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Cruising with Confidence

Cruising with Confidence

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A first look at CFMoto’s latest addition to its roster, the 450CLC cruiser

By Maki Aganon
Photos by Lester Victoriano and Gian Santos

The CFMoto 450CLC created a lot of buzz in the cruiser market when it was first spotted at the popular motorcycle tradeshow Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori (EICMA) in Italy last year. But can this Chinese newcomer actually shake the cruiser segment? I just spent a week riding the 450CLC, putting it through its paces on city and open streets, as well as twisty mountain roads, to give you the complete picture.

I am very lucky to be the first ever to test ride the 450CLC here in the Philippines. When it was formally launched last year, it raised a lot of curiosity within the motorcycling community as it was poised to compete for cruiser market share. The step-up-to-big-bike-customer segment is huge now, giving this bike huge sales potential, following the footsteps of the Honda Rebel as a beginner-friendly big bike.

First Impressions

The 450CLC is incredibly low. Mounting it is entirely effortless–I felt that I was in full control because I could plant both my feet on the ground. The bike’s instrument TFT (Thin-Film-Transistor) LCD panel is crisp and clear, showing necessary information like RPM, range and time in a classic circular display. The blacked-out version resembles the silhouette of the CLC’s British counterpart at certain angles. When I sat on the bike, the seat dropped a few centimeters more. I felt that the standard suspension setting is‌ soft. Perhaps it would aid damping when I start riding it. The front tire is bold and relatively heavy, given its 130/90 size. The teardrop tank is beautiful and well-proportioned to the rest of the bike. Every element suits the cruiser, from the round bar-end mirrors, and fuel cap. Even the sleek leather seat feels premium.

The 450CLC is designed to fit the Asian market. Anyone around 5-foot-6 in height slams perfectly on the saddle. The forward controls aren’t positioned quite far and the handlebars arch directly toward the rider. It gives a comfortable cruising, but upright posture that’s easy on the spine. Anyone can double-flat-foot this 690-mm seat heighted cruiser, making it the perfect first bike for learners. It only weighs 181kg (kerb) and can hold up to 12 liters of fuel.

The Actual Ride

Riding in the city on the 450CLC is definitely easy. It evokes a commanding stance, guaranteed to turn heads. There is beauty in the simplicity of this cruiser. The 449cc, twin-cylinder 270-degree crankshaft spits out a crispy thump that’s pleasing to the ears, and the exhaust note from this stock setting is unbelievably satisfying.

Cruisers, especially bobbers are visceral motorcycles. They are built for slow gliding–you cruise at your own pace and ride to be seen. But the 450CLC gives you more. It’s got enough tech so you can enjoy its classic form, with the bells and whistles of a modern machine, including traction control and dual-channel ABS. The engine itself, derived and tuned from CF Moto’s 450NK gives you an aggressive motor that offers a smooth, sporty ride.

The suspension easily absorbs any road imperfection, so you remain comfortable even on bumpy roads. It is a pleasing companion as a daily commuter, and imposes a striking personality on leisure rides.

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I rode the bike up twisty mountain roads to test how it handles corners. It feels light but the wider-than-standard front tire can only accommodate certain angles, with the bike’s suspension working overtime to compensate for its tire configuration. You can’t expect the precise handling you get from a sport bike, but as a cruiser, it performed surprisingly well up and down Marilaque’s twisty roads. Assuming its 130/90 front tire is replaced with 110s, cornering angles may improve. This bike drives on a belt, which certainly reduces noise while riding. Unlike a chain drive, which requires very frequent cleaning, tightening and maintenance, belt drives are relatively maintenance-free.

Final Thoughts

The 450CLC retails at P289,700, making a definite steal! If I had this beauty, I would throw in a couple of thousands more to upgrade the clutch lever, install a small windscreen, and change my front tire. I personally prefer a more agile cruiser, so I may replace the front tire with a 100/90-19 for better cornering angles. Even after all these additions, I still won’t break the bank. I still spent less than half a million for a personalized cruiser. I also think it can play as a blank canvas or base bike for custom motorcycle projects.

Overall, CF Moto’s 450 CLC is a decent cruiser offered at a great value. It makes a compelling choice for beginners who want to finally own their first big bike, and a reasonable addition for those in the market for a cruiser project.