CSC RX3 Cyclone - RIDING IMPRESSION

A whole new take on the ADV-bike scene.

CSC RX3 Cyclone on-road action

Several years ago, two of my uncles were sitting around a backyard barbecue. Uncle Number One mentioned that he was wearing a $300 pair of handmade shoes. Uncle Number Two pointed to his own feet: “These shoes? Twelve bucks at Walmart.” Each one laughed, thinking he’d gotten the better deal and the other poor sucker had gotten scalded.

When it comes to the CSC Motorcycles RX3 Cyclone, we might as well confront the elephant in the room straight on: As shown here (windshield, engine guards, luggage) it costs a mere $3,495 new, and that's all some folks will need to hear. It's also made in China, which is maybe all another group will need to hear. Since so few motorcyclists in America have ever ridden a Chinese bike, this alone makes it an interesting riding opportunity. It's also a 250cc adventure bike in a land where most ADV bikes are four or five times larger.

Some backstory: CSC Motorcycles is an Azusa, California-based firm which imports the RX3 Cyclone from Chongqing, China, where it’s built by Zongshen, a company founded in 1992, employing 18,000 and claiming a yearly output of more than a million bikes.

CSC RX3 Cyclone engine close-up

The RX3 uses a Zongshen-designed 249.6cc, SOHC, liquid-cooled counterbalanced single, fuel injected and with a 77 x 53.6mm bore and stroke. The engine is CARB-certified and 50-state legal. Its smoothness and powerband are surprisingly good: The fuel injection meters flawlessly, and the power (modest though it may be) is linear all the way up to redline. The six-speed gearbox’s shifting is likewise excellent.

And as with any 250, you’ll be spending a lot of time flirting with that redline. At freeway speeds—an indicated 78 mph but a verified 70— the bike is turning 8,000 rpm; redline is 9,000, and the rev limiter cuts in around 10,500. CSC claims 25 hp at 9,000 rpm; our observed top speed was an indicated 82 mph (actually 74), but a steep hill or a headwind takes a bite out of that pretty fast, as does running at altitude.

There are plenty of other areas where the Cyclone is surprisingly good. The seating position is just about perfect (from a 6-foot, 160-pound test rider’s point of view); it’s possible to ride for miles through urban traffic without ever putting your foot down, just “track standing” the machine momentarily at stop signs, always a good indicator of a balanced bike in a real-world scale. The small windshield does an excellent job all the way to the motorcycle’s maximum speed, a real surprise given the shield’s modest size. The clutch pull is light and the engagement linear.

Of course the RX3 is not without fault. The front brake is a real disappointment; with a 262mm single front disc and a twin-piston caliper it requires a mighty squeeze and even then returns only modest stopping power. The smaller 258mm rear brake is much better.

CSC RX3 Cyclone static side view

The Cyclone's suspension is likewise less than what one would expect from, say, a more expensive Honda, Yamaha, or Kawasaki. The inverted fork and single-shock rear both do an adequate job but feel oversprung and underdamped (front/rear travel is 5.4/5.6 inches). Adding a 125-pound passenger (for a total load of 285 pounds of human and 24 pounds of fuel) makes the ride less harsh. And also brings up an interesting point: The RX3 is equipped with a passenger seat and pegs, but a prominent sticker on the tank states, "Operator only, no passengers," so you're on your own here. Maximum loading is 330 pounds.

Since it is an adventure-style bike, we took the RX3 on a selection of dirt roads, and it performed fine so long as those roads were relatively smooth and we kept the speeds down in deference to the suspension’s limits and street-oriented tires. Run pretty much wide open the Cyclone averaged 59 mpg. Around town it was easy to get it up to the low-to-mid 70s. Fuel capacity is 4.2 gallons, but the low-fuel light comes on at about the halfway point.

Just as many of us order our books and music online, if you want an RX3 Cyclone, you contact CSC Motorcycles and purchase it directly from the company. A local shop handles your warranty service with reimbursement through CSC; parts are available online from CSC.

CSC RX3 Cyclone off-road action

The other elephant in the room: How reliable, long-term, is the RX3 Cyclone? China is a country, not a company, and it's impossible to make any kind of meaningful judgment about the RX3 based solely on where it's built. This is the era of globalization. But we will note the following: Most companies send Cycle World brand-new bikes to test or units with a few hundred break-in miles; CSC sent the RX3 Cyclone with 5,700 miles on the clock, which has to be taken as a vote of confidence on its part. CSC offers a two-year unlimited-mileage warranty.

Is CSC’s RX3 Cyclone the right bike for you or for someone you know? Certainly it’s an option at a price that’s tough to beat. Plenty of first-time riders sell or crash their bikes long before they wear them out. But whether the Cyclone is a good fit may well be more related to where you buy your shoes than anything else.

SPECIFICATIONS
|2015 CSC RX3 Cyclone
PRICE|$3,495
ENGINE|SOHC single
DISPLACEMENT|249.6cc
FUEL CAPACITY|4.2 gal.
CLAIMED WEIGHT|385 lb.

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CSC RX3 Cyclone action.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone action.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone action.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone action.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone action.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone action.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone action.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone action.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone action.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone action.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone action.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone action.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone static.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone static.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone details.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone details.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone details.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone details.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone details.Jeff Allen

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CSC RX3 Cyclone details.Jeff Allen