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Old May 14th, 2024, 12:13 PM   #1
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[] - Zontes 703RR Hitting Production

Chinese brand Zontes has been working on a pair of triple-powered machines which it showed at EICMA in the fall. The RR sportbike will soon join the 703F ADV.

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The Zontes 703RR, first shown at EICMA in this form, is now headed to production with a few minor changes. (Zontes/)After several years developing its new three-cylinder engine, Chinese brand Zontes unveiled its 703F adventure bike and 703RR sportbike at last year’s EICMA show. At the time they were still prototypes and technical information was very limited. But now the 703F is being delivered to customers in China, with export sales expected to follow in the next few months, while the 703RR has just been type-approved to reveal what the production version looks like and shows some of its key specifications.

The Zontes 703F is already being delivered to customers in the company’s home market of China. (Zontes/)While Zontes has yet to make an official announcement, the type-approval documents for the 703RR confirm some key differences to the 703F and to the company’s own claims when the prototypes were shown at EICMA. Back then, Zontes said the adventure bike would make 100 hp at 9,000 rpm while the sportbike would be good for 110 hp and 11,000 rpm, but when the 703F was officially revealed in production form its peak had dropped a fraction to 96 hp, and arrived 1,000 rpm higher than planned at 10,000 rpm. The new type-approval documents also suggest the 110 hp claim for the 703RR was slightly ambitious, as it has a homologated peak power of 101 hp on the official paperwork. The figures for both bikes could change when export models are released though, given the variation in emissions limits around the globe.

Other details revealed in the type-approval paperwork include a certified top speed of 143 mph for the 703RR, which seems about right and puts it in the same ballpark as rivals like Honda’s CBR650R. In terms of both power and performance, the Zontes should certainly be ahead of the twin-cylinder Yamaha R7, and very close to the likes of Aprilia’s RS 660 and Triumph’s Daytona 660—the only other three-cylinder bike in this part of the market, at least until CFMoto’s incoming 675SR reaches production.

Related: Great Three-Cylinder Sportbikes of Yesterday and Today

The engine itself gets its 699cc capacity from a 70mm bore and 60.6mm stroke, and Zontes has been at pains to point out that it’s a relatively high-performance design with a 13:1 compression ratio. Like most other triples apart from Triumph’s T-plane crank models, it has a 120-degree crank for an evenly spaced firing interval.

The engine sits in a cast aluminum twin-spar frame ahead of a swingarm made using the same material, and the suspension is likely to come from Marzocchi, which already supplies the components for the 703F. Key chassis dimensions include a 57-inch wheelbase that matches the measurement of the CBR650R, along with a curb weight of 432 pounds. Two versions of the bike are shown in the type-approval paperwork, differing only in the specification of the brake calipers they’re fitted with, which appear to be Chinese-sourced components.

The front fairing gets some changes compared to the show bike picture below. (Zontes/)Visually, the bike has evolved slightly since the original show version made its debut at EICMA last November. The most obvious change is to the headlights, which are unusually positioned on either side of the fairing instead of in the nose. On the production model, the light units still sit under the upper plane of the side-mounted winglets, but where the concept bike had four separate, projector-style lamps that protruded noticeably in front of the leading edge of that winglet, the showroom version appears to have a more subtle design with purpose-made light units tucked further back.

The show bike had more pronounced headlights protruding from the fairing. (Zontes/)There are still lights in the nose, including a strip of LEDs running in a V-shaped line along the front edge and additional lamps tucked underneath that. The overall look is sharp, if a little cluttered, and the subtle paintwork of the bikes photographed for the type approval appears to match the EICMA show bikes, albeit lacking a few graphics and with the original bike’s red highlights and wheels swapped for blue ones.

The real question that remains for Zontes is whether the new three-cylinder bikes are enough to satisfy the needs of its customers. In China, the company has come under fire for offering only single-cylinder bikes so far in a market where parallel twins have become the expected norm. By leapfrogging twins and jumping straight to three-cylinders, Zontes is aiming to keep a distinct identity and offer something its rivals can’t achieve, though the protracted development of the triple means that there’s now a growing number of four-cylinder options on the market in the same class, not to mention the upcoming CFMoto 675SR three-cylinder that will be a direct competitor.

Will the 703RR reach the USA? That’s unknown, though the company does have global ambitions and a presence in many international markets. If it did come here, at the right price, would you buy one, or is Zontes going up against too many well-established brands to stand a chance?
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