Zontes 310M offers less bulk, more bark
Very few scooters are able to reinvigorate riding passion - even if many look stylish, are easy to ride and will get you from points A to B without drama.
The recently launched Zontes 310M bucks the trend for scooters in the 2A class.
The 309cc slim and compact automatic has a styling akin to robots in the Japanese anime Gundam - albeit with smoother lines and fewer hard edges. From the side, its grab rails look like katana swords used by the samurai.
The 310M's ejection-type passenger foot pegs, button-operated adjustable windscreen and full LED lighting impart modern appeal.
Software is user-friendly. The smartphone-sized, full-colour, digital dashboard can be configured to show essentials such as tyre pressure, Bluetooth connectivity and its two ride modes - Sport and Eco.
Several functions, including steering lock, are activated via buttons on its handlebar. The fuel-injected scooter is also keyless and equipped with anti-lock brakes.
It is puzzling why Zontes, a Chinese motorcycle maker, has thrown in so many bells and whistles when profit margins are smaller for this class of bikes. Riders, however, are likely to appreciate them.
In form and function, the 310M is unlike many maxi-scooters. The longer wheelbase found on rivals such as the Yamaha Xmax 400 and the Honda Forza 350 (1,567mm and 1,510mm respectively) make them a stable ride.
But the 310M's shorter 1,390mm wheelbase gives it quicker steering, turning up the fun factor around bends. Coupled with its performance figures, you get sporty handling.
The single-cylinder Zontes can zip from 0 to 100kmh in about 7.5 seconds and has a top speed of close to 150kmh.
Despite having a smaller engine capacity than its rivals, the bike produces 32.8bhp (the same as the Yamaha Xmax 400) and 32Nm of torque (0.5Nm more than the Honda Forza 350). The Zontes also has the highest compression ratio of 11.8:1 in its class. Such numbers are expected to give its rivals a run for their money.
What also helps in its acceleration is its dry weight of 158kg, which makes it the lightest bike in its segment.
On urban roads, where squeezing past stalled traffic is common, the 310M's narrow body gets you to the front easily. Pushing the bike in the carpark or doing so while seated on its low 760mm seat is almost effortless.
Those who expect its sporty performance to compromise its fuel efficiency will be surprised to find out how far the 310M's 12-litre fuel tank can take them. In Eco mode, the bike has a range of about 400km. Of course, fuel efficiency dips when you ride hard in Sport mode.
The bike stops progressively even under hard braking situations.
Unfortunately, taller riders may find the cockpit a little tight, given the limited floor space and contoured rider seat.
Also, the underseat stash space has room for only one open-face helmet and not all types of full-face helmets.
At close to $10,000 without certificate of entitlement (COE) and insurance, the 310M is also relatively pricey for a scooter. And now that COE premiums for motorcycles have hit a record high of $10,000, it will cost a lot more to own the ride.
Price: $9,900 without COE and insurance
Engine: 309cc 4-valve single-cylinder, water-cooled
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission, belt-driven
Power: 32.8bhp at 7,500rpm
Torque: 32Nm at 5,500rpm
0-100kmh: 7.5 seconds (estimated)
Top speed: Under 150kmh
Fuel consumption: 3.2 litres/100km
Agent: Zontes Singapore