Many thought it was odd that I would buy an RX-3 when I had an R1200GS in the stable. But when this bike was announced, I was immediately hooked. The RX-3 is a 250cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected adventure bike imported by CSC Motorcycles in Azusa, CA. It comes fully loaded with crash bars, luggage, and almost everything needed for adventuring. All that for only $3,500—how could anyone resist?

csc rx3 cyclone vs bmw r1200gs 4

So I took the RX-3 into Mono County, home to the most difficult areas I know of in California’s eastern Sierras. Mono County is the reason I bought a GS in the first place, a fitting environment to compare both bikes.

The RX-3 is a LOT of fun to ride. It’s light, too—perhaps the main reason it’s so much fun to toss around in the twisties, and off road it’s very controllable. There are obvious differences from the GS. For one, it’s roughly 200 pounds lighter. And, the RX-3 suspension has only 5.5 inches of travel, harsh in comparison. Obviously, the GS has a big power advantage. When the going gets tough with the GS, I just roll on more throttle and blast through it. With the RX-3, judicious clutch work is necessary to make it up some of the steepest climbs. But on the way down these steep, sandy rock gardens, the RX-3 is actually easier to control.

csc rx3 cyclone vs bmw r1200gs 2

While the RX-3 is fine doing 70+ mph on the highway, it takes a while to get there. The GS can reach that speed after the second shift. The RX-3 can keep up (mostly) with larger bikes off-road. But on the highway, not so much. It just doesn’t have the acceleration, and on steep, technical terrain it would benefit from a change in sprockets.

The RX-3 makes a tad less than 25 hp, whereas my GS cranks over 100. When I say the RX-3 is a fully capable adventure bike, I mean it can carry you and enough gear to far-off places and get into and out of some tough terrain. I’ve ridden it hard, probably harder than most would, and it performed admirably. Although I had concerns about the stock skid plate, while on Dunderberg Pass I deliberately ran over a softball-sized rock giving the skid plate a big hit. Back at camp, though, all I could find was a slight deformation. It protected the engine better than expected.

I took the RX-3 in some difficult areas where I’d never ridden either bike. A heavy bike can be a handful on a steep, tight, nothing-but-rocks switchback trail. The RX-3 performed well and never missed a beat. And by the way, I was carrying what I consider to be a typical load—luggage about halfway with tools, compressor, tubes, med-kit, 1.5 gallons of water, and a bunch of camera gear—leaving plenty of room to spare. I also had two metal water bottles, one in each pannier.

csc rx3 cyclone vs bmw r1200gs 1

The RX-3 is fully capable of handling anything the beginning adventurer is likely to encounter. It’s also a great bike for beginning riders to learn on. Support from CSC is also fantastic. They’re fanatical about stocking every part, and all service tutorials are available on the CSC website for free. The bike has a two-year warranty (unlimited miles), and comes with a service manual on DVD.

The RX-3 fills different roles for different riders. It makes a wonderful commuter or an entry-level adventure bike, especially at its price point. I love my RX-3 and think that anyone looking for an affordable way into adventure riding will love theirs, too. 

CSCmotorcycles.com

_____________

Rob Day is an avid ADV rider. After 30+ years of riding street bikes exclusively, he got into adventure riding several years ago with a BMW R1200GS. He has attended several training camps, and is a veteran of several Backcountry Discovery Routes as well as many trips into the Mojave Desert and Death Valley. His primary riding area is Mono County in California’s Eastern Sierras, where he has spent almost every summer for nearly 50 years.

{gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/CSC-RX3-vs-BMW-R1200GS/Gallery{/gallery}

I write the blog for CSC Motorcycles and one day I found myself in the motorcycle adventure touring business… well, that’s not entirely accurate. It’s not really a business because we don’t charge. We use touring to generate interest and to make it easy for folks get into adventure riding. And, in my opinion, there’s no better place to do that than Baja.

This all started when CSC decided to import the RX3 250cc adventure touring motorcycles. If you think you need a bigger bike, you’re not going to like this story. I’ve been riding Baja for decades, and I like small bikes. When I mentioned this on the blog, the calls and emails started the same day. Readers wanted to know, “Could I buy a bike and ride with you?” I wish I could say that all this was all part of a master marketing strategy, but it wasn’t. Suddenly, I found myself organizing a ride for six people, then nine, then 11, before finally capped participation at 15 riders mainly because I just didn’t think I could keep track of any more.

I knew Baja well, but when this all started three years ago I didn’t know the first thing about organizing tours. I quickly learned that safety, schedule, daily distances, rider empowerment, and showing the folks a good time were the best combination.

180311 7616

Initially, I thought that rider experience would be critical, and I only wanted to take riders with lots of it. I knew our first Baja ride would be demanding (covering roughly 1,900 miles in less than a week). Motorcycling is little like sex; everyone thinks they are an expert. On our most recent Baja ride, we had one fellow show up with only 300 miles on his bike and he did fine. We’ve also had very experienced riders drop their bikes multiple times.

Another thing I initially got wrong was the number of miles we could tackle in a day. When I ride by myself, it’s 500-mile-plus days. With larger groups, gas, lunch, and photo stops take longer, pee breaks occur more often, so I make sure we stop every hour. Riding after dark is not a good idea (especially in Mexico, where cows tend to wander onto the roads). Besides, most folks just like shorter mileage days. On our current eight-day Baja itinerary, we have two 400-mile days, but that’s only because the things we want to see are so far apart. 200-mile days are more typical.

150501 2566

We stick to pavement as much as possible. An exception is the ancient Sierra San Francisco cave paintings.

Keeping enough distance between bikes is critical. My observation is that the biggest reason riders bunch up is for photos. Some will get within inches of each other. The rule seems to be that you can have a great ride, or you can make a great video, but you can’t do both. If you want to get photos while riding, forget the screen and just take a bunch pointing in the general direction of your subject and weed them out later. It’s easier than crashing.

Regarding alcohol, our rule is simple: No drinking until the bikes are put away for the night. It works.

On our first group ride, it was enormously frustrating getting everybody moving in the morning until a friend suggested that I just leave at the scheduled departure time. During our pre-ride briefing the night before the ride, I provide a list of the hotels and casually mention that people can rejoin the group that evening if they’re late. On the first day of our multi-day rides, we might have one or two riders miss the departure, but everyone is usually on time every day after that.

170320 9919

We emphasize that each rider is responsible for having their bike properly maintained, bringing their own tools and spares, and maintaining their own bikes. If a chain needs tightening, do it that night. The approach dovetails well with our online maintenance tutorials and our customers like it. We don’t use a chase vehicle on any of our group rides. We did once, but had more problems with the chase vehicle (and its driver) than any of the riders.

To facilitate things, we have a dinner with an hour long PowerPoint presentation at the CSC plant the night before we leave. It’s made a huge difference.

Baja is beautiful, and we see some of the best it has to offer. The cave painting, for example, are 10,000 years old and the civilization that produced them vanished without a trace. We also visit Scammon’s Lagoon and cavort with the California gray whales. They’re twice the size of our boats and it’s the only place in the world where you can pet them; most folks consider it a life-altering experience. We stay in exotic but inexpensive places like the Las Casitas in Mulege and the very old, all-wood Frances Hotel in Santa Rosalia (it used to be a brothel). We ride along Bahia Concepcion, wedged between the cliffs and the bay, along the most beautiful stretch of road on the planet. We descend through La Cuesta del Infierno down to the Sea of Cortez on the eastern side of Baja, a riding experience like no other. We visit magnificent 300-year-old missions in San Ignacio, Mulege, and Loreto that are still working churches. And the food is amazing! It’s adventure touring at its best.

I’ve been riding Baja for more than 25 years and it never gets old for me. What’s even more fun is making new friends and sharing the best of Baja with them.

{gallery}ARTICLES/Rides/TouringBaja-JoeBerk/Gallery{/gallery}


berkJoe Berk rides and writes a lot. He’s a regular travel and feature writer in Motorcycle Classics magazine, the CSC blog (CSCMotorcycles.com), as well as 14 books. After riding everything from Hondas to Harleys, Berk is convinced that smaller bikes are ideal for real-world adventure touring. He has ridden 250cc motorcycles across China, through the Andes Mountains of Colombia, the Baja peninsula numerous times, and throughout the U.S.

Could this be the budget adventure bike we’ve been waiting for? At the relatively inexpensive price of $5,395, the 2020 RX4 offers many standard amenities for a 450cc-sized modern adventure-style motorcycle. Though the quality of the parts may not be up to the standards of its German or Japanese counterparts, can it hold its own in reliability and durability at such a low entry price point?

CSC RX4 06 450The RX4 is manufactured in China by Zongshen under an exclusive arrangement with CSC. Zongshen has become a global entity with true quality control and state-of-the-art manufacturing. And is respected enough to partner with Piaggio, Harley-Davidson, Norton and others to build engines as well as many other components.

Standard with the 450 lb. RX4 are: ABS (note: they’re working on the ability to turn this function off for off-road riding); adjustable touring windscreen; all LED lights; semi adjustable shocks; dual flash hazard lights; and an impressive 300-watt alternator. On the dash are USB and cigarette lighter-style ports, both with all-climate covers. The easy-to-read digital display conveys the engine temp, fuel status, speedometer, trip meter, odometer, and gear indicator. Above the digital display, there’s also an analog tachometer that redlines at 9,000 rpms. And a tiny six-cube cluster of indicators for high beam, turning indicators, neutral and “check engine” lights which are all hard to see in broad daylight. There’s 8.1-inch of ground clearance with a 31.9-inch stock seat height and I can flat foot it. Seat Conceptshas partnered with CSC in offering a taller, more comfortable saddle than stock, which I’d not think twice about getting.

CSC RX4 01

With over 30 years in the motorcycle industry, CSC stands behind its product with a two-year, unlimited mile warranty. If something requires warranty work within the first year, both parts and labor are covered. For the second year, CSC covers just the part(s) and you pay the labor or install it yourself using the online tutorials on the CSC website. Steve Seidner, the owner, tells me they stock EVERY spare part for their bikes in their Azusa, California warehouse. And more good news, they’re building a network of CSC-familiar service centers throughout the U.S. If one isn’t near you, then use your favorite mechanic for warranty work. If need be, CSC will overnight parts to you or your mechanic. They also offer an extended warranty for up to four years for an additional fee. All this support is confidence inspiring.

As far as regular maintenance, CSC encourages you to work on your own bike. Not only do they provide a complete shop manual on a USB thumb drive, they have an online library of tutorials showing how to properly maintain the bike. That’s notable and something I wish every manufacturer did. There’s nothing as rewarding as KNOWING how to maintain and repair any issue with your own motorcycle. And since the RX4 appears to be a fairly simple machine, it should be easy enough to master.

The ergos are acceptable for my 5-foot, 11-inch frame. And the footpegs, with removable rubber inserts, are adequately sized for stand-up riding without a need for bar risers. An adjustable windscreen provides good protection at speeds up to 75 mph.

At a rated 60+ mpg with a 5.3-gallon fuel tank, you should get around 300 miles. It’s recommended that you use 91-octane to achieve these results. Incidentally, the fuel gauge tends to be more suggestive than accurate.

CSC RX4 07

Keeping in mind that I rode a preproduction model, the 40 hp with 29 ft.-lb. of torque bike seems a little bit un-refined with occasional lurching when the throttle wasn’t at WOT. Finding neutral required some adaptation, and the bike idled at just under 2,000 rpms, which seemed a bit high. With that said, you need to take into account the price point of this bike and realize its potential as an efficient mode of transportation at such an inexpensive cost of ownership. And keep in mind the array of reasonably-priced factory farkles available.

This bike became available by the end of May/early June 2019. To own a RX4, you put down a refundable $500 deposit to place yourself inline. In addition to the MSRP, there’s $400 fee for freight (from China), assembly and documentation. At the moment there are two color options: Tangerine Pearl and Gun Metal Metallic. The MSRP includes shipping to you and arrives “ready to ride,” with all the fluids including one gallon of fuel. All you have to do is attach the windscreen and mirrors and that’s it. Before CSC ships any bike, they ride it for about five miles to ensure proper functioning. You’ll be responsible for your state’s local taxes and any other fees your state may impose on a typical motorcycle purchase.

The bike comes with a steel skid plate and engine crash bars. CSC offers a plethora of al carte options such as mag tubeless wheels, center stand, grip warmers, hand guards, various panniers, a top box and aux lights… just to name a few. This all adds up as a great intro bike for anyone who wants to start adventure traveling or just needs something inexpensive to get around on.

CSC RX4 05

MSRP: $5,395 plus $400 for freight from China, assembly and documentation fees. In the U.S. shipping to you is free.

CSCmotorcycles.com

PROS:

  • Great price point
  • Wide selection of accessories
  • Strong direct support and warranty

CONS:

  • Inaccurate fuel gauge
  • A bit unrefined engine
  • Time will tell on reliability
  • Underlit info cluster

Could this be the budget adventure bike we’ve been waiting for? At the relatively inexpensive price of $5,395, the 2020 RX4 offers many standard amenities for a 450cc-sized modern adventure-style motorcycle. Though the quality of the parts may not be up to the standards of its German or Japanese counterparts, can it hold its own in reliability and durability at such a low entry price point?

CSC RX4 06 450The RX4 is manufactured in China by Zongshen under an exclusive arrangement with CSC. Zongshen has become a global entity with true quality control and state-of-the-art manufacturing. And is respected enough to partner with Piaggio, Harley-Davidson, Norton and others to build engines as well as many other components.

Standard with the 450 lb. RX4 are: ABS (note: they’re working on the ability to turn this function off for off-road riding); adjustable touring windscreen; all LED lights; semi adjustable shocks; dual flash hazard lights; and an impressive 300-watt alternator. On the dash are USB and cigarette lighter-style ports, both with all-climate covers. The easy-to-read digital display conveys the engine temp, fuel status, speedometer, trip meter, odometer, and gear indicator. Above the digital display, there’s also an analog tachometer that redlines at 9,000 rpms. And a tiny six-cube cluster of indicators for high beam, turning indicators, neutral and “check engine” lights which are all hard to see in broad daylight. There’s 8.1-inch of ground clearance with a 31.9-inch stock seat height and I can flat foot it. Seat Conceptshas partnered with CSC in offering a taller, more comfortable saddle than stock, which I’d not think twice about getting.

CSC RX4 01

With over 30 years in the motorcycle industry, CSC stands behind its product with a two-year, unlimited mile warranty. If something requires warranty work within the first year, both parts and labor are covered. For the second year, CSC covers just the part(s) and you pay the labor or install it yourself using the online tutorials on the CSC website. Steve Seidner, the owner, tells me they stock EVERY spare part for their bikes in their Azusa, California warehouse. And more good news, they’re building a network of CSC-familiar service centers throughout the U.S. If one isn’t near you, then use your favorite mechanic for warranty work. If need be, CSC will overnight parts to you or your mechanic. They also offer an extended warranty for up to four years for an additional fee. All this support is confidence inspiring.

As far as regular maintenance, CSC encourages you to work on your own bike. Not only do they provide a complete shop manual on a USB thumb drive, they have an online library of tutorials showing how to properly maintain the bike. That’s notable and something I wish every manufacturer did. There’s nothing as rewarding as KNOWING how to maintain and repair any issue with your own motorcycle. And since the RX4 appears to be a fairly simple machine, it should be easy enough to master.

The ergos are acceptable for my 5-foot, 11-inch frame. And the footpegs, with removable rubber inserts, are adequately sized for stand-up riding without a need for bar risers. An adjustable windscreen provides good protection at speeds up to 75 mph.

At a rated 60+ mpg with a 5.3-gallon fuel tank, you should get around 300 miles. It’s recommended that you use 91-octane to achieve these results. Incidentally, the fuel gauge tends to be more suggestive than accurate.

CSC RX4 07

Keeping in mind that I rode a preproduction model, the 40 hp with 29 ft.-lb. of torque bike seems a little bit un-refined with occasional lurching when the throttle wasn’t at WOT. Finding neutral required some adaptation, and the bike idled at just under 2,000 rpms, which seemed a bit high. With that said, you need to take into account the price point of this bike and realize its potential as an efficient mode of transportation at such an inexpensive cost of ownership. And keep in mind the array of reasonably-priced factory farkles available.

This bike became available by the end of May/early June 2019. To own a RX4, you put down a refundable $500 deposit to place yourself inline. In addition to the MSRP, there’s $400 fee for freight (from China), assembly and documentation. At the moment there are two color options: Tangerine Pearl and Gun Metal Metallic. The MSRP includes shipping to you and arrives “ready to ride,” with all the fluids including one gallon of fuel. All you have to do is attach the windscreen and mirrors and that’s it. Before CSC ships any bike, they ride it for about five miles to ensure proper functioning. You’ll be responsible for your state’s local taxes and any other fees your state may impose on a typical motorcycle purchase.

The bike comes with a steel skid plate and engine crash bars. CSC offers a plethora of al carte options such as mag tubeless wheels, center stand, grip warmers, hand guards, various panniers, a top box and aux lights… just to name a few. This all adds up as a great intro bike for anyone who wants to start adventure traveling or just needs something inexpensive to get around on.

CSC RX4 05

MSRP: $5,395 plus $400 for freight from China, assembly and documentation fees. In the U.S. shipping to you is free.

CSCmotorcycles.com

PROS:

  • Great price point
  • Wide selection of accessories
  • Strong direct support and warranty

CONS:

  • Inaccurate fuel gauge
  • A bit unrefined engine
  • Time will tell on reliability
  • Underlit info cluster

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