Jan 10, 2024

The Sexy CFMoto Papio XO Cafe Racer Is America

Called the Papio SS and CL, these motorcycles have received the green flag for an American launch

Think mini bikes in America, and Honda is easily the first name that comes to mind. It has dominated the segment, with an extensive small bike lineup comprising names like the Grom, Monkey, and Navi. But CFMoto is trying to change that now. The Chinese bikemaker is ready to expand its 125cc Papio lineup in the States with two new 125cc mini bikes.

To jog your memory, the Chinese bikemaker launched the Papio here in 2022. Then, it introduced a Papio Racer and a Papio Trail version in China this year which we said could arrive as 2024 models in ‘Murica. That’s exactly what’s happening, as confirmed by EPA and CARB filings.

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According to the filings, the Papio XO Racer will come to America rebadged as the Papio SS. A move that makes total sense, considering CFMoto’s entire sport bike lineup bears the ‘SS’ tag here–be it the popular 450SS or the 250SS. What does the SS badge bring, you ask? Well, plenty to tickle your belly.

The most obvious change is the overhauled aesthetic. Unlike the standard Papio, the SS boasts a cafe racer aesthetic. You get dual-LED headlights up top, bejeweled into a sporty half-fairing. The latter also wears a small tinted windscreen and sleek, vertical LED turn signals to enhance the attention to detail.

Our favorite bit, though, is the tail end. Credit here goes to the underseat exhaust that reminds us of the iconic 600cc supersports of yore. Not to mention, it’s a rare sight on a mini moto. Other noteworthy details include a belly pan, three-spoke alloy wheels, and a split saddle, just like sport bikes.

Once you hop on, the Papio SS greets you with a clip-on handlebar and slightly rear-set footpegs. These ensure a comparatively sportier riding triangle than the naked Papio. You’ll also appreciate the semi-digital instrument cluster and bar-end mirrors. The display shows gear position, RPM, time, and fuel level.

Like the cafe racer, the Papio Trail will be renamed Papio CL in America. Again, it’s a moniker CFMoto already uses in America for its neo-retro scrambler, the 700 CL-X. Coming to the motorcycle, CL is essentially a Papio with some adventure flavor. You get the same set of round LEDs up top, sans the sporty fairing or windscreen. The fender is mounted right under the headlight to mimic motocross bikes, just like the fork-mounted guards.

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Another noteworthy difference here is the single-piece saddle and a tall handlebar in place of the SS’ clip-on setup. Same goes for the conventional mirrors (unlike the bar-end ones). The latter half is more or less reminiscent of the SS, though, as you get the same underseat exhaust and tail lamp. The digi-analog instrument cluster is the same too.

Regardless of the differences, the two Papio versions have the same mechanicals. The EPA and CARB filings confirm both employ a 126cc air-cooled fuel-injected single-cylinder engine that produces 9.4 horsepower (at 8,250 RPM). The output is the same as the on-sale Papio but it arrives 250 RPM earlier, courtesy of the new exhaust. The weight is identical for the trio, so the two newbies should feel punchier than the base model. That said, the output is marginally lower than the near-10-HP Grom.

Under the skin, the CL and SS have a tubular steel chassis, sprung on upside-down forks and monoshock. This is paired with 12-inch wheels, slowed down by 220 mm and 190 mm disc brakes front and rear. Here are some other details you should know:

Given all the updates over the Papio, the SS and CL versions will certainly command a higher MSRP than the standard offering’s $2,999 figure. The variants cost ~10 percent more than the STD model in China, so based on that, we think they’d sell for between $3,300 and $3,500 in America. If so, they will undercut all Honda mini motos like the Grom, Super Cub, Monkey, and Trail 125 by a decent chunk. The only exception will be the uber-cheap $1,807 Navi. The said MSRP would also put it right in the crosshairs of the Benelli TNT 135 and the Kawasaki Z125 Pro.

Punya is an avid motorcyclist who's always up for a ride to the canyons or the racetrack. He insists his riding skills are better than his writing skills, even though he's worked with some world-renowned automotive websites.

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