The CSC Motorcycles, importer of Chinese-made scooters and motorcycles, expands its footprint in the U.S. market with the addition of the RX3 Adventure. This mini-adventure brings genre-typical features to the table with a 250 cc engine that has almost 25-horsepower on tap to push its touring and light-terrain equipment up to 84 mph. While the stock ride comes with everything you need for the above activities, the factory makes sure you have upgrades available in its accessories catalog to further increase its capacity for adventure.
Chinese manufacturer Chongqing Zongshen Power Machinery Company has been around since 1992, and is positioned well into the list of China’s top-ten motor manufacturers with a claimed output of over a million units per year and around 18,000 employees. Lest you think it just another cheap Chinese manufacturer, I would point out that it has partnerships with both the huge, Italian Piaggio brand and American great, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. This really speaks to the overall quality of the products coming out of Zongshen.
Like a cookie-cutter bike, the RX3 fits the adventure-bike mold to a “T” with a fixed, bird beak mudguard leading the way it grows out of the fairing below the minimal headlight can and narrow, stylishly shaped clear windscreen. In spite of its relatively narrow shape, the screen provides ample protection from the worst of the wind which should help the RX3 fill its intended role of commuter/tourbike.
The combination analog/digital instruments come set forward of the steering head and are tucked up behind the screen for a bit of protection from the elements. In profile, the RX3 carries the typical camel-hump fuel tank that comes braced by cheek fairings with the CSC company badge displayed on both sides.
A shallow-scoop saddle cups and cradles the rider’s butt with a short rise to the pillion pad, at which point we come to a conundrum; there is a p-pad, fold-up passenger footpegs and even a bit of a back pad on the trunk box, but a big sticker on the tank clearly indicates the bike is meant to carry just the rider with no passenger. Weight capacity is around 330 pounds, so I wonder if that sticker is just for us “fat Americans” because two lightweight persons should fit easily within that envelope. Maybe the factory is just being overly cautious, who knows?
The stock model comes with hard-side panniers and a short top-box, but the accessory catalog has another, larger set that comes with quick-connect hardware so you can make the bike something of a convertible. Brush/crash guards finish out the package by protecting the engine while giving the ride a certain rugged character. All-in-all, a nice looking bike says I, especially in the orange/black livery.
A steel frame starts things out strong, if not particularly light. Inverted front forks “look” like serious business, and I suppose they kind of are just based on the increased strength of the design, but in spite of the adjustability they still feel kind of cheap at the end of the day and aren’t necessarily suitable for work on even light terrain. The rear shock offers adjustable preload so you can adjust for conditions, cargo weight or the occasional, un-approved passenger, but you can forget about variable damping and such like, ’cause you won’t find it on any of these suspension components.
A single, 262 mm, wave-cut disc and two-pot caliper slows the front wheel, barely, and a 258 mm disc and single-pot caliper slows the rear. Why do I say “barely” you ask? Well, the front brakes are kind of wooden feeling, and they don’t really slow quite as well as one might hope. It’s probably good enough for dirt, but you will probably wish you had a little bite up front at some point on the blacktop. Laced rims mount the 18-inch front hoop and the 17-inch rear, and the tires themselves present a compromise between dirt and street with a preference for the latter.
A fuel-injected, liquid-cooled thumper drives the RX3, and is one of the better indicators of quality for this ride. Bore and stroke measure out at 77 mm and 53.6 mm for a total displacement of 250 cc. According to the factory, it manages to wring a total of 24.8-horsepower and 16.6 pound-feet of torque out of this little mill, and that, my friends, is right on par with similarly sized mills, even from the Big Four. So, I gotta give Zongshen props for making a good powerplant that can swing with the best of them. A 65 mpg economy rating also serves as a good indicator of quality but the claimed 84 mph top speed is a bit optimistic; the 10-percent error in the speedometer at that speed takes the claimed velocity down a peg or two. Oh, and it’s a thumper, so it vibrates like a thumper. Nothin’ for it.
Probably the best selling point is the price. You can score a brand-new RX3 with a two-year, unlimited-mileage warranty for $3,895 — if you live close enough to the Azusa, California store. CSC will be happy to build your bike, test it and crate it up for a $150 fee, then ship it to you anywhere in the lower 48.
Zongshen is clearly bringing considerable game to the table with its RX3, and it is trying to take on the Big Four directly, so I’m going for a proven competitor here with the Kawasaki Versys-X 300. Right off the bat the Kawi improves its looks by dropping the bird beak in favor of a more snub-nose entry not unlike the Honda Africa Twin. Moving aft, the two take on a much more similar look, and though the Versys comes sans saddlebags and tour-pack, at least one has a reasonable expectation of carrying a passenger with them on their adventures. Fit and finish is naturally superior with the Kawi, but the RX3, surprisingly, isn’t as far off as one might expect in that category.
The brakes on the Versys seem to bite a lot better up front, and if you like, you can get one with ABS protection whereas the RX3 is plain vanilla in that department. Kawi’s suspension is also tuned a bit better, and even though it runs standard forks versus the usd stems on the RX3, I consider them to be superior. Yeah, the RX3 takes a beating here.
Kawasaki’s experience with engines shows as well; the Versys mill is borrowed from the Ninja family, and it brings the hurt with 34-horsepower while the smaller RX3 tops out just under 25 ponies. Ok, maybe it wasn’t completely fair to pick something with a Ninja engine in it, but I didn’t pick the market, Zongshen did, and I maintain that it’s good enough as long as you aren’t trying to make a pass at interstate speeds.
Of course, CSC makes some back at the checkout counter. The $3,895 sticker looks pretty good, especially if you’re an entry-level rider looking to break into the lifestyle, and the $5,399 tag ($5,699 w/ABS) on the Versys may seem a bit lofty by comparison. Even with crating costs added on the RX3 seems a pretty good bargain.
“Not a bad-looking bike, and certainly worth it if you’re looking for a “disposable” bike on which to cut your teeth. I like the CSC products well enough, but can’t help but wonder how much it’s hurting them having but one location in the U.S. Build it, and they will come, guys.”
My wife and fellow motorcycle writer,Allyn Hinton, says, “The RX3 looks like affordable transportation and capable of some light adventure work. It comes with basic panniers and top case but to get some better quality luggage, you’ll have to add $1,600 more to the bill. That’s quite a chunk when the bike is only $3,895 to begin with. I’m not going to slam it, though, because as a mechanic, I like that service documentation is readily available.”
|Horsepower:||24.81hp @ 9000rpm|
|Torque:||16.6 ft-lb @ 7000 rpm|
|Fuel Delivery:||Delphi EFI|
|Top Speed:||84 MPH|
|Seat Height:||31.3 inches|
|Dry Weight:||385 lbs|
|Ground Clearance:||8.3 Inches|
|Fuel Tank Capacity:||4.2 Gallons|
|Fuel Consumption:||≤65 MPG|
|Warranty:||2 Year Unlimited Mileage Warranty|
|Colors:||Blue, Orange, Silver, White|