For nearly three years now, Chinese motorcycle manufacturer Zontes has been teasing its upcoming inline-three cylinder engine. We’ve talked about this engine before, and on paper, it seems like it’s going to be quite the powerhouse. What we do know so far is that the engine will have a displacement of about 800cc, and have a power output upwards of 100 horsepower, putting it squarely within reach of its Japanese and European counterparts.
What’s even more interesting, however, are the platforms that Zontes has planned to house this engine. We know that Zontes has been operating in the beginner-friendly segment with models ranging from 125cc to 300cc. A lot of these bikes are either naked bikes or adventure-tourers, and indeed, it looks to carry this over to its bigger, 800cc range. It’s speculated that Zontes will release three models bearing the new triple: a sportbike, a naked bike, and an adventure-tourer.
Styling-wise, expect the bikes to feature radical, futuristic shapes, as has become the norm with Zontes. A previously released rendering of the inline-three-powered naked bike features a sleek design unlike anything we’ve seen from any manufacturer before. Nevertheless, there isn’t any official word just yet regarding the launches of these three platforms. However, videos from China have surfaced depicting the engine undergoing testing on an adventure bike platform. A video uploaded to YouTube by Tumamoto shows the adventure bike testing in an enclosed facility, and we can clearly hear that this engine sounds similar to Yamaha’s CP3.
Upon closer inspection, we can see that Zontes is using Yamaha oil filters for its new triple.
Speaking of the Yamaha CP3, a recent article by German motorcycling publication Motorrad Online places the Zontes triple side-by-side with Yamaha’s engine found in the likes of the XSR900 and MT-09. Needless to say, the similarities are uncanny. After all, the practice of Chinese motorcycle manufacturers reverse-engineering Japanese engines is by no means something new. We’ve seen Loncin do this with Honda’s CB500 engine on multiple occasions.
Side-by-side comparo between the Zontes triple and Yamaha's CP3.
It goes without saying that Chinese motorcycle manufacturers are stepping up their game when it comes to performance and technology. It’s not only Zontes that’s been working hard in developing more performance-oriented two-wheelers. We’re seeing it in the likes of CFMoto with its new 800cc, KTM-derived models. On top of that, QJ Motor has forged alliances with some of the industry’s greatest names such as MV Agusta and Harley-Davidson, so it also has an arsenal of cutting-edge tech at its disposal.