Zontes T310 (2020) Review

 

What's in a badge? Well quite a lot, when it comes to motorcycles. BMW, Royal Enfield and Kawasaki all offer 300-400cc adventure bikes, all of which get plenty of attention. We know several mature riders who have happily downsized to a G310, Himalayan or Versys 300, because the marque badges have a history and they're familiar to anyone who has grown up riding bikes in Britain. But what about Zontes? Until recently, if those riders had even heard of the marque, it was of a Chinese maker of budget 125s. Which is a pity, because the Zontes T310 is a thoroughly up to date and competitive challenger among the smaller adventure bikes – it just doesn't have a badge that most of us can relate to.

There's actually a range of three bikes – the naked ‘R310’, sports tourer ‘X310’ and the adventure ‘T310’ – all powered by the same 312cc single and based around the same architecture. Of this triplet, the T is the best seller, hardly surprising given the burgeoning interest in smaller adventure bikes which offer some of the style and presence of a 1250GS with a much lower price, lighter weight, less intimidating dimensions and cheaper running costs.

 

2020 Zontes T310 Price

The T310 comes in at £3999.99, which makes it the cheapest bike in this class. Even the Indian-made Himalayan costs another £200, while the G310 GS (also made in India) has a price tag of £5100 and the Versys is another £145 on top of that. So, the Zontes starts off with a decent price advantage – is that enough to justify buying one?

 

 

Power and torque

Power is a respectable 33.8bhp at 9500rpm (almost identical to the BMW) with 22lb ft of torque peaking 2000rpm lower. The Zontes single is a willing motor at low to medium revs, and smooth too, thanks to the balance shaft, plus tractable and easy to use in town. It'll even plonk away from rest in second gear if you want, and cruising along back roads at 50mph while admiring the scenery is a relaxing experience. Give it the berries and vibes start to come through the seat and pegs, while the mirrors blur at speed, but it's fast enough for a 310. It is a bit buzzy at an indicated 70-80mph but the engine is clearly very happy at these speeds, and there's a bit more to come – in short, it's easily quick enough for motorways.  Eco and Sport riding modes are easily selectable on the left switch cluster, and it's noticeably liveier in Sport, with an extra rush at around 7000rpm before an ignition cut-ou at just over 10,000. If you leave the bike in Eco it switches to Sport at 7000 anyway, which could be handy on an unexpected overtake.

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

Zontes makes this 312cc single itself, and it's not a low-tech engine, with double overhead cams, fuel injection, high 12.5:1 compression, four valves and balance shaft. Unusually it also has twin oil pumps (one for lube supply, the other for scavenging), the oil circulating through the frame to improve cooling. This is not a built down to a price power unit. Otherwise, its conventional enough, with a six-speed gearbox and twin-pipe exhaust.

 

2020 Zontes T310 Economy

Stand by for an eco record –  the T310 averaged 107mpg over 60-odd miles around the Kent countryside. Now admittedly, a lot of that was trolling around B roads looking for photo opportunities, but also included some 70-80mph dual-carriageway, and generally we weren't hanging about. That was all in Eco mode of course, and an R310 riding in convoy at the same speeds, but in Power mode, gave 79mpg. I wouldn't expect anyone to get 100+mpg regularly, but 80-90 looks achievable day to day, which would give a range of around 300 miles. Whatever, the Zontes is good on fuel.

 

Zontes T310 (2020) Review - We test the sub-£4k, 312cc adventure/commuter bike

 

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

At 159kg ready to roll, with an 810mm seat height, the T310 doesn't feel like a big, intimidating machine, and that's one of the attractions of these smaller-scale GS’erlikes. In fact, that claimed weight is a good 20-30 kilos less than any rival, which if true is quite a feat. The T310 no fancy suspension upgrade over the naked R310, and the non-adjustable forks are fairly soft, though well enough controlled. Ditto the rear shock – which does have pre-load, and the wide-ish bars allow you to tip the bike into corners easily. Once you're over, grip is good and the whole thing inspires confidence.

 

2020 Zontes T310 Brakes

Good news here, with plenty of power for the performance – the rear pedal has quite long travel, but it is progressive. And the ABS can be switched off for those rough-tough off-road adventures which all T310s will of course embark on. Either that or it's something to impress in the dealer showroom.

 

Comfort over distance and touring

I would happily tour on one of these. The riding position is comfy and neutral and while the seat is a bit soft, it's good enough for distance. An electric screen is part of the package, and certainly gives extra protection from wind blast on its top setting, though it increased wind noise for me – for someone a few inches shorter or taller, it could different. Pillions are well catered for too.

 

Rider aids and extra equipment / accessories

This is where the Zontes scores, because it is positively festooned with convenience features. From the top, we've got keyless remote ignition, electric releases for the seat and fuel filler, a comprehensive iPad style dash and details like double-skinned exhaust outlets so the pillion's legs don't get burned. The switchgear is illuminated. Substantial crash bars come as part of the deal and there's even a little bracket for attaching a U-lock – someone has really thought about making this bike easy to live with. What I couldn't get used to was the way the steering lock comes in automatically on full left lock when the engine is switched off – worth remembering when pushing it round a filling station forecourt.

We haven't finished yet. Being an adventure bike, the T310 has the option of aluminium alloy luggage, so it really can look the overland part. The quality is superb, complete with silicone rubber seals and shaped neoprene liners – the trouble is the complete set of panniers and top cost £1029, which is a tad over the top for what is a budget adventure. Fortunately, Shad 45 and 46 panniers can use the same frames, a far more affordable option.

 

 

2020 Zontes T310 Verdict

If there was any justice, the Zontes would be flying out of showrooms at the same rate as the Himalayan or G310 – it's dynamically as capable as any rival, and better equipped to boot. Its only real drawback is the unfamiliar badge, but if you can live with that, it's a bargain.

 

Three things I loved about the 2020 Zontes T310…

  • Value for money
  • Convenience features
  • Economy

 

Three things that I didn’t…

  • Buzzy at speed
  • Auto steering lock
  • Lack of heritage?

 

2020 Zontes T310 Spec

New price

£3,999.99

Capacity

312cc

Bore x stroke

80 x 62mm

Engine layout

Single-cylinder, four-valve

Engine details

Four-stroke, liquid-cooled

Power

33.8bhp @ 9500rpm

Torque

22lb ft @ 7500rpm

Transmission

6-speed

Average fuel consumption

See text

Tank size

15 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

300 miles

Reserve capacity

None

Rider aids

None as tested

Frame

Tubular steel

Front suspension

Telescopic forks

Front suspension adjustment

None

Rear suspension

Monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment

Pre-load

Front brake

Disc, 4-pot caliper, ABS

Rear brake

Disc, 2-pot caliper, ABS

Front tyre

110/70-17

Rear tyre

160/70-17

Rake/Trail

N/a

Dimensions

2051mm x 755mm x 1227mm (LxWxH)

Wheelbase

1390mm

Seat height

810mm

Kerb weight

159kg

Warranty

Two years

Website

www.zontes.co.uk

 

Looking for motorbike insurance? Get a quote for this bike with Bennetts motorcycle insurance

 

Zontes T310 (2020) Review - We test the sub-£4k, 312cc adventure/commuter bike
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