Who is Johnny Pag? He's a custom chopper builder turned production bikeproducer. His company, Johnny Pag Motorcycles, offers a line of Chinese-made cruisers, choppers and standards, all powered by an identical 300cc parallel-twin engine.
Recently we were invited to take a ride on JP's FX-3, a naked standard similar in appearance to the Honda Hawk. As I pulled away from Johnny Pag world headquarters in Irvine, California, every bike I had ever ridden suddenly snapped into focus as a paragon of performance engineering.
That's not to say the FX-3 isn't a fine motorcycle. It's just that having ridden more refined machinery, the bike is pretty lackluster. Luckily for Johnny, the FX isn't aimed at experienced riders. Pag explained that his machines are intended for first-time riders, and as such are an excellent introduction to the two-wheeled world.
With a low, 31-inch seat height, manageable 300cc engine and affordable $3399 price tag, the FX-3 is a very inviting first ride. It's freeway-legal, and actually freeway-able for short jaunts, so it makes a great short-distance commuter for someone who might otherwise gravitate toward a scooter. The styling is pretty neutral, with the only outstanding aspects being the undertail silencers and the smallish 15-inch rear wheel. My friend's 15-year-old son said something about it looking dope, fly or otherwise acceptably cool. I agree. If you haven't popped for the Lasik surgery yet and stand far enough away to miss the warty welds, this bike has a purposeful, naked-streetfighter look. It comes in black or red, with matte-black engine complete with "Johnny Pag" on the clutch cover.
The FX-3 is a stylish standard, but if you're looking for something more laid-back, JPM al
The DOHC two-valve engine is mundane but functional, and the braking components, although unidentifiable as to manufacturer, work quite well. The only obvious issue was a soft and under-damped fork, which made for some nose-plunging stops. Surprisingly, the FX comes with fully adjustable shocks, which worked well to smooth out the bumpy Orange Country back roads.
The question of reliability for this new brand is answered by a one-year factory warranty, which can be extended to four years. If needed, work can be done at any of JPM's 120 U.S. dealerships. The only mechanical issue that came up during testing was difficulty shifting. The tranny popped out of second several times, and was hard to get from second to third. To be fair, our testbike only had 57 miles on it and the transmission will likely benefit from some additional break-in miles.
After a weekend getting to know the FX-3, I could definitely go for it-but only if I'd never gone for anything else before. And that's just how Johnny Pag wants it.