To a lot of people who are into powered two-wheeled conveyances the combination of the words “scooter” and “mainland China” bring a flood of negative experiences. It’s certainly true that many really low quality scooters have come out of mainland China and been dumped on the US market. Horror stories of scooters that never run correctly, lack of support, little-to-no parts availability and the like are all over the place. With the scooter boom in 2008 it seemed like everyone was importing container-loads of cheap Chinese scooters, giving them European sounding names and trying to make a quick buck. Does this mean that all mainland Chinese scooters are junk? No, it doesn’t. Companies like Honda and Yamaha have contract manufacturing facilities in mainland China and have proven that high quality products can come out of those factories. One of the mainland Chinese companies that has shown a lot of growth in quality in recent years is CFMoto of Hangzhou (near Shanghai). Back in July of 2009 we reviewed a CFMoto Glory and were impressed with the mechanical components of that machine. The Glory came to our attention through the recommendations of CFMoto dealer Marty Mataya of GoMoto. We’ve learned to trust Marty’s opinions and when he said the new CFMoto JetMax was worth a look we jumped at the opportunity.
The new CFMoto JetMax (model number CF250T-6A) has been in development for some time. The scooter we received from GoMoto was a final production version. The JetMax is a true in-house CFMoto scooter as opposed to a clone of an existing model. CFMoto’s previous 250cc machine (the Fashion) was a clone of the Honda Helix. Other mainland Chinese 250s have been clones of scooters like the Honda Reflex. The JetMax is CFMoto’s own design.
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
It was very easy to mount my GPS holder on the CFMoto JetMax as it comes equipped with conventional mirrors as opposed to proprietary integrated ones too often found on Chinese machines. I topped off the fuel tank and started riding. The speedometer was optimistic by 10% to 11%. That is to say it indicated faster than the actual speed. At an actual 27 MPH, the indicated speed was 30MPH. At actual 53MPH, the indicated speed was 60 MPH. This is not unusual, most scooters we test are around 10% optimistic and some are as far off as 20%. The odometer was more accurate showing 10.3 miles for an actual 10 miles traveled. The top speed we achieved was 77 MPH which was indicated as 87 MPH. The scooter was not broken in and it wouldn’t be surprising to get a few more MPH out of it after break-in and with a lighter rider (I’m 220 pounds). In over 100 miles of testing, the JetMax averaged 59 MPG which I consider to be quite good. A lot of our riding was at highway speeds and I would expect that a person riding mostly around town (and after the engine is broken in) could expect to see mileage in the 62 – 70 MPG range.
The CFMoto JetMax is powered by an in-house designed and manufactured 4-stroke, 249cc, SOHC, liquid-cooled and fuel-injected motor that produces 22 HP and 15 Ft-Lb of torque. It rides on a 15 inch tire up front with a 14 inch in the back. Triple disks (two in front, one in back) handle the braking duty. I elected to NOT make a comparison between the JetMax and other scooters in the specification table because I don’t have any direct experience with Chinese 250s other than the CFMoto Fashion. There are others in the marketplace (the Linhai Main Street comes to mind) but based on the in-house development I consider the JetMax a “stand-alone” as of now.
Getting exact specifications for the JetMax was bit challenging as different CFMoto sources had different information. For example published dry weight for the scooter varies from 260 pounds to 440 pounds. I ran the scooter across a freight scale to get the 347 pounds shown. I also measured the seat height and wheelbase myself. The MSRP of $3,995 that is shown also seems to bear little relationship to the selling price. I always try to get “out-the-door” prices from a couple of sources to see what freight, taxes, fees, title, prep and the like do to the MSRP. In this case it would appear that one can get a JetMax out-the-door for less than MSRP. This is NOT the case with most other scooters. For example a $5,999 MSRP Vespa is going to be nearly $7,000 out-the-door (in Minnesota).
The JetMax has some nice features, one of the best being on-board storage. There is a wide but shallow glove box and a HUGE amount of space under the seat. I was able to get my 3/4 helmet AND my messenger bag in the underseat storage. I have also heard (though not actually seen) that a rear luggage rack will be available for this scooter. Having that sweet underseat space in combination with a rack-mounted trunk would make the JetMax one of the best scooters out there for luggage capacity. Just in front of the underseat storage is an engine access area that is nicely covered by a panel.
Those somewhat odd-looking “wings” by the back of the seat are passenger grab rails. They are kind of thick and made it challenging to utilize bungee cords to hold objects on the passenger seat. I’d like to see a channel in the bottom of the rail for bungee hooks.
The dash is wide and offers up a lot of info, though not everything one might expect. The analog speedometer is in the center and is biased to kilometers. Miles are indicated in smaller number on the inner ring. There are three indicator lights on each side of the speedometer and include an engine “code” light that will flash if a fault is detected by the monitoring system. There are digital temperature and fuel gauges to the left and a digital clock and odometer to the right. The clock is set by a control inside the glove box. Sort of under the handlebars and to the left is a four-way hazard light switch. In the middle of the bars is a controller for the music system.
There are four speakers built into the front area of the scooter and a USB port inside the glove box for MP3 music. There is a small round air vent on each side of the front bodywork and the JetMax is equipped with a multi-function ignition switch that utilizes an anti-theft cover. One part of this that is different from most scooters is how the seat opens. From the “off” position, one turns the key clockwise past the “run” position to open the seat. When one releases the key, it falls back to the “run” position. Kind of odd as most people open the seat when they are stopped and off the scooter. I did try out the music system. It includes an FM radio but no display. No way to tell what station one is tuned to, one just runs up or down the tuner. I did plug in to the USB port with some music, but it sounded like garbled junk. Then I realized I was listening to my daughter’s music which always sounds like garbled junk. Finding a thumb drive with a couple of George Benson tunes on it was MUCH better. OK, seriously, the sound from the MP3 player wasn’t bad up to about 30 MPH, but the built-in FM radio was pretty much worthless. So far as I am concerned, the music system could be completely left off this machine and I wouldn’t miss it. If you want a useful electronic toy, add a programmable garage door opener instead. The fuel door is located on central tunnel and is easy to access and fill.
The JetMax has good lighting. The headlight is bright and both low beam and high beam did their jobs. On the right hand control is a light switch. In most US market scooters this switch does nothing as the headlights must be “on” whenever the scooter is running. On the JetMax this switch turned the dash lights on and off.
The JetMax started easily hot or cold. The throttle is responsive and the engine is MUCH freer revving than the 250cc powerplant in CFMoto’s Fashion scooter. Acceleration is brisk and smooth. Gotta love fuel injection. The brakes are strong and easy to modulate as long as one has a fairly firm hand. I wouldn’t say “high effort” for the brake levers, but they aren’t “one-finger” brakes by any means. The suspension is adequate if not precise. There is a sharp right-hander onto a highway that I take pretty much every day and the JetMax scraped the center stand on the turn. The rider will feel a rough road, but not in an overly jarring manner. Overall I was very impressed with the engine and transmission and found the brakes and suspension to be decent. The JetMax goes where you point it and stops when you tell it to.
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of my riding for this review was on highways. As it happened, I had to do a fair amount of running around the Twin Cities area on the days that I had the JetMax. It accelerated into faster (55MPH – 65MPH) traffic just fine and was also comfortable with rush-hour speed changes. Holding highway speeds was also not an issue for this scooter. It’s light and responsive enough for be easy to ride at city speeds as well.
The ergonomics of the JetMax favor those of shorter leg. I have a 30 inch inseam and had no trouble flat-footing the scooter at stops. The floorboards allow for both straight-under and forward foot positions. The driver’s seat has a large back-pad that limits the range of fore and aft movement, but it looks as though this pad would be removed completely from the seat for the longer-legged amongst us. The padding is just right for me. I would say that riders with inseams of 28 inches to 32 inches should be comfortable on the JetMax in dead stock configuration. Passenger accommodations are nice as long as one likes to sit higher than the driver (my wife doesn’t). The windshield is low enough to see over and wind buffeting was minimal. Say what you will about the look of the body on the JetMax, but it does a good job of creating an nice environment for the rider.
Fit and Finish
So far I’ve been pretty happy (and sometimes impressed) with the CFMoto JetMax. Fit and finish is one area that this scooter doesn’t score very well. A lot of the individual components are of much better quality than I have seen on other scooters out of China. The control switches, for example, looked and worked very well and I expect they will prove to be robust. The body panels are another story. The plastic used is hard and thin and the color-coat uneven and sometimes incomplete. The shaping and edging is rough and panel alignment is only adequate. The gaps between panels that butted up to each other was uneven. The glove box door isn’t even close to aligning with the rest of the inside front legshield. That’s not to say that the glove box didn’t close securely, it did. It just doesn’t look very good. The shielding on the speed sensor wiring was in two pieces that didn’t overlap. The plastic “chrome” finish on a lot of parts was wavy and didn’t look like it would stand up very well to the elements. As nice as the powertrain on the JetMax is, the fit and finish make it clear that this scooter is not up to the same standards as machines from Japan and Taiwan.
Don’t let my comments on the fit and finish make you think I didn’t like this scooter. I did. It was mechanically impressive. At under $4,000, one can’t really expect this scooter to compare directly to a Honda or Kymco. As far as I’m concerned, CFMoto made the right choice to put their resources into the mechanicals. If I were buying a JetMax, I’d replace the tires with something better and upgrade the rear shock absorbers. I know there are quite a few people out there who would prefer to get a new scooter as opposed to something used. The CFMoto JetMax gives that buyer a good choice in the sub-$4,000 area. As with ANY scooter, having a good local dealer is critical. Here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area we are lucky to have places like GoMoto and people like Marty who are serious about customer support.
THANKS to GoMoto in Minneapolis Minnesota for providing the scooter used in this review.