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i find all the black just makes them look heavy, esp the wheels. are the tyres not radials?

2.4" of rear travel is nuts. it's a pity they spec them like that, as it'll be something anyone who rides it remembers - the crap rear shocks. radial tyres and a fork kit?
 

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What about Tesla, Lucid, the Ford e-Mustang, Harley Livewire: seems to me the box was kicked over a while ago. All designed and built in America.
I would agree to some of the design being done and them being assembled in buildings in America. But looking at parts used, cash flow and greencards in the IP department, the American content is pretty thin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
The tires are tubeless radials. The tubeless rim design is not a copy of anything, it's a Zongshen design. The same style tubeless rims also come stock their 450cc adventure bike, the RX4. (albeit in different sizes). Personally, I like black rims, but I think the bike would look better with silver footpeg brackets/exhaust hanger, and maybe a silver valve cover, along with a color-matched lower cowl.

Still, I'm really happy with how it looks now, and will be making a few more minor changes. Zongshen tank logo, white OEM style stripes, rim tape. Basically, I fell in love with the Chinese market release bike that the hottie is riding here:


And I'm just waiting on the yellow side covers, rim stripes, tank badge, and tank stripes to finish turning my boring gray US model into the one I actually fell in lust with :)

Charles.
 

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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: https://www.advrider.com/f/attachments/86973b16-a842-4c41-a5bb-b789a2f2cafe-jpeg.3498065/

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:

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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.

View attachment 106124

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.

Charles.

Charles.
You mentioned the shit shocks from JC Whitney and I had to laugh. In the 90s a friend was riding to Florida and needed shocks. I ordered him a pair of the same as those from Chrome Speciality. Shipping was late and he was going to miss pull out time, so not knowing what pos they was I give him the shocks off my Super glide. Damn things were terrible. I didn't have to wait long before someone came in for shorter shocks and I got their takeoff. NGFL :)
 

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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: http://www.timsun.in/#question3
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
You're right, I looked and they're bias ply tires. They're still pretty good tires. I made an assumption there. They are tubeless at least! :D

@gt alex The Apollo cafe racer you posted is a Mash 400, using a near-exact copy of the Honda XR400 motor. It's not a Zongshen and has no relationship to the SG400/RE3. Non-cafe retro versions of the Mash are sold sold in the USA as Genuine G400C for $3999. The bike is basically an XR400 motor crammed into a nice vintage CB350-looking bike. Unfortunately it has all the caveats of the XR400 motor. Vibration, low horsepower, and sub-90mph top speed. While the same XR400 hop-ups will work on the motor, the bike is fuel injected and nobody currently makes a fuel controller for it. I test rode one and found it was a blast on city streets, but not so much fun on the interstate (though it would maintain 80 even up steep hills and with a headwind). The peg position is a little odd, but other than that I liked it. Cleveland Cycleworks did a pretty slick scrambler conversion to one using an aftermarket XR400 high pipe.




If I didn't already have two scramblers and an adventure bike in addition to my SG400 cafe racer, I'd probably buy one...

Charles.
 

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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.
 

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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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Rather speculative to whom? I will look up where I have read these things, over the past half dozen years or so, but maybe you should as well.
An example is Elon Musk being South African/Canadian. Are his designs American?
Since he is a businessman and not a designer, I would say that yes, the Teslas are American designed. Specifically, it is a Californian design with all the diversity that entails. It’s quite typical of labor in California in general: a multicultural and multinational team working together, just getting on with it.
It really doesn’t matter what passport folks hold: if they live and do their work in America, the products of that labor are American. Or are you saying that the foreign born can never be truly Real Americans?
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
It's funny that it's the Chinese motorcycles people rally against, and not the Russian Ural. But after today maybe that will change. I really like motorcycles too, and I don't much care where they're made, if they're turning out a competitive, reliable product. I wouldn't touch a Royal Enfield for any price for 20 years, and fast forward to today and it was one of my top 3 picks for a new bike.

The Chinese and Indians are filling a niche right now, which is interestingly styled or competitively priced (often both) midsize motorcycles with reliability on par with anything else on the market today. Pretty soon they'll be making superbikes too. If they can figure out how to make one look like an actual motorcycle, and not like the kafka-esque coupling of a transformer and a cockroach we see in Japanese bikes today, I might even buy one.

Charles.
 

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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 think It ill turn around over time. My mum wouldn't buy anything from Japan till the mid 70's but we all know Japan does make quality motorcycles now. I have more worries about Italian reliability. It will eventually dawn on china it doesn't cost that much more to use real steel bolts instead of clay or whatever they use. And then they can charge more and get return business.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Well, the QJ/Geely group took over Benelli and made them orders of magnitude more reliable than they were in the 90s and early 00s. They're the same Chinese company that owns Lotus and Volvo FWIW. They took Benelli from making expensive partially handmade superbikes with a terrible reputation for poor fit and finish being wholly unreliable - and made the company go back to the basics. They started all over making small budget bikes, and are building back up to making high performance machines. Benelli of the past was trying to run before they could walk, the Chinese management saved the company and the brand. The bikes are all still designed by Italians in Pesaro Italy, in the same Benelli factory as before. Some models (TRK502 and Leoncino) are assembled in the Pesaro factory as well, but only for European markets. US and Australian models are assembled in China. The latest news is that Benelli is making their 3-cylinder 118 horsepower 899 Tornado again and already selling it in India. If the recent benellis are any indication, the Tornado 899 will be reliable, the paint won't have orange peel, the body panels will line up, and it won't go through stators like Rosie O'donnel through a buffet. (All common problems from Italy-managed Benelli bikes) They're also partnering with MV Agusta to design and manufacture a new generation of 4-cylinder high-performance motors.

Say what you will about the Chinese... they're not the ones resting on their laurels right now. They're innovating. There's been nothing interesting from the big four Japanese manufacturers in decades, except perhaps the grom. Every year it's the same old stuff with a slightly higher price. The top tier Chinese companies know that reliability and power at a cheaper price is what it's going to take to sell to North America, and they're not going to make anything that tarnishes the reputation they're trying so hard to build. In short, they're hungry.

Also, the bolts made out of cheese thing... that was over some time ago. You don't see that crap in modern Chinese motorcycles from big companies. Only in the sketchy crap you'd buy off of Amazon or at a Pep Boys.



Charles.
 

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Say what you will about the Chinese... they're not the ones resting on their laurels right now. They're innovating. There's been nothing interesting from the big four Japanese manufacturers in decades, except perhaps the grom. Every year it's the same old stuff with a slightly higher price.
You keep saying the Chinese are not resting on their laurels and are being innovative…. But what they're doing is copying everything the Japanese did....... You know the ones resting on their laurels?

CFMotos lineup is a who's who of cheap Chinese knock-offs of popular Japanese models. The 800 MT?.... A smaller cheaper Africa twin. That cockroach fucking a transformer??... a 700CL-X. Kawasaki Versys 650?... the 650MT. Their ATV and side-by-side line??...... A complete and utter rip off of Polaris Honda and Yamaha. Innovative my ass.

Same with CSC.....at least half of their line is what Honda and Yamaha use to make 40-50 years ago.

The RX4 is a nice affordable entry level machine into the adventure genre. So is the Himalayan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Benelli is innovating for sure. The other companies are getting there. I think Benelli is at the forefront, but then they got a head start by buying an entire working motorcycle company and keeping the engineers and designers. Everyone else is doing exactly what the Japanese did in the 1950s and 1960s. Copy a design and then slowly make it better and better, while putting their own twist on the styling.

Also, to be completely fair, only 2 of 6 bikes that CSC imports use the old 230cc CG250 motor. Everything else is an in-house design.

Charles.
 
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