BMW is now officially, completely, deadly serious about small-displacement motorcycles. At Twisted Throttle, we’re genuinely excited about this development because lightweight bikes are easier to ride, cheaper to buy, simpler to maintain. All good things when adventure is on your horizon. For 2017, BMW will have two small-engine motorcycles, the G310R roadster and the G310GS. As ADV riders, we’re more than eager to get our hands on the baby GS but for now let’s see how the 310R works. Friend of the Twisted family Cristi Farrell rode it and here’s what she has to say.
A Baby Bavarian Built for New Riders with Exotic Tastes
By Cristi Farrell — Photos courtesy BMW
BMW Motorrad announced in April 2013 their partnership with India-based TVS Motor Company to manufacture small-displacement motorcycles. Not since the 1966 R27 has BMW produced a motorcycle with an engine displacement less than 500cc(edit: other than a few select models, see comments below), so one could say the suspense has been building for some time. In the meantime, consumers watched as the small displacement market expanded from its stalwart offerings of the Kawasaki Ninja 300 and Honda CBR300R to include the Yamaha R3 and both the KTM 390 Duke and RC 390. With all of this competition, was the G310R worth the wait?
Like a starlet walking the red carpet, a seemingly never-ending row of gleaming G310R’s lined up on a Hollywood street, waiting patiently for an army of journalists to weigh in on BMW’s newly designed roadster. At first glance, it is clear that good looks run in the family as the G310R inherited quite a few style cues from its one-liter big brother, the S1000R. The G310R’s fuel tank, headlight and mask, lower cowl, and front fender have a similar aesthetic to the S1000R, but the similarities end there.
The G310R offers the comfort, lightness, and agility of a naked streetbike with the beating heart of a sportbike. Designed for the global market to appeal to commuters, new riders, and existing riders looking to add a little light-hearted fun to their collection, the G310R neither disappoints nor misses its target. The G310R comes in priced slightly below its small displacement competitors at $4750.
Where some manufacturers typically fall short when outsourcing their manufacturing, it appears that the standard of quality and workmanship we expect from BMW has remained intact in its partnership with TVS. The 313cc single-cylinder engine was engineered to be well-balanced in many ways — with a counterbalancer for vibration and its backward-tilted cylinder . With the low center of gravity and a wet weight of only 349 pounds, the G310R feels very light while cornering. The low center of gravity, low weight, and upright seating position make up for the fact that the seat height is 30.9 inches, which means resting only one foot on the ground will not feel as daunting. Don’t let the estimated 34 hp deceive you; the spritely G310R holds its own on the highway comfortably at 70 mph (and with a range of approximately 200 miles) and manages unpredictable iPhone-wielding LA traffic with ease as ABS comes standard.
On the scenic roads like Mulholland, twisting my way through Hollywood’s most exclusive neighborhoods, the agility of the G310R is transparent and the stock suspension is surprisingly compliant toward a variety of weight. At a whopping 135 pounds, I acquiesce to the added cost of aftermarket suspension to pacify my lower back, but for a stock suspension with only adjustable preload, I was pleasantly surprised despite several hours in the saddle over LA’s degraded asphalt and unforgiving potholes. Equally as impressive are the ergonomics of the upright seating position which somehow was comfortable enough for a range of heights as I pooled fellow journalists ranging from 5-foot-5 to 6-foot-3.
Overall, the G310R is exactly what we would expect from BMW – a well-designed motorcycle with the comfort and agility of a naked streetbike and the satisfying grunt and performance of a sportbike that, despite its simplicity, does not leave you wanting more.
The Twisted Take: Few of us inside the TT funhouse were certain that BMW would get the 310R’s price below the KTM Duke 390’s, but our friends from Bavaria did, and that’s impressive. The Orange Menace is $249 more expensive, while Honda’s ABS-equipped one-lung CB300F is just $101 less expensive. That’s a tightly grouped bunch of low-cost fun.
We’re glad to know the G310R works well, because we’ll side with Cristi that its build quality is quite good for the price point. We poked around one (and the GS sibling) at the IMS motorcycle show in New York and liked what we saw. These are straightforward machines that should take well to accessories like SW-Motech luggage and R&G protection. Definitely the GS is on our wish list.