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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Okay, let's get one thing out of the way right up front -- I am not interested in any pronouncements that I am crazy or that I have thrown away my money. On the first point, I will not argue with you. As to the second point -- hey, it's my money, and I don't tell you how to spend yours.

With the pandemic restrictions in place, my work as a Court Reporter has come to a screeching halt -- no court, no depositions going on. Ten years ago I would have been worried; today, I am semi-retired, drawing Social Security and a small pension, and sitting on a nice little nest egg through inheritance and a real estate sale. My main concern right now -- how to stay occupied and have some fun with the gift of absolutely free time.

Keeping that in mind, I set myself a $1500 purchase budget and went looking for a project bike -- nothing too far gone for my modest mechanical abilities, or so bad off that I'd end up spending 3 or 4 times my budget to get it on the road. I scoured Craigslist for 100 miles in all directions and found nothing that would qualify. But then I thought of the numerous Chinese bikes on the market and started browsing for something interesting.

I came across an online outfit called Redfox Powersports that offered nothing but Chinese motorcycles and ATVs, delivered to your door at ridiculously low prices. Please note -- I am NOT shilling for these folks, and have zero concern for their future prosperity, so I will report faithfully my experiences with them thus far and in the future, good or bad. You be the judge whether you want to do any business there, and you'll get no argument from me.

What caught my eye was the Dongfang DF250RTG. For fear of treading on the Moderators toes I won't post a link here, but if you Google Redfox you'll find the DF250RTG. Essentially, it is a 230cc retro cafe racer style, using the ubiquitous Honda clone single-cylinder engine, and a sporty-looking li'l bugger it is. Their price was $1299.95, and with delivery and a $50 sale discount, it came in just under my budget. And the darned thing just looked fun as all get-out.

So a week ago Friday, I pulled the trigger. Monday, I got e-mail verification that my bike had shipped from Grand Prairie, TX. Thursday at noon, it was unloaded off the truck at my door! Out came the tools and the fun began.

Understand --- there was no instruction sheet, and the provided owner's manual, while making for some hilarious reading, was useless. But fortunately I have tinkered mechanically enough that the assembly required wasn't daunting at all, even if a few things created a bit of head-scratching. Install the handlebars and kickstand, install the front wheel and front fender, adjust everything, and that was about it. No real hitches in the process, but not everything was 100% hunk-dory. The handlebar clamps are secured by 6mm bolts. These are soft as butter, and one snapped off before I could get it torqued down. No sweat -- enough of a stub was left that I was able to extract it with vice-grips, and the local hardware agreed to sell me 4 brand-new-American-by-God bolts. The bike is equipped with 4 -- count 'em, 4! -- mirrors. The bar-end mirrors could not be securely installed at all. I tried everything I could think of -- no go. The two handlebar-top mirrors went on OK, but one of them could not be adjusted to give me even the hint of a usable view. This is a minor thing, and at least I have one functional rear-view out of the 4, but I will be ordering some better replacement mirrors. Hercules couldn't stretch the rubber battery-retainer strap far enough to secure the battery, but 88 cents worth of Walmart velcro strap substituted very nicely.

I had to interrupt the assembly process to take care of other stuff, but overall I figure I could have done it all in 2-3 uninterrupted hours, and with assistance I could have cut that time in half. At any rate, by Friday afternoon I was ready to gas 'er up and see if she'd run. Check oil, put in gas, petcock to on, choke full on, key on, hit the button -- VROOM. Instant start. Choke to half, then off, warm up for a few minutes, set the idle, and off I went around the neighborhood for my first shakedown cruise. Other than the revelation that I needed to readjust the shifter pedal a tad there were no surprises. Shifting was smooth, acceleration was acceptable if not overly impressive. The brakes were adequate -- but after all, the braking power needed for a 250-pound bike ain't all that much. I think a bit of brake-upgrade work might be in the future, if only better pads and a braided steel line for the front, but it can wait for now.

This morning I set out for a more thorough shakedown on country roads nearby. I am not a break-in fanatic, but I do take it easy for the first few hundred miles. I kept it down to 45-50, just feeling out the machine. After a while I did push it up to 60 for a brief time(GPS verified -- the speedo was showing 65 or so), but I will stress here that, as expected, THIS IS IN NO WAY A HIGHWAY MACHINE. In-town, short commutes at 55 or so, sightseeing in the country -- it'll float yer boat. Interstate? Are you KIDDING? No way, Jose. But that's okay. I've got bikes for that. This one was bought for FUN, and that it can deliver. The ride was amazingly smooth, the handling was incredibly nimble and surefooted. Seriously, in the corners and curves it was nearly the equal of my Z650, only in slo-mo.

I was riding high! Man, this was great! But lest I give you the idea that all was sweetness and light, here comes the "this d***ed thing could've killed me" moment. I headed back towards home and decided to give it a brief all-out full-throttle sprint. On level ground in a moderate tuck I rolled on the massive 16 ponies and saw the GPS hit 67 -- and all hell broke loose. Suddenly, the rear end began wobbling like crazy. Instantly off the throttle, I front-braked and used every ounce of skill I possess staying upright before finally slowing enough to get off on to the wide, grassy shoulder and come to a stop in one piece. Hopping off and uttering a heartfelt prayer of thanks to God, I checked out the rear tire -- flat as a pancake. No sign of a puncture, but my immediate thought was "loose spoke". Of course, I was five miles from home and, naturally, had left my cell phone there. So I began hoofing it up the road hoping someone would stop and at least allow me to call a buddy for help.

That's when my new best friend Heyward brought his clapped-out ancient Chevy pickup to a halt, asked if I needed help, and offered to help me load up the bike in to his truck and take me home. Heyward, you are an angel, my brother! Wouldn't accept a dime for his trouble, but in our brief time together I learned he's a deer hunter like me -- Heyward, there's a venison loin in my freezer that's coming to your house this evening!

Once home, I jacked up the bike, removed the rear wheel and discovered that my initial diagnosis was correct --- the tire was fine, but one spoke was loose as a goose and the tube was trashed. So here's a tip for anyone fool enough to embark on the Chinese-bike adventure -- before you set out on your first real ride, CHECK THOSE SPOKES, along with every single nut, bolt and screw on the bike. Some of them will be so tight you'll wonder what gorilla was on the wrench, while others will be ready to fall off at the worst possible moment. But, hey -- the machine is dead-nuts simple, almost primitive, and that's the good news. Anyone with a scrap of mechanical knowledge and a bit of sense can work on these things.

All for now. I have some pictures I'll post by and by, and will furnish further reports as the wheel gets fixed, new mirrors get installed, and further death-defying adventures ensue.
 

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Retired twice: Navy and as a govt contractor
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Very interesting read, I look forward to more of your adventures.
 

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Your write up was fantastic:giggle:
Take some more pictures please and by the way no one is going to get upset if you post a link unless you be a 'secret Asian salesman' working for profit!:cool:

Sam
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Your write up was fantastic:giggle:
Take some more pictures please and by the way no one is going to get upset if you post a link unless you be a 'secret Asian salesman' working for profit!:cool:

Sam
Thanks, Sam. So here's a link. I chose the red as my first color choice, and that's what I got. I'll post some more pics once the wheel's back on and the just-ordered mirrors are installed.


Ignore the "offroad use only" that shows in the link -- it's street-legal.
 

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Thanks, Sam. So here's a link. I chose the red as my first color choice, and that's what I got. I'll post some more pics once the wheel's back on and the just-ordered mirrors are installed.


Ignore the "offroad use only" that shows in the link -- it's street-legal.
Good read. I bet those "American by God bolts" were made in China.
 

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American Legion Rider Staff Administrator
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Wow! The nice supply of angle iron that you got out of that "crate" is probably worth near as much as the bike!
I was thinking that very thing as I could use about a foot of some of that mild steel right now.
 

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Nice write up ! I enjoyed reading it. Keep up the story as it unfolds, that bike has a few glitches built in but it actually looks like a lot of fun, and the price was great!
 

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Is it bad that I was thinking the same thing, there is some nice angle iron in that crate.
We are all a bunch of scavengers apparently :)

Wow! The nice supply of angle iron that you got out of that "crate" is probably worth near as much as the bike!
I was thinking that very thing as I could use about a foot of some of that mild steel right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It's been a week since I put the bike on the road. Here are some updates and observations -- and a question for all you motorcycle mechanics.

This is one neat little bike! The engine is really impressive -- startup is effortless -- punch the button and it fires off instantly (as long as you've remembered to switch the petcock to "on"). It's a bit cold-natured but, again, remember correct starting procedure and flip the choke lever to "full", run it a few seconds, flip choke to half for another 10-15 seconds, then off. You're good to go. There's some pep in that one itty-bitty cylinder, but don't expect the torque you get down low with a big single or a small twin -- revs, she needs revs! Give it the gas and you're quickly in the zone where you can outrun cars from a stoplight (briefly). Top speed is +/- 70 on level ground with no headwind, but the comfort zone is really around 45-55 mph. This is plenty for in-town riding and comfortable enough for touring the countryside or short trips on 55 mph highways. Once the virus restrictions are eased, I plan to make a leisurely 50-mile trek on back roads to visit my Mom, and I don't anticipate any drama.

The bike is surprisingly comfortable for me. The seat is narrow and lightly padded, a formula that would seem calculated to provide maximum agony, but for some reason that is not the case. Unlike many bike seats which get more and more uncomfortable with time this one actually seems to get better after a few minutes. Max time in the saddle at one stretch so far is only about 45 minutes, so that opinion may change with longer rides.

The attention-grabbing quotient is fantastic! Almost any time I have ridden it so far I am drawing crowds. This morning I ran in to the hardware store for a few items and when I came out there were four guys gathered 'round, speculating about the little bike with the BMW stickers on the tank. I explained that it stands for Beijing Motor Works, and got a pretty good laugh.

Things have not been completely trouble-free. I have already mentioned the hair-raising blowout on my first extended ride. As suspected, the cause was a loose spoke. Oddly, all the spokes on the rear wheel were loose, while all the spokes on the front were ping-tight. Criticism of Chinese quality control is well-founded! My advice to anyone buying a Chinese bike -- check every single spoke and fastener before riding. I have no clue what the proper torque values are for these machines, but use your common sense, do some research on specs for other bikes, and tighten accordingly. As you're inspecting things, look for anything that needs upgrading. I've already mentioned replacing the handlebar clamp bolts. I found that the Phillips head screws securing the controls to the handlebars tended to loosen quickly and were very, very soft metal, so those were likewise changed out for better ones with Allen-head caps. And the chain adjusters each had one flat washer, one lock washer, and one nut -- I added a second nut to each one for increased peace of mind. That one nut, even with a lock washer underneath it, is bound to vibrate loose after a while. Also -- blue Loc-Tite is your friend! I'd suggest using it liberally on every critical fastener.

The four mirrors that came with it were absolute ****. The bar-ends wouldn't fit at all. Only one of the bar-top mirrors could be adjusted to give a rear view, and it was half-assed. I ordered a pair of bar-end mirrors off e-Bay that have worked out nicely. They are CNC-machined aluminum, fit nicely, give a completely satisfactory view, and cost me $20. The dealer offered to replace the originals under the 3-month replacement warranty, but as they were going to send me the same ones I already had I said no thanks.

Thus far the only mechanical problem I've had -- and it's minor -- is some mild backfiring on deceleration. It's coming out of the exhaust, and I figure the mix needs to be leaned a tad, or the valves may not be spot-on. For now I plan to just keep an eye on it and check the valves and maybe lean the mixture some when I get to the first oil change, which I will do at about 100 miles, probably within the next week or so. BTW, unlike the Chinese carbs which have tamper-resistant screws making adjustments and rebuilds a pain, this one says "Made in Japan", has normal screws, and actually looks like a quality item. Any suggestions welcomed.

Anyway, here are some pictures of how she stands right now. Comments positive or negative are fine. This is an experiment, and Lord knows how it will turn out. Thanks for looking!
 

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Retired twice: Navy and as a govt contractor
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I think you have a winner there, enjoy it but remember to take us along.
 

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I bought one of those Chinese bikes and have had a lot of fun on it! I did a LOT of research on it first and I fixed a lot of problems as it came out the box. I changed every fluid in it(even the fork oil) and lock-tite EVERY bolt. Some people had the rear sprocket bolts stripped out so I checked and found that the big c-clip that holds sprocket tight wasn't even close to the groove so tapped that in tight. Quality control sucked! But after all that, I've put 6000 miles on it (hard miles) and it still runs great! I've got 2 Japanese bikes since then and of course they're much higher quality but it got me into duel sporting and I don't regret buying it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Just an update. I am approaching 200 miles on the odometer (or actually 320 km). I've addressed a few minor issues along the way, but this bike has quickly become the most fun to ride of my three bikes, and the go-to machine for short around-town stuff. There have been zero problems with the engine. The little single-cylinder just runs like a sewing machine, and has steadily gotten peppier as things wear in. In town, using more horsepower than this seems almost absurd -- 16 hp in a 250 pound bike is more than enough to keep out of trouble. Out on the highway, maintaining 60 is no big trick, so long as you realize hey, there's a hill ahead, and apply throttle in anticipation.

Issues have been minor. The tailpipe and muffler are positioned right where my right heel wants to be, so I added an eBay-acquired heat shield. The ground wire tends to vibrate loose from the battery after a while, but a thorough tightening with a drop of blue LocTite seems to have addressed that. Possibly related, or maybe just a case of lousy Chinese lightbulbs (they do look cheap), the right rear turn signal and main headlight bulbs blew out. The O'Reilly's a block away from home had a replacement bulb for the signal but not the headlight, but a quick Internet search and a couple of days got me a replacement and a spare for $7. The stock seat was comfortable enough, but the hump rear did limit my seating position options a bit, and made it hard to strap on small items or bags, so I ordered a $25 replacement flat seat from e-Bay. Flat it is, but it was also literally as hard as a board. Fortunately, there was ample material in the cover to allow for more padding, so a bit of high-density foam was added to make the seat about 3/4" higher and considerably more comfortable.

I can honestly say I have not regretted this purchase at all. The quality issues encountered so far have been no big surprise, but what has been a surprise is the growing conviction that what I have here -- or will have once all the little bugs are found and corrected -- is a very utilitarian, dependable, fun, and economical vehicle. It is less hassle and more fun than my Z650 to just wheel out and hop on for local errands or fun tooling around town.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Nice bike, and great write up. I've been eyeing a CSC SG250, but your's is about half the price. Hmmm.
I haven't ridden a CSC but I have looked one over in-person, and I can see where at least some of the extra cost comes from -- fit and finish. There's obviously more attention paid to details on the CSC bikes -- in terms of first impressions the CSC bikes are clearly closer to Japanese bikes than to the Dongfangs. Whether or not this better level of finish is worth the extra money is solely up to the buyer, but as far as I can see there is very little difference in the actual components used. My goal was to evaluate the least-expensive option, and so far the Dongfang holds that crown. I'd love to see more about the CSC bikes, though, to see how well they may compare in terms of longer-term use.
 

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Nice write up, very close to buying one of these after reading your experience. With the new flat seat, what is the current seat height? Can you post a video of the bike.....curious to hear how the bike sounds! Your comment out the pipe being where your heel wants to rest makes me wonder which Honda engine this is a close of.....maybe there is an enduro style high pipe that could be mounted?
 
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