This is the Zontes 350R streetfighter, which shares its underpinnings and engine with the 350T ADV, an adventure tourer we reviewed recently. Now, the 350R is priced at Rs 3.15 lakh (ex-showroom India), and aims to take on the likes of the KTM 390 Adventure and BMW G 310 R. So, how does it stack up against the competition, and should you consider this Chinese offering over its established European rivals? Let’s find out.
Zontes 350R: First Look Review
The Zontes 350R seems to have taken styling inspiration from the likes of the Yamaha FZ-S 25 and the MT-15. There are lots of cuts and creases, which feel overdone, to be honest. The LED headlamp is too radical-looking, while the multi-layered tank scoops make the overall design look busy. The motorcycle gets a twin slash-cut exhaust setup, and fancy diamond-cut alloy wheels to complete the sporty design.
As far as quality is concerned, the 350R is average at best. The plastic panels around the fuel tank and even the tail section feel flimsy and squeak with the slightest of touch. The quality of switchgear, however, is decent, and they offer a good tactile feel.
Now, although the raked tail section and the sporty styling may make you feel the 350R is intimidating, in reality, it isn’t the case. At 795mm, the seat height is quite accessible, and flat-footing the motorcycle isn’t an issue. And the overall rider’s triangle is sporty yet comfortable, thanks to the slightly rear-set foot-pegs, and the low-set handlebar.
The Zontes 350R impresses when it comes to its list of features. It packs first-in-segment features like a keyless control system and a tyre pressure monitoring system. Then, there are features like a five-inch colour LCD instrument cluster, which not only shows a plethora of information but is also customisable with some inbuilt themes. The 350R also comes equipped with full-LED lighting, dual-channel ABS and a 15-litre fuel tank.
As for the cycle parts, the Zontes 350R rides on 17-inch alloy wheels at both ends. It comes equipped with 43mm upside-down forks at the front and a preload adjustable mono-shock at the back. Anchoring duties are performed by a 320mm front disc and a 265mm rotor at the rear.
Powering the motorcycle is a 348cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder motor that pumps out 38bhp of power and 32Nm of peak torque. The engine is paired with a six-speed gearbox. While the engine feels refined at idle, the NVH levels rise significantly beyond 5,000-6,000rpm. You can feel substantial vibrations at the tank and on the seat, while some buzz can also be felt at the footpegs.
Off the line, the performance isn’t really brisk, but the motorcycle makes steady progress once revs climb. While the bottom-end is lacking, there’s a decent mid-range grunt on offer. That said, the limited amount of time meant that we couldn’t test the high-speed performance of the 350R.
As for the ride quality, the front end feels composed and absorbs road imperfections pretty well. However, the rear tends to kick back even on the slightest of surface undulations. This is of course at moderate speeds. We’d be able to judge its high-speed ride only once we spend a longer duration with the bike.
Coming to its braking performance, the front brakes feel quite vague, as it offers inconsistent bite, while the progression and feedback from the lever are missing for the most part. That said, the rear brake provides good progression, but could do with better initial bite.
Should you Buy it?
The Zontes 350R is a radical-looking motorcycle that offers a lot of features and decent performance. However, it doesn’t excel in any of these departments. What’s more, it doesn’t set any benchmarks when it comes to its build quality, and fit and finish levels.
Add to that, the asking price of Rs 3.15 lakh, is substantially higher than its European rivals – the KTM 390 Duke and the BMW G 310 R. While the KTM offers blistering performance and is an excellent value-for-money proposition, the BMW offers unmatched snob value and premium brand recall. So, to sum it up, unless you want a borderline alien-looking motorcycle that stands apart from the competition, it would be a tough sell for Zontes in India.
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi