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.
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.