If you’ve been around the China bike scene for a while, you might recognize the Zontes name. And even if you aren’t familiar with the brand, chances are you’ll be seeing more of them in the years to come, as they’re willing to do something that almost nobody else is doing: They’re releasing a new three-cylinder engine platform.
Triples were basically the sole domain of Triumph for a long time, and then Yamaha challenged them with the MT-09 platform. But aside from those bikes? Pretty much nothing. However, at EICMA, Zontes was showing off a pair of three-cylinder-powered machines. While these were only concept bikes, word on the street is that Zontes expects to finish R&D on these machines this year.
Zontes ZT703 RR
The first machine is a sportbike. Not quite a superbike, as it doesn’t even have a 750 engine, only a 699 cc triple. In this bike, that engine is tuned for top-end revving, reportedly making 110 hp at the crank as the engine spins 11,000 rpm. Max torque is supposed to be 55 lb-ft at 8600 rpm.
And, uh, that’s pretty much all we know as far as specs. No word yet on what exact electronics package or running gear this bike would have (except for the Brembo brakes seen here), or dry/wet weight (an aluminum frame should help keep that weight down). Given that much of this componentry is available off-the-shelf, so to speak, we’d take a guess and predict: Bosch electronics and Kayaba suspension. Tune back in after EICMA 2024 and we’ll see how close we got.
Zontes ZT703 F
From a sportbike with 17-inch wheels to an adventure bike with 21-inch front and 18-inch rear—and those rims are spoked, which implies some off-road capability.
Obviously, immediate comparisons are drawn to the Triumph Tiger series, but realistically, how can that work? Triumph is currently reaping the benefits of many years of R&D and lessons learned from mistakes, while Zontes is just starting into the world of big ADV bikes. Nevertheless, the lesson here is: The Euro manufacturers had better watch out. Chinese competition is just around the corner, and sooner or later, they’ll figure out the bike bike formula.
By the way—those videos might be dismissed as computer renders, but you can see the machines before in metal-and-plastic flesh, so to speak, at EICMA. Turn your sound down, so you don’t have to listen to the CG-audio.