Caofen F80: Electric double sport, made in China


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Along with all of the major motorcycle makers’ releases at EICMA this week, there are also plenty of smaller niche manufacturers showcasing their products. One of those manufacturers is Caofen, based in China, with the new dual sport electric F80, offering an emissions-free alternative for off-road fun.

Details on the new F80 (or is it the F8? Marketers have it both ways) are still a bit thin. Currently, Caofen is trying to recruit distributors and resellers around the world, and its main internet presence appears to be this Facebook page. Sifting through the ads on this page, here’s what we can deduce:

  • Caofen claims you can ride all day long on a two hour charging session. Just guessing, that means there is a fast charger involved. The range is said to be 150 kilometers (just under 100 miles), so a “day hike” doesn’t mean cruising the highway.
  • It seems that the one-piece frame has no welds: “To ensure that every location can be perfectly presented, the body is designed seamless. The stiffness of the body has increased by 30%, while adding another layer of protection. The motorcycle body will remain intact even in the event of a parallel fall from a height of 3 meters with a speed of 50 km / h.
  • The 8,000 watt electric motor is supposed to push this bike to 85 km / h (just over 50 mph).
  • There certainly doesn’t appear to be any linkage setup on this rear monoshock, and there’s no mention of progressive damping …
  • It looks like there are F80B and F80L sub-models coming soon.

Overall, the information is a bit muddled which is almost always the case when you get details from these Chinese manufacturers. However, it seems like there has been quite a bit of real effort to design and market this bike, unlike some of the more embarrassing knockoffs from China. It certainly follows the same basic mechanical setup as the other dual electric sports we’ve seen, but there’s nothing wrong with that; you may have noticed that all internal combustion motorcycles also follow the same mechanical setup.

There’s still some work to do, though, if this rear shock doesn’t have some sort of progressive damping setup. Simple details really ruined the reputation of Chinese motorcycles when they were first put back into service in North America (does anyone remember the horrific Lifan shock linkages, which worked backwards to reduce the stroke of the motor? ‘shock absorber ?). If this bike and other made-in-China counterparts don’t get the basics right, nobody’s going to want them.

It seems unlikely that Caofen will become a motorcycle powerhouse based on this visit to EICMA, but it is an important first step for this brand and others, and could potentially pave the way for a disruption in the electric motorcycle scene. For a long time, electric motorcycles have been prohibitive for many buyers. If Chinese factories can make a safe, reliable and affordable battery-powered bicycle, they will find customers. If their products turn out to be crap, then these new electric motorcycles will be abject failures in Western markets, like the Honda knockoffs they produced a decade ago.

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