WK 650NK

Fast Bikes - - FEATURE -

There were a few chuck­les when I rocked up on the WK. Peo­ple had read­ily judged it be­fore plonk­ing their der­ri­eres on the sad­dle and sam­pling its de­lights. I don’t blame them. It’s dif­fer­ent. It’s Chi­nese. It costs sev­eral thou­sand pounds less than all the oth­ers on this test (you could buy two of these and have change against the Trum­pet).

But I knew dif­fer­ently, as I’d had a sneaky taster of its bril­liance just a few weeks be­fore around a scor­chio Cad­well Park. This bike here is new for 2017. It’s the first Euro 4 com­pli­ant Chi­nese 650cc to make it onto the mar­ket, built by the hands of Asian pow­er­house CFMoto (the same guys who build KTM’s smaller ca­pac­ity 390 and 125cc mod­els). If you knew lit­tle more than that fact, you should at least feel slightly more re­as­sured that it’s no two-bit bike built in a back-street sweat shop. CF Moto are huge play­ers and their de­sire to crack the Euro­pean mar­ket, de­spite the sales on our con­ti­nent be­ing only a mod­icum of what they are in Asia, is tes­ti­mony to their fo­cus and com­mit­ment to bet­ter­ing their prod­ucts. But that’s enough about all the po­lit­i­cal bull. You’re prob­a­bly won­der­ing why you should carry on read­ing past this point. Well, it’s sim­ple… this is a bloody good bike. And so say all of us. The NK we were rid­ing was a pre-pro­duc­tion ex­am­ple (the bike’s not due into the UK whole­sale un­til early Novem­ber), so it wasn’t kit­ted out with the Con­ti­nen­tal tyres it’ll be sold with, and there were a few other bits that were to be tweaked for the UK mar­ket, in­clud­ing the op­tion of a Scor­pion ex­haust sys­tem to re­place the stock, an­gu­lar item. But those fac­tors did noth­ing to ren­der the WK in­com­pe­tent in the slight­est. Not even the un­pro­nounce­able­branded tyres that it came on were knock­able, as I show­cased the bike’s han­dling prow­ess to my cyn­i­cal on-look­ing peers.

Cor­ner­ing is un­doubt­edly the par­al­lel twin’s best forte. Short of the Tri­umph, it felt the most planted bike on the test – a unan­i­mous opin­ion. It pitched into bends with ease, and stayed planted and set­tled from apex to exit. It’s a good job too be­cause there’s no ad­just­ment to the bike’s sus­pen­sion, but it wasn’t war­ranted by any of us test­ing it, de­spite our weight range from 10-17 stone. It was a one-stop­shop that just seemed do what it needed to do for each of us.

What it didn’t do so well was ac­cel­er­ate in the way that folk on the street do when they see Fa­gan run­ning to­wards them with his trousers down (we’re try­ing to get him to stop do­ing it). The ini­tial get-go is a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing, es­pe­cially when com­pared to the ef­forts of the sim­i­larly dis­placed 690 Duke and MT-07. I grew up in an era where most of my mates had the time of their lives on some bat­tered old SV650. They were mint bikes; good-ish han­dling, re­spectable-ish look­ing and pack­ing enough punch to help one mas­ter wheel­ies of the high­est or­der.

In many re­spects the WK re­minds me of that iconic ‘first big bike’, but for the fact it’s lack­ing that low-range ex­cite­ment. That didn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean the bike was slow, but it took a few sec­onds for the de­liv­ery to kick in. When rolling, it was an easy bike to keep up with its ri­vals, made all the eas­ier by its abil­ity to carry bucket loads of cor­ner speed, but what good is that when you’re try­ing to rinse a Corsa from the traf­fic lights?

On a chirpier note, the fuelling is un­ques­tion­ably smooth and lin­ear. It’s not a lumpy mo­tor in the way that V-twins are, or even some par­al­lel-twins. It’s more re­fined than that, al­though it didn’t like be­ing run to low in the revs as this would of­ten pro­voke a cough­ing fit which made the other­wise com­fort­able bike rather un­com­fort­able.

The brakes were good, es­pe­cially so con­sid­er­ing their na­ture. I’m not so sure slide calipers are set to make a come­back, but this bike fash­ioned them well. Be­cause it’s only light­weight, it didn’t need any­thing big­ger or more pow­er­ful, and the ABS sys­tem was un­in­tru­sive. There’s no ar­se­nal of tech on this bike for the sim­ple rea­son it doesn’t need it, but one item that gar­nered at­ten­tion was the dash. It was eas­ier on the eye than most of its ad­ver­saries and the fact it had a gear in­di­ca­tor (un­like the Ducati) made it eas­ier to keep the bike on the boil – which is how it likes to be rid­den. This is far from the best bike in the world, or the best op­tion on this test even, but it’s a bike that de­serves a test ride at least. It was the sur­prise pack­age in this bunch of repro­bates, which re­ally is say­ing some­thing. Es­pe­cially when you cast your eyes back onto that price tag…



Cor­ner­ing con­fi­dence is the bike’s best trait. What a lovely lit­tle lump. It cer­tainly wasn’t the worst of the bunch.

She’s a tidy pack­age.p Could there be any more an­gles on the NK?

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