Catch shades of legendary bikes in China-made Zontes T310
When China-made motorcycles started arriving here more than a decade ago, hardly anyone was impressed.
They looked cheap and their parts seemed as though they had been scavenged.
Netizens also complained that weld marks on these motorcycles appeared dodgy, just like their thin pressed-aluminium gear levers.
All these imperfections began cementing their reputation as "agricultural" or bad investments.
But if you were to scrutinise the Zontes T310 ADV, you would most likely mistake the dual-purpose Chinese motorcycle for a Continental.
The models under the Zontes brand are new, having only been announced in 2017. But the build quality of these bikes is similar to that of pricier Japanese brands, which have been around for much longer.
Despite having a small, 312cc single-cylinder engine, the water-cooled T310 has a large and beefy presence.
It also has a list of thoughtful features, including an adjustable windscreen, seat and fuel tank cover which can be accessed using buttons, and a keyless transponder for the ignition and immobiliser.
Its passenger grab rails are a bonus as they double as a mount for a top box.
To ensure quality, 95 per cent of each Zontes model is manufactured in-house, said Mr Ronnie Chen from Choong Kok Agency, the local distributor, who visited the Zontes factory recently.
Still, its handguards and crash bars look like they come from an aftermarket parts catalogue.
When you straddle the 159kg T310, you will notice how light it is. The bike's frame, swingarm and wheels are made of aluminium.
The bike has one of the largest LCD dashboards - the size of a small tablet. This will surely appeal to older riders who are longsighted.
What is unique on the T310 are dual exhaust silencers that sit behind the passenger footrest bracket.
So if you accidentally drop the motorbike on its right side, its pipes would remain protected.
Some may say they see shades of the legendary BMW R1200GS and Ducati Multistrada in the six-speed, anti-lock braking system-equipped T310. All the better, since this Chinese bike is really a budget-friendly machine priced at $10,300.
Clearly, the T310 is not a high-revving motorcycle - its rev counter ends at 12,000rpm. But it belches out a respectable 35bhp and 30Nm of torque at 7,500rpm.
Its performance figures are similar to rivals such as the BMW G310GS and Kawasaki Versys-X 300, both of which cost around 20 per cent more.
With a punchy performance accessible at low- to mid-rpm range, the T310 is mostly suited for street riding.
Its top speed of around 160kmh suggests it is also built for long touring duties. Invest in good gloves, though, to reduce the buzz in your palms.
There are only two modes available on the T310: Sport and Eco. In Eco, power delivery is mild as the motorcycle tries to conserve fuel in its 15-litre tank. Between the two modes, you can expect fuel consumption to average 22km to 29km a litre.
Cost considerations have kept the T310's suspension basic.
The T310 can handle most imperfections on the road, turning confidently and progressively. Its brakes require a steady grip to slow the bike down quickly.
But when you hit loose terrain, it is less composed because of its non-adjustable front and rear suspension. Standing on the footpegs helps, especially if you go over large stones.
Still, you can have fun in the dirt - just disarm the bike's anti-lock brakes to brake-slide into bends.