Zontes GK 350 first ride review
The Zontes GK 350 is the neo-retro café-racer styled bike in the Zontes 350cc line-up. It certainly looks the part as well with its LED lights setup at both ends and overall slick, very cyber-punkish, minimalistic design. However, like the other bikes in Zontes 350cc lineup, this one packs stellar looks and a ton of features. But if you were to consider functionality, not just features and form, does this machine give you any thing to write home about? Let's look into it.
First up, features. As with the other 350cc Zontes bikes, the GK 350 comes packed with a good list of features ranging from keyless ignition (so you don't have to key the fob out of your pocket or backpack to unlock the bike or start her up), to looking bar-end mirrors that are of a nice and sturdy build a radiator guard, and knuckle guard and engine crash guard all standard on this motorcycle. The clutch and brake levers are span-adjustable are another nice touch, because not a lot of bikes in the 350cc space come with features like this. Like the other bikes from Zontes, the illuminated controls on the bar feel premium and this one gets the electronic releases for the fuel filler lid and seat, which are neat touches albeit not being necessarily convenient. The bike gets radiator panels on the side and a plastic engine protector that keeps most of the wiring neatly tucked away out of sight. The spokes on the wheels are on the side which allows the bike to run tubeless tyres 120 section up front and a 160 section at the rear) which is a very nice touch.
The GK 350 feels well put together with quality parts and the lack of certain plastic bits like tank extensions and other bits like with the other Zontes 350cc bikes, means that there are less weak-feeling plastic parts on this one. I like the fact that the GK 350 gets a massive 17-litre tank which will mean lesser stops for fuel if you opt to go touring on this motorcycle.
The bike comes four different interfaces to choose from, which reads out a good amount of information ranging from time and two trips to engine temp and DTE, just like the other Zontes 350s, and similarly here you get a ride mode switch that allows you to switch between eco and sport modes, but there's barely any difference to be felt once you actually do switch between them. Having a TPMS on a bike of this modern-retro themed café racer style motorcycle, in this displacement capacity, is a first as well.
The best part about this bike has to be the engine. Like the others in the Zontes' 350cc line-up the motor powering the GK 350 is a 348cc, single-cyl, liquid-cooled double overhead cam, which puts down 39PS @ 9,500rpm and 32.8Nm @7,5000rpm. After getting a good feel of the performance of the engine with the 350R naked, I know that it's a cracker of an engine, although it doesn't make as much power as the BMW G310 R, the KTM Duke 390 or even the Bajaj Dominar for that matter, but it certainly is quite lively with a nice little thrum to it.
You get a four piston calliper on the 320mm J. Juan (Spanish brand) single disc front, and the disc gets a plastic shield which looks cool while offering some amount of protection. The rear gets a single 265mm disc with dual channel ABS standard on the bike as well which offers adequate stopping power in all situations. The ABS feels well calibrated to this machine too.
After sampling a couple of the Zontes 350 bikes, the GK350 has to be my favourite of the lot. And more than the way it looks, it has to do with the way this bike rides. As soon as you set off, this 188kg bike feels lighter than you initially assumed it to be. The engine is keen on being revved hard, and once you open it up it there's this sweet sounding roar emanating from the airbox and not so much aural excitement from those neat looking split exhaust pipes. I like the fact that the bike feels very comfortable at triple digit speeds, the engine doesn't sound stressed and you can even make out everything that's behind you quite clearly with very barely any vibration of the mirrors. The low-end and midrange of the bike is strong and you'll be up to triple digit speeds in no time. The motor is very refined and the shifting through the six-speed gearbox feels smooth and crisp.
The GK 350 has a unique character in comparison to the other Zontes bikes, because of the way you're seated on this bike. It feels very comfortable with just a bit of your weight on your palms and the pegs allow for a nice straight down leg position, so even if you're taller than me (5'9ft) you should fit on the bike, no problem. The 795mm one-piece seat itself is well padded and very comfortable for both the rider and pillion. Heat dispersion was spot on, as I found out, on a relatively long stint in the saddle across Mumbai through peak traffic. Also, I found shifting my weight around on the bike to be a lot easier than on the 350R naked bike and while the tyres provide a good amount of traction, it still took a bit of getting used to when it came to chucking it into a corner which wasn't smooth, carrying momentum.
The GK 350 is the best Zontes 350cc model that you can get your hands on, at this time. But even so, it's not the best motorcycle that would warrant its price tag. The main concern with this bike is its reliability because it's a new brand of motorcycle and it costs in excess of Rs 3.3lakh, which is verrry expensive, even there is currently no rival in this space. Secondly, the aftersales and service of the bike is something that you'll want to factor in before buying one because like Moto Morini motorcycles, Zontes operates under the Moto Vault umbrella, and there's just nine service centers located across India. Adishwar Auto Ride India, who have brought the brand to India, tell us that Zontes will be operating out of Benelli and Keeway service centers as of now, and it will take some time for the technician and parts to get your bike the attention it needs.