RX3 Review (Part One)

I’ve decided to break my review of the RX3 into a few different parts. As those of you who have actually asked me know, I’ve been recommending the RX3 for anyone who is shopping for an adventure motorcycle. I’ve also said, repeatedly, that you shouldn’t start off your motorcycle adventure by buying a new motorcycle, since that is money that could be used to actually travel – and I am always going to recommend actually traveling over buying anything.

So, yeah, I bought one.

In October my fiancé Sue and I went on a trip to the southeast. The trip was based around Overland Expo East and Horizons Unlimited’s North Carolina events. In the summer we had found Sue an SR250 like mine, and this was the our first trip with them. Along with were her two girls, 9 and 11 at the time. Since we also have an RV, the plan was to drive the RV, park it somewhere, and take trips on the motorcycles. This basecamp approach would allow us to have more things (until everyone gets used to having fewer things, and I was packing along books) and make some of the long  travel days a bit more comfortable.

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I’ve taken a few RV trips now, and can honestly say I like motorcycle travel better. But for all four of us, especially since the girls longest day on the motorcycles had been around 100 miles, this seemed like a workable plan. I have to admit, it did work out pretty well. And RVs can be comfortable – it’s nice to have a real kitchen.

There was a problem though. In the mountains, with a kid on the back, Sue thought the bikes were dangerously underpowered. Looking back, she was right. I was just used to the SR250’s limits and ignored them. I’ve ridden a lot of miles on mine, and just accept that it is what it is. She didn’t like it, though, and felt unsafe. That is the sort of thing that hurts traveling, so we needed to address it.

Enter the RX3. Since I had been promoting the bike as perfect for adventure and overland travel, it was time to put some money where my mouth was.

Now, I do know that the RX3 is still a 250, and so might still be under underpowered once we are two up in the mountains, so we only ordered one. Either it would be okay, or it wouldn’t. If it was good, we would look at getting another one in the spring. I wasn’t too worried, though, since the RX3 has almost twice the horsepower of the SR when it was new, but more on that later.

So, with bike ordered it was just a matter of waiting for it to show up. Eventually I was given a delivery window from the shipping company – Road Runner Transport – of 10a-1pm, on a day I was working. Sue would be home, though, and the person on the phone assured me she could sign for receiving it.

In the morning I got an email saying the bike was out for delivery, so it was just a matter of waiting for a message from Sue saying it had arrived. But at 230pm she messaged saying it wasn’t there yet. I called Road Runner to be told it was actually still in the warehouse. Apparently they weren’t sure how to deliver the 500b crate to a house. I – expressed my concern – with this situation and they said they would get someone over with it. Sue had to leave to pick up the girls from school by 430, so time mattered. And, a truck with the crate on board did stop at the house – at 430 – but the driver decided not to drop the crate off and left with it again.

Sue let me know, and I called Road Runner. They were apologetic, and after some more concerns expressed, agreed to let me come and pick the bike up, unpacking it in the warehouse and leaving the crate there. Then I called CSC. Ryan was upset about the whole arrangement, but unless I was willing to wait longer for the bike while they discussed the matter with Road Runner there wasn’t much else he could do. I didn’t want to wait longer. It was warm, but there was snow and cold in the forecast and I wanted the bike in the garage before then. So, I found out what I would need to get the bike on the road from the crate. That would be nothing – there should even be enough fuel to get to a gas station. So, I was all set.

I got home from work, ate, called an Uber, and went to the warehouse. It was 45 minutes away by car, it would be longer on a new motorcycle, and it was dark before I’ve even gotten home from work. All well, I’d ordered extra lights.

Everyone knew about the crate but the person I’d talked to on the phone had left for the day. This resulted in some more “I’m not taking the crate,” but it was less of a struggle. I think they were just glad to be done with it. A forklift brought it over.

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I hadn’t actually looked at or read any of the instructions. I’d planned on doing this at home, where I would have all that available for reference, but it was almost completely assembled so I wasn’t worried. First was taking the crate apart. After the long day I was ready to work out some frustrations and the poor thing never stood a chance. Then I went through and made sure it was all there. Road Runner wanted me to sign something but I put them off until I was done. Once I’d worked out all the parts it was time to get it road ready.

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The RX3 appeared with only the top box, windshield, and mirrors uninstalled. The handguards weren’t on either, but those were an option so I wanted to mention them separately. Most of the instructions are in Chinese, with some poorly translated English, but the pictures are clear and even where there weren’t any, what was supposed to happen was obvious. The windshield is tricky, as others have noted, but once you work out how to get the tools where they should be, it was suddenly simple. Crate to assembled was perhaps 45 minutes, and I was taking my time to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I didn’t install the handguards, since I wouldn’t need them (I hoped) for the ride home and I wanted to get to sleep. I had to wake up at 445am the next morning.

The bike’s break in was explained in the small user’s manual, and it looked like I was going to be taking side streets all the way home. It was almost 50 miles, but at least I could go along the lake. It would be scenic, if it wasn’t night out.

That first ride home was fine, and I was impressed with how easily the bike had come together. The seat, though is hard. I was pretty sure I would have to do something about that, but I am usually pretty good at stock seats so I decided to just put a sheepskin on it and give it a thousand miles or so.

Next part – the RX3 as a commuter.


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