Zontes 350T ADV first ride review
After riding the fun Moto Morini X-Cape 650X out around Pune, we later had an opportunity to get our hands on a motorcycle from the second brand under the Moto Vault umbrella Zontes. The motorcycle you see here is the 350T Adventure one of five body styles that Zontes currently have come out with in India that are powered by the same 350cc, single-cyl engine, albeit are tuned to suit their individual characteristics. The 350T Adventure is the most adventure focused version you could say that we'll be focusing on today given the apt terrain that surrounds us this time out.
Design and Features:
The Zontes 350T ADV looks like a shrunken, unexpected love child between a Tiger and a GS. Still, the 350T ADV comes across as a much bigger bike than it actually is. It's got all the visual traits of a proper off-road machine. The 19/17 inch front/rear wheel setup, an inverted 43mm fork up front with an adjustable monoshock out back, a big beak, LED lights, wide bars with backlight switches, a big windscreen, a massive tank, standard crashguards and a high, upswept exhaust. And the best part here is that the bike feels well put together. None of the parts, including the plastic panels feel really cheap and/or flimsy.
The alternate version of this bike, the 350T gets alloy wheels with a smaller 17-inch wheel up front aimed strictly for on-road use. All five versions of the Zontes 350 bikes are eye-catching with their in-your-face styling and nifty colour schemes. You have the 350T, which is the Adventure tourer which can be had in a choice of alloy or spoke-wheels, then you have the 350R, which is the sport-focussed version of the bike where you can opt for the naked or a faired version, and lastly, my favourite, the 350GK café racer. It's got heaps of modern touches to a retro body design. Highly desirable in my opinion, but unfortunately the weather and mostly the terrain for today, wasn't ideal to test a bike of his sort.
All the five Zonted bikes including the 350T ADV come with keyless ignition, buttons on the bars that function the fuel filler lid, release the seat, and in the case of both the 350T adventure tourers, also raise and lower the windscreen.
You also get a 5-inch LCD colour screen that reads out the bikes info and you can even cast your phone screen onto it, which would be great for google map navigation. Other features include dual channel ABS, which can't be switched off, a standard TPMS system and a massive 19-litre tank which puts bigger displacement, more expensive touring bikes to shame.
Ride and Handling:
Now, the Zontes 350T ADV may tick most boxes when it comes to small-capacity adventure motorcycles, and it managed very well over broken stretches of road and lose gravel to tell you the truth. You have two ride modes to choose from, eco and sport which affects throttle response, which felt just about alright too. But when I subjected it to some fine slush and greasy rocks, I felt very let down by the tyres. The tread pattern and rounded profile is better suited to paved surfaces and light off-road trails rather than the heavy fun stuff. Standing up and riding didn't feel very natural, although the bike did feel very decently balanced. But seeing metal bits on the bike in the form of the knuckle guard braces, the mirror stalks and even the number plate bracket, I'm sure the bike could have been a lot lighter which would make it easier to manage in tricky situations and also less costly to replace in the event of a crash. Another strange bit with this bike is the way its exhaust pipes go way under the bash plate which would be prone to damage when belting it over some harsh terrain. The bash plate itself is of a plastic construct, so if you bottom out on some rocks, and it's sure to give way.
After a short while spent throwing the Zontes 350T ADV about the place, well I'd have to say that although it may have all the traits and visual elements of a thorough ADV motorcycle, I'm not sure whether it holds up all that well, because first and foremost, the wheels they're proper ADV rims, but then again the tyres don't really suit the character of the bike. Especially in the wet, you will have a lot of hairy moments on the bike unnecessarily. Then there's the rubber mounts that don't come off easily, and you cannot get a good grip of the bike with your feet.
In terms of features, the Zontes 350T ADV comes packed to the gills with tech. A lot of electronics thrown on there but then again, do you really need all these features? That's really u to you because not will be takers for things like this. According to me they're not really necessary the electronic fuel-filler cap, the keyless ignition, the seat that pops up at the push of a button, not required, period. Sure they're good features to impress some bigger bike owners, but whether they'll hold up in the long run is yet to be seen. One really nice feature is the visor that adjusts at the push of a button though.
So overall, this motorcycle looks really good but when you get down to riding it, it fees more suited to on-road-riding than off it. It's a nice and comfortable motorcycle to ride with its contoured seat the tank is big enough to give you a good range out on the highway. The engine is a nicely refined unit with around 38PS of power and 32Nm of torque, so there's a good amount of grunt. The six speed gearbox feels nice and snappy. So a lot of nice bits on the motorcycle that cater to the whole adventure-touring aspect of it all, but if you're looking at it from a strictly adventure motorcycle stance, we you might end up feeling shortchanged. You'll definitely want to throw on some knobby tyres to really enjoy this one off-the-road a lot better.
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