CFMoto’s tie-in with KTM is increasingly bearing fruit for the Chinese firm. Earlier this year it launched its 1250TR-G tourer using the Austrian firm’s big V-twin engine and now it’s on the verge of unveiling its MT800 adventure bike based on the engine and chassis of KTM’s 790 Adventure.
And while the impressive-looking 1250 tourer is currently still a China-only model, the MT800 is expected to be offered worldwide, and if it wasn’t for lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it would have already been officially unveiled. KTM revealed the bike’s existence in investor presentations earlier this year, initially saying it would reach the market in October 2020, a date that was revised to “Q1 2021” in the most recent presentation. CFMoto already builds the parallel-twin LC8c engine and entire bikes on behalf of KTM and is due to manufacture the China-specific KTM 750 Duke, 750 Adventure, and 750 Supermoto T models in the near future around a detuned version of the twin.
The MT800 is seen in full in these design renders, filed with Chinese intellectual property authorities by CFMoto to stop its styling from being copied. They clearly show that despite being an adventure-style bike using the engine and frame from KTM’s 790 Adventure, it won’t directly compete with any of KTM’s existing models.
That’s because for 2021, KTM’s 790 Adventure has evolved into the more powerful, 889cc 890 Adventure, while the CFMoto MT800 is expected to keep the earlier model’s 799cc capacity and lower power. The bike is also much more road-oriented than KTM’s offerings, with a bias toward touring rather than venturing off the beaten track. While the crash bars around the radiator and perforated alloy skid plate under the engine suggest some off-road ability, the bike’s heavily sculpted seat is a far cry from the much flatter, enduro-style design of the KTM Adventure, and the use of alloy wheels—a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear instead of the KTM’s 21- and 18-inch-diameter tires—shift the style toward asphalt use. Wire wheels are expected to be an option, as prototypes of the MT800 have been spied wearing them in China.
While the frame is the same tubular steel design that’s used by KTM, the CFMoto bike gets its own alloy swingarm and opts not to use the unusual, low-slung, side-mounted fuel tanks that enable KTM to use a long, flat seat on the 890 Adventure. Instead there’s a large, conventional tank in front of the rider, giving the MT800 a bulkier look overall. The styling is also more mainstream than the KTM, with a nose fairing that melds into the sides and tank, topped by an adjustable screen and bearing twin headlights that join in the center. Auxiliary lights are fitted to the sides, with distinctive “floating” fairing panels attached to them.
Given the KTM connection, WP is expected to supply the rear monoshock and upside-down fork, while Bosch will be used for the electronics, including the ABS brakes. A large TFT dash is visible in the designs, suggesting the bike will come complete with Bluetooth connectivity for audio and navigation.
Rear-mounted frames give a clear indication the production MT800 is expected to be fitted with luggage as well. Prototypes have always been seen equipped with large, aluminum boxes, and that’s probably how the production version will appear.
While there are still barriers for Chinese bike firm to overcome, particularly when it comes to Western perception, the KTM-sourced parts and the fact that CFMoto already makes many of KTM’s own machines means signs are positive that the MT800 will have the build quality and reliability to compete with European and Japanese rivals when it hits the market early next year.