Cfmoto 650 - possible options to derestrict the Australian model Answered
When it comes to motorcycles with restrictions then Australia seems to be pretty much alone in the world.
Despite an abundance of bike to choose from that would fit weight/power limitations it seems to be common to go overboard here.
As a result basically all popular motorbikes up the 650ccm hit the AU market in a restricted form if they don't match the limitations by default.
For someone in the US just reading this might sounds like a useless concept to get people to learn how to ride a motorcycle.
As a fully licensed rider and being on a budget a bike for just over half the price of a Japanase model is still tempting.
And for general touring use the MT is actually quite a comfortable bike.
Big downside is the impossiblity to get certain bikes in an unrestricted form.
For the Cfmoto's of the older type, running the Ducati ECU it is as simple as adding a suitable fuel/ignition tuner module and removing the physical restrictions.
The newer models from 2017 onwards use a more reliable Bosch ECU though.
With them it is appearently possible to use BWM tuning module but with the requirement to do a full remap on a Dyno.
The 2018 MT is my bike, so I will focus on this, but the gerneral things are identical on all the Cfmoto 650 models.
A word on the legal things first....
Outside AU none of this concerns you as your Cfmoto will come unrestricted anyways.
Within AU however we are subject to several laws that make the legal modification of a so called LAMS motorcycle virtually impossible.
You can even put a different exhaust or airfilter on them without risking to loose your license and get some hefty fines.
As a fully licensed rider however the law often turns a blind eye on these things as they don't really matter as long as they won't affect the safety of the bike, rider or other road users.
With the plated riders out for now, let's focus on the options for a fully licensed rider, shall we?
There is no need for a RWC or anything if you already owned the bike in the LAMS version.
But if you try, for example, to go to Vicroads and have the registration details changed to reflect that the bike is now running with it's full factory default power, or a bit more you are lost.
Two reasons for this.
Firstly Cfmoto did not bother to import and register for road use any unrestricted version of the 650's.
Secondly the VIN number and engine number are fixed in a database for LAMS only bikes.
You would need a full engeneering certificate to register the bike in any modified version that affects the power output or reduces the weight of the bike.
Sets you back about 10.000 dollars and still won't garantee that Vicroads actually transform it into a legal, unrestricted bike.
The police has little to no interest in what a fully licensed rider does to a bike - within the usual limits of course.
And since you would not sell the bike without fully reverting it back to the LAMS state the risk of prosecution can be fully minimised:
If your insurer agrees to provide full comprehensive cover once the bike is (properly) reverted to what the international models are it is down to serious accidents that might still cause trouble.
For example when you cause severe injuries to someone else the bike would be checked for modifications that could have had an influence on the accident.
My insurer explained it like this:
If the bike is checked roadworthyness after an accident it would fail because it is no longer LAMS compliant.
That would automatically default the rider to be responsible for the accident even if not at fault at all.
With that it is mandatory to have all the details about the modifications listed and validated in the insurance policy!
Adding a tuning module for example would mean providing a fully Dyno chart with a safety confirmation from a licensed vehicle tester.
For example the confirmation would state that a power Commander with Auto Tune module was installed together with a slip on exhaust system.
Bike specifications allow for the save use with said modifications based on the results of the Dyno runs.
With that the rider is put back into legal territory as the insurer stands for the roadworthyness of the modifications.
It certainly helps to just stick with the default options and to provide the Cfmoto cert copy from the same international version of the bike.
A plated rider should never attempt any of this as it still means there is no way to get away - legally and financially!
Possible tuning options for the LAMS versions:
Adding one the usualy tuning modules is not only pain but also costly if done properly.
Being a LAMS bike you will have a hard finding a reputable shop to install a tuning module for you.
Doing it yourself can be tricky, especially if you consider that the default wire colors are often different on the bike.
Takes a few hours to check the wiring diagram, follow and measure connections and then to finally risk starting the bike....
It works though if you know what you doing.
Biggest downside is that you won't find any ready to go maps that you can use.
And trust me trying to modify fuel or ignition maps yourself is not for the faint of heart and only an option if you a) know what you are doing and b) have the tools for it.
There is a good chance the bike actually runs worse than without the module.
Now the obvious solution would be to go for some Dyno runs and to have it all setup properly.
Again, with a LAMS bike you will have a hard time finding a licensed and reputable shop to take your bike in.
If you find one that does it anyway than it really is best to go for the full package and to suck the costs up.
Let them supply the required modules, sensors and all, deal with the airbox and throttle limiter.
Then have the usual 3-4 Dyno runs to get the mapping done properly.
This approached worked perfectly fine for the older bikes using the Ducati ECU.
The new models with the Bosch ECU might still struggle to accept the tuning changes.
Reason for this is the checking of literally all sensor informations.
Means the tuning module must cater for this and not just fool the O2 and TPS sensor readings.
Just removing the throttle limiter and airbox restrictions will cause the bike to run too hot very quickly and also puts your ECU into a lean default mode once you see ECU errors flashing on the dash.
Real tuning options that won't have a chance to harm the engine:
With all models available internationally and without any restrictions it is relatively easy to find a wrecker in the US, EU or even Asia to supply parts from crashed bikes or those confiscated for destruction by dismantling them.
If you are a fully licensed rider and after a bargain or love your first bike so much that you want to keep it once the plates are gone:
Organise the ECU, airbox and throttle body from any part of the world except Australia.
Sometimes you even find them on Ebay so pay attention to the sellers home country (some AU sellers go international and would then just get the same what is already in your bike ;) )!!
Why not just the ECU you ask?
Our airbox has added restrictors, just removing is not the best option as they are also responsible for causing required turbulences in the airflow.
A straight through or even pot filter option would again require ECU tuning.
As said, talking stock here...
The throttle body might not be required to get the full power the bike is intended for but you never know for sure.
If in doubt pay a few bucks more and have the injectors and sensors included as well ;)
But why would I want to pay for a throttle body if it is not 100% certain I would require it?
It would'n t have the screw hole for the throttle limiter ;)
This tiny detail can be of importance if you go the full lenght, more on that later.
With those three components (or two if you want to go without the throttle body) you have a stock international version of the 650.
Makes it relatively easy to convince your insurer that the bike is safe to use in this configuration.
Adding just a slip on is no problem either as the normal ECU runs quite rich in the higher RPM's anyway and the new exhaust would not make too much mess here.
But adding a less restrictive airfilter will need Dyno tuning.
Going the full length, especially interesting if you buy a second hand Cfmoto.
It will take you a lot of Emails and some overseas phone calls but it is possible to find a wrecker that can sell you the registration plates for the frame of the bike - legally if said wrecker is allowed to sell frame number for rebuilds.
Adding this plate to your order means your second hand bike can be deregistered, sadly this means unless you pay extra you need to hand in the numberplates as well.
No big deal however if the bike comes without numberplates anyway.
Once you installed all parts and replaced the frame ID plate you take the bike for normal RWC check and get your green slip.
With that you go and ask to register your bike with new (or your old) numberplates.
The Vin will not show up in their database and a red flag comes up, prompting some questions from the offcial behind the counter.
The bike you know have is an imported model you got for cheap when you saw it for sale in some carpark with a blown engine.
As the actual engines are identical you replaced the blown engine with one from an AU bike that crashed and was written off.
In return you now pay a slightly higher than usual transfer fee but get the bike registered as he international model without LAMS restrictions.
Even the engine showing up as a LAMS engine is of no concers here as there is no legal reason to not allow the use of a lower powered engine in a motorcycle.
You insurance polcy will also go up a few bucks but that is not really worth crying about now anymore.
Once you go out with your numberplates you can enjoy a legally derestricted (imported) Cfmoto.
Ok, I got it an I say I am a fully licences rider that does not care too much and wants to go as cheap as possible...
A brand new ECU from China sets you back about $400AU.
Downside is that you are never 100% certain the mapping will fit what is installed on your bike.
There might be differences for the US or EU market, not so much though for Asia - so ask for what market region the ECU is intendet and prefer the Asia market here.
The airbox limiters should be safe to remove but you might have to make simple plates up to install so the air turbulences are within specs - you will notice if the bike runs really crappy in the high revs and struggles to provide power to the wheel...
Unless Cfmoto actually include more limitations in or around the throttle body going with stock should be fine - flashing ECU error will tell you if not.
Postage from China can be a pain, not so much for time it takes but for the money charged to use proper and trusted courier services.
Up to $100 just for postage is not uncommon but also means the parts are your within a week or 10 days most.
Some provide cheap flat rates but both have the risk of being asked to pay import duties if held by AU costoms.
Going second hand from some wrecker outside AU can be slightly cheaper for the ECU but again postage can a pain on the pocket.
The obvious downside is that the bike with such a simple and direct mod would be still a LAMS bike and if checked make it illegal to use with all the corresponding consequences for the rider - even if fully licensed, please check the above insurance part again if you must.
If done properly and maybe even with a slip on: what gains are we talking about in actual figures on the wheel?
To be honest not really that much at all, the bike is just too heavy.
But the response will improve noticable!
The bike pulls out of corners with ease now and no longer requires you shift through the gears with a screaming engine.
Imagine you have a small, 4-cylinder car and went on a long holiday trip with your heavy camping trailer always attached.
Holidays are over, you unhook the camper and go for a quick run to the shops for supplies.
It is that wow feeling that you get when you take off with the weight gone...
The gears run higher with a more evenly distributed power instead of just a narrow window of RPM's with enough power to pull away.
The KW and RPM values are available on the Cfmoto homepages.
What about top speed?
I managed to get to a full 110km/h !! ;)
For anything above that ask your local Dyno please or pay for a day on the track.
What if the police gets me and makes trouble because of the modifications?
A well trained officer in a bad mood will always be your nightmare.
So I won't go into the troubles if you still need plates or just got your full license a few days ago...
You are allowed to ride any road legal motorcycle, no matter the power ratings.
However, a really pesky cop wanting to go by the full book on you will use the computer to check your bike and registration details.
And if he knows the most obvious non-legal mods to LAMS bikes, like the shiny exhaust you will need a lift home.
Chances are though that a clean driving record and having your full license for a few years indicates that you actually know how to handle your bike properly.
That is the point where your honesty and details with the insurance company matter.
Preferably with you having a copy of your policy with you when riding the bike.
With that you can always argue the modifications are documented and approved by your insurer and corresponding vehicle tester.
Makes it then only a minor offence for not being LAMS conform.
The paperwork to fight you on what your insurer singed off for is just not worth it with a possible drunk driver getting past while you argue....
Legally they can still book you or even take the bike but do they ever bother to take those Harleys or street racers with screaming exhausts you hear from miles away before you even see the bike? ;)
As said, it comes down to a LAMS offense that is fully covered by your insurer and with that not really worth making a big fuzz about.
If you got pulled over for speeding or other offenses the story will be different though as it then could be argued you made these modifications with the INTENT of illegal activities - like speeding or pulling stunts that are not allowed on public roads.
Here you insurer can refuse the cover the same way they would for the same offences on a fully legally unrestricted bike.
Is it worth taking the risk?
No, it is not!
If you are after a bike with good handling and power you would not ride a Cfmoto...
As a true LAMS bike the resale value is actually quite good if the bike is kept in good condition.
Modified you will have a hard time selling it as no learner would take the risk - a working brain assumed here.
For a keeper once fully licensed or someone on a budget it can be quite tempting.
After all, it leaves a nagging feeling if have a full license and sit on a restricted bike....
You always have to explain what you ride and why anyway every time you pull over where chatty bikers are around.
Selling the bike in good condition and maybe together with the extras you got over the years might be enough to justify the extra for a second hand bike from Asia, Italy or Austria and give you more leasure and pleasure in the long run.
Doing it properly and in the most legal way costs quite a few bucks.
If you add this to the current asking price of around 7500 ride away will add at least another $1500.
Depending on the exhaust system even more.
If you require proper identification and tracing of things like VIN plates it can be clse to $2000.
At this point you already see really only makes sense it is a cheap second hand bike, whicj makes the entire approach a bit questionable anyway.
With now close to $10.000 for a new bike the difference to a well known brand with maybe a better reputation is not that big anymore.
The bike would already be unrestricted and making road legal modification wouldn't interest anyone.
Not to mention of course the warranty issues as Cfmoto won't honor any of it if you modify new LAMS bike!
Now add the possible costs for repairs or parts that would otherwise be free and free of labour costs and the bargain becomes very expensive before the warranty period is over.
There will be the point where you ask yourself why did you bother in the first place....
Once modded the factory warranty is void so to say.
Problem here is that the law is intentionally unclear on the reasons and options applicable here.
As the bike would (without exhaust mod) be just like any international model the law states the warranty must be granted.
However, Cfmoto has the right to refuse it anyway based on the exclusions required by law to prevent non-LAMS conform bikes from getting back on the road.
A blown engine with a proper service history would be no big deal without this.
The right to refuse a free warranty replacement for covered parts if the bike was not serviced by a licensed dealer is something car manufacturers already failed with.
Cfmoto however will argue that their terms and conditions always superseed any Australian laws or regulations unless it was legally shown that one or more sections are actually invalid in Australia.
This includes any evident or suspected tampering with the LAMS restrictions.
If in doubt an ECU reading would indicate the impossible throttle positions used and the different ECU.
Means even once the warranty is over you can't really take your bike to your dealer for a service or just a check without risking troubles.
Some say this is still not enough to deter restricted drivers, I say that any fully licensed rider should have the right to enjoy his bike without LAMS restrictions.
But if in doubt Cfmoto is always right, no matter how they argue.
Last words from the wise camel....
If you are fully licensed it is entirely your choice what you do with your bike and how you deal with - or interprete possible legal issues.
Anyone required to display plates should just not think about modding the bike, it is not worth the risk.
Although not really a big deal for an experienced rider, the added power and better response can cause a bad judgement.
You might have been happy to open her up fully around your favourite hiarpin bend but now it could mean you loose traction even if don't try to break your LAMS approved speed record.
Especially when things get a bit slippery and unexpected it can be difficult to prevent the heavy beast from going down.
Never underestimate what you can't see and react to in time!
Never overestimate your skills or the bikes real capabilities in terms of handling and grip!
Once you are fully used to the different response you are fine, until then it is better to play it safe instead of ending up to be very, very sorry....