Caofen F-80 Review: Electric 8kW dual sport is street-legal and Sondors-priced

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We got the chance to test ride a street-legal plus off-road electric motorcycle that comes at a reasonable price point, something of an albatross since the Sondors Metacycle went under.

For a while now, we’ve been seeing quite a few off-road e-bikes/motorcycles with similar specs, price, and design language as the Sur Ron Light Bee. Unfortunately, most of these aren’t street-legal like the more expensive and kitted out Zero FX/E. While that’s likely not a concern for those riding on private property, having more street-legal options in this segment of the market is something I’m excited to see more of. Thankfully, manufacturers are slowly starting to fill that gap.

$4,500 Dual Sport

The Caofen F-80 off-road version is an electric dual-sport motorcycle that’s fully street-legal in 50 states and has some decent specs that make for a fun day. For this test ride, I visited an off-road vehicle park in the northeast, put on my gear, and tried to see just how well this bike would perform on trails.

Now, while Caofen does have a few other models, such as the FX full-sized off-road motorcycle as well as a more street-oriented version of the F-80, for this review, we’ll be focusing mostly on the F-80 off-road version. Thankfully, we got the opportunity to test this out on an off-road course with tight turns and jumps. For the sake of the review, I made sure to try my hardest to test its limits, but full disclosure: I am a beginner at motocross and off-road riding. 

Post ride photos

Compliance parts:

The F-80 is capable of obtaining insurance, plates, and registration, but this bike was built primarily as an off-road motorcycle geared more for trails and motor tracks. So many of the parts that make the bike street-legal, such as the license plate holder, felt more like an afterthought with lower-quality parts than what is on the rest of the bike. 

Before we get into the weeds, let’s get a few specs out of the way. 

Specs:

  • Motor: 8kw
  • Top speed: 62mph
  • Battery: Liquid-cooled 2.2kWh 72v 30 ah and 2.2kWh and 3.9kWh 48 ah 
  • Weight: 165lb
  • Frame: Single-piece aluminum frame
  • Brakes: 230mm disc brakes on the front and 203mm at the rear
  • Size: 77×31×42 
  • Clearance: 14 inches

Initial thoughts:

The F80 looks and feels different from your typical Sur Ron Light bee in the sense that it has a bit more power and feels more like a full-sized motocross bike. It’s also not in that upper-echelon class of electric dirt bikes. I’d say if the classic Sur Ron was at one side of the spectrum and the higher-end dirt bikes such as Surron’s Storm Bee, Stark Varg, or KTM free ride e-xc was at the other end then this would be somewhere in between depending on how you look at it.

In terms of pricing, the street-legal off-road version of the F-80 with the 30-ah battery configuration comes in at $4,500 on the www.caofen.us website. The bigger battery 48-ah version is available for an extra $500.

Legality

At that price point, it’s close to that of most other 45-60 mph electric bikes. One big difference here for the F-80 is that Caofen is claiming that it can be registered in 50 states. When I test rode it on the east coast, I was shown registration for the vehicle as well as a license plate. Now this may not be a huge factor for those who are looking to ride primarily on trails, but for those who enjoy off-road capable bikes even on city streets and don’t necessarily want to go for the 10+k price range of a highway-suitable dual sport like a Zero FX, it’s a great thing that companies like Caofen are starting to fill that gap in the market. 

Power

In terms of power, the motor is rated for a max peak output of 8kw and claims to have 310 nm of torque. To be truthful, even though I always want as much power and torque as possible in an electric bike, with this being my first time in an offroad dedicated park with a mini motocross track, I found this to be more than enough power. 

For trail riding and beginner motocross riding I think this bike handles well and is nicely balanced. The one downside aside from the lower quality compliance parts like the plate holder that broke off was the rather small footpegs. I believe the suspension is adequate but not to the level of some of the higher-end dual sport bikes. But then again this is still a 72v off-road bike with 8kw of peak power and DOT approved. 

Getting into some of the pros here the frame is a zero-weld one-piece unit that adds strength and lowers the weight. In total, the bike weighs 165 lbs with a 30-ah battery. This, combined with the 8kw of power, made it relatively easy to skid the rear wheel on loose dirt, and I’d imagine for those who wheelie that this would be plenty of fun. 

Battery:

As for charging, the batteries can be charged from fully empty to full in three hours for the street-legal off-road bike. When it comes to the battery Caofen uses a patented immersion cooling battery system that claims to achieve 8 times the thermal balance and only 50% of normal temperature rise. The temperature control system allows you to ride freely in any case, even in a minus 40-degree environment.

When it comes to brakes, the F-80 is stopped with 230mm disc brakes on the front and 203mm at the rear. It’s an adequate feeling brake but leaves you wanting just a bit more heavy-duty braking power. In terms of size, the bike comes in at a size of 77×31×42 and gives you about 14 inches of clearance. 

For those wanting a bigger size, with better suspension and upgraded brakes, you may want to check out their full-sized version, the FX, which costs $5800 and features a 12kw motor. 

Electrek’s take:

I think it’s great that Caofen is bringing this to the market at a low price point. Being able to ride without worrying about breaking the law just to have fun on your electric motorcycle is a feature that not enough manufacturers are including. Let’s face it: A lot of people who ride high-speed e-bikes/motorcycles like Sur Rons or Talarias ride on public roads despite manufacturers saying that it’s not street legal. I think if there were more options like this on the market at lower prices, we’d be seeing a lot of young people opting to register their bikes and ride a bit safer, especially if it meant they needed a motorcycle license and the required skills to operate these types of bikes on the street. 

For more info on their bikes, you can check out www.caofen.us or www.caofenusa.com

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