ADVers, Your 250cc Prayers Have Been Answered

02/26/2014 @ 11:14 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS


Five years at this game now, and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of what the reaction to an article will be before it’s published.

With big-displacement ADV bikes, there are invariably those who arrive, deploring the unnecessary weight and size of the machine in question, and who adamantly believe that 450cc is all you will ever need off-road (let’s side-step the whole “two-strokes vs. four-stroke” debate on this one).

This group always seems to miss the point though: that one would not want to travel hundreds (if not the thousands of miles we did on our Broventure) on the wooden saddle of a dirt bike — I already cringe at the thought of the handlebar buzz as well.

As cumbersome as a big ADV bike is off-road compared to its dual-sport brethren, they get the job done well enough, without sacrificing too much on the macadam while loaded to the gills. This is what we call compromise

That doesn’t change the fact that these detractors are somewhat right though, it’s high time that motorcycle manufacturers built smaller, lighter, and more comfortable ADV bikes of the sub-800cc variety. Well, one finally has: China’s Zongshen has just debuted its 250cc Zongshen RX3 adventure machine, for your touring pleasure.

One of the more reputable brands to come from behind the Great Wall, Zongshen has built a basic 249cc motor, with a SOHC four-valve head, which is good for 24hp and 16 lbs•ft of torque. Add to it a six-speed gearbox, 16 liter fuel tank (4.2 gallons), a 31.2 inch seat height, and 385 dry weight and you’ve got the RX3 in a nutshell.

Perhaps still a touch too heavy for die-hard off-roaders, we are still impressed with the power available on the Zongshen RX3, which is comparable to a Kawasaki Ninja 250R. Complete with 55 liters of luggage, this petite ADV could fit the bill for many long-distance riders.

Sold as the Honley RX3 in the UK, and the Minsk TRX300i in Russia and other markets, there is no telling if the Zongshen RX3 will make it to the USA, though we secretly hope it does.





Source: CMG Online

  • finally an adv bike for petit, non-fat blokes. in41.

  • Jake

    If it’s cheap enough and can travel uphill at highway speeds we may have a winner.

  • If it’s cheap and doesn’t fall apart too badly, then I am all for giving it a try.

  • Andrew

    I would be excited if it was made by one of Big Four. But Zongshen? Not so much…

  • Marty

    I just sold my KLR650 and bought a BMW K100 liter bike that has ABS,fuel gauge and that feels safe when doing 100km if I want to jump on to a highway. I am fascinated with video’s and blogs of guys/gals doing long tours on little bikes like the Honda C90…If I was young and had the time I would grab a small bike like this one and go to Europe/Asia/South America. Here in Canada/Upper part of the USA its just such a long stretch of boring landscape that riding a small bike like this would become tiring and frustrating.

  • TonyC

    But does it give you bragging rights as you do your daily ride to your neighborhood Starbucks?

  • It’s easy to be down on Zongshen because they’re a Chinese outfit. They make a pretty good bike though, especially for the price.

  • I’m not down on Zongshen because they’re Chinese. I’m down on Zongshen because so far they have only made very cheap, poorly built motorcycles with some of the worst finishes you can find. (Not to mention the inavoidable engine/gearbox-troubles. )

    They make motorcycles for beginners who have never owned a decent bike and are tempted by the cheap price. Riders who want the real thing will stick with KLX’s, DR’s, WR’s and CRF’s and so on, or eventually switch to a heavier all road motorcycle.

    …although I must admit that on the pictures this looks like one of the nicest Zongshen’s I’ve seen so far.

  • Nick Goddard

    ADVers have 390cc prayers ;)

  • ADG

    I live in Panama and had a young friend stay with me for 2 weeks here. He was on a trip from Austin, Texas to the tip of Cape Horn Chile. He is 6’5″ and his passenger GF was very petite, on a Kawi 250 Ninja loaded with saddle- tank bags, tent and a ton of crap. They made it with only problems being worn/flat tires, brake shoes and broken headlight and saddle bag frames. Heroic effort.

    In the ’80s my dad met a guy that took a Honda MB5 from Vancouver, Canada to Argentina…….on back roads….an even more heroic effort.

  • Those prayers might be answered soon enough Nick.

  • pmoosh
  • ADG

    Give it time….Jap bikes and cars were crap at one time, then they took over. Korean cars (Hyundai) were crap when they were introduced to the US in the ’80s. Look at them now.

  • Norm G.

    250cc…? will it be able to get out of it’s own way…?

  • Bruce Monighan

    250? No will not work once you load it up and hit the highway.

    I think there should be a 600 bike. The SV650 would make a perfect motor for a lighter bike. Love my Tenere but off road I would love a lighter bike. You never feel the weight on the highway but to be serious in the dirt you need bikes lighter than GS1200’s and Teneres’.

    pmosh, followed your link. That is a 450 at 286 lbs. Very good start. Love to throw a leg over that and give it a try

  • tbowdre


    Decent power stock, lots of after market for more power, lots of used parts available with millions of them sold, lots of choices for 17″ dirt worthy tires…. almost perfect small ADV bike… needs a 6th gear

  • culcune

    This is one of the ‘breakthrough’ bikes to come out of China. Even with some of the Chinese brands’ poor fit and finish, the engines are good. For instance, I own a TMEC 200cc enduro. I bought it used 15 months ago, and after me putting nearly 9000 miles on it, it still starts up daily, hauling me to work 32 miles roundtrip a day. The engine is manufactured by Zongshen and is an aircooled cg200. Like I said, I bought it used from a guy who got it from a friend who was going to use it in a video. Fit and finish already had the speedo cable break at 302 miles, and I still don’t have it working. Things have fallen off, yet I can get parts from the distributor (I could never figure out the speedo even though I did buy a cable), and other things have had to be welded or replaced. But it keeps going and going. And by no means am I a mechanic of any kind!

    By the way, Zongshen and Piaggio have a joint venture building some of Piaggio’s scooters.

  • Adrian

    Am I the only one who noticed the dry weight of 385 lbs? This thing is hopelessly fat for the off-road side, and hopelessly slow for on-road work. What is it for?

  • Karikor

    Would the above link interest any of the ADV riders who do not need a heavy bulky ride. By the way remember that 1 US $ = 62 Indian rupees and 1lakh rupees is 100,000 rupees.

  • Kaw4Life

    Great starter bike, would be nice if Honda (or any other from Japan) follows with a 600 and 900 version.

  • karlR

    You had me until “…China’s…”

  • paulus

    The Chinese styling copying is getting much better…. this actually looks like it belongs in this decade

  • ADG

    @paulus, the Japs copied (reverse engineered) in the late ’50’s-’60s….the original Toyota Land Cruiser straight 6 motor was a direct rip from the Chevy straight 6.

  • Norm G.

    re: “No will not work once you load it up and hit the highway.”

    catch a head wind and literally chew the teeth off your sprockets.

  • Norm G.

    re: “If it’s cheap enough and can travel uphill at highway speeds we may have a winner.”

    re: “If it’s cheap and doesn’t fall apart too badly, then I am all for giving it a try.”

    WARNING, DOES NOT COMPUTE, DANGER WILL ROBINSON…!!! DANGER…!!! (crazed robot swinging arms)

  • Norm G.

    re: “In the ’80s my dad met a guy that took a Honda MB5 from Vancouver, Canada to Argentina…….on back roads….an even more heroic effort.”

    ever notice, the default thought process of human beings is just because we can DO something (or have done something)…? we automatically interpret it as a GOOD IDEA…? isn’t that weird…?

    re: “Here in Canada/Upper part of the USA its just such a long stretch of boring landscape that riding a small bike like this would become tiring and frustrating.”

    is that all it would be…?

    should wild life get the drop on you…? do you really want to be loaded down in the middle of BFE on a 250…? note, this is a herbivore, not even a fast moving predator like say a wolf, or a black bear. that’s right, it’s all fun and games until you’re chased by a TYRANNOSAUR.

  • Bruce Monighan

    Karikor post –

    That has potential, especially coming from KTM I would be interested depending on how it finally comes out; power and weight

  • Karikor
  • Michael

    I do not think you will see that bike ever offered in the USA….It would make a nice Urban commuter and weekend local adventure bike, basically a nice starter. I think most enthusiasts take themselves way too seriously. The majority of the population has no interest in two wheels and the idea of riding a motorcycle and gear shifting is, too challenging to these people and that is not something that will ever change, these bikes are for the rest of the world markets.

    The Chinese will eventually sell more vehicles into the USA, but not for decades if ever, they cannot manage to understand what works and what does not in the US. If they did they would be offering these as an entry level through Aprilia Dealers.

  • afletra

    rather than engine or anything else, I’m worried much abou the suspension