POCphil on the CF Moto V5

CFMOTO V5 side

Our good friend Phil Waters of Pride of Cleveland Scooters (POC) sent us his impressions of a CF Moto/Baron V5, a 250cc automatic motorcycle, that came into his shop for service:

“First it’s a candy, then it’s a gum!”

This doesn’t seem to work as well with automatic motorcycles. What Honda did so well with the Hondamatic 30 years ago is being re-introduced by the Chinese, in a typically Chinese fashion.

The CF Moto V5 is currently being distributed by Big Jim’s Wholesale, who has recently taken on the more scooter-friendly name of TwinCityScooters.com.

We’ve been considering bringing them in as a line here at POC and talked to their reps at Indy. Their bikes had intrigued me, but I was skeptical about the quality.

According to the website:

“The bike features a 250cc liquid cooled engine with plenty of power for highway cruising as well as running around town. Other features include a built in MP3 player (you supply the memory stick) with external weatherproof controls. The unique, stylish look is sure to turn heads.”

“This motorcycle is shipped in the original manufacturer’s shipping box by truck. Light assembly is required. Front wheel and handle bars need to be installed for the bike to be road ready. This should take about an hour to complete. We offer two assembly options: Basic and Premium. It might be interesting to note that, the premium option may enable you to acquire a cheap monthly auto insurance plan due to insurance companies acknowledging the safety features.  During basic assembly, we put fuel in the gas tank and start the unit up to make sure that everything is connected properly and there are no gas or oil leaks. We also inflate the tires, adjust the brakes, fill up the battery with acid and charge it up. We then reinstall the bike back into the factory crate and you will be responsible for installing the front wheel and handle bars. Basic assembly adds $100 to the final price. Premium assembly includes complete full assembly, road test and everything stated above with the basic service. When you receive an premium assembled motorcycle from us, you can turn the key and drive it right away. If you would like premium assembly service please add $400 to the final price of the bike. With premium assembly, we do not use the original factory crate. We build a new custom crate to accommodate the larger size of the bike. If you’re not mechanically inclined, either of our assembly services are well worth the price.”

So, in short, for $100 you get it shipped EXACTLY as it arrives at their warehouse, except they pop a charged battery in it and fire it up. For $400 you can get an actual road tested unit. I’ve got a problem with this, as the Ohio BMV Dealer laws clearly state that EVERY motorcycle sold in the State of Ohio must be test-ridden and inspected for safe operation. I can’t believe we’re the only state that has this stipulation, therefore their claims of being legal in all 50 states should contain at minimum some sort of disclaimer that you must opt for the $400 assembly option. Or, they should advise customers in those states their only option is the $400 assembly option.

The guys at Big Jim’s were kind enough to give a customer my name as a service supplier (their website says they won’t pay for any labor not at their shop during their warranty period). The warranty form says they will ship me any parts I need to fix the scooter. Working on this bike, we got a good chance to evaluate it.

First off, we noted that it was leaking a LOT of oil. You do NOT want to be the person who has to track down an oil leak on one of these vehicles. This is essentially a 250cc scooter motor (a Chinese copy of the Honda Helix motor) cobbled into a motorcycle frame, and all of the truly ugly (important/rusty) bits are covered up by plastic panels. Just about every panel has to come off this thing to get to any part that actually makes it function.

The oil leak was tracked down to a faulty oil line that was assembled without a required seal. This caused the bike to constantly leak oil directly into the path of the rear tire.

CFMOTO V5 go 60

Now, the test ride. First thing to note: it has the exact same riding position as a Honda VLX 600. That is where the comparison officially ends. The floorboards are weird-at-best, and the passenger pegs are really chintzy. The seat padding was not capable of suspending my butt off the plastic pan. The suspension is soft at best, and bottoms out way too easily. I weigh 200 lbs., and had to adjust the preload to the maximum setting before taking it into traffic. Do not attempt to hold your speed through a turn unless it is glass-smooth. This thing wallows like a pig and immediately falls into an oscillation that makes you wonder if there are big rubber bands where the springs should be.

The stereo system is cleverly mounted on the upper triple clamp. The unit is not very easy to use as there is NO display to tell you if it’s still searching for a station, what station it is on, or if it’s just locked on white noise. The FM radio is only practical while you are not riding — the RF interference from the electronics on the bike become your new theme music. “Screeeeeeeeeee-wheeeeeeeeeeeeee,” and it changes pitch with the rpms like some sort of audio tachometer. Wearing a helmet, you can hear the radio clearly up to about 30 mph. After that you have to crank those tiny Chinese speakers to the point of distortion to hear what’s going on. OK, so you’re not buying it for the stereo — at least I hope not — unfortunately, they made it one of the defining features of the motorcycle. They even gave the speakers lovely chrome wings. These items are less manly than Elton John’s tennis helmet.

CFMOTO V5 gps reading

If you’ll remember from above, the website clearly states “The bike features a 250cc liquid cooled engine with plenty of power for highway cruising as well as running around town.” I’m actually surprised, the speedo seems to be in tune with my GPS. Most Asian products run 10% high. It’s accurate all the way up to an indicated 60 mph. That’s where you hit the wall. Try as you may, it will not crack 60. I’ve ridden just about everything that carries a 250cc liquid-cooled motor and this is by far the most lethargic of the bunch. I wouldn’t tolerate a 150cc bike that couldn’t hit 60, and here’s a 250cc liquid-cooled unit that barely crawls to that speed. I would have liked to report the 0-60 time, unfortunately my timer only goes up to one minute and I didn’t actually hit 60mph within that time. This bike does NOT belong on the highway, and was destroyed in an eighth-mile drag race by a Buddy 125. In its defense, all of the marketing material for this bikes clearly claims a top speed of 100 kph/60 mph. They’re not lying to anyone, you just have to realize what you’re buying.

Ok… leaks oil, slow, wonky radio, weak and potentially dangerous suspension… other than that is it ok?

CFMOTO V5 overheatingNo, we have not been able to make this bike operate for more than 10 minutes without significant overheating. At first we noted the thermostat-controlled fan wasn’t coming on. I was able to track that problem down to a faulty sending unit. Once we got the fan working correctly it was still overheating… it just took it a few minutes longer. Bikes with poorly-designed cooling systems or weak coolant pumps often need “burped” to get the air pockets out of the cooling system. We purged all the air pockets from the system at every possible location, but the bike still overheats — especially while sitting at a stop light after a 10 minute cruise. We decided to test the coolant and, as we’ve seen in most Chinese bikes, this bike shipped with what appears to be urine in the radiator. The glycol refractometer and hydrometer both showed the fluid to be nearly useless as a coolant. We replaced it with a good coolant and found that the overheating has now been reduced to only about every 20 minutes now. Still not acceptable. But at least the owner will be able to get to work.

The customer who brought this in has spent $3000 plus $100 for “set-up” and testing. My work is going to set him back about another $150. He has purchased a vehicle that tops out at 60 mph, has a limited (at best) parts supply, virtually no dealer support, and he’s beginning to feel taken advantage of.

Had he purchased a Kawasaki Ninja 250 brand new for the exact same price, he would have excellent nationwide dealer and parts support, a proven motorcycle that tops out well over 85 mph, a 12-month warranty that can be extended to 48 months, and I’d venture to say he’d be riding right now instead of investigating what he’ll have to do to get his money back.

I’m sure there will be a bunch of folks who jump up to defend the CF Moto V5, usually those folks are dealers, or people who just shelled out money and now feel the need to defend their purchase. Remember, we were supposed to redesign cities for the Segway, if only we’d obeyed the marketing guys.

As always; Caveat Emptor.

Phil Waters
Pride Of Cleveland Scooters
2078 W. 25 St. Cleveland, Ohio 44113
216-737-0700 / Fax 216-737-0078

Thanks, Phil! In the interest of disclosure, we remind you that Phil is a scooter dealer and sells products that compete with Baron/CF Moto products, but even so, we at 2sb value his opinion above just about all others. Another side note: The CF Moto logo is also a solid clue towards the amount of careful thought that went into the machine.

14 thoughts on “POCphil on the CF Moto V5”

  1. We referred the customer to this shop because the shop wanted to sign up as a dealer with us. The shop’s job was to diagnose the problem, not to write a review. As is evident from this post, the problem was never diagnosed and the review was written. When we referred the work here, we thought we were dealing with professional mechanics. As it turned out, we were dealing with journalist wannabes. This is a little like having a gym teacher fail someone for not being able to run 100 yards even though the person had a broken leg.

    This is another fine example of scooter snobbism. We called Phil when the bike was in his shop and suggested several remedies, but his response was that he just wanted the bike out of his shop. Overheating is not normal for CF Moto bikes and at the very least he could have diagnosed where the problem really was. Judging by the fact that the fan thermo switch was defective, the real problem was probably that the bike got overheated and the head gasket blew out. We have not seen the bike yet, but it looks like it’s on the way to us now for the proper repair.

    As for comments that Kawasaki has better support, yes Phil, they do. That’s why we are looking for dealers and repair shops across the country so that we would have excellent support as well. Your shop was supposed to be one of these support shops, but I guess now you’re not interested. It’s easy to burn bridges.

    Comparing V5 to a Kawasaki is like comparing apples and oranges. The bike is not designed for speed. It’s a leisurely bike with an automatic transmission. It will not win races, but it’s a very comfortable bike for someone looking for a shiftless commute or a beginner. Having said this, I personally had a V5 up to 70mph, so your claim of not being able to go over 60 in addition to low power, only reinforces my suspicion of a blown head gasket.

    Phil never even tried to order parts from us, so his comments of “limited parts supply” are bogus as well. Obviously this dealer of big brand bikes has an agenda.

  2. hillarious. If the baron did his homework he’d know that POC scooters were among the first to bang the drum in support of several chinese brands. Snobbism? I think not. Typical childish Baron response? But of course! The broken leg analogy? Here’s a hint: Don’t sell broken scooters. Keep it coming! It’s always good for a laugh. We’ll see if these burned bridges ever need to be recrossed. I am doubtful.

  3. Couple quibbles with the review:

    1. Baron’s retail outlet is Bargain Jim’s, not Big Jim’s as stated in the article.
    2. The CFMoto bikes are known to have temp gauges that read hot, even when they aren’t. Was this bike really running hot, or was it the gauge? I tend to think it’s as Lev described and the head is blown, but I’m curious just the same.

    Couple thoughts on Baron’s response:

    1. “Obviously this dealer of big brand bikes has an agenda.” a) What constitutes a big brand? b)What is the agenda? I would think a dealer’s only agenda is to sell and service bikes. If they are bashing a particular brand it’s because they either can’t make good money on them, or they get so many warrranty claims (dealers are rarely fully compensated for warranty costs) that is isn’t in their interest to sell the bike in the first place. I had a dealer friend tell me recently that Kymco was dead to him. I was shocked to hear that statement from someone who had been an ardent supporter of Kymco in the past. Curious, I asked if there had been a change in quality. No, the problem was they didn’t have a good product in place for the new 50cc rules. For him, it’s about having product he can sell and stand behind. Many scooter dealers around the country carry multiple brands — it’s motivated simply by the need to sell product. Doesn’t matter what the name is on the side, if they can sell it and stand behind it, they’ll be your biggest fan.

  4. Just an interested party. It is wonderful to find a product that is reputable and it get harder every year to find that in the United States. I have the V5 and I LOVE it. I get complements, it’s easy enough for a baby to operate, it is perfect for back and forth to school for me, it’s perfect for running my son around, it has comfort issues BUT for the 70 mpg I can afford to be a little stiff. I have never had an overheating problem, no oil is leaking, and I don’t fuss with the stupid radio==just pop a flash drive with all your favs into the mp3 player. It should be obvious that the speakers are presentation only but you can listen pretty good while you are buzzing through town (which is where you should be on this thing!). I have gotten over 70 (72mph) but I have to admit that I believe the speedometer is a little off. That doesn’t matter because I prefer to stay off the “crazy lane” whenever possible, it is a bad place for any motorcycle. What I DO like is that it has enough snot to get the hell out of the way if need be. I’m not sure if it’s obvious but speed demons shouldn’t be looking at a 250 anyways. So, I just wanted to let some people know that there is always a misfire here or there but (knock on wood repeatedly) I have a very satisfying product in the Baron V5 motorcycle. Thanks.

  5. I am a manager of a moped\small engine\motorcycle shop in Hawaii. I specialize in 4 stroke Chineese ‘clones’. The above review sounds pretty accurate and is typical of the kinds of problems I see everyday on these kinds of bikes. Warranty? What warranty? None to speak off, certainly no labor. We do not SELL a lot of Chineese bikes, we SERVICE them. Would I recommend one? Yeah, maybe. They CAN be a good buy, cheap, look good, etc. But I would CERTAINLY pay for the ‘premium’ assembly and hope they ‘test ride’ it as long as they want! Many times problems don’t show up until 50 or a 100 miles down the road. Electrical problems (such as the temp switch not working) are VERY VERY common! If the motor DID blow a head gasket, possible, it was an electrical fault. Now begins the ‘finger pointing’ of who did what ‘wrong’. Typical of a “Chineese Warranty”. LOL

  6. Our shop bought 5 of the V-3’s. We also sell many other China units. The 250/260cc motors are underpowererd and are in many other Dune buggies, Scooters, UTV’s and 4-Wheelers. Our goal is to figure out where the missing power is. We are using this forum to find others knowlege or history on this subject.
    So far we have gained only 4 M.P.H. of top speed on the V-3. We have changed jetting, open the muffler slightly, advanced the cam timing, and increased the secondary clutch spring.
    We are about to go deeper, I feel we need to pull down the top-end , raise the compression, try to find a better cam and possiblly find an adjustable ignition.
    Putting this unit on the center stand and revving it up, this thing should spin 85-90 M.P.H. but has no power to do so. We suspect gear ratio is also a problem. this is mainly a Honda Helix motor but , Honda uses a much smaller tire/wheel.
    We did run an older Honda Helix against the CF Moto and it was only 2-3 M.P.H. faster.
    I have talked to CF moto U.S.A. and they seem eager to find out my results, so if anyone has possitive input, please contact me though my web site or e-mail.

  7. I know this is Dec. and the last entry was in May but I just found this site and read the review/comment of the V5.
    I purchased a Helix clone the Freedom/Fashion 250 made by CF Moto in June from extreme- scooters.com (great service)and had it shipped to my house where I assembled it. The assembly was very easy and they included a 1.5 amp battey charger and after installing the battery the bike started on the second try with only .5 mile on the odom.
    The digital dash worked great and I didn’t have any overheating problems. I took it on the interstate and while it would hit 75mph it would vibrate through the seat but was very smooth at 65mph. I averaged 65 mpg and knowing that this is just a 250cc I can’t expect much more from it.
    Unfortunately after 5 months and 1800 miles it was backed over in the parking lot at work by a trailer and the insurance co. towed it to a Honda shop where they did a complete tear down to check it out and found that their body kit was an exact fit and the other parts of the bike were interchangeable also. The bad part is that the labor was so high that they had to total the bike even though the frame and engine were in tact.
    the bottom line is while I can’t comment on the V5 specifically , I can say that my CF Moto was a good bike for the time I had it and at almost $3000 less than the Brand name Honda with less features , I am very satisfied with CF Moto. I know they ripped of a logo and while I am in the military and a patriotic American I can point out a few American car companies that ripped off ideas and worse in automotive history, tucker story comes to mind.
    I am sure China’s patent and copyright laws are a little lacking which will cause this type of thing but, I think you will see some better products coming from this and othe Chinese companies in the futureas they deal with t he U.S. more.

  8. Am sure Phil was being honest about his experience with the V5 waited until I had 125 miles on the one I just purchased. I bought this one for the wife as she used to ride but has had both knees replacement surgery and got it for her to get her confidence back to ride or not.. For the time being will leave of any dealers names where I purchased my V5 but I paid 150.00 for complete up and running and ready to test ride to him. At 50 miles changed all the fluids with ones I know that work well. Although had no probs with it as it was, such as oil leaking running hot and the suspension was fine took me around curves at 50 MPH that only dare to do at 60 MPH on my Sportster.. I do agree if looking for more than 60 MPH Good Luck unless weigh maybe 110 lbs getting up to 60 with my 185-190 lbs was a chore will admit the last ride took today with over 100 miles the engine is easing up and getting broke in so may make 65 MPH if don’t mind waiting a while to get there. From the looks of the Muffler now the Carb is definitely set on the lean side but to be compliant in all 50 states thats to be expected. Around town it was a joy to ride no fighting the clutch and pushing the rear brake to hold yourself on an uphill angle. For a Beginners Bike would recommend it. It’s not overly comfortable but better than I expected for the price. (2700 out the door with windshield as well) The Footpegs are suffient but are many aftermarket pegs that wouldn’t make a changeout very difficult to achieve. I also hear there is a Upgrade for this whether a Supercharger, Turbo or just a Bigger Carb and Different Exhaust have not been able to find out but if this is true and could achieve speeds of 80-85 MPH would be far happier with it. To sum it up think is well worth the 2700.00 spent to find out if wife wishes to continue riding. If not think would keep it anyway just for puttering around town to the tune of 60MPG for the price of gas…

  9. tested the chopper for a week in South Africa.
    up north in Pretoria.high altitude(1800m above sea level)
    in the summer.day temperatures reaching 35c.
    city driving(hard).
    highway cruising for 120 km non stop.
    NEVER so much of a sign of overheating.
    easily overtaking trucks,pick-ups and slower moving (highway)traffic.
    pull away from standstill is surprisingly strong easily beating the traffic.
    very usable power range for city driving.
    very strong and torque.took the chopper up to one of the Forts in the city.
    the road is very steap.my friend in a Kia 1400 saloon could not keep up.
    and we were 2 up on the chopper!
    handling is very soft and comfortable.
    never bottomed out!
    (i weigh 95kg and our roads have greatly deteriorated to say the least)
    handling is very neutral and easy.
    brakes very good.
    fuel economy not bad(given my very fast and aggresive ridingstyle).
    the price very cheap.
    overal impression:
    great overall package and super alternative mode of transport!
    something different and definitely a headturner.
    especially with the radio on.
    and if reception is bad!?
    plug in the memory stick with your favorite tunes.heaven.
    especially in a sunny country like South Africa.

  10. oh,and if you wondered.
    i am riding and racing bikes since 1974 up to national level.
    doing all my preparations and repares myself.
    that makes it 36 years.
    guess that qualifies me a little bit to give my impressions?

  11. Since Matt H revived this thread, thought I’d mention the recall on US-sold 2005-present CFmoto V5s.

    http://www.allworldauto.com/recalls/NHTSA_10V027000_2009_CHG_CF250T_V5_recall_102595.html

    I admit It’s sort of an unfair technicality, and one that plagues any vehicle that blurs the line between motorcycle and scooter, but it also seems like something that the US importer should have known about from the beginning. It’s not dangerous if you know what you’re doing and what you’re riding, but I can see it creating a dangerous situation if a rider accustomed to motorcycles rode the vehicle and didn’t know that it didn’t follow the standard m/c brake setup.

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