Zontes S250

Chinese bike that moves Zontes out of the learner zone

GETTING to grips with the endless number of Chinese bike firms – let alone working out which is affiliated to another – is a near-impossible task and as a result it’s all too easy to lump them all together in the part of your mind reserved for ‘cheap tat’ and turn your attention to something more substantial and familiar.

So we’re happy enough to admit that Zontes – a brand that’s been available here in the UK since 2011 – isn’t one that we’ve got an in-depth knowledge of.

Checking out the DVLA figures, since its launch in 2011 the firm has now got something approaching 1000 of its bikes registered in the UK, and the vast majority are taxed rather than SORN, which might hint that reliability doesn’t match the worst of the Chinese bike stereotypes.

Now it looks like the firm is planning to make the leap from being one that focuses purely on the near-disposable 125cc learner bike market to one that offers something to more seasoned riders, since its next model promises to be this 250cc single.

In fact, the S250 was shown in China back in 2012, but has so far not appeared in production. That looks likely to change soon, since the firm has now filed patents for the design, including the images you see here. Yes, it’s a typical Chinese air-cooled single, with  a claimed 22bhp at 8500rpm, but in terms of appearance it’s a quantum leap forward from the sort of bikes being made in the country just a few years ago – and from the models in Zontes’ current range, to be honest.

No, it’s probably not going to change your opinion on Chinese bikes overnight, and given the ability of new models from that part of the world to be shown and then to simply disappear without trace, it may never ever reach production, but even the staunchest opponent to the Chinese industry will have to admit that it’s an improvement over some of its past efforts.

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