Yes, well all know the phrase ‘raising the bar’, but my title isn’t detrimental to anyone, or Zontes to be more precise. Far from it, because this new Chinese cruiser has most certainly ‘lowered’ things regarding a low-slung cruiser in a class that nobody currently has. See where I’m coming from now?
If you’re scratching your head and trying to disagree with my previous statement name me one small capacity ‘low-down’ cruiser from any manufacturer? Well you can now, and it’s called a Zontes 310V. Look, you may find something, but I can guarantee you’ll see nothing with the build quality of this new town tool for only R79,950.Now yet again you’ll be scratching your cranium because this is a genuine Chinese product that some, in the past, have had unpleasant reviews due to bad workmanship. Well forget all of that right now, as the 310V is equal in finish to all concerned. From the slash-cut wheels, to the gorgeous anodized handlebar and controls around it, to the cool full colour TFT instrument pod, fabulous seat and world class black paint, it’s certainly a class act.Not only the orbiting cycle parts swell your shorts because the liquid-cooled, 312cc, DOHC, fuel injected engine is equally impressive. A dyno run recorded 30hp and 24Nm at the wheel but strangely this feisty unit felt more than that. It’s also much smoother than their three previous models, which are the R (naked), X (faired), and the T (adventure) models. Obviously, a bit of fueling and ECU development might be the reason with this being a later model. But it is uncannily smooth for a ‘single’ and will happily cruise at the legal speed on the highway all day long, and I saw 167kph on those posh clocks, which is brisk to say the least. I also tried, and did, manage to pull off in sixth gear with surprisingly little clutch slip. Not an ideal thing to do to a new bike, but impressive all the same. Don’t try this at home, etc, etc…Juvenile antics aside the riding position does have a nice ’homely’ feel when you sit in the low, wide and comfortable saddle. Can’t tell you how low because I can’t find any specs at the moment, but a dwarf with amputated feet could touch the floor, maybe, (no offence to any amputees), but you catch my drift? Also, the fat footrests are set forward in true cruiser fashion and interestingly have three levels of adjustment, fore and aft, to accommodate riders with or without missing feet (no offence once again to the feetless).Feet jokes aside, your hands relax satisfactorily on the wide swept back ‘bars, which makes the 310V a comfortable and highly enjoyable experience. Now in the past something that wasn’t too enjoyable were the Zontes brakes. Well now there’s a bigger front disc with a fatter caliper so that problem is no more, as they’re more than powerful enough in any condition, combined with Bosch derived ABS. In fact, you can ride the 310V in quite an aggressive and sporty manner if you get bored with cruising.When the ‘sporty’ riding scenario arrives so does the entertaining handling. Even though the 310V has a visibly long wheelbase it turns unreasonably quickly, even though it carries a class leading chubby 180x17-inch rear tyre. I don’t know how Zontes achieved this agility, but they certainly have, except for one problem, the rear shocks. I can’t understand why everything is basically faultless on the 310V, and then they chose to fit poor shocks with no damping. I’d imagine these will get changed rather quickly as Zontes receives a mail from the importers in SA. If not, and you choose to buy a new 310V, replace them ASAP for an even better riding pleasure.So, let’s finish off with what is, without doubt, the most pleasurable thing about the new Zontes 310V, the styling. There’s no question here, which bike it ‘copies’ in a diminutive fashion of course. Yes, you’ve got it, a baby Ducati Diavel it certainly is, and a fine version at that. From the ‘same’ headlight with LED white surround, to the cute little ‘dummy’ exhaust, it has Diavel hidden away in its genetic pool. Nothing wrong with that because some people thought I was indeed riding a baby Ducati. Especially when I proudly shown them the four, yes four, settings you have on the clocks for four different styled displays. Not to mention, so I will, the stunning red backlit buttons, all 14 of them. Oh yes, the Zontes 310V has 14 buttons to press on the two switch clusters, and I for one loved to brag about them, even though they’re probably a bit unnecessary. They’ll open all sorts of things, like fuel cap and seat and operate two power modes (sport and eco), but I couldn’t tell or feel the difference between those two settings. Still the most handlebar buttons ever found on a small bike cruiser gets my thumbs up, and down, as you’ll undoubtedly need them both to cycle through or press.To sum up the new Zontes 310V is easy. It’s a wonderful motorcycle cruiser on all counts (except the shocks), but that’s an easy fix. I would certainly recommend one if you’re after an affordable cruiser with style, lathered with commendable build quality. I enjoyed riding the Zontes 310V everywhere for over week and that’s possibly the first time I’ve ever said that about a small capacity Chinese motorcycle – need I say more?
Go to www.zontes.co.za for more information and dealer locations.