Of late, the Indian two-wheeler market has witnessed an influx of many new manufacturers as well as the popularisation of the ‘Adventure’ class among the rest. Naturally, it only makes sense that we cash in on the trend and start our own little fight club (for obvious reasons, this is a joke). The two contenders that we selected for this particular beatdown, are the Zontes 350T ADV and the BMW G 310 GS.
Adishwar Auto Ride India (AARI) introduced four new Chinese-owned motorcycle brands in the past year under the MotoVault banner, and the Zontes brand is one among them, with a current portfolio of five models. BMW Motorrad, on the other hand, has been selling adventure motorcycles for a while now, and that GS nomenclature is very recognisable, spanning a period of four decades since its inception.
At first glance, both motorcycles carry that proper adventure motorcycle stance, with the Zontes 350T ADV featuring a stockier appearance, while the BMW G 310 GS has a leaner frame. There is also a significant difference in the weight of both motorcycles, the GS weighing in at 175 kg, and the Zontes tipping the scales at 196 kg — a whole 21 kg heavier. The Zontes also carries a sturdy crash guard enveloping the fuel tank and engine that comes as standard fitment.
Talking about the bountiful features that the Zontes 350T ADV is laden with, there’s keyless ignition, along with an electronically-operated adjustable windscreen, fuel tank flap, and seat release mechanism. In addition to all that, the motorcycle also gets tubeless spoke wheels, an anti-glare TFT display with different display modes, and even a smartphone screen-mirroring function. All interesting features and components that would generally not be found on a motorcycle in this price range. The BMW G 310 GS, in stark contrast, gets nothing of the sort. There’s a simple LCD instrument cluster, and a manual key-operated ignition system.
In terms of stopping power, both the 350T ADV and G 310 GS are equipped with disc brakes at the front and rear, along with dual-channel ABS, although the ABS on the Zontes feels excessively intrusive in comparison to the one on the GS. Suspension duties on both motorcycles are handled by USD forks at the front and a monoshock unit at the rear end. The 350T ADV’s forks do tend to bottom out with a decent application of pressure, while the G 310 GS offers more suspension travel, as well as ground clearance. The Zontes’ underbelly tends to scrape on the taller speed bumps, and this could also hinder its offroad performance.
The riding ergonomics on the Zontes 350T ADV do feel a tad cramped for an adventure motorcycle, and this may be due to the fact that there is barely any difference in the setup of all Zontes motorcycles. They all share the same engine, chassis, and a lot of the major components, using the same base for all their products (to save costs, of course), but even so, the fit and finish of the product does feel tacky. The G 310 GS, on the other hand, feels more relaxed, is built solidly, and offers better handling in comparison to its rival. The Zontes does feel sluggish and hard to manoeuvre at times, no doubt due to its weight.
Coming to the most important aspect of the motorcycles, the 350T ADV is powered by a 348cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine that churns out 38.2 bhp of maximum power and 3.34 kgm of peak torque. It, surprisingly, develops quite a bit of vibration at the higher end of its rev range. The G 310 GS draws power from a 313cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine that generates a maximum power of 33.52 bhp and a peak torque of 2.85 kgm. Both motorcycles feature a 6-speed transmission, but the gearbox on the GS feels much smoother to use than the one on the Zontes.
Taking the motorcycles offroad, one can feel the weight of the Zontes bearing down on it — it is slightly top-heavy courtesy the 19-litre fuel tank, among other things. The GS, meanwhile, takes off-roading on like a duck to water, kicking up dirt and allowing one to have a ball of a time. The Bavarian manufacturer sure does know a thing or two about making a fun adventure motorcycle, and with more than 40 years in the business, one expects nothing less.
On the tarmac, both motorcycles feel pretty comfortable, and take to corners with ease. The Zontes has a gruff exhaust note that feels slightly rough around the edges, while the GS offers a more settled and commanding tune from the pipes. Both machines pick up speed pretty easily, but the confidence to speed up is always backed by the ability to come to a quick halt as safely as possible, and that was one factor that holds the Zontes back. The ride quality of the GS is plush, and it maintains cruising speeds comfortably.
In conclusion, both motorcycles have their own advantages as well as shortcomings, but in terms of practicality, we would have to award this round to the BMW G 310 GS. Feature-wise, the Zontes 350T ADV sure gets all the bells and whistles, but falls short on the component quality and overall consistency in performance. There exists the feeling that while the tech gimmicks are trending now, true motorcyclists will see right through that, and go for the motorcycle that feels better to ride, and I see no fault there. Now, all that’s left to be decided is whether one wants to own a conversation piece or a no-nonsense mean machine.
MOTODATAZontes 350T ADV
38.2 bhp@9500 rpm
3.34 kgm@7500 rpm
Type: Steel tube frame
F/R: 320-mm disc / 265-mm disc
F/R: 110/80 R19 / 160/60 R17
Rs 3.67 Lakh (ex-showroom)
MOTODATABMG G 310 GS
33.52 bhp@9250 rpm
2.85 kgm@7500 rpm
Type: Tubular space frame
F/R: 300-mm disc / 240-mm disc
F/R: 110/80 R19 / 150/70 R17
Rs 3.20 Lakh (ex-showroom)