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Bike review: Zontes ZT310-X

2019-05-30 19:00

Dries Van der Walt

zontes

Image: Dries van der Walt

Back in the 1960s, Japan all but killed the British bike industry by flooding the market with inexpensive but none-too-well-made bikes. ‘Jap scrap’ initially became the butt of industry jokes, but the Japanese soon caught up and by the early 70s their bikes were leading the field in terms of technology, reliability and economy.

Now the Chinese seem to be doing the same, if manufacturers like Zontes are anything to go by.

We got a first-hand taste of this when Zontes South Africa offered us an opportunity to review one of their top models, the ZT310-X, a bike that is set to compete in the growing sub-500 cm³ category. The faired 312 cm³ DOHC single shares its platform with (for now) two locally-available siblings, the naked ZT310-R and the adventure-style ZT310-T. 

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                                                                                                Image: Dries van der Walt 

From the first glance, it is evident that the Zontes is built to a higher standard than other Chinese bikes I have come across. The fit of the fairing panels is on par with other bikes in this category, the switchgear have a quality feel, and the extensive use of powder coating on the frame gives the finish a satiny, premium feel.

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                                                                                             Image: Dries van der Walt 

The body design is attractive enough to have elicited a number of positive comments from onlookers. The styling is that of a sports tourer, with the front end bearing a passing resemblance to Kawasaki’s H2 series. From the side, the bike looks bigger than it is, and despite the “310” stickers, several onlookers were surprised to learn that it wasn’t a 600 cm³-class machine. However, when you ride it, you realise how compact and nimble the Zontes actually is.

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                                                                                              Image: Dries van der Walt 

The seating position is close to neutral, with only a slight forward cant. This means that the 310-X remains comfortable regardless of how long you are stuck in rush-hour traffic, while still making it easy to lean forward if you want to transition to more spirited riding. Ignition is keyless, and the bike offers a USB charging port. The handle bars are festooned with a host of buttons, from the regulars like light and indicator switches to buttons that open seat and filler flap on the tank, activate the economy engine mode and adjust the screen height.

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                                                                                                Image: Dries van der Walt

My previous experience with Chinese bikes is that they offer less performance than expected, but I am happy to report that this isn’t the case with the 310-R – its power delivery felt on par with BMW’s G 310 series, and only slightly less than KTM and Kawasaki’s bigger-capacity offers in this segment. The Zontes maintains highway speed with ease, and leaves you with enough in reserve that you don’t have to defer overtaking to downhill sections of the road.

Likewise, the bike’s handling didn’t disappoint. While I didn’t have the opportunity to explore its limits, the 310-R was perfectly up to anything I asked from it during normal riding.

zontes

                                                                                                Image: Dries van der Walt 

One of the greatest concerns with Chinese bikes in the local market is the fact that many are imported by small companies who lack the capacity to give proper after-sales service. I discussed this with Jaco van der Merwe of Racescreen, the South African Zontes agents. “Together with the first consignment of each new model, we order a complete list of spare parts as needed,”

Jaco said. “We therefore carry a huge amount of spare parts in stock, which can be delivered to any dealer countrywide within a day or two. The dealers are also obliged to always have basic parts in stock.” He added that Zontes South Africa currently have fourteen dealerships, and that the network is growing fast. 

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                                                                                          Image: Dries van der Walt 

The ZT310-X can compete on equal terms with models from more established brands in terms of build quality, performance and after-sales service. It is generally a pleasant bike to ride and, typical of Oriental vehicles, offers more luxury items as standard equipment for the price than its European competitors. These factors combine into making the Zontes 310 range, in my opinion, the most likely break-out bikes to spearhead the inevitable Chinese invasion.

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: ZontesModel: ZT310-X

ENGINE
Type:  Single cylinder, double-overhead camshaftDisplacement: 312 cm³Maximum Power: 26 kW @ 9 500 rpmMaximum Torque: 30 Nm @ 7 500 rpmFuel supply system: Electronic fuel injectionFuel type: Premium unleaded 95 octane RON Fuel consumption: 3.4 L/100 km (actual)

TRANSMISSION

Type: Constant mesh 6-speed sequential
Final drive: O-ring chain 

DIMENSIONS
Overall length x width x height (mm): 2 051 X 755 X 1 227Wet weight: 159 kg

CAPACITIES
Passengers: 1+1Fuel tank: 15L

BRAKES
Front: Disk, Bosch ABS
Rear: Disk, Bosch ABS

WHEELS & TYRES
Wheel, front: 3.5 x 17Wheel, rear: 5.0 x 17 Tyre, front: 110/70R17Tyre, rear: 160/60R17

PRICE: R68 900

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