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ADV BikesClose-Up Look of the CSC Cyclone RX-3 250cc Adventure Bike

Close-Up Look of the CSC Cyclone RX-3 250cc Adventure Bike

 We check out the build quality and components of CSC's budget ADV Bike.

Published on 10.10.2014
CSC Motorcycles Headquarters
We visit CSC Motorcycles in Azusa, CA to get a close up look at the new Cyclone RX-3.

It’s the antithesis of the typical heavyweight, high priced Adventure Bike that top manufacturers churn out so frequently these days. It’s the kind of bike that attracts younger riders on a budget looking to get started in the sport, and older riders that want something a little easier to throw their leg over. Smaller guys and gals want to be able to put their feet on the ground, without heavily modifying their bikes and some just want a simple, low cost adventure-ready motorcycle.

Many have voiced their opinions about the lack of small adventure bike options in the US, but their cries have gone unheard. CSC Motorcycles took notice and saw the huge gap in the market for an affordable, small displacement, fully-equipped Adventure Bike. Last August they made the announcement they would be importing the Chinese made Zongshen RX3 250 to the US under the name CSC Cyclone RX-3.

Earlier in the year, the Belarusian motorcycle manufacturer M1nsk took a similar path and became an importer of the Zongshen RX3 to Europe. However, any mention of the bike’s Chinese origin was noticeably absent from their marketing literature. It would seem people have more faith in Eastern European manufacturing quality than Chinese? CSC felt there was nothing to hide and were up front from the start about the bike’s Chinese manufacturing. Confident in the quality of the Cyclone RX-3, CSC made the significant investment to begin the process of getting the bike certified for US road and emission requirements.

After years of successfully importing small displacement motorcycles from China to the USA, CSC has a great deal of experience on the subject of quality. We spoke with Joe Berk, the Business Development Representative for CSC Motorcycles, and asked him what he would tell people with a negative view toward Chinese manufactured motorcycles.

“We recognize there is a perception that the Chinese produce low quality goods. The perception may have been accurate in the past; it is no longer accurate today. We are already large-scale consumers of high quality Chinese goods (iphones, computers, printers, electronic systems in cars and motorcycles, etc.). Most people just don’t realize it,” said Joe.

Outside of CSC, Joe works as an international manufacturing consultant and he is widely published in the field. He is also a professor in the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department at Cal Poly Pomona, so he knows a thing or two about manufacturing quality.

Joe spoke about his first visit to Zongshen’s manufacturing facilities to assess their operations, “I felt I could learn from them, rather than the other way around. Their factories were immaculate, they use statistical process control, they have automated test and inspection equipment and they post quality standards and manufacturing metrics throughout the operation. They are as good as or better than any manufacturing facility I have visited anywhere.”

According to Joe, Zongshen builds vehicles for both Vespa and Kymco. They also build complete engines and machined parts for many of the top motorcycle manufacturers, including Harley-Davidson. Joe advised everyone to take a look at the Cyclone for themselves before forming an opinion. We decided to take him up on the offer and made a trip out to CSC Motorcycles in Azusa, California to get a close up look at the Cyclone RX-3.

Inspecting the CSC Cyclone RX-3

You can tell the Cyclone was designed to maximize visual appeal. Two large frame beams wrap around the engine, giving a solid appearance. Plastic panniers are colored to look like aluminum. Wave style brake rotors, attractive mirrors, modern gauges, LED lighting, stainless steel muffler end cap and a large diameter handlebar all make the bike look like it costs a lot more than its $3,495 price tag. The rebound damping adjustment on the rear shock, flash-to-pass headlight switch, passenger back pad and tall windscreen are all nice add-ons that help improve the comfort and usability of the bike.

The bike was actually larger than we expected. It may be a 250cc motorcycle, but it looks and feels almost as large as a middle-weight adventure bike. Tall riders over 6 feet (1.8 meters) fit comfortably on the bike. The bike is accessible to shorter riders in the 5’3″ (1.6 meters) range, but the weight may be too much for some smaller female riders.

small female rider on Zongshen RX3
The Cyclone RX-3 was a bit heavy and tall for this 5’2″ (1.6 meters) female rider.

The fit and finish of the bike was better than we had anticipated. We were prepared to find messy welds and flimsy plastics, but found none. Quality was night and day compared to the typical Chinese built bikes you can find at your local hardware store. The plastics looked and felt like what you would expect on a Japanese motorcycle and all of the touch points (e.g. handlebar controls, levers, footpegs) were of high quality.

That’s not to say we didn’t find some nits to pick. We had some concerns about how well the bike would handle the rigors of off-road riding. The plastic panniers didn’t look like they would hold up well in a fall and the skid plate and engine guards offer limited protection. Although, it’s hard to find fault with these items when other adventure bikes costing thousands more don’t provide these as standard equipment. Replacement costs for broken parts should be minimal compared to what you would pay at a KTM or BMW dealer as well.

Some cost cutting could be found on the areas of the bike that are less noticeable. The robust looking perimeter frame beams attach to relatively small lower frame rails under the engine, and the lower frame rails are bolted instead of welded to the front downtube. We could also see areas on the crash bars and engine mounts where stronger welds could be useful. While construction in certain areas could have been more refined, only time and testing will tell if the bike has the durability to withstand the rigors of Adventure Riding.

Unfortunately, we were not able to test ride the Cyclone RX-3 during our visit. CSC brought three bikes over from China on special permit, one is currently undergoing EPA/CARB emission testing that requires the bike to run non-stop for 5,600 miles (9,000 km) on a Dyno machine. The other two bikes must be accounted for at all times and cannot be ridden without risking a $35,000 fine. CSC is working on getting a special permit to allow the press to test ride the bike.

Overall the new Cyclone RX-3 exceeded our expectations, but there are still some questions that need to be answered. Will the bike be able to handle serious off-road use? Will the mass produced units have the same level of quality as the demos we viewed? Will the Cyclone RX-3 be good enough to overcome the negative public perception of Chinese built motorcycles? We look forward to answering these questions and more in the coming months.

For more information check out the Cyclone RX-3 Specifications and our Full Review and Test Ride.

Cyclone RX-3 Components

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Videos produced by Jim Downs

Author: Rob Dabney

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19 thoughts on “Close-Up Look of the CSC Cyclone RX-3 250cc Adventure Bike

  1. I like the price point but bent aluminum sheet for the linkage and the way the front brake hose hangs down (see video around the 53 second mark) just waiting to get snagged something makes me think this thing is not made to last.

  2. You say “shock links are made from bent sheet aluminium”. I say, clever stuff as it is magnetic. I think you’ll find its steel and very well braced. The knuckle is machined aluminium.

    • Thanks for your input David. The part could very well be made from some other type of sheet metal. Using steel instead of aluminum would improve the strength, but also increase weight and make it more susceptible to corrosion. The welds and bracing all looked solid though, so this has the potential for being a strong (if not heavy) component.

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  6. Pingback: Any Cyclone reports?

  7. I am writing from Phillipines, where i have seen the bike but can’t find any mail or address of suppliers. Could you please forward me an e-mail where i could get in touch to the head office of the company. Many thank’s Jp

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