Home » This Scaled-Down Retro Sportbike Is The Size Of A Honda Grom

This Scaled-Down Retro Sportbike Is The Size Of A Honda Grom

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The folks at China’s CFMoto have revealed a tantalizing variation on the 125cc-class baby street bike that’s dominated by the Honda Grom. The CFMoto Papio XO-1 is sized like a Grom, but sports plastics that are a clear nod to the race replica bikes of the 1980s. Even better, a version of this motorcycle is already on sale in America, so it’s possible that we could see this here.

The name CFMoto could mean a couple of things to riders. Maybe you’ve never heard of the brand before, which makes sense because the company relaunched its line of motorcycles in America just two years ago. Or, maybe you know about CFMoto’s last effort in America, which didn’t look nearly as good as the bike in these patent images:

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Cfmoto Papio 2023 Patente 1
CFMoto

What Is A CFMoto?

CFMoto, which is the trade name for Zhejiang Chunfeng Power Co., was founded in China in 1989 by Lai Guoqiang. Lai was a farmer who met a motorcycle engineer and the pair decided to get into the business of making motorcycle parts. “CF” is an abbreviation of chun feng, which the company says translates to “Spring Wind.” CFMoto started with parts, but over time began vehicle and engine development. By 2002, it had ATVs, motorcycles, and scooters. American motorcycle media sometimes places the start of CFMoto motorcycle sales in America in 2014 or 2021, but it was way earlier than that. The company set up its U.S. headquarters in 2007 and not long after started selling vehicles here.

If you search your local classifieds hard enough, you might find a 2009 CFMoto V5 CF250T-5, a weird cruiser hiding a scooter powertrain. Or, perhaps you’ll find a 2009 CFMoto CF250T-F, a scary-accurate clone of the Honda Helix/CN250 scooter.

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Mercedes Streeter

It was remarkable how well CFMoto replicated the Honda. I owned one and found that the CFMoto’s parts were largely interchangeable with the Honda’s, and in some cases, CFMoto improved on the design, like a clearer display and a few more features. And yes, I rode that thing even in the snow.

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Still, I found the overall quality of mine not nearly on the level of a Honda; it constantly broke down on me. CFMoto, like much of the Chinese motorcycle industry, has made giant leaps from the days of Honda clones or scooter cruisers like this one below:

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CFMoto

Today, you can buy CFMotos ranging from the 300NK 292cc single-cylinder commuter motorcycle to the IBEX 800 T 799cc parallel twin adventure bike. These motorcycles come with modern equipment like Bosch fuel injection and are backed by a warranty almost on the level of the Japanese competition. Sure, CFMoto isn’t going to make Honda or BMW shake in their boots, but I’m impressed with how far this brand has come from the smoky, clattery, oil milkshake-producing scooter that I used to own. It seems many others are having a decent time with their CFMotos as well.

One segment that CFMoto is competing in is mini motorcycles. This segment blew up in popularity thanks to the likes of the Honda Grom and the Kawasaki Z125 Pro. These little bikes are awesome. They have just enough power and speed for riding around town or a city, and the compact machines make for great little stunt bikes. I’ve ridden a Grom myself and I’ve never seen myself so happy while riding a motorcycle so slow.

Chinese manufacturers have witnessed this and are sending their own interpretations of the formula to America. CFMoto sells the Papio.

Papio Gallery8
CFMoto

It’s powered by a 126cc single making 9.4 HP sipping fuel through an EFI system. Really, these are very similar specs to the 124cc, 9.7 HP Grom, with the biggest differences coming in styling and the fact that a Grom weighs 223 pounds fueled up while the CFMoto weighs 251 pounds ready to ride. Of course, Honda quality is also a sticking point, too. Really, the most significant selling point of the CFMoto is that it costs $500 less than the $3,499 Grom.

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Pocket Retro Machine

Now, CFMoto has brewed up a different reason to go with its take on the mini motorcycle: 1980s style.

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CFMoto

Revealed in China type-approval documents found by the UK’s BikeSocial, CFMoto has decided to drape the Papio in vintage style. The Papio XO-1 eschews the micro naked bike looks for a nod to the past. This doesn’t go the vintage off-road bike route as Honda did with the Monkey. No, this looks like a race replica from the 1980s but scaled down into something that you can roll into your living room. The Papio XO-1, or CF125-8, as it’s called internally at CFMoto, has the same guts as the naked machine but sports entirely new plastic.

The highlight, I think, is the twin LED headlights set into the racer-style fairing. Couple that to the rest of the bodywork, and it could be a modern interpretation of any 1980s sportbike. Though, I agree with BikeSocial that this looks like a nod to the 1985 Suzuki GSX-R750. See for yourself:

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Suzuki

CFMoto did not stop with the plastics. The Papio XO-1 goes for an inverted fork while the standard version has a regular telescopic fork. It also has low clip-on bars, rear-set pegs mated to cast-aluminum brackets, a vintage racer-styled tank, and even an entirely new exhaust. While the exhaust of the standard Papio follows a similar design to a Grom, this one tucks itself under the seat, again, like an old race replica. It’s awesome that this is more than just new dressing on an existing bike. Even better is the racy looks do not come with a weight penalty, and since the changes do not mess with the running gear, CFMoto could make an electric version alongside the electric Papio Nova. However, at this time CFMoto has not shown any plans for that.

BikeSocial notes that this machine is more than likely targeted at the Monkey based on its naming. Baboons fall into the Papio genus of Old World monkeys. So, there’s that.

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Cfmoto Papio 2023 Patente
CFMoto

As of right now, the motorcycle has the approval to sell in China. It’s unclear where else the Papio XO-1 is headed. The standard version is for sale here in America, but not in the UK, where it’s just 1cc too big to qualify for L-plates. If this lands here in America and maintains that aggressive pricing, I bet CFMoto will grab some sales.

Retro bikes are a hot market right now and I admit, I’ve been bitten by the retro bug, too. I could see myself rocking this cute little guy. I’ve reached out to CFMoto for any information that it could give us and will report back if I hear anything.

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Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 year ago

Only $500 more for Honda quality? That’s a no-brainer. Just because they have similar specs doesn’t mean they should command a similar price. Also, I’m not a big fan of patronizing Chinese knockoffs. Love the styling, tho.

B3n
B3n
1 year ago

I’m into minibikes / small bikes but I’ve never seen a CFMoto Papio in person.
I think it’s a bit pricey for a Chinese minibike. EFI+6 speed is neat, though.
For example, the Lifan KP Mini 150 is $1k cheaper.
To be fair, the KP mini is carburated, has the 5-speed, OHV Honda CG clone engine, but it’s 150 cc.
Other 125cc Grom-clones cost even less, but quality can be a hit or miss.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
1 year ago

Could this be the second coming of the YSR-50? Mini sport bikes make a sort of sense because you can ride flat out and still not get a speeding ticket where a modern 750 will be 20 over in third gear.

SYKO Simmons
SYKO Simmons
1 year ago

CF moto has been doing well in America with their ATVs, which I was even interested in buying two at the same time. But decided since I have the ability, just go buy and fix whatever older model Kawasaki’s that I want instead.

Greg
Greg
1 year ago

CF Moto has taken over a lot of ATV real estate in my area. During the pandemic Honda and Polaris weren’t stalking a dang thing and CF Motos kept coming in. People had all the cash in the world and wanted to have fun NOW, so they bought what was there.

I have a neighbor with one whose been relatively happy and it was a couple thousand cheaper than a polaris would be. Sure it isn’t “super cheap made in china deal” but for most who would buy this new 125cc, 500 goes a ways. Thats some safety gear, gas and insurance for the year etc…..

I like the 125cc scene, happy to see more entries, as that means it will make it more competitive which I hope leads to slight improvements without large cost increases.

JMJR
JMJR
1 year ago

How can CF Moto compete against Honda if their Grom competitor is only $500 cheaper?

Frackle
Frackle
1 year ago
Reply to  JMJR

I see used groms selling for above MSRP on craigslist, and their retro minimotos are impossible to find around me. That probably gives cfmoto a short window to bring this bike to the US market, but there’s definitely space for another retro styled mini bike even with very iffy reliability. I agree the older papio was just a loser proposition any way you cut it.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
1 year ago
Reply to  JMJR

Have you ever tried to buy a Honda Motorcycle? I have. Honda dealers don’t scale down their bogus fees as MSRP gets lower. So on top of the $3400 MSRP, you’ll get charged a $600 assembly charge, $400 transportation charge, and a $400 documentation fee. Now you’re paying $4800 for a Grom, and that’s before tax.

Meanwhile, my favorite local dealer of off-brand Asian bikes charges a $20 documentation fee and NO assembly or transportation fees. At the low end of the MSRP scale, there’s a whole lot more difference in the out-the-door price than $500

JMJR
JMJR
1 year ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Ah, I never thought of all the dealer bullshit they tack on. I was surprised when I bought my Honda lawnmower that they wanted something like $70 for freight and PDI on top of the $700 mower, plus taxes. Our local shop only ended up charging $20, but I don’t know why that cost isn’t just built into the advertised price.

In Canada Honda’s website shows the Grom’s price at $4617, which includes MSRP, freight, PDI and fees, but not including tax or insurance.

Scarcity, which Frackle brought up, is also a good point. If Honda doesn’t have any stock of new, you’re stuck either buying used, potentially at inflated prices, or going elsewhere.

Ben
Ben
1 year ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Wow. I guess things may have changed in the 12 years since I bought my Honda, but if my local dealer had pulled any of that I would have walked. I don’t recall exactly what the fees were, but given that I had just bought a house and was pinching pennies like Scrooge I can safely say they weren’t very much.

Rdub231
Rdub231
1 year ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Exactly. After I discovered all of the fees, I was happy to pay $3k last summer for a ‘20 Grom with 130 miles on it. At first I thought I’d just buy a new one, but no thanks.

Keith Hunt
Keith Hunt
1 year ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

This ^

I recently went to a Honda bike dealer with a serious interest in a CRF300 Rally ABS. The low $6000 range face value came to over $9000 between the fees, a $700 accessory GPS/tracker the dealer had added to squeeze a bit more out of a buyer and wouldn’t remove, and a mystery $400 added to the total quote that they removed when I ran the math and highlighted it didn’t add up. No bikes were purchased that day and won’t be doing business with that dealership in the future

Drew
Drew
1 year ago
Reply to  JMJR

$500 on a $3500 bike is a decent discount, even if we forget about the fees from Honda dealers. Better than 10% difference.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore
1 year ago

You mention the 800T and for the money it’s a LOT of bike especially with what it comes with standard, but the quality is always on my mind being on the hunt for an ADV bike. For about 1500 more the New V-Strom 800DE Adventure might be what I go for. I lose cruise control and the heated seat (but who really needs that seat…gear does it), but gain Suzuki quality.

On topic here though, this thing, despite it’s quality issues Frackle is right, is what CFMoto needs to get people to know the name in the 2 wheel world. It’s cheap enough to buy AND own/fix that the rest. And at that price point it’s more of a given to have that, compared to the above 800T

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago

“this looks like a nod to the 1985 Suzuki GSX-R750”

In the fairing department, yes, a bit. The first thing that popped into my [really old] mind was the Yamaha SRX250: https://cdn1.mecum.com/auctions/lv0123/lv0123-534791/images/01-1662652126645@2x.jpg

The Papio has the chin fairing and cooling fins of the SRX but I’ll admit the resemblance diminishes toward the back.

In any case I’m glad to see smaller – and less expensive! – bikes becoming available and hope they will encourage younger people to start riding.

Rdub231
Rdub231
1 year ago
Reply to  A. Barth

References to the SRX are rather rare, so your comment caught my eye. I’m actually currently considering buying a 3 bike package for a father/son/wife project. Parts are there to get 2 good working bikes and I envision going on rides with my son someday.

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago
Reply to  Rdub231

Yeah, they aren’t particularly well-known bikes. 🙂

I saw a package deal a couple years ago that I really wanted: an SRX600 and an SRX250, both in excellent shape and with spares. :-O IIRC they belonged to a hobbyist who had passed and they were being sold by one of the kids.

(My brother had an XT600 and I have an XT250 which have essentially the same engines as the SRXs.)

Frackle
Frackle
1 year ago

This is exactly what CF Moto needs. The current papio has “we have honda grom at home! *the grom at home*” vibes. This is cheap enough for someone to justify as a second bike, and different enough from everyone else’s 125cc offerings (in a way that probably costs cfmoto fifty cents per bike) to make it seem like less of a copycat.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago

I miss the rounded curves of ’80s sportbike farings.

I have a Suzuki with the ’90s angry-ish angles thing, and while it looks great, I REALLY liked the ’80s juxtaposition of the curves of the fairings/lamps with the straight lines of the various hard parts.

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