Ride Quality & Brakes
New riders will feel at home on the R 310. Bars are easy to reach, controls are light, mirrors are big and, weighing just 145kg and with a low 807mm seat, the Zontes is easy to handle around town.
A slightly canted forward riding position is on the sporty side of natural and it’s not too cramped for the larger rider.
Through the bends the Zontes doesn’t wallow, wobble weave or run wide. It doesn’t waft on a cushion of Öhlins magnificence, of course, but ride quality is more than acceptable and steering is on the slow side of neutral, which is a good thing for newer riders.
CST tyres grip in the dry and the ABS-assisted front and rear brakes have remarkable bite and power for budget kit.
Powered by a perky 34bhp, 312cc single cylinder, dry sump motor, the engine revs like a demented bumblebee all the way to its 9000rpm redline, making it livelier than your average, droning, generator of a single cylinder learner lump.
Tucked-in, laying on the tank with the devil on your shoulder the R 310 is good for over 90mph, but at the other end of the speed scale, power delivery is docile, the fuelling is perfect and fitted with a balance shaft the only vibes spilling from the engine are the good ones.
Just set a course and it’ll oblige with the composure of any mainstream A2-licence roadster, even at silly speeds.
Build Quality & Reliability
How well it will weather a UK winter remains to be seen, but the R310 isn’t built like Chinese bikes used to be built. Aluminium barrels are nickel silicon carbide-plated, wheels are diamond-cut aluminium, ABS is by Bosch and fuel injection from Delphi.
So with Chinese Benellis beating Hondas on previous MCN tests and the Chinese-engined Fantic Caballero Scrambler 500 serving up a stylish riot, you can’t help but think the Chinese really are coming.
Insurance, running costs & value
A couple of months ago we tested Zontes’ adventure-styled T310 and came away pleasantly surprised. It was well-equipped and rode nicely, not just for a Chinese bike, but for any A2 licence-friendly machine; and all for just £3999.
This is its sister: the R310 roadster and it’s the best Zontes yet. Unburdened by swathes of bodywork it’s nippier, more fun and even cheaper, costing just £3849.
For the money it’s exceptional and honestly, if it had a BMW, Honda, KTM, Harley, or MV Agusta badge on the tank you wouldn’t bat an eyelid... and let’s not forget all those big-manufacturer small-capacity machines are, or soon will be, made in Asia, too.
Styling is Kawasaki Z1000-aggressive and there are too many nice detail touches to suggest the R310 is just another pile 'em high, sell ’em cheap Chinese run-around.
Whoever designed the R310 really cares. Adjustable levers are bronze-finished, it has the maddest back end this side of a spaceship and you get LED lights, a Ducati Diavel-style, swingarm-mounted numberplate- holder, electric flip-up fuel cap and keyless ignition all included in the affordable price.
From plastics and paint, to the gun metal engine case finishes, MV-style slash-cut exhaust cans and KTM-alike 'inside out' cast ali swingarm, the overall finish is impressive.