There are a few things you need with a commuter motorcycle. It has to be agile and fun to ride. It has to have luggage. Since I live in the Midwest, where it can be cold and snowy, it needs to be able to support heated gear and have some weather protection, as well as being able to deal with the occasional drop. While it’s not really the bike’s fault, it also has to be able to handle all the different road conditions, wet, cold, what ever. That is more a function of tires, but I’m going to cover it anyway.
Since I’ve had the RX3 I’ve just it almost exclusively as my daily transport. There were two days I used the truck instead – once we were expecting a blizzard (it didn’t quite show up) and another time I had to pick up 2 wing back chairs and a desk. As you might have heard, the luggage on the RX3 isn’t that large.
Since we’re on the luggage, lets talk about it for a second. It is small – I haven’t seen a cubic liter count but I know it will scare some people off (or into buying the luggage upgrade, something more than 25% of the cost). While I will admit it’s tight, as a commuter it is still plenty of room. I can’t buy a week’s worth of groceries, but I can certainly get a couple days along with a couple last minute “oh, honey, I forgot” items.
As for work transport, it does depend a little on what you bring to work. Since I have a job in EMS, work means a change of clothes, coat, cooler, and a bag os random other things. All this manages to fit on the on-board storage with room left over, but the size of the gear does matter. My cooler was bought to fit the bags on Curiosity, and it’s tight in the left side of the RX3. The top case appears to be the same size as the left side case, the right smaller with the high exhaust. All the luggage locks, and you can’t actually leave them unlocked. I guess that is a good thing, if you’re worried about sort of thing, but I am used to my soft luggage and needing the key to get into a case is annoying for me.
The RX3 has an upgraded alternator. According to 5000 miles at 8000 RPM, it has a spare 140 watts for other electrical accessories, which is more than enough for heated gear. I’ve only used gloves and jacket (it hasn’t been cold enough for the pants yet this year), but based on the math it should be fine. It doesn’t come with a voltmeter, and I will be installing one before putting that much load on the electrical system. There isn’t a whole lot of wind protection, to be honest, but the tiny windshield does make something of a pocket and the handguards help. It hasn’t been bitter cold yet, and of course heated gloves help (a lot).
I still haven’t managed to dump the RX3. It’s not like I am actively trying to, but I haven’t shied away from things that should result in a bike nap. After riding a street bike (with street tires) through all sorts of questionable terrain, perhaps the more dirt-orientated bike matters, or I just need to try harder. Even with the cold, wet, and foggy mornings along Lake Michigan the bike has felt planted. Surprising, given the reviews on Shinko tires, but they seem to be holding up. I’m curious about how long they’ll last, they do seem to be wearing down faster than my Kendas did.
So far, everything has worked just fine. Even the seat seems to be breaking in now that I have a few hundred miles on it. Of course, I didn’t get the bike to be a commuter – it’s supposed to be my traveling motorcycle. With the mild weather I am looking at trying an overnight camping trip somewhere, but until I can spend a couple weeks living on it the overlander-version of this report will have to wait.
Next will be maintenance, though there will be some other posts in the mean time (this isn’t a website about the RX, after all).