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Scooter Review

CF Moto JetMax 250i Review

Our epic trip from Melbourne to Sydney, over 1000 km's of hard riding. The JetMax proves it can go the distance.

Allen Drysdale

 

Introduction

When we first kicked off with the idea of riding Melbourne to Sydney, the CF Moto JetMax provided the initial motivation. Could we pick up a brand new scooter, freshly pre-delivered, and ride it over 1000 km's in testing conditions. Lets add into the equation that this scooter just happens to be Chinese built with a retail price of under $4000.

Our test this time involved picking up three scooters from Melbourne and riding them enthusiastically back to Sydney. Partnering me on the trip was Piaggio's X7 300 and Kymco's Downtown 300i with ABS. Two other riders were recruited for the ride, Muz from Scooter Central and our trusty scooter geek, Scooterman.

Specifications

The CF Moto JetMax looked on paper to have an honest set of credentials. First of all, the 258 cc motor pumps out a willing 16.5 Kw of power, runs fuel injection and is liquid cooled. The engine has been built and developed in-house by CF Moto. A unique credential in China, CF Moto chose to break away from the GY6 platform and develop their own engine. All up the JetMax produces a credible amount of power for the capacity, again rare for a Chinese machine.

The styling is typically Asian. The JetMax has a long sloping front which is dominated by two large headlights either side of a chrome grill. Australia will get a short screen as seen on our test unit, which tends to do the JetMax some extra justice. The touches of chrome look smart and over time the styling actually grew on all of us. From the rear it looks a little awkward, a small round backside with an integrated set of LED lights, not helped by the huge passenger grab handles.

The dash is simple, the main feature being a large analogue dial for speed. Though you do have some digital elements for fuel and temp. Everything is easily visible at a glance, even the MP3 music controls sit nice and central. Speakers are fitted, gimmicky yes, but they could bring pleasure for some. The switchgear is all above par for this pricepoint, it felt good and looked respectable.

The central tunnel between the feet houses the fuel filler. You enter the fuel manually by key, the cap is a simple screw on/off affair. The glovebox, whilst a little flimsy, holds smaller loose items, here you will find the USB input for the MP3 player. The main in-line fuse from the battery also lives here.

The seat is low, the specs say 718 mm's, yet it does feel lower. The seat is two tiered, a huge welcoming backrest supports the rider. The seat opens off the ignition key, again is a little flimsy, but opens to reveal a large storage area. It's one helmet - plus type storage, rectangle in shape and deep. The ignition comes with a slide over security feature that can be opened and closed by reversing the key.

Wheel size is 15 inch on the front and a 14 inch on the rear. Tyres are standard Chinese affair, swap these for better rubber ASAP. Rear shocks are dual adjustable jobs.

Centre and side stand come as standard. Brakes are dual disc on the front (240mm) and single disc on the rear (220mm). 

 

 

 On the Road

Remember we had three scooters on review which we will comparatively cover in separate articles. With CF Moto's JetMax 250 what was immediately apparent was the available power on tap.  A brand new scooter fresh out of the box with just a few K's on the clock.

The JetMax in numerous off the line acceleration runs was just behind Piaggio's X7 300, neither scooter could catch the extra capacity of the Downtown. Impressive for a scooter at this price point, though not surprising given the power specifications listed. Top speed testing revealed a true GPS measured 130 km/h. The JetMax was out about 8 km/h on the speedo, displaying a top speed of just under 140 km/h.

As the km's grew on the odometer so did the JetMax's ability to negotiate hills and freeway speeds. Once "run-in" the JetMax is a pretty handy freeway capable scooter. Averaging 110 km/h was a simple affair. Sitting above this speed for longer periods was doable, even when negotiating hills and inclines. The low screen fitted to the Australian model worked well at speed, seemed to spread the air consistently over the rider. This was helped in-turn by the wide frontal area.

On a side note: when I talk about "running in", the JetMax never got a chance to be nursed into its first 1000 km's. It was on the gas from the get-go, everyone agreed this produced the best from the engine. It felt stronger the closer we got to Sydney and this could be said for all three scooters on review. A word of advice is when testing a scooter for purchase look at the kilometres travelled, low k's on the odo will never give you a true indication of a scooters speed and power.

The JetMax sits low to the ground so immediately you feel comfortable and you find this one easy to manoeuvre even at low speeds. For enthusiastic riding this can mean some scraping, though it doesn't get all that excessive. The suspension keeps up with most irregularities, you can get some crashing over potholes or over rough surfaces, but really items like this normally only get better with price. The frame wasn't as rigid as some of its travelling partners, again generally a price point, country of origin thing. For me when I found this scooters limitations I could easily ride around them. The JetMax holds an impressive heavy stable line at speed.

Brakes seemed to fair ok, remembering a great deal of riding was performed at the limit. The dual front brakes were the key to stopping, the rear was the steadier. On fast stretches you could easily get away with just using the rear brake anyway. Actually on fast sections of road, you could come into 60 km/h corners and use the CVT to slow. Once in and through the apex, full power, twist hard and away you go.   

Talking of CVT transmissions, the JetMax does sound like it could take off at any stage. The JetMax isn't silent by any stretch, letting you know it's doing its job. You become a little more comfortable once realising the JetMax comes with its own set of tunes.

The tyres do need to be replaced. Typically Chinese you would love something with a softer compound, one it would help with grip and two it would help with ride quality. The standard fitment tyres are hard and given the speeds this scooter can reach I'd like some better rubber.

All up we travelled over 1000 km's on the JetMax in an effort to ride, Melbourne to Sydney, over two days. This included a mammoth ride on the 2nd day, around Lake Hume and cutting up through the B grade roads which connect Tumbarumba and Gundagai before streaking home on the Hume Highway. What was particularly pleasing was the JetMax didn't encounter any problems apart from a loose exhaust bolt.

In short we thrashed the JetMax in an effort to break it. We're talking some fast B and C grade country roads and even faster freeway stretches, each lasting over two hours at a time. The JetMax held its own in this company and whilst not as refined as its travelling partners, it never fell behind.

Fuel usage remained in the high 20's (km/l) for the trip, all at the top end threshhold of this scooters ability. I would have to think low 30's around town is achievable. With a 12 litre tank this means an easy 300 km's.
 

 

Summary

So coming back to our initial statement. Could you ride from Melbourne to Sydney on a brand new Chinese built maxi scooter which costs less than $4000. Yes you can, and in the case of the JetMax with confidence.   

The ride ended up being a nice little three way comparo, though initially it was just meant as a statement. A reflection of what you can do on a maxi of this size and capacity.  

Given the cold wintery conditions we encountered, the rain, freezing winds and slippery roads the CF Moto did a tremendous job. And even though not as refined as the others, price point will always play some part in the purchase decision. A JetMax 250 could easily fulfil the role of a cheap freeway capable commuter. Easily able to stretch its legs to 110 km/h and maintain these speeds for longer periods.

Over time the initial jibes of "what do we do when it breaks down" were silenced. The JetMax had gained the respect it deserved.

The CF Moto JetMax 250 comes with 4000 Km service intervals and a 24 month warranty... 

The Scooterman

I was sure this Chinese maxi would be dead by the side of the road well before we got to the NSW/VIC border. I'd never seen or ridden a Chinese scoot that would go much faster than 80 km/h and I wasn’t much impressed with the idea of a budget scooter coming along for the trip.

Al picked it up, straight out of the crate, and we headed to Marysville. The JetMax was a "very white" 250 with lots of chrome and these strange ugly hybrid looks, which I didn’t end up minding that much. It had come with a flyscreen rather than the full screen I'd seen in the brochures.

With only a few k's on the engine the JetMax was initially the slowest of the three scooters as we headed up the hills to Healesville. Allen's not a bad rider, in as much as he can ride anything to the max. He raced the JetMax through the wet and slippery Black Spur with gusto. By the time we’d hit the open country roads between Alexandra and Wangaratta, the JetMax was cruising nicely at a real 120 km/h and getting fuel consumption readings of 27 km/l.

When we did our drags the JetMax was not last by much, this was impressive given it was the smallest capacity of the 3 scooters. What was more surprising was the fact it was keeping up with the others at cruising speeds and by the time I got my turn to ride it on the freeway between Wangaratta and Albury, it was able to cruise at a real 120 km/h for extended periods.

The JetMax is a strange beast to ride. It has a low seating position, high handlebars and feet forward, it felt like a Harley easyrider sort of posture. I found the seat comfortable. It has a very simple dash, good underseat storage, and the strangest ass. A boot we didn’t get to figure out. It also had speakers which you could plug your ipod into.  

The JetMax had a strange whine/whistle from the engine/transmission which sounded like a supercharger. It's quite low to the ground and at a couple of roundabouts Muz had it scraping the exhaust. He also reported some frame flexing when going through fast corners. For straight line freeway stuff it was absolutely fine. Allen rode the JetMax for most of the epic 700 k's from Albury to Sydney via Tumbarumba and Gundagai over some truly challenging back roads, mountains and freeways, the Chinese 250 just kept on going.

Only lost one screw which held the chrome heat shield to the exhaust pipe. When we cruised into Sydney at dusk on the second day we looked at each other in amazement.  A 250 cc Chinese designed maxi for only $4700 ride away had kept up with two quality scooters with bigger engine capacities. For two days and 1000 k's of hard riding it was still going strong, in fact it was out in front for a great deal of the trip. 

 

Muz from Scooter Central

I got hold of the JetMax 250 as we approached the mountains on day one, and as I sat on the scoot I noticed the low seat height and immediately thought that this scoot is an excellent consideration for the forgotten smaller riders who want to get out onto the open road.  

The lines of the scoot were nice and it was amazingly feature packed with fuel injection and liquid cooling.  To be fair the engine was the baby of the group we tested, and was never expected to see the X7 300 or Downtown 300 once on the open roads or in the hills. The brakes carried front and rear discs, and the rear shocks are adjustable to suit different weights or specific needs.  There is even a radio and speakers built in, I'm not so sure about this feature though.  Storage for a weekend away was very good, and was complimented with a shopping bag hook if needed. The instruments told me all that I needed to know, the mirrors are wide set. I’m feeling good and it's time to ride.

The new fuel injected engine was surprisingly perky, and stuck with the other two at traffic speed. In fact we didn’t start to lose the Piaggio or Kymco offerings until either a long hill, or some more serious speed was applied.  The screen did its job well, and the scooter was stable while straight lining at speed.  Through the long sweepers at the limit it was a little scary, not as refined as the other two and conducive to a little frame flex. This was the least favourite feature of the scoot for me, but the other 99.9% of the ride, it was great.

I got to do a braking test on a quiet stretch off the road.  The front and rear discs did a good job, and I always felt confident under brakes, as there was no grabbing or shuddering of note.

While the build quality was fairly good, it was still a reasonable step before it reached Italian or Japanese standards.  My conclusion was that this scoot was a real surprise, good space, brakes and feature packed. If the scoot itself was a pleasant surprise, the price tag attached was even more so. I had to constantly remind myself that this package is only $3990 plus on road costs…….a bargain. 


published 20/07/2011

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