Words: Mike Ryan
For a few years in the late 2010s, the urban motorcycle market in Australia was red hot, thanks mostly to Honda’s Grom. Fast forward to 2024 and the Grom may be gone, but the spirit of that funky commuter lives on in the form of two LAMS-compliant new models from CFMOTO – the XO Papio Racer and XO Papio Trail.
Described as “compact, yet invigorating,” the two LAMS models have 12-inch wheels, a 125cc single-cylinder engine, low seat height and simple appointments, so they’re very much in the mould of the Grom, Kawasaki’s Z125 Pro, the Braaap Urban and Benelli TnT 125 (and 135) that were the main players in this segment. Where the CFMOTO pairing differ is in their retro styling.
It’s worth noting that of all those other city fun bikes, only the Benelli is still available today. The others were discontinued a bit over two years ago when dual-channel ABS became mandatory for all new roadbikes sold in Australia. Benelli’s CBS (Combined Braking System) isn’t dual-channel ABS as such, but considered effective enough to allow the TnT 125 to remain on sale.
A New Look
The XO Racer and XO Trail aren’t the first models from CFMOTO to wear the ‘Papio’ name. The original Papio (without the ‘XO’ prefix) dates back to 2017 and was a more direct competitor to the Grom and Z125 Pro in terms of its modern styling, but never released in Australia.
By the way, 'papio' is the scientific term for baboons in the primate family, so maybe CFMOTO were subtly referencing Honda’s Monkey bike, the original compact fun bike, when naming this model.
In reskinning and rebadging the Papio to create the XO pair, CFMOTO say they tapped into gaming culture, with the ‘XO’ name referencing the X and O buttons on gaming consoles, while the new-look, retro-inspired bodywork is almost cartoonish in its dimensions, like video game graphics. The shapes and forms are still appealing, though, just as the chunky, toy-like look of the Grom was when it debuted almost a decade ago.
A more literal take on this inspiration includes X and O styling elements in the LED headlights on both models. Dual tail lights pick up on the headlight styling, while the design of the fuel tank, side panels, tail section and wheels is shared, too. However, beyond these elements, the Trail and Racer each have their own distinct identity.
XO Papio Racer
Along with the dual headlights, a quarter fairing, flyscreen, bellypan and clip-on handlebars on the XO Papio Racer give it an ‘80s endurance racer vibe. There’s a close-hugging front mudguard, front indicators set into the fairing and bar-end mirrors. At the rear, a two-piece seat allows for a flared tail surround, underneath which is a high-exit single exhaust. Keeping that tail looking clean and racy is a swingarm-mounted numberplate bracket that also holds the rear indicators.
The red-over-white ‘Fiery Red’ colour scheme (the only choice for now) carries bold ‘Papio’ identification on the tank, with subtler branding elsewhere. This colour treatment is confined to the top half of the bike, with the bellypan, wheels, engine, frame and swingarm all finished in black. The clip-ons, mirrors, fork legs and seat get the blackout touch, too.
XO Papio Trail
Described as a mini retro scrambler, the XO Papio Trail takes the same basic as the Racer, but adds conventional handlebars and mirrors, a small headlight surround and screen (that's more visual than functional). A high-mount front mudguard, front indicators that sit higher than the headlights, two sidecovers at the fuel tank’s leading edge, a single-piece seat (for two), pillion grab rail and slim tail section are other styling features. Suiting its scrambler aesthetic, tyres on the XO Papio Trail have a more aggressive tread pattern, but the high-exit single exhaust and swingarm-mounted numberplate bracket and indicators are the same as the Racer.
The single colour choice for this model is called ‘Galaxy Grey’ and features a gunmetal fuel tank, tail and upper side covers, with black accents. The separate front sidecovers are finished in fluoro green, with a large ‘Papio’ decal on the tank and subtler identification elsewhere.
Their styling and colour differences aside, the XO Papio Racer and XO Papio Trail share a common engine, transmission, frame, wheels, brakes, suspension and other cycle parts.
At the heart of both is a 126cc air-cooled four-stroke single with EFI and a 9.0:1 compression ratio that offers maximum torque at low revs, as well as “exceptional urban performance and unparalleled reliability,” according to CFMOTO. Producing 7.0kW at 8,250rpm and 9.3Nm at 6,500rpm, this is on par with the discontinued Grom (7.2kW and 10.5Nm) and Z125 Pro (7.1kW, but only 6Nm), but less than the Benelli, which offers 8.2kW and 9.6Nm.
Where the Benelli loses out is with its five-speed transmission, where the Papio pair have six gears. The Grom was a five-speed and the Z125 Pro only offered four speeds.
To the tubular steel frame, Yuan-brand suspension is fitted front and rear, with both the USD forks and central monoshock offering a claimed 96mm of travel. With pillions in mind, there is five-step preload adjustability at the rear, which is rare for a budget LAMS motorcycle.
Braking carries the mandated dual-channel ABS and operates off the combination of a single 210mm front disc with dual-piston caliper and 190mm rear disc with a single-piston caliper. Componentry is Hangte brand, which like Yuan, means nothing to the Australian market.
Alloy 12-inch wheels are amongst the XO Papio’s defining features, shod in the same 120/70-12 front and 130/70-12 rear rubber for both models, but as already mentioned, the tread pattern on the Trail is more aggressive to suit its scrambler styling.
Instrumentation consists of an analogue revcounter with LCD inserts and LCD display for speed, gear position, odometer, fuel level and clock. The usual warning lights are also housed in this 3.0-inch circular gauge.
Fuel capacity of 7.0 litres is good for a claimed range of 350km, and while top speed isn’t listed, most of these 125cc bikes can reach 100km/h - maybe a tad more. The XO Papio should be no exception, meaning it can be ridden beyond the suburbs.
Wet weight for both models is 114kg, making them easy to manoeuvre, and seat height is a low 760mm, with the ability to drop to 740mm with an accessory seat. Wheelbase is 1,214mm, while the different styling sees variations in length, width and height. On the XO Papio Racer, the measures are 1,750mm x 700mm x 975mm (LxWxH), while on the XO Papio Trail, it’s 1,748mm x 736mm x 1,009mm (LxWxH).
The first units of the LAMS-compliant XO Papio Racer and XO Papio Trail arrived in Australia just before Christmas, so should be in all CFMOTO dealerships by the time you read this. Ride away pricing is $4,290 for each, backed by a 3-year CFMOTO conditional warranty.
For more details, see your CFMOTO dealer.
2024 CFMOTO XO Papio Racer – Specifications (XO Papio Trail differences in brackets)
Type: Four-stroke single-cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 57mm x 49.4mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Engine Start: Electric
Max Power: 7.0kW @ 8250rpm
Max Torque: 9.3Nm @ 6500rpm
Final Drive: Chain
Frame: Tubular-steel, backbone type
Front Suspension: USD fork, 96mm travel
Rear Suspension: Central monoshock, adjustable preload, 96mm travel
Fr Wheel: 12-inch alloy
Rr Wheel: 12-inch alloy
Fr Tyre: 120/70
Rr Tyre: 130/70
Front Brake: Single 210mm disc with two-piston caliper and ABS
Rear Brake: Single 190mm disc with single-piston caliper and ABS
LxWxH: 1,750 x 700 x 975mm (1,748 x 736 x 1,009mm)
Ground Clearance: N/A
Seat height: 760mm
Kerb Weight: 114kg
Fuel Capacity: 7.0lt