First UK Review
Overland have been gifted the first UK test ride of the new Sinnis T380 Terrain adventure bike, the first ‘big’ bike the Brighton-based company will release to market. Following the success of their 125 Terrain it is a logical step, but how does this new machine measure up in what’s becoming a crowded market? Paddy Tyson reports, having had the keys for a month
We’ve waited a long time to test the new Sinnis T380 and early this year when we were just about to, Covid-19 stopped play, as well as the flow of all stock from China. But the prototype did make it along to The Overland Event at the start of September and it has been with us on the test fleet ever since. First though, some background.
The 125 Sinnis Terrain has been around for 4 years and has demonstrated that it’s a real contender. It offers great value for money as a ‘ready to tour’ overland machine and I don’t say that lightly. It has proven itself on many a big trip across continents and recently a pair of 125 Terrains successfully completed the Mongol Rally to Ulan Ude; no mean feat when there’s also time pressure.
Yet the inescapable truth is that a 125cc single is never going to be quick and no amount of pretending it’s a miniature GS will give it extra power to cope with Patagonian headwinds or a Himalayan pass, so the 380 Terrain, with a reputed 36.5hp and the extra comfort afforded by a smoother parallel twin, sounds almost perfect for budget travelling. I saddled up with some trepidation.
The build quality of machines made in China, or those built with Chinese components, (and this is really a rebadged Zongshen) has been improving steadily, but historically any concerns have been offset by an exceptionally low purchase price. This Sinnis T380 Terrain will retail – without any luggage – for £4495 plus OTR costs, so it is competing head-on with the cheaper Himalayan from Enfield (£4399 OTR including road tax) and only £1000 below the price of the very competent and much more powerful KTM 390 Adventure. That means it has to pull its not inconsiderable 200kg weight…
I can’t say my first ride impressed me, although I hasten to add this is the prototype that I’ve been using. The fuel metering has a lag such that the engine always races between gear changes, and there are lots of those. The six-speed gearbox is exceptionally close ratio and the final drive is also too low, but I am assured by the guys at Sinnis that this will change in the production models. Once it has wound up, the engine keeps revving and will easily pull into the red line in top, which surely demonstrates it will be capable of pulling higher gearing and everyone will have a nicer time as a result. Rule #1 for any overland machine is that it shouldn’t be frantic.
Those gears may be closely spaced but the change itself is smooth and definite every time, whether up or down. The engine is a liquid-cooled single overhead cam twin that meets Euro 5 emission regulations and is doubtless a proprietary engine used in many models. I’m sure it’s tough enough and does indeed seem to find a sweet spot near 7,000rpm, but that only equates to 65mph, and the red line is at 8,000rpm. Changing the gearing will help this immensely but the revvy character of the engine will remain, something completely at odds with the appearance of the bike and the riding position offered. Having said that, I occasionally found myself undertaking complete urban journeys in just 4th, 5th and 6th so there’s clearly some tractability in there that the low gearing stops you experiencing.
Upright, as is the adventure style, the saddle/ footpeg / handlebar relationship is perfectly satisfactory (though I did have to bring the bars down from their ‘motocross elbows-out’ position to achieve comfort). This same positional relationship makes for an easy transition to standing and the footpegs are wide enough to stand on for reasonable periods of time; the rubber inserts removable for better grip.
The seat height is a fixed 820mm so suitable for quite a wide range of leg lengths. The seat is squidgy but seems comfortable enough and is covered in a material I’m unfamiliar with so don’t want to vouch for how it will wear. The positioning of the optional factory topbox and rack make the seat unit fiddly to refit if you’ve taken it off. Sinnis offer aluminium panniers and topbox for only £250, but you may wish to shop around.
Bodywork and lights ape the look of middleweight adventure machines like the Tiger and GS but the fairing screen deserves particular praise because it is effective yet doesn’t cause any buffeting or excess noise in the helmet. That’s a rare treat indeed in the adventure sector.
Immediately in front of the screen is the LED and projector headlight unit which is adjusted manually, simply by pushing it top or bottom. The main beam is very good, the dip beam less so, as the light is brutally curtailed in a horizontal line – possibly to avoid creating left and right-hand drive variants – which means that any lean angle into a bend robs you of illumination. The dip/fullbeam switchgear takes a moment to get used to and I found myself riding with my thumb on it to make sure I could locate it as needed. Mirrors are a clear case of form over function. They are robust, clear and vibration-free but aesthetically designed such that the lower outer corner has been removed; the very section you want to use most, especially in urban areas when danger from other road users is highest.
Situated behind that excellent screen, somewhat protected from the elements, are two handy power take-offs (one a USB) and the dashboard display which appears to have been inspired by Las Vegas. Thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal (or full-colour TFT) displays are definitely becoming the must have, but it made me feel like was in a casino and more annoyingly, it isn’t at all stable, constantly flicking between colours. The orangey theme is definitely the most pleasant, but the yellow, and the blue/white themes, just keep intruding and don’t seem to be related to cloud or tree cover causing shadows, which I initially thought may have been the cause as the dash and headlight is governed by a light-sensitivity meter. At night there is stability, and the black/blue theme used after dark is pleasant, but I can’t find any brightness adjustment as it would be good to dim it.
The display is advertised as containing altimeter, tyre pressure monitors and more features supplementing the clock and trip meter, but thus far I haven’t been able to find them. There’s also supposed to be the facility to pair your smart phone to download ride data and see who might be calling you while you ride. Mind you, I can’t set the clock and the average speed and economy functions aren’t working, so perhaps it’s another legacy of being a prototype and full functionality will be available in sale models.
What I can do is zero the trip meter. It’s something I always do on a test bike to accurately record fuel use, filling the tank to the same point each time and then averaging all fill-ups. This is where the Sinnis T380 Terrain provided the very pleasant surprise of 69.1 mpg. That’s at least 280 miles from the tank which is a very useful 19 litres, made of metal and easy to fill. I confess that using the bike solely in the Midlands and SE of England, it has spent most of its time revving hard on busy roads and all of its time wearing panniers, but the real-world economy it returns is a delight. I can only suppose that it will improve yet further with different final drive gearing on the production bikes.
Chassis, suspension and brakes
That frugal Zongshen engine is a stressed member and the chassis feels rigid. Ground clearance is good at 210mm and on tarmac that, and the positioning of the footpegs, means you can chuck the Terrain about with no fear of grounding anything. The cast alloy wheels are shod with Timsun tyres which have a very attractive tread pattern and perform well in the dry. Like all road-biased tyres they struggle in mud. Tyre sizes are popular at 110/80-19 up front and 130/70-17 at the back.
The rear shock is said to be adjustable for preload and certainly feels highly sprung, as though it has been excessively wound up, pitching you forward slightly in the saddle, but there is no convenient way of altering that. It appears that the shock has to be removed to be adjusted. Up front is much more straight-forward, and compression can be adjusted with a screwdriver from the top of the inverted forks.
On paper the ABS-equipped brakes are impressive – two twin-piston radial calipers up front and a single sliding rear caliper. On the road however they lack feel and have a woodenness. Maybe something as simple as new pads could cure it.
Practical use as an overlander
Much of the above may sound negative, but yes, there are good things about the T380! The frame is steel and infinitely repairable should the need arise when the going gets tough. Some sections of it are covered in plastic to form the appearance of painted box section alloy, but there’s just good old steel tubing behind.
That screen is a welcome design, seating position’s fine and the frugal use of fuel is a Godsend, especially in association with the 19l tank which creates an excellent range. It’s great to see a tripmeter pass 200 miles with a third of a tank remaining. The turning circle and low seat height are hugely favourable features too for manoeuvrability when the road is rough, and the Sinnis T380 comes equipped with side and centre stands, both of which are easy to use.
However, the gearing lets the bike down badly and accentuates the fact that the engine is not one developed specifically for travel. The crashbars, fitted as standard, mount to the plastic beak and to themselves, so how they’ll twist and transfer any impact is yet to be seen. Similarly, neither rear brake or gear lever fold, so breaking them could leave you stranded.
Other items like sensors are exposed and may suffer either in accident or just from flying debris, but I must stress, just as Sinnis have said they are adjusting the final drive, so they will doubtless have dealt with these other shortcomings for the production bikes.
As a company they have been very brave letting me use this prototype and they deserve credit for that. It is typical of their attitude and desire to listen to riders which is why they’ve been quietly building such a strong following. This is their first ‘big bike’ and they’ve certainly mastered 125s so I’m sure that what emerges later this year will be a respectable first effort, but it doesn’t have the torque I was hoping for, to take on those mountain ranges or prairie winds.
Sinnis T380 Terrain Specs
|Miles covered on test:||750 miles|
|Test fuel consumption:||69.1mpg|
|Configuration:||8-valve, single cam, twin|
|Fuel capacity:||19 litres|
|Front suspension:||adj upside-down forks|
|Front tyre:||110/80 x 19”|
|Rear tyre:||140/70 x 17”|
|Front brakes:||Twin discs (2-piston radial calipers)|
|Rear brakes:||Disc (single-piston caliper)|
|Price:||£4,495 +OTR costs, £4,750 +OTR with full luggage|
Colours available Red, Silver (sadly not the white of the prototype)