After riding 5,000 miles through the Western States on CSC’s RX3 mini ADV motorcycle I figured the gig was up for me: Motorcycle manufacturers are usually left unsatisfied and hollow feeling whenever I butcher a motorcycle review. On that ride the RX3s ran fine and had nothing else to prove. So who’d be crazy enough to foot the bill for another long distance 250cc ride?
It’s a question we get all the time at Motorcycle.com: What should I get as a first bike? Well, there isn’t just one answer to this question, as different people have different wants, needs, and desires in their first motorcycle. We’re lucky to live in a time where, no matter what kind of riding you’re into, there’s a lightweight, beginner-friendly machine just for you. Here, we’ll give you our take on the 10 best beginner motorcycles available today.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2017. Since then, a number of other good beginner motorcycles have hit the market, so we’ve decided to update this post with some of the newer options available for new riders. The list of is available below.
We were pleasantly surprised with the CSC RX3, a 250cc adventure bike, when we tested one back in December of 2014. Considering its modest displacement – and the fact it’s made by Zongshen in China – we weren’t sure what to make of the bike initially, but it’s changing the way we think about Chinese motorcycles. Joe Berk, a consultant to CSC, the North American Zongshen/CSC importer, is a diehard believer in the RX3, touting his numerous trips across China as proof of the bike’s ruggedness.
CSC Motorcycles has been very busy introducing new models to its U.S. lineup. Last year it was the adventure-touring-styled Cyclone RX3 (which won an Honorable Mention award in 2015 for Best Value). In 2016 CSC has already introduced the RC3 and TT250, and now comes the RZ3, a naked bike version of the RC3, and upping CSC’s selection of model from 0 to four in just two years.
What do you think of when you hear “Chinese motorcycle?” Cheap, ugly, and under-performing? Those observations would be largely correct, as the majority of Chinese motorcycles to come to these shores (that’s the United States, for our international readers) were exactly that. Let’s face it: the words “Made In China” aren’t held in high regard.
CSC is quickly expanding its model range. In late 2014 we tested the 250cc adventure-touring RX3 Cyclone, and gave it a favorable review. A year later CSC announced the dual-sport TT250. We’re still waiting to see the TT250 in the flesh, but have been told it shouldn’t be much longer. Today, CSC announced a third 250cc motorcycle, the very sporty looking RC3.
Last month we brought you the Top 10 Most Anticipated Bikes of 2016. For February, let’s take a look at the most affordable new bikes of 2016, because, well, a lot of the bikes in that other list are pricey: XDiavel, Brutale 800, Super Duke GT … you get the picture. There already exist a lot of motorcycles in the sub-$10k price category, and here’s 10 more new models joining that list. From retro to modernistic, cruiser to sportbike, on-road to off, there’s a little something for everyone in this list.
Bang for the buck. That’s what it comes down to when you talk about value. Whether it’s refrigerators or motorcycles, getting a good value boils down to receiving more than expected for an item’s price tag. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when that price tag is a mere $6990, as is the case with the Yamaha FZ-07, Motorcycle.com’s returning champion in the Value category.
In 1959 we laughed at the small-displacement step-throughs Honda brought to America. It didn’t take Soichiro long, though, to establish Honda as the world leader in motorcycle production. Again we laughed when, in 1992, the Korea-based Kia introduced the Sephia to U.S. consumers, then in 1998 merged with Hyundai. Last year the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group was the 5th-largest auto manufacturer in the world. The moto world has been scoffing at motorcycles from China, Taiwan and other Pacific Rim Asian countries for years now. Maybe it’s time we stopped.
CSC Motorcycles U.S.A. will be bringing in the RX-3 Cyclone Adventure-Touring bike into the United States by early next year, all for the remarkable introductory price of just $2895. The bike will be powered by a 250cc, fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, Single with four valves, overhead camshaft, disc brakes, adjustable suspension, six-speed transmission, luggage rack, and even a one-year warranty. Basically everything you’d expect from a proper motorcycle.