We rode the new Zontes ZT310-T, Zontes ZT310-X, Zontes ZT310-R.
We came away impressed by the build quality, ride quality and smooth power delivery.
Does this hark as the new standard for 300cc motorcycles?
What’s the best to convince someone to buy a product? Test it first. That’s especially true for motorcycles and we had the opportunity to test the Zontes ZT310-T, Zontes ZT310-X, Zontes ZT310-R on a trip.
If you haven’t heard of Zontes yet, let’s get you up to speed quickly.
The brand is one among a number marketed by Guangdong Tayo Motorcycle Technology Co., Ltd. Yes, it’s based in China. We’ve visited the factory and came away impressed at not only the scale of the operations, but the principles, ideas and diligence behind it all, too.
Since then, the three models (four including the ZT310-X GP) are selling well. Those customers dropped their bookings as soon as after they test rode the bikes.
However, there may you out there who haven’t the opportunity, so that’s what this review is all about.
Zontes Malaysia arranged four bikes for us. Two ZT310-T adventure-tourer, one ZT310-X sport-tourer and the naked ZT310-R.
The two ZT310-Ts were equipped with the aluminium top box and panniers. They are the same as what the customers will receive when they buy the bike.
The plan called for us to ride from Petaling Jaya to Lemang To’ki at Bentong, Pahang, via the Karak Highway. There was a stop for photography after To’ki, before heading back.
We found the seating position was very natural. The ergonomics made it easy to reach the handlebars, being seated in the correct position and a nice placement of the legs. It seems that the models were designed for Asians in mind.
I drew the ZT310-T. The bike fired up quickly to a brisk idle, but it was so smooth for a single-cylinder engine. There was no gnashing or nasty noises. The twin exhaust tips emitted a nice growl instead of the typical single-cylinder staccato.
We needed only a very light pull of the clutch lever. Tapped in first gear – the gear shift was so light yet very positive.
The bike didn’t need you to slip the clutch to get going. There seemed to be plenty of torque despite being a single. I even tested rolling away by just releasing the clutch slowly without opening the throttle. The bike rolled forward without killing the engine.
A light flick upwards on the gear lever and second gear was in. Gear shifting was feather-light, requiring gentle pressure only. I was surprised and expected the gearbox to pop into a false neutral, but it didn’t!
The throttle and engine response was also very impressive. The bike pulled away cleanly each time and accelerated relatively hard in the first three gears.
But what truly impressed was the suspension. The rear shock provided a solid feel when we climbed on and didn’t squat under our weight. It didn’t feel “squishy” when hopped up and down, either. We feared that it might be too stiff – until we hit the first pothole.
I gritted my teeth as I neared the offending patch, but the forks soaked it up and the rear shock did so too. Unsatisfied, I sought out potholes and bumps on purpose and tried again. Nothing… no kick to the kidney or bottoming out. It meant that the suspension’s damping rates are well sorted.
As we continued our journey, we were supposed to ride the on the DUKE Highway directly to the Karak Highway. However, the lead marshal took a wrong turn and we ended up riding along Jalan Gombak. We had to encounter traffic light after traffic light. But it was a great experience as the Zontes bikes showed its character in urban riding.
First, the engine didn’t get overly hot when we stopped for long periods of time. The windscreens on the ZT310-X and ZT310-T worked flawlessly as we raised it and dropped it over and over.
Secondly, there was plenty of pull from the single-cylinder engine. Of course, we met plenty of LC135s and “Y-Suku” along this stretch but none of them could keep up. Even those with loud pipes.
We soon got onto Karak Highway and this was where we tested what almost every Malaysian motorcyclists’ favourite question, “What’s the top speed?”
We gave the Zontes bikes full throttle through the gears, even up-shifted without using the clutch. The engine and exhaust gave a rather pleasant burble and roar as the bars filled the digital tachometer. There was relatively little vibration even at high RPMs.
We hit the advertised 165 km/h top speed. The ZT310-X had all three aluminium luggage on and it still hit 145 km/h easily, before pulling slowly to 151 km/h.
Sure, some may say the Y-Suku can hit 140 km/h, but that’s just part of the story. The Zontes 313cc engine has more torque and what matters is how quickly it reaches a given speed compared to a 150cc engine. To give you an example, all superbikes are limited to 299 km/h. But the supercharged H2 can reach that speed much quicker than any other superbike.
All along the way, I still kept looking for bumps and ripples on the road to find a way to unsettle the suspension. It didn’t happen. At no point didn’t it feel clunky like some cheap, wooden suspension. Really impressive.
Along with the suspension, the handling was equally impressive. They needed hardly any steering input to turn! It was just like riding bigger kapchais. We suspected that the stiff steel frame also contributed to this. It was so easy to maneuver that I kept forgetting I had panniers on.
As for the brakes, it needed a harder tug than its contemporaries. But we found it to be good enough.
We took another blast back to our morning RV, which meant another round of engine torture.
But the engine sounded exactly the same after our mad ride. It didn’t seem to lose even a single drop of oil. All panels and fasteners stayed where they were, none came lose. The engine didn’t vibrate and cause numbness. We didn’t feel like we just wrestled with bikes that are hardly controllable. Not once did the bikes feel like they were going to disintegrate.
All four Zontes models held up to our abuse and the quality was as advertised. It may be difficult for some to believe since it’s a Chinese brand, but we were equally surprised to find that it was actually pretty good.
Of course, there were some rough edges, but remember that the ZT310 line-up is Guangdong Tayo’s first 310cc model and it was only launched last year. Since then it has sold more than 100,000 units in China alone, while more than 20,000 have been exported.
At the end of it, it’s something that we couldn’t complain about, given its price point while having so many good features. Additionally, the quality will give many established brands something to consider. Looks like they are the game changer for the lightweight segment.
Great value for money!