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…
SHORTORT OF THETH TRIUMPH, IT FELT THE MOST PLANTED BIKE ON TEST.
IT WASN’T QUITE A CASE OF SHOOTING FISH IN BARRELS, BUT THE TRUMPET FAR OUTCLASSED ANY BIKE HERE.
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?