Com­muter with soul

The Star Early Edition - - MOTORING - DE­NIS DROPPA

LAST week an 11 year old In­dian-born Bri­tish boy scored 162 points on the IQ test - beat­ing both Al­bert Einstein and Stephen Hawk­ing.

If Ar­nav Sharma is given the op­por­tu­nity to thrive and flex his in­tel­lect there is no telling what this pint-sized ge­nius could achieve, and we could be hear­ing his name a lot more in the com­ing years.

It is to a mo­tor­cy­cle with a pint­sized engine that BMW Mo­tor­rad has turned in tak­ing a leap into a whole new mar­ket seg­ment for the Ger­man brand, and on first im­pres­sions the new G 310 R is a bike we’ll be hear­ing a lot more about in fu­ture.

BMW Mo­tor­rad, which is a dom­i­nant player in the over-500cc mo­tor­cy­cle mar­ket, has en­tered the com­muter brat pack with a com­pact bike that’s easy to ride, has great build qual­ity, and comes with an ap­peal­ing R62 990 pric­etag that makes it ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple who pre­vi­ously couldn’t af­ford to be part of the BMW fold.

The G 310 R could well be a work of ge­nius.

I rode the new bike at its South African me­dia launch last week on a route that zig-zagged through Joburg’s city streets and sur­round­ing sub­urbs, where it proved to be a light and zippy thing per­fectly suited to the nip and tuck of ur­ban rid­ing.

With its light 158.5kg weight and low 785mm sad­dle it’s a bike that you quickly set­tle into and build con­fi­dence. It’s an un­in­tim­i­dat­ing ma­chine that will make friends with new rid­ers, mak­ing it an ideal first bike.

It’s light with­out feel­ing flimsy, and the G 310 R has a grown-up na­ture with a solid feel and the mar­que’s typ­i­cal high-class fin­ishes; hav­ing the bike built in In­dia has clearly not af­fected BMW’s qual­ity stan­dards.

The all-dig­i­tal in­stru­ment panel is comprehensive and tells you what gear you’re in, your fuel level, av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion, and the dis­tance to empty.

The lit­tle Beemer has a nice bump-soaking ride, ca­vort­ing over sub­ur­bia’s scars and man­hole cov­ers with­out feel­ing jit­tery or trans­fer­ring all the nasty bumps through your butt and wrists.

It zips through its six gears fairly smoothly, and the brakes - ABS-as­sisted discs at both ends are pow­er­ful.

The big­gest sur­prise is the perky power de­liver and lusty sound of that lit­tle 313cc sin­gle-cylin­der liq­uid-cooled engine, which makes out­puts of 25kW at 9500rpm and 28Nm at 7500rpm. Apart from a quirky clutch ac­tion that makes it some­what prone to stalling on pull off, the power de­liv­ery is per­fectly suited to the bike’s ur­ban role. It has a pleas­antly free-revving na­ture and good low-down torque, en­abling quick bursts of pace to get you out of trou­ble, and al­low­ing you to over­take traf­fic where the av­er­age un­der­pow­ered scooter would have to hang back.

Al­though this is no break­fast-run bike it’s not just con­fined to city lim­its and my ride on the free­way con­firmed it’s eas­ily ca­pa­ble of trig­ger­ing speed traps BMW quotes a 145km/h top speed.

The torquey engine doesn’t re­quire you to seek out the 10 500rpm limit, but it’s fun to do just be­cause of the pleas­ant ear candy. It’s a sporty lit­tle war cry that gives this bike some real soul, el­e­vat­ing it from the ranks of a pro­saic com­muter. I never knew such a small-en­gined city bike could be so much fun.

The BMW G 310 R is a fuel sip­per too at a quoted 3.3 litres per 100km, giv­ing it a the­o­ret­i­cal range of over 300km from its 11 litre tank.

Priced at R62 990, the BMW G 310 R has mod­ern looks and easy-to-ride na­ture, along with sur­pris­ingly sporty per­for­mance.

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