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Trying again: CSC SG400 RE3 cafe racer is pretty good.

10757 Views 74 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  ChopperCharles
I'm hesitant to post again after the reception my last thread got. It blew up into anti-china political rhetoric and the mods closed it down:

Please refrain from bringing politics or anti-china sentiment into this thread, as it will just be shut down again.

For a long time I've been thinking about a bike to cafe. I was really into the Yamaha SR400, until I actually sat on one. It was SO tiny. I was mulling over the Royal Enfield 650s, and then came across the SG400 (Known as the RE3 Cyclone overseas). It was $5555 delivered, and it had some seriously radical cafe styling that I really fell for. The price was remarkable too. Not only would I not have to build it into a cafe racer myself, the purchase price was lower than either the RE or the Yamaha. So... I got together some play money and bought it in October 2021.

I wanted the blue one, but they didn't have it in stock yet. That container was supposed to arrive 6 months before and hadn't yet. (goddamn Covid) So I ended up with a gray one, and bought the blue tank and fender later. BUT, I didn't just buy it and have it shipped. I bought it, flew to LA, rode around california for 2500 miles, flew home, and THEN had the bike shipped to me.

So, you guessed it, this bike Chinese. It's a Zongshen RE3 Cyclone. Here it's branded as a CSC (California Scooter Company). CSC made their bread and butter on a 24hp 250cc adventure bike from 2016-2020, and have now started importing more interesting, modern, and advanced bikes. This RE3/SG400 is a 380cc parallel twin with 36 horsepower. Screw/locknut tappets, water-cooled, tubeless spoked rims, fuel-injected, 6-speed, and near 100mph top end with stock gearing. (98 indicated, 96 actual). It's geared for 115 at redline in 6th but can't actually make that, so a tooth or two larger rear sprocket should get it all the way to 100. It's got a remarkable amount of power for only 380ccs. It's pretty docile and meek until you crack the throttle wide open. Then it's still docile and meek, until the revs hit 7000 rpm. Then it surges forward and continues to gain speed all the way to the 10,000 rpm redline. When kept in the power band there is plenty of power for passing on backroads, even multiple cars at a time. There's also plenty of overtaking ability on the highway as well. The bike will cruise at 80 without vibration or any drama other than the wind and helmet-lift you get with any naked bike. It shifts smoothly and positively, the ABS works pretty well, and it's overall a pretty nice package. The only thing really wrong with it is the rear shocks. They're set up for a 90 pound asian man, and they have ZERO rebound damping. Stock the bike will pogo four times after hitting a large bump. In China there are 3 different specced versions with different shock configurations, and CSC unfortunately chose the cheapest shocks to import. Bad call on their part. I've replaced them with a quality pair of YSS shocks, and that made a huge difference.

Other than that, I can't say I've noticed any corners cut. I mean, it's a budget bike, but the fit and finish is excellent. The design is well thought-out and made for DIY maintenance. There's no voodoo necessary to adjust the valves for instance. Tank comes off, wires come off, and valve cover lifts straight out. Everything fits together well and looks good. I mean, there are some obvious hints it's a budget bike. The gas cap ring is plastic instead of aluminum and the handlebar switches are a bit plasticy. The shocks of course were a big problem for me, and exacerbated because I'm a fatass and the bike was overloaded with gear. But otherwise, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between this Zongshen and a Honda if you had no motorcycle knowledge at all.

Everywhere I went in Cali, this bike brought out curious people. Some thought I had restored an old bike, others instantly knew it was a production bike, but had no clue who made it. I had great conversations with sport bikers, harley riders, adventure riders, and everyone inbetween. I had the first oil change at a harley dealership in Fort Bragg, california and the owner and mechanic were astounded that I bought the machine for $5500 out the door, and impressed with the quality of the machine. Never once did I get bashed for buying Chinese. Everyone was curious and friendly.

This Zongshen RE3/CSC SG400 has almost nothing in common with the garbage Chinese bikes sold on Amazon, or the pitbikes sold for years by everyone from your local dealership to Jiffy Lube. The engine isn't a copy of anything, it's Zongshen's own design. It's a much higher level of quality. The metallurgy is better, the castings are beautiful, and the welds are done skillfully. Basically, the exact same thing that happened with the Japanese in the 1960s is playing out now with the Chinese, at a much accelerated pace. There's a mix of garbage and quality machines, and eventually there will be a few big players and the garbage bikes will be forgotten entirely, just like the shitty Japanese bikes from the 50s and early 60s were.

Here are some pics from my california travels:

Sky Land vehicle Wheel Tire Cloud

Tire Wheel Fuel tank Helmet Automotive lighting

Wheel Tire Fuel tank Automotive fuel system Vehicle

Wheel Tire Fuel tank Plant Vehicle

And here's how the bike sits currently. The saddlebags and hand guards were just used for the trip, I much prefer the naked style here.

Tire Wheel Fuel tank Automotive fuel system Vehicle

I'm waiting on a tank logo and the OEM stripes (in white instead of black) to finish out the tank.

This machine is great fun, and completely worth $5555 OTD and delivered. There's nothing else quite like it, and I enjoy having an underdog of a machine. Especially since it's such an eye catcher and draws people into conversation. In Covid times, I need all the social interaction I can get!

I know I could have gotten something japanese and used for about the same price, but I really dug the looks of this bike, and after buying it I have no regrets at all. It's a great bike, suitable for beginners or any experience level right up to "old fart", which I almost qualify for. (I've been riding for 25 years). There's really nothing in the same category and price point. The next closest is the Royal Enfield GT650, which has an MSRP $500 more than this bike cost delivered, and I've never met a dealership that didn't add $600-$900 worth of extra fees. The Yamaha SR400 is a tiny 3/4 scale motorcycle and also retailed for $500 more (plus fees) than this bike cost delivered. Other than those two, the only other bikes with the retro look are Triumphs and the Kawasaki W800. All of which are many thousands of dollars more costly.

Overall I'm really pleased with my purchase, and I must say that other than the rear shocks, the bike exceeded every expectation I had, and blew my mind on how downright GOOD the thing is. I really was expecting something more... chincy... and was happy to be proven otherwise. Even the Chinese tires stick great and are lasting pretty long. My V65 Magna eats rear tires every 3000 miles. My Benelli eats dual sport big block tires every 3500 miles. I already have more than that on the SG400 and the tires still look new. I'm not babying it either, I'm riding it balls-to-the-walls pretty much everywhere.

Love them or hate them, the Chinese are coming, and they're bringing really cool niche motorcycles that nobody knew they needed. Next they'll start racing, and then we'll have Chinese superbikes to contend with. This is a wild time to live in, motorcycle-wise.


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.... I suffered on through with bouncy, pogo-ing shocks that were constantly bottoming out. ...
You must have missed the part in the owner manual where it states:
Warning! Do not attempt to operate the motorcycle with more than two people (operator and one passenger).
The motorcycle is designed to carry the rider and one passenger. You should never exceed a total load on the motorcycle in excess of 330 lbs.
Warning! Do not exceed a combined load of 330 lbs.
If there was a requirement for truth in advertising they would be compelled to call them spring holders.
The China bike also has half the rear suspension travel of a very closely priced CB
Even more good news, when your wheel bearings are shot you can upgrade the 8 buck ones in there now with 20 buck bearings and something made in Sweden and it will be a significant upgrade.

... same with fork seals and steering head bearings, easy to upgrade those
That may have been the case with the previous generation of Chinese motorcycles, but it's not at all true now.

When your wheel bearings do fail, take one apart and count the number of balls in it and I bet you find 7 instead of 9 balls and when you replace the fork seals I bet you find the SKF brands seals will have an additional spring on them compared to the ones that are in there now. ... and the cost will be near double over your OEM parts for reason.
Only trying to help you recognize an upgraded product from an economical built product.
Take the bearing number off your wheel bearing and ask your local bearing supply dealer what the difference is between their 3$ 6004 bearing and their 15$ 6004 bearing and they will tell you that the more expensive bearing is rated for higher dynamic and static loads as a result of it having more balls. Or start going through bearing catalogues to learn about the differences that way. Or go out and buy one of each and rip the seal off one side so you can see inside the thing and prove to yourself that the better bearing has more balls resulting in more points of contact and a stronger bearing that is more impervious to wear and damage. Guaranteed that the comparable heavier duty bearing is going to cost more and have a greater number of balls in the cage.
The tires are tubeless radials. ...
You might want to check that, if it doesn't say radial right on it they won't be radial ply tires and if it came with Timsun radial tires front and rear that would be indeed be impressive, but pretty sure you will find Timsun doesn't even offer a radial ply tire to fit that front rim, TS-689 is a bias ply tire.

...& then there is this:
What I have found with fuel injected motorcycles is, they don't need to be messed with to make them work better. ymmv.

& the problem with peg position is usually the result of them trying to accommodate 2 riders, if it was a competition solo motorcycle the pegs and controls would be located more rearward.
Holy that thing doesn't have much heat shield on the cat, that's a leg burn looking to happen. That would be the first thing I would address after removing the passenger pegs.
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A foreign born can't be elected for President so somebody must think it's important.
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Nobody is rallying against anything, it's called seeing something for what it is. 1979 was the first time I ever had dealings with sales and service to China manufactured goods being rebranded under a premium US brand name and nothing has really changed, they sold the features back then and they still do it now. If the market calls for ABS their product will feature ABS, it might not work very good but it's featured. If the market calls for fuel injection they will feature it, it might not be very good but the product will feature it. Bottom line is always cheap price and quantity over product quality, but you already experienced that because as soon as you bought one you had to replace the rear suspension.

I like my Italian, German and Spanish motorcycles just fine, but one thing they are not is cheap. If a China bike is 'pretty good' then the Euro products must be' spectacular'. Which is pretty accurate :LOL: so I guess we are all on the same page.
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.... I've downloaded the ECU and I'm going to see if I can't modify it and re-flash it without the rev limiter. Poking along because I don't really know what I'm doing yet with ECU Hacker :)
I imagine you have discovered by now; you can't reprogram an non-reprogrammable ECU and by far most motorcycle ECU' are non-reprogrammable. If the ECU was programmable, the manufacturer would make a really big deal about that feature and the cost of the components would reflect that feature. This fact is confirmed in the poorly produced RE3-SG400 service manual pdf. The only way you can affect a change to a non-programmable ECU MAP is to alter the output from the MAP sensors that control the ECU.

Wind drag is the enemy to any motorcycles top speed, if you want to go faster (increase top speed) you need to make yourself and the motorcycle more wind slippery. In other words: install a full fairing on the bike and tuck in behind it, then you can run the taller gearing. Spinning the engine faster is going to buy you nothing because your engines power output has already peaked.
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The formula to making a motorcycle go fast is well established, naked bikes do not compete against streamlined motorcycles. The streamlining allows you to run the faster final drive ratios.
You could change the injectors and make a significant change across the board :geek: ymmv and significant dyno testing would be required.
(y) yes to you need to be consistent with your tire types or it will feel like the bike has a rubber hinge in the swingarm.

Very cool :cool: I support your motorcycle habit.
Buy a new chain and lay it along side the old one to compare length :geek: that's how you know when it is elongated enough to start destroying your sprockets.

If it was mine I'd be replacing all the rear wheel bearings at the same time as the chain.
Assume your engine has a fuel / air ratio performance problem to begin with, because that is the only reason you would want to alter the original ECU in the first place.

There are some motorcycle ECUs that can be flashed, because they are programmable, that is a feature that needs to be designed into the ECU electronics at considerable expense, it's the difference between PROM EPROM and EEPROM
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This is a SG400 RE3 engine, what came in it for an ECU and how good does it run now?
That's the one I want to talk about here, not other technologies.
The SG400 RE3 ECU is flashable and can be accessed to set different parameters using 'ECU Hacker' software according to members on
I found better then that, the owner manual states the ECU is a model MT05 ECU and if that is stamped Delphi, then here is a link to the service manual:
Impressive piece of kit and very well documented compared to the rest of the machine.
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Bent and worn shifter forks inside the transmission :geek: <- That's what makes the transmission shift poorly, jump out of gear etc. just incase you encounter that issue. - Part #2 and part #6 (x2) on their parts diagram at only 6 bucks each you might better order them all before you even take it apart.
... I want to raise the artificially low rev limiter that kicks in before the red line marked on the gauges.
Do you have a dyno chart for that machine that suggests the engine is continuing to produce more power at those high revs? Most would have peaked and are producing less horses past a preset redline:

at what revs does your engine produce peak horsepower, that's what really matters.
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What is this in regards to? The SG400 shifts perfectly, there's no problem with it at all.

One of your friends on china riders was asking about that problem, I don't frequent that site but perhaps you can be kind enough to pass that information along. Generally results from the bike being crashed on the shifter lever or stomped on by the rider. Happens with almost any motorcycle.
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