Home » This Wicked Pint-Size Retro Sportbike Is Almost Certainly Coming To America

This Wicked Pint-Size Retro Sportbike Is Almost Certainly Coming To America

Max Mini Moto
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If you love small, road-legal motorcycles, you should take a seat because I have some exciting news. CFMoto is almost certainly about to bring over what I think are easily the coolest road-legal minibikes your hard-earned American dollars could buy. Documents filed with the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency show that the motorcycle producer appears to be introducing two new Papio minibike variants for 2024, the Papio SS and Papio CL. These motorcycles appear to be the scaled-down retro machines that went on sale in China early this year but are now for American consumption. Oh yeah, time to get excited.

This news comes to us from Cycle World, but I’ve taken a look at the documents for myself. Indeed, CFMoto appears to have two new Papio models for 2024, though no official announcements have been made just yet.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Tiny Wheels Good

Papio Xo 1 New Mini Retro From C

Mini motorcycles are a segment of the motorcycle industry with a ton of popularity. Motorcycles like the Honda Grom and Kawasaki Z125 Pro are magical machines. If you live in a city, these are basically scaled-down sportbikes and streetfighters that you can fit in your living room. They’re great for people just learning how to ride, they’re great for people looking to do stunts at lower speeds, and they’re great as pint-sized grocery getters, pit bikes, campground runabouts, or really any other activity where a regular motorcycle might be too big or too heavy.

Mini motorcycles are also pretty cheap. Team Green’s Z125 Pro is $3,399 while Team Red’s Grom is $3,599. Of course, Honda dealers are notorious for markups right now, so you may not find a Grom for anywhere near that price. But on paper, these bikes are dirt cheap transportation and quite possibly the most fun you can have on two wheels under 60 mph.

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Tiny motorcycles have become so popular that Honda’s Powersports division has an entire lineup of miniMOTO tiny motorcycles ranging from the Super Cub C125 and the Monkey to the Navi and the Trail 125. The Grom in particular has been so popular that it spawned a generic term to describe these motorcycles: Grom-Like Bike. Motorcycles in this category include Suzuki’s VanVan 200, the CSC City Slicker, the Kymco Spade 150, the Lifan KP Mini, the Venom X20, and so many Chinese models.

CFMoto’s entry is the Papio.

Now, CFMoto isn’t really a hugely-known brand here in America, so here’s a quick reminder of its origins. 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.” The company made its first motorcycles in 2002 and then came to America for the first time in 2007. Back then, CFMoto’s motorcycles were largely clones of models from Japanese brands. I used to own a 2009 CFMoto CF250T-F, a clone of a Honda Helix that was scarily accurate, but also pretty much junk.

Mercedes Streeter

It’s impressive how quickly CFMoto has grown since then. The company went from copying other manufacturers to competing against them. CFMoto’s products now have their own designs and parts from big names like Bosch.

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The Papio is CFMoto’s answer to the Grom and the Z125 Pro. It’s powered by a 126cc single making 9.4 HP sipping fuel through an EFI system. That knocks on the door of the 124cc, 9.7 HP Grom and squeaks past the 125cc, 9.3 HP Z125 Pro. However, the CFMoto is heavier than both as it weighs 251 pounds to the 223-pound Honda and the 224.9-pound Kawasaki. CFMoto also does a one-year warranty just like the Japanese brands. Of course, Honda and Kawasaki are known for their quality machines while CFMoto is still improving in that area.

Cooler Than A Grom

Cfmoto Paio Xo 1 20230903 06

Previously, the biggest reason to go with a CFMoto Papio was the fact that it was $600 cheaper than a Honda Grom. However, if the documents filed with CARB and the EPA mean anything, it’s that you’ll now have another reason to go with the CFMoto, and it’s absolutely stunning visuals:

Cfmoto Papio Xo 5

Sadly, the documents do not have pictures accompanying them, but it would make sense that the motorcycles likely on the way are the ones we saw in February, just with new names. I’ve done some sleuthing and it would appear that the new motorcycles are already on sale in Canada, but official photos haven’t come out yet.

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One of the motorcycles in the documents is noted to be the Papio SS. Here in America, CFMoto slaps an “SS” on the end of its Sport models. Thus, the Papio SS name would suggest a sport model within the Papio line. Back in February, CFMoto received type approval for the Papio XO-1, sold in China as the XO Papio Racer. This motorcycle has the familiar guts of a Papio, but bodywork reminiscent of a 1980s racing machine. Here’s a 1985 Suzuki GSX-R750, for example:

Suzuki

Now look at the Papio SS:

Cfmoto Unveils The Retro Style P

Check out those distinctive asymmetric LED headlights and the upswept exhaust that terminates under the rider’s seat. I also dig the dropped bars, the tiny mudguard, and the mirror setup. It really looks like a race-winning machine, but small enough to throw into the back of a wagon.

The other new model noted in the paperwork is the Papio CL.

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This one is sold in China as the XO Papio Trail and it sort of takes on the look of an enduro from the 1980s, but again, one that went swimming in a really cold lake. Promotional images show the machine playing in the dirt like a baby dual sport. Styling differences include more upright mirrors, a different fairing, and mudguard, as well as a different seat. Both models get an upside-down fork, which is an upgrade over the base Papio. Apparently, the two new models hit 9.4 HP at 8,250 RPM, whereas the standard Papio does the job at 8,500 RPM. Both of the new bikes do not lose or gain any weight, either. There’s no word on if the base Papio’s 30.5-inch seat height remains.

Still Affordable

Papio Xo 1 New Mini Retro From C (3)

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The dealership in Canada selling these already has them listed for $3,999, a bit more than the $3,199 of the base Papio. Of course, pricing is different between the United States and Canada. CFMoto Canada also gives you a 5-year warranty as opposed to the 1-year we get. For comparison, the regular Papio is $2,999 on this side of the border.

Assuming that the Canadian dealership didn’t enter a typo, I would expect these new models to be slightly more expensive than the standard Papio. Though, CFMoto’s U.S. division could just price them similarly to the standard model. CFMoto’s current business model is pricing motorcycles more aggressively than the Japanese competition, so I would expect these to still be more affordable than a Grom.

Papio Xo 1 New Mini Retro From C (2)

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Either way, I want the Papio SS. I’ve been wanting a Grom-like bike for years, but have been looking for a different kind of vintage style than what Honda offers with the Monkey. This? Oh yeah, it hits the spot so well. So, if CFMoto follows through you could probably expect a review from me.

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(Images: Manufacturer, unless otherwise noted.)

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Beatle
Beatle
9 months ago

Whenever I read an article about mini-motorcycles I always furrow my brow at the targeted demographic as one who lives in the city. While top speed is not an issue in most cities, keeping a motorcycle in your possession is. Unless you’re well-off enough to have a personal garage in the city (very well off), or have ground-level access to wheel your bike into your apartment/condo, your bike ownership is all but guaranteed to be very temporary.

Don’t get me wrong – I bought my Monkey back in early 2019 as the 6th bike in my fleet and I love it so much that I kept it as my only bike after selling all my others, but I live in the suburbs with a garage, and I put the most miles on it after rolling off the back of my pickup and heading onto some out of town mountain roads.

Gubbin
Gubbin
9 months ago

Grom-Like Bike: The Universal Japanese Motorcycle of the new era.

Still trying to figure out the right gas tank to make my old tube-frame Buell look like a 70s UJM.

Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
9 months ago

Hopefully this retrofuturism makes it to the next class up, e.g., R3s.

Goblin
Goblin
9 months ago

The Papio’s main advantage is not that much in the price, but in the stoc 6-speed transmission, as opposed to the (recent) Grom models’ 5-speed and the z125 Pro’s (still) 4-speed ones

Bassracerx
Bassracerx
9 months ago
Reply to  Goblin

yikes. i would take a cvt over a 4 speed transmission!

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
9 months ago

I know these are supposed to be great fun, but all I can see when someone goes by on one are a bunch of bears in hats riding around the center ring under the spotlights of the big top while the ringmaster hollers through a megaphone, “Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, presenting the amazing biker bears!”

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
9 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Yeah, but the smiles on they’re face can’t be wiped off, so who cares?

A. Barth
A. Barth
9 months ago

I would look ridiculous riding them, but I love small bikes like this!

And agreed, the Papio SS does give 1980s sportbike vibes; the FZ600 came to mind immediately. I like that it has clip-on style bars rather than going totally tubular.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
9 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I was worried that I, an XXL human, would look ridiculous riding my Honda Monkey. But it occurred to me I can’t see myself when I am riding, so it doesn’t really matter. As far as I know, I look badass astride my tiny iron horse.

A. Barth
A. Barth
9 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

That’s very Don Quixote of you. Roc on! 🙂

I too am a double-ex-el human and would like to get another Ninja 250, so probably not the best judge anyway. It’s a lot of fun to ride (and wring out) small bikes – right there with you.

Years ago I heard big-person-little-bike described as “looking like a monkey [having a physical relationship with] a football”. 😀

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
9 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

I look like a circus bear riding a tricycle on my scooter, but you can’t wipe the smile off my face.

Myk El
Myk El
9 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

My dad used to commute to work on a relatively small motorcycle. When it rained, he had a red rain jacket he would wear. A co-worker described him as looking like a tomato riding two dimes.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
9 months ago

While this bike IS admittedly quite stylish, it doesn’t succeed in the ‘small bike practicality’ test like a CT 125. It is nice though, to see manufacturers starting to realize that, even in America, bigger isn’t always better.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
9 months ago

On the one hand, ~10 HP, $3K mini-motorcycle requiring maintenance on an ICE powerplant, fuel, insurance and annual registration. On the other hand, a $3K e-bike with much less maintenance and lower fuel costs, and no insurance or registration.

  • Top speed: Advantage motorcycle
  • Street worthiness: A wash
  • Off-road trail accessibility: Advantage e-bike
  • Transport and storage options: Advantage e-bike

Discuss.

Isis
Isis
9 months ago

I have a monkey (125mpg!) and intend to buy the Honda Supercompacto as soon as I can throw my dollars out the window. They aren’t interchangeable and both are completely necessary.

Last edited 9 months ago by Isis
Frackle
Frackle
9 months ago

I think for a lot of city commuters the e-bike will be better, and for a lot of people who live a 55mph highway away from the next city the minimoto will be better. That’s purely as a value proposition though. As a fun toy, the minimoto cleans up any day of the week for me. That’s not enough in my budget to buy one purely as a toy, but it’s probably enough to shove my “getting an ebike would be the more practical choice” concerns somewhere to the back of my brain.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
9 months ago

You are missing the point of $3,000 mini motorcycles. They can be used as cheap transportation appliances, but they are primarily intended to be fun.

Small displacement motorcycles are the perfect example of the adage that is more fun to drive/ride a slow vehicle fast than a fast vehicle slow. My Monkey’s top speed is around 60 mph. At that speed, the throttle is pinned, I’m tucking in trying to get an extra mph or two, and I feel like I am leading on the last lap of a MotoGP race (at least until the illusion is broken by an old lady leisurely passing me in a Hyundai Accent). Small displacement motorcycles allow you to experience the thrill of riding a bike hard without a high risk of getting killed or arrested. You can use them purely as transportation appliances, but that misses out on a lot of the appeal of the bike.

E-bikes can be fun in their own way, but they are primarily intended to be cheap, efficient transportation. E-bikes and small displacement motorcycles aren’t trying to achieve the same purpose and therefore cannot be meaningfully compared.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
9 months ago

I’d much rather have an Aprilia RS125, if only they sold them here.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
9 months ago

Color me intrigued.

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