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Friday, 16 October 2015

A Chinese Adventure Bike? Would You Buy One?

China, first of all it's a huge country with the biggest population on the planet, and a history that dates back thousands of years, with some historians believing they had been in North America long before the Vikings, Cabot or Columbus. Despite that, most North Americans and Europeans have a hard time taking anything manufactured in China seriously, even though about 90% of what you wear and what is in your home is manufactured there. It's hard to flip over a tag and not find "Made in China".

Not too many people would seriously consider buying a Chinese manufactured car, because it would be considered junk, kinda like a Lada from the old Soviet Union days. Motorcycles, same thing, and there is a lot of truth behind it. The limited supply of bikes we've seen from the People's Republic have not been up to the standards of the Japanese or the Euro manufacturers.

Now, some like the Konker, have been pretty much bullet proof. I know the CMG Konker will just not die, and that has been flogged to death. Is it a high performance bike? No absolutely not, but it is cheap and it's still running. I think the Chinese must be good at building a few things, I mean there are a few billion of them, and I'd like to think that there at least a few hundred million scooters and small bikes being flogged every single day without too much issue.

So this brings me to the CSC RX3, it's a 250cc adventure bike manufactured in China by Zongshen. Zongshen was founded in 1992 and has since grown to 18000 employees and produces 1 million motorcycles a year. Compare that to Harley Davidson's 270,000 in 2014. Zongshen even has a partnership with HD, and Aprilla.

Chinese or not, a company that large, that produces that many motorcycles a year must know a thing or two about manufacturing. I don't believe everything made in China is crap. Not anymore.

CSC, the California Scooter Company is the official importer/distributor for the new RX3 for North America, and they jumped outside the box on how this new bike is to be sold. No dealers..... yes I said NO DEALERS. We, the customer buy direct from the distributor. No middleman, no mark up. You pay CSC for the bike and any options you want. (the bike comes standard pretty well loaded for a road trip), a small set up fee, $195, and the shipping. Viola, it appears on your doorstep. Easy peasy. For us Canadians we have to swallow the exchange on the dollar as it is sold in greenbacks and not loonies, plus duty and whatever import fees are required. I'm guessing a broker maybe needed.

Oh ya, the price $3495.00 and you get a fuel injected, liquid cooled, 250cc single with a six speed transmission, that gets 70mpg. Oh ya you also get, full luggage, windscreen, crash bars and a power outlet.

Oh I can hear the naysayers now, actually the forums have been alive with them. "no dealer support", "Chinese crap", "throw away bike", "no parts", "no reliability" For most of the negative Nellies, I, or anyone else won't change your mind. Which is fine. Stick with you Japanese or Euro bike. No one is forcing you.

The CMG article about the RX3 generated a flurry of responses, some positive and some very negative towards a bike they've never seen. Joe Berk of CSC bravely waded in an addressed all concerns. When was the last time you saw management from a major Euro or Japanese brand do that?

Personally I think the majority of dealerships suck anyway, especially they're service departments. As for parts, hell they still have to order parts in too. I had to wait on brake pads for my Vstrom. I at least thought they would stock those. I've heard more horror stories about service departments screwing up the smallest fix. So I prefer to do my own maintenance.

CSC apparently has a large supply of parts, and even has basic maintenance tutorial videos on their website.

You can even call or email Gerry, CSC's lead tech guy for help if you need it.
I guess the RX3 doesn't break down much, so the only picture they had was of him at work on an 800GS. Can't explain the BMW hat though.

The big question..........would I buy one? Yes, if the loonie was in a little better shape, and when I mean loonie, I mean Canadian dollar. As it stands right now the RX3 is 30% more expensive because of it. There is also the apprehension of buying a bike completely unseen, however I have read enough reviews that I would take the gamble. They flogged the bikes through 5000 miles of western U.S. without too much of an issue.

Is a 250 enough? For most of the world it is, and for me it is. I think the RX3 would make a great back roads, gravel road adventure bike. I would not hesitate to take it across the Trans Labrador Highway, or run it in the Fundy Adventure Rally. Big displacement bikes have their place, but I can buy 5 RX3's for the price of R1200GS. 

The RX3 just received approval for sale in Canada and they are offering some first time buyer incentives, waive the set up fee, 20% off accessories. Check here for all the info

CSC folks, if you want to make a great Canadian adventure video with the RX3, maybe a
  Two Chinese Wheels Thru the Bigland series drop me a note, send me a bike, and I'll set off thru the wilds of Newfoundland and Labrador again next summer and put the RX3 through it's paces, including over 700km of remote gravel road, and maybe even sell a bunch for you in the process.

Oh, and I'm off to sunny Orlando tomorrow, will report back with all the latest and greatest from the AIMExpo.

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