Bikes > Ride

The CFMoto 450NK has large presence for a small price

Your ride from the office to the twisties in a package that won’t break the bank

CFMoto's 450NK offers a whole lot of bike for not a lot of money. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

Right from its announcement, the CFMoto 450NK has made waves for providing a level of value that’s currently unparalleled within the 400cc entry-level segment. As the 450SR’s naked sibling, the 450NK is poised to be a capable urban commuter with some sport DNA within.

The NK is priced at a mere P262,800, just south of other bikes in its 400cc entry-level class. That’s around P16,000 cheaper than the next in line, the Kawasaki Z400, and about P40,000 lower than the segment’s median price.

Surely, cutting costs means you’d end up with less, right? As it turns out, that’s not always the case.

The 400cc entry-level segment has a lot of offerings, but the 450NK has managed to find its own niche. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

Compared to other bikes on offer in the same saturated segment, the 450NK has somehow managed to find its own niche. The Royal Enfield Scram 411 is about as gentlemanly as an urban commuter can be, but barely makes half the power of the rest of the 400cc bikes on offer.

The KTM 390 Duke and the Husqvarna 401 siblings do at least 40hp with amazing low-end torque, but the single-cylinder thumper gets quite buzzy. The Z400 does produce more power with an even higher compression parallel-twin, but each cylinder firing at 180° apart sounds…boring.

Both the 450NK and the 450SR get CFMoto's latest homegrown 449cc parallel-twin motor. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

The 450NK, just like the 450SR, gets a 449cc parallel-twin with some 47hp and 39Nm. Firing at 270° apart, you get a tiny bit of added shakiness from the two cylinders in exchange for quite a meaty exhaust note.

The compression is high enough at 11.5:1 that you will learn finer throttle control, but not so much that it feels like a rabid dog needing to be tamed.

Not being able to adjust the front fork is quite the bane, but at least the rear monoshock's preload can be tuned if you prefer to ride solo. PHOTOS BY HANS BOSSHARD

The rest of the bike? Well, they can’t give you Panigale everywhere with a TMX budget. The inverted front forks are nonadjustable, the rear supposedly requiring a dealer for preload tuning. The slipper clutch and the shifter move with purpose while being easy to use, but a quickshifter is notably absent.

The clutch is easy to squeeze, and the shifter is notchy and dependable, but you do sometimes miss the convenience of a quickshifter. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

The instrument cluster takes the form of a massive five-inch full-color LCD that’s actually pretty nifty, offering two visual options for your gauges. You also get the option of hooking up your phone and headset via Bluetooth, so you can see and control your music and calls without having to guess and fumble around with your communicator’s controls.

Options to turn off both ABS and traction control are available in the cluster’s menus, if you so desire. Remote connect functionality is available via CFMoto’s T-Box add-on and accessible via a QR code in the menu system. However, we did not manage to get this to work.

You get two design options for your instrument cluster, shown on the five-inch auto-dimming LCD. PHOTOS BY HANS BOSSHARD

The switchgear is fairly standard, with the exception of a dedicated hazard switch on the lower-right controls, and a D-pad on the left for the instrument cluster.

The switchgear is decently designed. It doesn't feel like you're fighting it as you access the bike's menu and functions. PHOTOS BY HANS BOSSHARD

It’s obvious that CFMoto has had to forgo a few comforts to meet the target price, but in reality, these changes don’t affect the bulk of the experience you get from the 450NK. The J. Juan brakes are strong yet sensitive, with quad pistons in the front, single-piston rear caliper, and 320mm discs mated to both ends.

The suspension is tuned somewhere between tourer comfort and sporty stiff, and the EFI system is handled by Bosch. You get CST rubber, but it’s quite grippy and responsive for most situations.

The J.Juan brakes and the CST tires are grippy and dependable. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

The seat height is also 580mm, perfect for those who may be vertically challenged and have difficulty on the usual high-seating big bikes. For an urban commuter, practicality is a little bit of a stretch with the bike as is, but various aftermarket storage options are always available.

You can take a pillion, with the pillion seat, handle, and pegs giving them a bit of a bird’s-eye view of the road ahead.

Even to the pillion seat, the supposedly standard naked 450NK never fails to show off its sporty flair. PHOTOS BY HANS BOSSHARD

I managed to average a mere 17.2km/L on the 450NK, but that’s with a combo of first-gear heavy-traffic cruising and a few spirited moments on the local twisties. CFMoto recommends a minimum of 95RON, and by experience, I found mere placebo levels of difference with 95- and 100-octane fuels.

The 450NK isn't the leanest nor least picky motorcycle out there when it comes to fuel, but sometimes it's the smiles-per-gallon that matters more. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

And the noise. The 270° firing order just gives the most amazing burble as you downshift, but the exhaust makes it feel more like an orchestra rather than a battle-of-the-bands concert. A better-resonating exhaust may bring out more of that sweet sound, but my eardrums are more than satiated with the stock setup.

The cacophony of notes that the exhaust belts out is ecstasy, one that won't blow your eardrums nor wake the neighbors up. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

That muted aggression carries over into the bike’s styling, catching eyes while stopped at an intersection or while on the move. This allegedly naked bike’s numerous fairings are to blame, as its sleek lines and aero elements give the 450NK one heck of a presence. The front fascia and the DRLs make it look like a hornet’s face, ready to attack, and the taillight is CFMoto’s iconic two-piece design.

The styling of the bike isn’t trying too hard, however, with the bold stance not at all feeling out of place. The Zephyr Blue‘s blue-black-white tri-tone combo is pleasing to see, but Nebula White and Nebula Black are also available if you prefer the more traditional color schemes.

Overall, the bike is actually quite behaved, tipping the scales at 165kg (much lighter than the 400NK’s infamous 206kg heft) with that weight tending a little low to the ground. There’s power when you need it, stability when necessary, and agility for when you need to throw the bike around.

The design, in part, gives the 450NK quite a presence without being over-the-top. PHOTOS BY HANS BOSSHARD

It’s not as clinical as some of the more boring bikes, and you end up with that inkling that it needs just a touch more refinement somewhere. Perfect is boring, anyway, and CFMoto has managed to bring to life something that has soul.

It’s not to the same intensity as the raging performance that a Ducati may bring, or the sheer pogi factor that a Royal Enfield carries, or the Stockholm syndrome that a temperamental Italian scooter offers, but it’s unique nonetheless and not merely a machine built to spin the rear tire quickly.

It's fairly easy to go fast, but to distill the feeling of a riding machine into a bike that doesn't cost an arm and a leg takes some ambition and skill. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

For the price, it’s too good of a bike to completely ignore. While resale value doesn’t currently hold up quite as well as its peers that can rest on the laurels of well-established western and Japanese brands. CFMoto is distributed locally by Motostrada.

It’s a whole lot of bike for not a whole lot of cash, while still achieving that end result of turning gallons into smiles.

Hans Bosshard

Hans is the ultimate commuter: He drives a car and he rides a bicycle. He also likes tinkering with mechanical stuff.