manufacturers, but they’re also one of the largest motorcycle and ATV manufacturing companies on the planet. In fact, while entry into the North American market has been carefully implemented, they are sales leaders in Europe and Australia. What sets CFMoto apart from many of the Chinese based powersports companies is that they are dedicated to innovation, and that begins with president and founder Mr. Guogui Lai. His goal is not to simply offer a “me-to” product, but to innovate and bring high quality products to the market. The recent expansion of CFMoto USA is a huge step in that direction.
Located in Plymouth, Minnesota, CFMoto’s new facility offers not only additional warehouse space, but more importantly, dealer training facilities, a product showroom, and office space for a growing product design and testing group. And the people staffing that growth are exactly who you would hand pick for the position. Minnesota is chock full of powersports manufacturers, and CFMoto was able to draw from the talent pool of Polaris, Arctic Cat, and several aftermarket specialists who can immediately contribute their knowledge of both the market, and how the product needs to perform. Establishing a design team here was a critical step for all of the major manufacturers, and it will only help in CFMoto USA product development. It’s the equivalent of hiring the entire All-Star team for every position.
There are six models in the CFMoto ATV lineup, and they all share similarities. Here is how they stack up.
CFORCE 400 & CFORCE 500 - The CFORCE 400 and 500 share many features and nearly identical specifications. Both models come with liquid cooled, single cylinder engines, (398cc and 495cc’s) fed by a Bosch EFI system, a CVTech Automatic transmission with P/R/N/H/L, Engine Braking, and a 2WD/4WD/Front differential lock drive system. Independent suspension front and rear and oil dampened adjustable shocks tame the trail, and hydraulic disc brakes at both ends bring everything to a quick stop. The rear features a 2” receiver hitch and a storage compartment, and steel racks front and rear are rated for 75 and 150 pounds, respectively. High intensity LED lights and rear running lights complete the packages. There are differences between the CFORCE 400 and 500 though, most notably in styling, and how the two models are outfitted. The CFORCE 500 comes with a 2500lb winch, cast aluminum wheels, and best of all, Electronic Power Steering. The CFORCE 400 lists for a very budget conscious $4,399, while the fully equipped CFORCE 500 retails for $5,399. Both are an excellent value.
CFORCE 600 & 600 Touring - We love the styling on the CFORCE 600 and 600 Touring. They’re the perfect combination of aggressive lines and sporty styling, and composite racks front and rear complete the look. Under the bodywork, virtually every spec on the two models is identical, except one. Because the 600 Touring is designed with a passenger seat, the overall length is nearly 8 inches longer. Both models feature 580cc engines with Bosch EFI, a CVT transmission, Independent suspension front and rear, adjustable shocks, disc brakes, Electronic Power Steering, and 12” CST tires on cast aluminum wheels. A 3000 lb. winch is ready to pull you out of any trouble, and a 2” receiver hitch is standard, as is a USB port, Ridevision™ LED headlights & taillights, hand guards, 12volt power outlets, and even a horn! Consider both models extremely well equipped. The CFORCE 600 lists for $6,199, while the 600 Touring lists for $6,699.
CFORCE 800 XC - We’ll give you a ride impression of the CFORCE 800 XC first. The 65hp, 800cc, V-Twin engine fed by a Delphi EFI system is the smoothest running engine we’ve ever tried. It’s a joy to crack the throttle open. Beyond the amazingly smooth engine, the CFORCE 800 XC features a different chassis than the CFORCE 600 models. At the front are dual A-arms, but the rear features a trailing arm suspension meant for aggressive riding. Shocks at both ends are adjustable, and 11 inches of ground clearance helps you clear trail obstacles. The 800 can also pull larger, 26” tires, and 14” cast aluminum wheels are standard. Also standard is electronic power steering, a 3000 lb. winch, a 2” receiver hitch, a USB port, LED projector beam headlights, and an excellent, multi-function digital gauge. Hand guards, a 12-volt power outlet, and even a horn complete the package. Composite front and rear racks, and a rear storage box are ready to haul anything from your hunting equipment to extra tie downs, but the CFORCE 800 XC also features one other great feature. It can carry a passenger thanks to a second seat! The 800 XC is trail ready and lists at $8,599
CFORCE 1000 OVERLAND
The newest and largest ATV in the CFMoto stable is the CFORCE 1000 OVERLAND, and it gets right to the heart of what exploring new areas on and ATV is all about. Although it’s not scheduled to hit the trails until the spring of 2021, we had a chance to check out its features and put in some quality trail time already. We’ll get right to it: The CFORCE 1000 OVERLAND packs a punch and comes equipped with about every feature you could want in a 1000cc ATV.
Built on the same platform as the 800 XC, most specs are identical with the exception of the 79 horsepower, 963cc V-twin engine, and the 27” CST Clincher off-road tires on 14” cast aluminum wheels. It’s the extra’s that are normally considered accessories on competing models that make the difference on the 1000 OVERLAND. The most noticeable accessory is a cavernous, sealed rear storage box fastened to the rear composite racks. Fender flares keep mud and water off the rider, and both ends are very well protected by a heavy duty, tube steel bumper. Below the front bumper is a 3000lb winch, and aluminum frame protection lets you glide over rough spots in the trail. We especially like the bead lock-style wheels that give the OVERLAND a rugged, sporty look. At the center of the handlebars is a very nice digital instrument panel, and the rider’s hands are protected by full fairing and a small windshield which makes rides in chilly weather much more comfortable. True to its name, the CFORCE 1000 OVERLAND is ready for any off-road adventure.
IN THE SADDLE
Every ride impression begins with the ergonomic layout and rider comfort. The CFORCE ATVs become more refined each year, and bodywork flows nicely from front to back, with no seams or sharp edges to catch your riding gear or boots. We like how the seats are plush enough to provide comfort yet firm enough to let you shift body position during aggressive riding. The 400, 500, and 600 models feature a smooth transition from seat front to a low-profile tank between the seats, but on the 800 and 1000 the tank area is much taller, almost like an extended desert tank. The thing is, on the 800 and 1000 it’s not the tank at all, but instead it’s a storage bin. The handlebar bend on all models is comfortable and slightly taller, reminding us very much of a Yamaha, and all switches and controls are in the usual position. All models also come with a 12V power outlet, a USB port, and even a horn. One anti-theft feature unique to CFMoto is a mechanism that locks the shifter into the Park position with the ignition key. All of the CFMoto bodywork is pliable enough to flex when needed, and firm enough to take a load of heavy, caked-on mud without cracking or breaking. It also seems resistant to scratches, which should keep it looking great for a very long time. We especially like the fender flares on the CForce 600, 800, and 1000. Those three models also feature a metal foot peg above the floorboard, and we like the firm footing it provides. About the only improvement we would make to the ergonomics on all models is the bodywork surrounding the shift mechanism, which can dig into your left knee. Changing the radius on the surface edges would eliminate that problem.
CFORCE TRAIL TIME
We were eager to get the CForce ATVs on the trail, and piloting the CForce 600 through the Minnesota woods, everything felt natural. The CForce ATVs are all full-sized units and not exactly lightweights, but none felt heavy or sluggish. About the only thing we could feel was a bit of sidewall roll in the tires during aggressive cornering. That was not something new or unique to CFMoto as stock tires are always a bit of a compromise. Manufacturers must select a tire that provides good ride quality for most, but it may not be perfect for every riding area or your ride style. All CForce ATVs were happy to roost from corner to corner, and the brakes did an excellent job of slowing us down, even when descending a very steep hill that had us doing a controlled slide to the bottom. We had descended this hill in a Side x Side before, but never on an ATV, and the CForce 600 practically begged us to try it. In a worst-case scenario, there was a pond at the bottom and the CForce ATV fenders and footboards provide very good splash protection. As it turns out, the chassis handled the hill perfectly every time, and in either direction.
CFMotos electronic power steering (standard on all models except the 400) provides enough assist to keep steering light, but not so much that it takes away feel. We always want some feedback from the trail, and the CForce power steering system provides just enough. We like it! Engine power on the 600 was easy to control and will be adequate for nearly every rider, but if you’ll looking for a truly outstanding motor, check out the CForce 800. It’s got the smoothest running ATV engine we’ve ever tried, and it delivers the power instantly. All CForce models feature a CVT-type transmission from CV-Tech IBC, a Canadian company that excels in CVT transmissions. They get the power to the ground. Although the CForce 1000 Overland is listed at 79hp, it also weighs a little more than the 800, and on the trail, both deliver more power than most riders will ever need. They’re happy to throw roost everywhere, especially in single seat configuration. All CForce models also come with a revised exhaust system for quieter operation and improved heat isolation.
CFMoto Touring models offer an excellent riding experience for those who prefer to take a passenger, and the comfy, rear seat is slightly elevated for the trail ahead. Passengers also get sturdy, aluminum foot pegs, and rubber hand holds. As expected from the slightly longer touring chassis, handling is extremely stable thanks to the longer wheelbase, but that also means a little wider turning radius. We never had a problem with either style in the woods, but for very tight trails the larger turns might be noticed.
CFMoto gives the 400, 500, and 600 models standard, dual-A-arm independent rear suspension, while the 800 and 1000cc models get a trailing arm style rear end. Both styles work well, although we adjusted the suspension to our preferred riding style. We generally take a click or two out of the rear suspension to soften it so it rides better over choppy terrain, but this also has the effect of slightly stiffening the front end for a little less body roll, and less tendency for the front end to dive over trail obstacles or heavy braking. After a couple adjustments to the CForce suspension we had both working very well for our riding style, and it’s easy enough to adjust that all riders can do the same. The only unfortunate part is at the end of the day we couldn’t bring the CForce ATVs home. We would have gladly ridden them year-round!
Maintenance is part of ownership, and thankfully, CFMoto made it easy. We were extremely happy to find a dip stick for both the transmission case, and for the engine on the side of the motor. A cartridge style filter is behind an access cover. Air filters are easily serviced as well, and the battery and electronics are under the front cargo deck. It could hardly be any better!
REFINED WITH TIME
All product lines take time to evolve. The CFMoto lineup has clearly been improving, and we expect them to pick up the pace. No doubt one huge leap forward was moving to a new headquarters, but by far the best thing they could have done was to bring in the highly experienced powersports team they’ve put together. They have the experience and knowledge, they’ll accelerate the development process, and they can make enormous gains instantly. We’re already highly impressed with the CFMoto USA product line. It offers quality and value at a very attractive price. We can’t wait to see where they go from here. It’s time to take a look at CFMoto.