In this case, though, we couldn’t wait to get the new CF Moto 800 two-seater. First of all, it’s a brand-new company making surprisingly good products (as we discovered when we tried the 2011 Z6 UTV in the August issue). But even more titillating, it’s a new member of a very elite club. It’s powered by a 799.6cc V-twin motor, making it one of the largest, most powerful and sophisticated machines in the ATV world. The motor is brand new for 2012—for that matter, so is the entire machine. When you put it all together, the CF Moto 800 generated more questions and interest than any quad we have tested in a very long time.
In many ways, the CF Moto can go toe to toe with its North American counterparts. The paint and finish are second to none.
We first got a glimpse of the new motor almost two years ago at the Powersports show in Milan, Italy.
This particular machine is, of course, designed for two riders. As such, it has a wheelbase that is about 8 inches longer than that of a typical utility quad. There’s a removable passenger seat and backrest, as well as elevated passenger floorboards and grab bars that are built into the rear luggage rack.
With the CF Moto, you get a lot of extras that don’t cost extra. The winch and the alloy wheels top the list.
In performance, the V-twin is solid. It makes excellent torque at the bottom of the range and then accelerates in a very linear fashion all the way up to a wild top speed. For the record, we don’t know how fast it goes. We didn’t have the room—or the nerve—to stay on the gas past the 70-mph mark, which is plenty fast for a quad this big. At that point, it was still accelerating so hard that we don’t doubt it could blow past the 85-mph mark. Still, there are more powerful ATVs on the market. The Can-Am 800 and 1000 Outlanders both will out-accelerate the CF, as will a Polaris 850 Sportsman. The CF is more akin to the Kawasaki Brute Force 750 in power, although the Kawasaki is more free-revving and has quicker throttle response. The CF isn’t snappy, but has power that builds and builds. If you punch the throttle at 50 mph, you get just as much yank as you would at 10 mph.
In overall handling, the CF Moto feels exactly as it should: big. It’s a mammoth ship that makes you feel more like a captain than a rider. Accordingly, you have to pick the type of terrain you tackle with common sense. Extreme side-hills and off-cambers aren’t a good idea on this quad, or anything in the 800- to 1000-pound class. Having said that, the CF does extremely well in some situations. There are two areas where it really excels. First, in broad, flat turns, it’s one of the most forgiving ATVs we have tested. It’s so long that everything happens very predictably. The rear end slides around easily with a little gas, and when you chop the throttle, it steps back into line without any sudden grabs or jerks. If the terrain has some light choppiness, the CF’s mass actually helps keep the chassis steady and stable. The suspension is very good.
Another area where the CF was surprisingly capable was rock climbing. When we were following a Honda 500 Foreman, we discovered that the big two-seater actually had an advantage in rock steps and steep hills. It’s so long that the front end stays well planted where other utility quads get very light in front and even try to loop out. But, the CF will run out of ground clearance for the same reason—sheer length. And you should also remember that it’s no wider than a conventional quad. Tipping is a real concern, and body English is less effective than it would be on a lighter quad.
Going solo on the CF Moto is fun too. It’s powerful, predictable and very, very big.
The main reason that most riders shop for two-up quads is because they want to share their adventure with someone. The two-up experience is great fun on the CF. The passenger area is very secure with well-placed handholds and a very cushy seat. It’s much thicker and softer than the front seat. The extra padding helps allow the passenger to see the trail ahead, which makes the experience more fun.
With a short passenger, the backrest is perfectly placed; it extends up to the shoulder blades for someone measuring around 5-foot-3 or so. Taller passengers might have problems with it barely extending past the lumbar area.
You need to choose your terrain with the passenger in mind. Everyone has a different threshold here. Some passengers have limitless faith and trust in their pilot; others are ready to bail out at the first sign of trouble. Either way, you should avoid certain conditions. Whoops are probably the worst enemy of the two-up ATV. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to keep items strapped to the rear luggage rack in whoops? The farther you place items behind the center of gravity, the more the machine acts like a catapult. If your luggage is a human being, go slow in big bumps.
Cornering with two people is surprisingly easy. The CF loses some of that easy, predictable handling, but it’s still very docile and frankly much better than we expected.
You can spend a whole afternoon looking for the gas cap.
The unit that we tested was among the first eight in the U.S. As such, we expected to suffer through the usual array of hiccups. We were surprised that nothing broke in two weeks of almost daily use. There were only minor things like loose grips and the need for shifting adjustment. Our test quad would have been absolutely acceptable for customer delivery.
Bring a friend. The passenger accommodations are actually more comfortable than they are up front.
On the other hand, value is what this company traditionally offers, and power steering would only push up the price. No, you don’t get name brands like Warn or Maxxis here, but you aren’t paying for them, either. The people at CF Moto haven’t set the final price, but we expect it to be about 20 percent lower than a Polaris, Arctic Cat or Can-Am in the same category, putting it in the $9000 range. And look at it this way; that’s only $4500 apiece if you divide it by two. Now that we think about it, the two-up ATV makes more sense than ever.
Engine Liquid-cooled, SOHC V-twin
Bore x stroke 91.0mm x 61.5mm
Transmission CV, high, low, reverse
Final drive Shafts
Fuel delivery EFI
Front Dual A-arm
Rear Dual A-arm
Front Dual disc
Ground clearance 10.8″
Dry weight 873 lb.
Colors Red, orange, white, camo