Cyclone RX3 Motorcycle Review

My first impressions of the bike, having assembled it, ridden it for a few hours and generally looked around it and taken bits of it apart is that it's better built than any previous Chinese motor vehicle I've seen. I've owned a Chinese scooter in the past and the quality control and parts used on it were adequate at best. The RX3 is much closer to Japanese quality. The vast majority of parts seems to be high quality and by and large, the fit and finish are up to Japanese standards. My last two motorcycles were a Kawasaki Ninja 250 and a Suzuki V-Strom 650. The RX3 isn't as fast as either of them, but it's a lot lighter and more nimble than the V-Strom and certainly has more of road capability than the Ninja!

The fuel injection system is made by Delphi, a US company, and fueling seemed fine. The bike starts easily with no more than a second or so of cranking and runs and idles well. So far I haven't found any hesitation or flat spots when accelerating and the bike pulls strongly all the way to the red line at 9000 rpm. Though it's only a 250cc engine, the bike accelerates well and power seems more than adequate. The gear shifting is smooth with the possible exception of getting into neutral with the bike stationary. Sometimes it just doesn't want to shift from 1st to neutral when stationary, but again that's not unknown on some Japanese bikes. The are no issues when the bike is moving. The shifting is so smooth that it's a bike on which you can pretty easily make clutchless gear shifts (if you use the right technique). I wouldn't recommend clutchless shifting (and I don't regularly do it myself) since if you get it wrong (especially on a downshift), the results can be unpleasant. However it's good to know that if your clutch cable breaks and you don't have a spare with you, you can ride the RX3. It's stopping and starting that will be the real problem!

Like most small displacement bikes, the RX3 is happiest when you keep the revs up. I'd say around 4000 rpm is the absolute lower limit if you expect to get any sort of reasonable response to the throttle above 2nd gear and 5000rpm is a lot better. To really be in the powerband you need to be in to 6000-9000 rpm range. If you're used to riding a larger displacement bike, you'll find that you will (or should) be shifting gears a lot more often on the RX3. There are vibrations (it's a single cylinder "thumper"), but they fairly well controlled with a counterbalance system. However running at 8000-9000rom, the view in the rear view mirrors does get a bit blurred!

The brakes are up to the task of stopping the bike, but don't seem to have much "bite". There's also a slight pulsing in my front brake, the cause of which I'm trying to track down. CSC are sending me a new rotor in case the original is slightly warped. I did measure about 0.35mm of apparent warp, so hopefully a new rotor will fix the problem. The bike doesn't have ABS, but right now I think I'd have a hard time locking the brakes up in the dry anyway. Things may get better as the pads wear in, but a higher friction pad at least on the front, might be desirable. Whether such pads will ever be available I don't know, but CSC commented that they are looking into the possibility.

The suspension does a good job of smoothing out the bumps, at least on pavement and gravel roads. The rear is adjustable for pre-load and damping but the front forks have no adjustment. So far I haven't found I needed any, but I've only ridden pavement and gravel roads. Note that rider weight is a big factor in suspension adjustment. What suits a 120lb rider will not suit a 300lb rider. I'm around 170lbs. Your mileage may differ.

The windscreen does a decent job of keeping the wind off the riders chest, but the arms and head don't get much protection. However there is no buffeting so the ride is smooth. I'm 6ft and the wind hits me at about visor level. There are no aftermarket screens available for the RX3, at least not marketed in the US, so some experimentation would be required if you wanted to modify things. I have a few ideas and will report if I find anything that gives more wind protection without causing increased turbulance.

The riding position is fairly comfortable for me at 6ft. It might feel a bit cramped after a long ride but I'm pretty happy with it so far with rides up to 2 hours. I noticed that my knees aren't very far from the engine guards, so wearing knee protection when riding is a good idea (as it is indeed with any bike). The two level seat holds you pretty well, which is both good and bad. It means you don't slide around but it also means you can't shift back a little if you want to stretch your legs. A tall rider can stretch their legs by riding the bike while sitting on the elevated passenger seat, but it looks pretty stupid and it's not very comfortable. The seat could probably use a little more padding for longer rides. It's not terrible and its comfort level probably depends on the size (and shape...) of the rider, but after and hour or two I was starting to feel some discomfort. I'm not sure if it needs more padding or reshaping (or both), but there's room for improvement either way.

I haven't tried to find top speed yet (the bike isn't broken in), but from Internet reports it looks like it should be capable of maybe 85mph actual speed. The speedometer is pretty optimistic. It appears to be about 10% fast. This is probably by design since it's an easy to get it right (just program the right factor into the digital instrument cluster). An optimistic speedometer lowers the probability of you getting a speeding ticket and makes it highly unlikely you could blame any ticket you did get on an inaccurate speedometer!

One thing that seems a little odd that the rev line is at 9000rpm and the specs claim that peak power is generated at 9000rpm. Most bikes have a red line that's higher than peak power. For example the Honda CBR250R has a 10500rpm red-line, but peak power comes around 8500rpm according to the specs. I haven't seen a dyno run on the RX3 yet, but I suspect it won't be long before either CSC or an owner comes up with one. I've read that the rev limiter cuts in at 11,000rpm, but I certainly haven't tested that. One point of note is that the speedometer indicates 10mph per 1000rpm in 6th gear, so 6000 rpm gives an indicated speed of 60mph.

On the instrument panel, the speed and gear position are clearly displayed and the analog tachometer is easy to read. The fuel level and temperature readouts are also clear, but the clock is very small. The warning lights for turn signals, neutral, high beam, low fuel and EFI fault are small and not very bright (especially in sunlight). It would be easy to miss one of them being on. The fuel gauge seems to be pessimistic. I think I put at least 1 gallon in the tank before it started to register and it shows full for quite a while after filling the tank. Again this is probably by design since the fuel pump is in the gas tank and is cooled by the gas. You don't want to run the tank really low or there's a chance you could reduce the fuel pump life by allowing it to heat up. With a tank capacity of 4.2 US gallons and estimated mileage of 70-75 mpg, that gives a very comfortable range between fill-ups of 200 miles and maybe up to 300 miles in an emergency.

The headlight is adequate, but not much more than that. It's good in daylight so cars can see you, but at night it's not very bright. The bulb is only a 35/35W and there's only one headlight. My V-Strom had two headlights and they were both 55/60W. I'd hapily ride the V-Strom at night. I'd be a little hesitant to ride far or fast on the RX3 with the standard lighting. Of course you can add extra lighting or upgrade the headlight bulb (within limits) as discussed on the RX# Headlight and LED lighting pages.

There were a few very minor issues with the bike. As I mentioned earlier, the front brake pulses slightly which could be due to a slightly warped rotor or it could just be the pads bedding in. Time will tell. The low beam on the headlight burned out after a few days, but that's probably just bad luck. It was a Phillips bulb, so should have been a reasonable quality item. CSC offered to send me a replacement, but I just picked one up locally to save time. A couple of the body panels don't line up quite correctly, but I've had similar problems with the plastics on Japanese bikes. The crash bars (engine guard) aren't a perfect fit. They just touched the plastic shroud on the left radiator. I talked with CSC about that and they said that happens quite a lot. It's not a big deal as it's only just touching and it's the plastic shroud, not the radiator itself. The cross member of the guard should attach to the downtubes of the frame via 2 U-bolts. The holes for the U-bolts are offset with respect to the downtubes and so one leg of each U-bolt is a very tight fit. There's also a small gap between the cross tube and the downtubes. With some additional washers and shims I managed to get everything in place OK. I note that on the CSC website their setup tutorial shows that their engine guard cross member is only drilled for one U-bolt and only attaches to one leg of the downtubes.

The RX3 has no center stand, but one is available from CSC for about $130. It only has a single spring. Many centerstands now use a double spring (one inside the other), so if one spring fails, the stand doesn't drop down and hit the road. The sidestand works fine, but there is no safety interlock to prevent you riding off with the sidestand extended by cutting the ignition if the bike is put in gear with the stand still down. A deployed sidestand can be a serious problem if you turn left and it digs into the road (or dirt). Not all bikes have an interlock and some people disable it even if it is present to prevent it accidentally activating. In my opinion an interlock or at least a bright warning light when the stand is down would be a useful safety feature and I'm working on a way to install one.

The bike comes with a small owner's manual, which is fairly clear but in places lapses into some bad translations. For example, instructions for break in over the first 150km read: "The rev is above 4000r/min and free stroke of throttle handlebar is controlled at 1/4 during motorcycle running, cool engine for 5-10 min after running for 1h, shift gears to make each gear operated". I think they are suggesting a maximum of 4000rpm and no more than 1/4 throttle for the first 150km. CSC also supply a service manual on CD with the bike which is pretty clear on how to do basic maintenance and fix common problems, including things like replacing a fork seal, adjusting the valves and installing new clutch plates. However it doesn't cover everything you might expect in a full shop manual - for example things like rebuilding/repairing the engine and transmission aren't covered. If you had to install a new valve or piston, you'd be somewhat in the dark. It has some torque settings for important fastners, but not all of them (e.g. no torque setting is specified for the bolts holding on the disk rotors).

The included crash bars and luggage are a nice bonus. So far I've installed the engine guards, but not the luggage set and support framework. I figure there's no point in carrying around an extra 25lbs on the bike all the time. If I take a trip where I need the extra carrying capacity, I'll install it. Also, the supplied top box won't take a helmet. I like a place to lock my helmet so I've installed a small Givi trunk in place of the supplied top box. Not only does it take a full face helmet, but it's lighter then the supplied top box.


So far I'm very happy with the RX3. It's a lot lighter and more nimble than my V-Strom, though I'm certain the V-Strom is a better bike for long freeway rides. Off road I'm pretty sure I could pick the RX3 up if it fell over. I can't say the same for the V-strom! The build quality of the bike seems good, not perfect but as good as some Japanese bikes I've owned. It's really a bike for the street and dirt roads rather than a true off-roader of course. It doesn't have the suspension travel for serious rock hopping (5.1" front, 5.6" rear) and the ground clearance with me sitting on the bike is 6.5". With the suspension compressed that would probably drop to around 4". A more dirt focused dual sport bike like the Honda CRF250L has closer to 9" of suspension travel and 10" of ground clearance (uncompressed). The RX3 front wheel is just 18", while the CRF250L is 21" (better for rolling over rocks, logs and potholes). The RX3 seat is also more designed for highway riding than off-road riding since it pretty much holds you in one position and you can't side back and forth on it like you can on a true dirt bike. Since most of my riding will be on the street and "off-road" will mostly be on gravel or other unpaved roads, rather than rocks and mud, the RX3 suits me just fine.