Zontes GK350 Road Test Review: Blingy, But Worthy?

  • Mar 12, 2023
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We find out if this neo-retro roadster rides as nicely as it looks

The Zontes lineup of motorcycles in India comprises a naked, tourer, adventure and neo-retro roadster bike, all of which are powered by the same engine. We recently rode the naked 350R, and it failed to impress us. So, would its neo-retro roadster sibling, the GK350, present a more exciting experience?

If Looks Could Kill

While the Zontes 350R sports a radical looking futuristic design, the GK350 design is tastefully balanced with loads of neo-retro touches that give it an elegant stance. Look at it from any angle, and you’ll find every aspect of the bike to be proportional and substantial. 

Nothing overdone, no missing bits. From the circular headlight housing five LED projector lamps, to its upswept double barrel exhaust, the GK350 grabs eyeballs wherever it rolls. The designers at Zontes have nailed the brief with the GK350.

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You may argue that some accents like the front disc cover or the indicator protectors may feel a bit of an overkill. However, some design quirks eventually become more bearable and easy on the eye. I feel that these bits work with the overall theme of the GK350 and give it that rugged look.

Futuristic Features

Chinese motorcycles love to flatter you with over the top features, and the Zontes GK350 is no exception. A five-inch colour TFT display with screen mirroring feature is something unheard of in this segment, or for that matter any segment. Even though the display has four themes to choose from, none of them have a font large enough to provide useful information while on the go.

Another such feature is the keyless fob which makes every function on the GK350 a no key affair. You can very conveniently lock/unlock the bike and open the seat and fuel filler cap with just a touch of a button.

The lighting too is all LED, and with five LED projector lamps lighting up the road during night rides. The headlight is pretty impressive, when it works that is. It lit up the road beautifully with more than adequate spread and intense power. And this lasted for not more than half hour into a night riding session. The high beam entirely conked off and even the following day, it only worked when you keep toggling the pass switch. 

All Show And No Go?

The design and features of the GK350 can be enjoyed while the bike is stationary. You’d expect the bike to continue to impress while in motion too, right? Unfortunately this is where it begins to disappoint on many levels. Once the 348cc single cylinder mill cranks up, you notice quite a lot of vibrations at the handlebar and footpegs. 

These vibrations are only amplified as you begin to shift through the gears and gain more speed. The engine isn’t as refined as you’d like it to be, with the gruffness being prominent at city speeds. It’s only at speeds of above 50kmph that you feel the bike to be more at ease.

Gear shifts require some effort, which increases as the system heats up, to the point where you need to stamp to go down the cogs. To compound matters, the gear ratios are quite confusingly spaced out, the fourth one being almost non-existent. It would serve you better to short shift directly from third to fifth to keep the bike moving. The GK350 does get two riding modes – Eco and Sport, however, there was no noticeable difference between these modes. 

The sound emanating from the airbox may give you the false notion that you’re going fast, but in reality, the bike feels sluggish as it makes its way to the triple digit mark. Once it does cross the 80kmph mark, it can sustain highway speeds, and on such roads, the overall riding experience is a tad bit better. In terms of fuel economy, the GK350 delivered 26.03kmpl in the city, and 28.08kmpl on the highway. With a 17-litre fuel tank, the bike offers a range of around 450km, which is quite good. 

Competent Handler

While the GK350 does not pack enough grunt to put a smile on your face, it does offer good handling, which is largely down to the tyres. The CST Ride Ambro rubber takes time to warm up, post which there’s quite a lot of traction on offer to enjoy the bends. The bike also gets TPMS, which is quite accurate and gives you tyre temperature information too! This happiness is short lived though, as you’ll find yourself to be limited by the suspension rather than your skill.

The GK350 gets a 43mm upside down fork and monoshock, without any adjustability. The suspension tune is on the softer side, and the ride is decently plush. That said, the ride quality is not consistent. Over the small and medium size undulations, the suspension works decently. However, over the large one, they simply bottom out and need a revision to the tune for it to suit our roads. You can feel the 188kg kerb weight’s heft in traffic, however, once the bike is above 45kmph, the bike is easier to manoeuvre.  

Verdict

The Zontes GK350 did not disappoint as much as its naked sibling, however, we were not very impressed by it either. It packs all the ingredients that one would look for in a proper neo-retro roadster. However, the engine and gearbox lacks refinement and suspension could’ve been set up better, which waters down the overall riding experience. 

Not to mention the small niggles we encountered and lack of proper service network may just deter the buyer from taking the plunge. And at a starting price tag of Rs 3,37,000 (ex-showroom), it is quite an expensive package.

Zontes GK350
Zontes GK350
Rs. 3.37 Lakh
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