CFMOTO is no stranger to off-road vehicles. In fact, many of you may be more familiar with CFMOTO ATVs and side-by-sides, which the company has been selling in the U.S. for more than 20 years. Its first foray into the ADV market was the street-focused 650 ADVentura, announced in June of last year as part of the 2022 lineup. More recently, the company released the 2023 CFMOTO Ibex 800 T and Ibex 800 S, with the 800 T designed for “when the blacktop turns to dirt” – fitting since the bike is named after a wild mountain goat.
Both the Ibex 800 T and S are powered by a liquid-cooled 799cc parallel-Twin with DOHC and 4 valves per cylinder borrowed from the previous-generation KTM 790 Adventure that makes a claimed 94 hp and 57 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 6-speed gearbox with a slip/assist clutch (the T also adds a quickshifter to the mix). Both bikes are equipped with throttle-by-wire and have two ride modes (Sport and Rain) and cruise control.
The Ibex 800 S ($9,499) rolls on cast wheels (19-inch front, 17-inch rear) and is aimed at street-focused riders. The Ibex 800 T ($10,499) has spoked wheels and is equipped with several upgrades, including a skid plate, heated grips, a heated seat, a quickshifter, and both USB and 12V outlets. Our Ibex 800 T test bike was equipped with the optional centerstand ($279.99) and pannier set ($1,699.99), for an as-tested price of $12,479.
When I fired up the Ibex 800 T for the first time, I found the aural quality of the engine to be kind of chirpy, but once you get moving, the billy goat gets gruff, producing a satisfying growl and a surge forward with some nice grunt in the midrange. However, the throttle-by-wire needs some fine tuning. In Sport mode, response was a bit too snatchy. This can be mitigated in Rain mode, but when the roads are dry, this seems more like a workaround than a feature. The throttle-by-wire also led to issues in the dirt, but more on that shortly.
As this is an adventure-touring bike, it seemed fitting that my first experience on the bike was about 50 miles of interstate – and 3,000 feet of elevation gain – to my house. The 800 T has an adjustable windscreen, and it was quite effective at preventing buffeting for my 6-foot frame. I kept the windscreen at the highest position, but for those wanting it somewhere else, height adjustment is tool-less and quick, offering about 2 inches of range.
The Ibex 800 T rides on Maxxis MaxxVenture MA1 tires, which CFMOTO says are manufactured specifically for the bike. Their tread pattern is that of a 90/10 (road/off-road) tire, and as such, I felt the tires performed admirably on the pavement. They offered a smooth ride and weren’t noisy at high speeds, and when combined with the fully adjustable KYB suspension (6.3/5.9 inches of travel front/rear), they inspired more confidence than I was expecting when cornering. Even with the 37 lb of the accessory aluminum top and side cases added, I definitely enjoyed the ride when I was able to get it off the interstate and onto some state highways with more sweepers.
CFMOTO Ibex 800 T: In It For the Distance…Mostly
There were a couple issues I noticed during those first miles on the Ibex. First, there was something about the aerodynamics of the bike that caused a high pitched, near-constant whistle between 65 and 80 mph. Thinking it might’ve been the cases (it sounded like it was coming from behind me), I pulled them off and tested again after I got home, but I still got the same result. I’m not sure what could be done to remedy this, but I would want to get it solved if this was my bike.
Another minor issue is the cruise control. The buttons are large and easy to reach, but it tops out at 80 mph. In my home state of Utah, that’s the interstate speed limit, a speed that it seems like only the semis do…sometimes. The Ibex is a bike that feels steady at higher speeds, and I took it easily above 80 on a few occasions when I needed to overtake someone, but I was limited if I wanted to peg the cruise.
Otherwise, this is a bike that is comfortable for the distance, especially on the highway. Its handling was a pleasure – even more enjoyable when I tested it without the added weight of the cases – and the handlebar is set at a good height and sweep and combines with an approachable 32.5-inch seat height (and a relatively wide and cushy saddle) for an upright position that matched my frame and 32-inch inseam. On a longer trip I took, I stopped every couple hours for gas, but there wasn’t any inordinate stiffness in my body as I stepped off the bike, and I was ready to hop back on as soon as it was filled up.
The 7-inch TFT is clear and easy to read. The home screen includes everything you might want to see without feeling too cluttered, and the submenus offer a plethora of options, including three levels of heated grips and heated seats, handy features when I was climbing to higher elevations. Getting to the various submenus, however, requires a combination of long and quick pushes of several buttons that is reminiscent of the starting sequence of Furiosa’s rig in Mad Max: Fury Road, which can get a little cumbersome if you’re wanting to turn on those heated grips on the fly…or during the apocalypse. Once you get the sequence down, it’s pretty intuitive, but sometimes I got sent back to the main menu by accident, and there were times the menu froze up entirely for a moment.
The bike’s navigation feature is also a little clunky. On my longer trip, I paired the bike to my phone with the CFMOTO Ride app and set a destination. The app offered a couple alternate choices to the main route, but when I selected one and set off, the navigation kept trying to take me on the original route, attempting to reroute me every time I ignored it. Also, even though the automated voice in my helmet was giving distances in miles, the display was giving me kilometers. My colleague Allison Parker had similar issues with the navigation feature on a different CFMOTO (see her 2023 CFMOTO 300SS First Ride Review here). At least I wasn’t being given distances in inches like she was, but there are certainly a few kinks to be worked out with the app’s navigation settings.
However, I appreciated that all the home screen information was still displayed across the top of the navigation screen. And when it comes to connectivity and charging, the Ibex has two USB ports and a 12-volt port just below and on either side of the TFT display.
And ‘When the Blacktop Turns to Dirt’?
This is my first time on an ADV bike, and while I enjoyed the new experience, I think the Ibex 800 T in stock form won’t provide the adventure that more experienced ADV riders seek, although there are accessories that would take it up a notch. At a minimum, mounting more off-road-ready tires would be smart if you want to get dirty.
While enjoying a highway tour on the bike, I spotted a dirt road in the distance that left the pavement, heading off into the hills between the sagebrush and pinyon junipers. It was a two-track intermediate dirt road, not too sandy, rutted, or rocky. I was comfortable in the standing position that suited my height without feeling strain in my back, and I rode relatively conservatively. However, I felt hindered from pushing myself a little more by that snatchy throttle. I may have been physically comfortable standing at steady speed, but slight rolling on or off of the throttle threw me off balance.
After I came to a turn-around point on the dirt road, since I was enjoying this newfound freedom – I kept thinking about how there was no way my Harley Softail would’ve taken me on this adventure – I decided to see if putting it in Rain mode would allow me to take the pace up a little.
Some of you may see where this is going.
For stopping power, both Ibex 800 models have J.Juan components, with radial-mount 4-piston calipers biting dual 320mm discs up front and a 2-piston floating caliper pinching a single 260mm disc in the rear. The brakes did a great job on the pavement, shedding speed when necessary without feeling too grabby. Both bikes also have cornering ABS, which is where I ran into a problem in the dirt.
Unlike some other ADV bikes on the market, ABS cannot be turned off and there’s not an off-road ABS mode (which typically has less intervention on the front wheel and disables ABS at the rear). As I rode down the dirt road in Rain mode, even at slow speed, applying the front brake lever made the front end shudder as ABS kicked in. Down I went.
After I hefted the 546-lb bike back up on its rubber, I switched back to Sport mode, as I hadn’t noticed the ABS issue when riding with that setting. So for the rest of my novice dirt adventure, I was caught between wanting to push myself a little more but not feeling confident with the snatchy throttle responses.
Right on the Cusp
Besides not having switchable ABS, most of my nits to pick with the Ibex 800 T are pretty minor and will hopefully work themselves out in future models – or at least with a Utah version that ups the cruise control limit. When all is said and done, this is a fun bike that feels like it’s right on the cusp of staking its claim as a solid adventure-touring bike for a reasonable price.
2023 CFMOTO Ibex 800 T Specs
- Base Price: $10,499
- Price as Tested: $12,479 (centerstand [$279.99] and pannier set [$1,699.99])
- Website: CFMOTOUSA.com
- Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
- Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
- Displacement: 799cc
- Bore x Stroke: 88 x 65.7mm
- Horsepower: 94 hp @ 9,000 rpm (factory claim)
- Torque: 56.8 lb-ft @ 7,500 rpm (factory claim)
- Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch
- Final Drive: Chain
- Wheelbase: 60.3 in.
- Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.06 in.
- Seat Height: 32.5 in.
- Wet Weight: 509 lb (without panniers)
- Fuel Capacity: 5 gal.
- Fuel Consumption: 44 mpg
- Estimated Range: 220 miles