We spent some time with the Zontes GK 350, an attractive neo-retro style café racer which also happens to be a one-of-its-kind motorcycle in its segment.
Story: Azaman Chothia
Photography: Apurva Ambep
Zontes is a Chinese brand that was brought to India by Adishwar Auto Ride Pvt Ltd. Among the five motorcycles that they have launched in our market, the Zontes GK 350 sports a combination of modern and retro elements that come together to form an attractively designed motorcycle.
The bike gets a round LED headlight with daytime running lights (DRL) surrounding it. It gets a flat handlebar sporting bar-end mirrors and lever guards, a well-sculpted fuel-tank, and a single-piece seat that tapers towards the rear. Two really cool elements on this specific model is the use of 17-inch tubeless spoked wheels and the twin exhaust pipes. The front disc brake also gets a plastic cover around it. This is just an element to increase the overall visual appeal and you also get the option of three dual-tone colour schemes.
While many café racers make use of clip-on handlebars, the GK 350 uses a flat handlebar while the foot-pegs are set towards the rear in a sporty position. The seat height stands at 795 millimetres, which makes it quite accessible even to shorter riders. The seat is comfortable while the riding position is ideal for commuting within the city. The GK 350 has a kerb weight of 188 kilograms, thus making it quite a heavy motorcycle to move around at standstill. Once it is on the go, the weight disappears and it feels easily manoeuvrable. Personally speaking, a slightly wider handlebar would have been appreciated.
In terms of features, this is a technologically advanced motorcycle that gets premium features such as a TFT dash, backlit switchgear, keyless ignition, ride modes, and more. The TFT dash displays ample information which is laid out well. Moreover, with the keyless ignition there are buttons to open the fuel-tank lid and the rear seat.
All the Zontes motorcycles brought to India use the same 348-cc liquid-cooled motor that puts out 38.8 hp at 9,500 rpm and a peak torque of 32.8 Nm at 7,500 rpm while being mated to a six-speed gearbox. The power delivery is linear and a surge in power is felt after the 4,500-rpm mark. The bike feels the best when the motor is kept in the mid-rpm range and it is also fairly tractable. A few vibrations were felt once the motor was revved above 6,000 rpm, but it was not something that interfered with the overall ride experience. The motor is able to easily get up to triple-digit speeds and it is easy to make quick overtakes in the city. The clutch action is light but the gearbox could have been slicker.
A button allows the rider to switch between the two riding modes. The display shows a change between the E and S modes. The mode can be changed easily on the go with the press of a button and releasing the accelerator. There is a very minor difference in how the modes have been tuned. The S (or “Sport”) mode allows the rider to use all the power on tap. E, on the other hand, is obviously the “Economy” mode wherein it feels like the power and torque are reduced. With this, the acceleration feels slightly slower but the bike will deliver a slightly better fuel efficiency.
Suspension duties are handled by a USD front fork and a preload-adjustable monoshock at the rear. This set-up is on the slightly stiffer side but the ride quality is plush as it tackles unpredictable roads with ease. The GK 350 handled well through a set of corners, inspiring confidence, while the CST Ride Ambro tyres provided good grip throughout my time spent with this bike. Braking duties are handled by a 320-millimetre disc brake at the front and a 265-mm disc brake at the rear. The feel of this set-up is sharp and all you need are two fingers on the front brake lever to get the bike to a complete halt when necessary.
The Zontes GK 350 is priced between Rs 3.37 lakh and Rs 3.47 lakh (ex-showroom), depending on the colour option. This is expensive but what you get is a uniquely designed motorcycle packed with features and a fairly powerful motor to go along with it. So far as first impressions go, this is a fairly good motorcycle to ride and many will appreciate all that it offers. However, an important factor that needs to be considered in the case of Chinese motorcycles is the reliability they offer, cost of servicing, and availability of spare parts and service centres. Considering that these bikes are still fairly new in our market, it would be advisable to wait until customers get more clarity on these aspects before making a purchase.
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