LONG TERM WRAP-UP: A year with a 2017 CFMoto Cforce 500 HO

April 12, 2018 5 By Marc A Quessy

You know what makes my day in this job? Give me the keys to a brand-new ATV/UTV and tell me I can do whatever I want with it  for a year! OH JOY! This time, our mission was: Use it, abuse it and beat the living daylights out of it!  We’re going to throw everything at it, including the kitchen sink (so to speak). After taking a year of abuse with zero maintenance, we would finally know if the “Egg Roll”, as we nicknamed it, could be considered as good as  the established OEMs products.

So, what do we really think about the CForce 500 HO single seater? Read on!

With an MSRP of $6,995.00 cad, “trail ready” with EPS power steering, mirrors, horn, flashers,  four-way emergency flashers, a winch and a towing package pre-installed, the Cforce is really inexpensive. Seven grand and all you need is a licence plate, a trail pass and you’re in business! Similarly equipped, its nearest competitor OTD price would be at least a thousand dollars more out of your pocket.  . Also, we did not include labour to install all this  equipment. So OK, it’s a steal on paper (or on screen of you prefer)

ENGINE:

The (little for these days) 495 cc mill is in fact pretty nice. Nothing stellar compared to the already crowded competition that are almost all  more responsive than our tester’s engine. What it lacks in crispness and raw horsepower, it gains in the torque spread. It has torque right off idle and will be a torquey little bugger right up to the 6000 rpm range where it kind of wheezes out. It’s still pulling past that, but it loses a lot of steam.

I really think that the mapping here is the culprit. Did you ever get the feeling an engine could do more? Just by “feeling it” while riding? That’s the feeling I’m getting with this engine. I’d love to get to play with the ECU on this one. I suspect that CFMoto, being sold around the world,  must have used the European mapping that is more stringent on emissions. I know there’s a few ponies and better driveability left in it. The Bosh ECU and ignition system could be accessed rather easily I think. But to be fair , I’m just nitpicking. It’s nothing to amaze you power wise and it’s quiet enough to let you think you’re on a Japanese ATV. There’s also a nice throaty engine intake noise when you open it up too.

Top indicated  speed is a tad under 95kph so it’s   fast enough not to get left behind if you ride with friends with bigger displacement machines. It gets up to that speed pretty quick too. We forgot to test the fuel economy but I’ll still mention it because when riding with other ATVs it always seemed like the other guys needed to fuel  when we were only at the 2/3 of a tank.

Engine-wise, it’s OK.

Transmission/CVT/Differentials

Surprise! A small displacement CFMoto with a dry clutch! You read this right folks, a dry clutch! No centrifugal power robbing wet clutch here. Oh, and another thing worth mentioning : It’a fullon CVTech CVT. A primary Trailbloc and an Invance as secondary. This setup is amazing! I’m already a fan of CVTech clutches to start with, but discovering that the CForce 500 uses the top shelf CVTech components just makes my day. No clutch kits to buy if you decide to switch to bigger tires, just some weights and maybe a spring and you’re in business.

Even after all the abuse we put this machine through, from mud racing to mud bogging and, that insane ride we went to with Park to Park trails in Parry Sound Ont., where it was submerged right up to the seat in water. The CVT never skipped a beat. When we opened it up  to install a set of Camso R4S small displacement ATV tracks, everything in it was mud brown but, guess what? The belt was in near-perfect condition with not even 1 mm of wear. OK now I’m impressed.

Now, let’s talk about  the transmission. Did you know you can lock the shifter in Park with your ignition key? Nice. Talking about that shifter, I hate the darned thing! Well, not exactly the shifter so to say, but the safety lock that prevents unwanted shifting. You have to push down the brake pedal and only the brake pedal to shift it to and from any gear. If it would work every time I’d live with it. But when you miss two out of three shifts, it starts to be very bothersome.

One thing I love about this ATV is that it’s a real 4X4 and not a part-time system. So, it’s got 2WD, 4X4 high, 4X4 low and a fully locked 4X4 when the going gets really tough. It worked flawlessly every time. The controls are on the right handlebar and very similar to a Yamaha ATV.

Mechanical noises, such as gear droning, is minimal on this unit and only a slight mid frequency buzzing can be heard when maintaining a steady 60+kph on asphalt or hardpacked roads. I’ve heard much louder drive systems on other high-end machines, so it’s below the norm on that side.

 

Suspension/Steering/Brakes

Suspension is handled by a basic A-arm system and  conventional coil over, non-adjustable shocks with adjustable preload. And you know what? They work surprisingly well. Spring calibration and damping is spot on and can cope with

pretty much all of you can throw at it. Don’t go thinking you’ll rival  with high performance ATVs with adjustable remote reservoir shocks, because you’ll quickly find the limit in rebound and the rear end is going to give you a less than friendly reminder that it’s not happy. It can do trails at a relatively fast clip, but it’s not designed for running the whoops.

The Egg Roll came equipped with an electric power steering (EPS). Everything’s great with the EPS at low to medium speeds, but anything passed 70 kph and you will feel that it  is way too powerful. The high and wide handlebars make it a little better but you will feel the bike’s  tendency to sway lightly from side to side. Intelligent speed and sensitive power steering please? I usually complain about the lack of assistance but in this case, it’s just a little too powerful. It’s not that bad, but I feel it deserves mentioning.

I don’t know why every CFMoto ATVs I’ve test ridden had such horrible turning radiuses. Why? I can’t find what’s the issue that would make them turn so wide. Compared to the excellent 2018 Yamaha Kodiak 450, the Cforce takes 2.1 metres more to make a full circle. 2.1 metres is like a football field to me, even more so when you have two machines right there with you to compare. In real life, when you need to turn it around in a tight trail, you will need an extra back up and turn to complete a full reversal compared to the Yamaha. Again, it’s not a deal breaker, but CFMoto should look into this.

About the braking system: I love it!  Finally, a CFMoto ATV with good brakes! I’ve always complained about its bigger brother’s (the CForce 800), pedal and lever effort, that was just too high for my taste, and the brakes always felt wooden . Not the case here. Pedal feel and modulation is good and lever effort is even better . I like these brakes and they have a high tolerance to fading even when they are wet.

Tires and Wheels

Nothing very interesting here. A very basic set of steelies in semi gloss black. The tires are Innova Mud Gear lites in 25” front and back. A very basic V-shaped tread on a bias ply carcass. They can handle the basic working conditions, small rides, hunting and the likes but, if touring is your thing, you’ll need better rubber, the sooner the better.

We opted for a change right after our first ride. What can I say, I’m picky when it comes to tires, very picky in fact. So, we went with something basic, a set of 26 inch Traxion Offroad Nitros, mounted on a set of X1 machined 12 inch alloy wheels. The Nitro is  a 6 ply bias carcass, has reinforced sidewalls that are much tougher and stiffer. It was an immediate improvement over the Innova’s. The wheels also have a 4+3 offset which also made the CForce’s stance almost 2 inches wider than stock. Much better road feel with this setup. You can get this combo from ATVTiresCanada.com for under $700 shipped to your door from coast to coast. Nice! Thanks Phil!

Body/Comfort

The CForce 500 HO is built as an entry level ATV. Using the 400 cc’s platform and stuffing a much more powerful engine in it to attain a low price point but, there are drawbacks. The automotive type paint on our tester is a nice touch, but I’d rather have coloured plastics on a price point machine. The paint is a little too easy to scratch and too thinly applied . You have to be careful when you get on or off the bike because your boots will scratch the paint very easily. Don’t ask me why I know…

The seat to bar-and-pedal position is a little different from what I am used to. The handlebars are high compared to its competitors and for me, being a 6’3” and not a skinny guy, it was refreshing not to dive down to reach the bars. High and wide, I like that very much. Now if that power steering could be a little more speed sensitive, the Egg Roll would be near perfect in this department.. The seat is almost perfect.. Not too hard, not too soft. Really hot days will make the foam soften and make the seat a little mushy, but it gets better once your ride and air moves around in there.

Long days in the saddle are a breeze on this ATV. Nicely done!

Accessories

We chose to keep our beloved “Egg Roll” as stock as possible not to skew the results but, I just can’t leave anything alone so. We invested on  what I think is the best value in  accessories from the oem and the aftermarket, without altering the performance of the machine:

CFMoto OEM front and rear bumpers.

Protecting your investment is the name of the game here. You play hard? Make you ATV harder with a set of bumpers. The first thing Louis said when he unpacked the boxes was: “Man those are well-made” Build quality is on par to what is available in the aftermarket. Guess what? Installation is a snap. Everything fits right off the bat. Holes align properly, no prying and dremel necessary. The powder coated finish is excellent and you can see the weld quality with good penetration and no spatter. Nice.

The competition:

Yamaha Kodiak 450
Suzuki King Quad 500
Honda Rubicon 500
Can-Am Outlander 450
Polaris Sportsman 570
Textron Offroad Alterra 500

Spécifications :

CFMoto Cforce 500 HO 2017 (on the CFMoto Canada website)

Conclusion:

Way back when I started in the online magazine business, I was not on buddy-buddy terms with CFMoto Canada. I was their worst critic in my province. I simply despised their UTVs. Remember the SWAT and the first gen Snyper 600? Their ATVs weren’t so bad but cheaply built, and would not stand the test of time unless they were pampered by their owners.

Sometimes… Things change, and opinions too.
Only one part broke on the Cforce during all this abuse: the front left shock called it quits and blew a seal. We didn’t even notice it until we removed the Camso R4S tracks. It’s all our fault but the folks at CFMoto fixed it. Thanks! The rest is all good, even the valve clearance when checked upon return was just a tad tight on the exhaust side. Nothing loose, brakes were still good, no leaks from the powertrain, nothing, nada, niet.

Now

I’m not going to even try and tell you this  ATV is the best thing since sliced bread. The small displacement segment is full of extremely good machines from large manufacturers (except Kawasaki, for now) and those machines have proved their worth. The Cforce series is going up against some very serious competition.

Only the test of time will determine if CFMoto can rank amongst the best.

In 1800 km of riding this ATV with the clear intent of having it fail on us, I have to raise  the white flag. OK CFMoto you’ve earned my respect.

Finally, I can attest the Cforce small displacement series is the real deal. An honest to goodness ATV series that I can recommend to you, our readers. Please, do take some time and go to one of the multiple CFMoto test rides all over Canada and ride one if you dare, you might like it… A lot!

This long-term test has been made possible by the Quadiste.net certified CFMoto dealers in Quebec/Ontario where you will receive the best customer experience for the brand. Buy, maintain and get proper warranty service by dealers who have been certified with confidence. Only the best for your hard-earned dollars.

Note: This long-term beatdown was not sponsored or approved by CFMoto Canada. The repetitive abuse we have submitted this ATV to is way beyond reasonable and should not be reproduced on ANY machine you own. Lack of maintenance is NOT covered under ANY manufacturer’s warranty. We took a chance of totally wrecking this machine’s powertrain, but I just had to do it. I wanted to see for myself that they could indeed be inducted within what I consider as an OEM manufacturer instead of a novelty builder.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook Comments