‘Ar­guably BMW’S most im­por­tant bike to date’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes - MICHAEL NEEVES SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER michael.neeves@mo­tor­cy­cle­

Take a minute to think about how far BMW have come in the past decade. Known for years as pur­vey­ors of class-lead­ing tour­ing and ad­ven­ture bikes, you’d never have pre­dicted how the Ger­man firm would go on to crush the su­per­bike world with its S1000RR.

Go on to tell some­one that one day you’d see that fa­mous white, black and blue badge on the tank of an A2 li­cence-friendly bike and they’d think you were mad. But that’s what BMW has done and here it is: the new £4290, 313cc, 34bhp G310R – and it’s ar­guably their most im­por­tant bike to date. The Ger­man firm wants to tempt new rid­ers into mo­tor­cy­cling across the globe and this is the ma­chine they hope will draw them in.

It’s not a bad start be­cause the G310R does ev­ery­thing a first big bike, or com­muter should do: it’s easy to ride, prac­ti­cal, fru­gal (a claimed 85mpg) and fun, too.

The G310R isn’t about the speed, lux­ury and tech­nol­ogy you’d as­so­ciate with big Beemers. It’s been de­lib­er­ately built down to a price to make it one of the best-value, main­stream re­stricted-li­cence ma­chines out there – cheaper than its Ja­panese and Euro­pean competition. It costs a mere £500 more than a Honda CBR125.

BMW have kept costs down by de­sign­ing and en­gi­neer­ing the G310R at their HQ in Mu­nich, but build­ing it in In­dia, with part­ners TVS. The part­ner­ship be­gan three years ago and new ma­chines will hit deal­ers in the UK at the end of next month.

TVS are the third largest bike man­u­fac­turer in In­dia and pro­duce over three mil­lion ma­chines a year, but the G310R isn’t a re-badged TVS. It’s uniquely BMW, built in a ded­i­cated area of the In­dian fac­tory and armed with lots of clip­board-wield­ing BMW qual­ity con­trol staff. They’re shipped to Ger­many once built and dis­trib­uted around the world.

There’s lit­tle to point to the fact this is a bud­get Beemer. The metal­lic white paint fin­ish on our test bike is flaw­less, the plas­tics are nicely fin­ished and you get some snazzy equip­ment for your money: a multifunction LCD dash, an S1000rr-ap­ing front end, in­clud­ing non-ad­justable up­side-down forks, By­bre ra­dial four-pis­ton calipers, Miche­lin Pi­lot Street ra­dial tyres and a re­verse-cylin­der en­gine, with the in­take at the front and ex­haust ex­it­ing form the rear.

BMW say they’ve spun the 34bhp, 313cc mo­tor 180 de­grees for a num­ber of rea­sons. It gives air a straighter path into the cylin­ders and al­lows the mo­tor to be mounted fur­ther for­ward in the chas­sis for more front grip. It also al­lows a longer swingarm for added straight-line sta­bil­ity and less weight trans­fer on and off the throt­tle.

Also, Euro 4 reg­u­la­tions re­quire the cat­alytic con­verter to work at lower tem­per­a­tures, di­rectly af­ter the en­gine has started and the mo­tor’s shorter ex­haust run helps this, too.

Pow­er­ful en­gines can’t get away with this back-to-front de­sign be­cause of the heat build-up from the ex­hausts, but the G310R makes mod­est power (it’s de­tuned slightly to ac­count for lower qual­ity fuel in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries), so it’s not a prob­lem. The shock damp­ing isn’t af­fected by hav­ing the ex­haust run so close, ei­ther. There’s enough space and fresh air be­hind the en­gine to keep ev­ery­thing nice and cool.

The G310R has a low, friendly rid­ing po­si­tion and with a seat height of 758mm it’s easy for shorter rid­ers to get their feet flat on the floor at a stand­still. But the BMW still man­ages to have a big bike feel and spa­cious rid­ing po­si­tion, so if you’re com­ing from a big­ger bike, it doesn’t feel like you’re down­siz­ing.

The softly-padded seat is comfy for an hour or so, but it will even­tu­ally give you bum-ache. For a de­cent length com­mute it’s fine, though.

Look­ing down at the con­trols it’s clear you’re on a BMW. There’s the give­away pro­pel­ler badge on the tank and a cock­pit that, dash aside, could be from an S1000R su­per-naked. The switchgear is sim­i­lar, as are the straight bars and han­dle­bar grips. Mir­rors are small, but give a de­cent view of where you’ve just been.

One of the only real nig­gles with the con­trols is the clutch and brake lever es­pe­cially, is a long way from the bar. It’s the same on all their mod­els, so BMW test rid­ers must have gi­ant hands.

Like all the sin­gle and twin cylin­der ma­chines in the A2 class, the G310R doesn’t have the most evoca­tive ex­haust note in the world – it’s more a dron­ing Moto3-meets-gen­er­a­tor sound­track. Oh, how we miss the scream­ing in­line 400cc fours and 250cc two-strokes of the early 90s. But the new mo­tor, com­plete with bal­ance shaft, is smooth and there are no vibes com­ing through the rub­ber-topped pegs, bars and seat.

Power de­liv­ery is so smooth you for­get you’re rid­ing a sin­gle (and I stalled it once plod­ding around in too high a gear) and the throt­tle pick-up is glitch-free. At low speeds there’s a de­cent amount of grunt and you can eas­ily keep up with city traf­fic but

‘The softly-padded seat is comfy for an hour but it will even­tu­ally give you bum-ache’

when you want to turn up the wick the mo­tor turns from sen­si­ble com­muter to sporty BMW. It’s free-revving and sur­pris­ingly ur­gent for its mod­est 34bhp. Flat out it might just crack the ton and slip the clutch like a ma­niac and it will do proper wheel­ies.

But at low speed the trans­mis­sion isn’t per­fect. The clutch can be grabby when you pull away and down­shifts are stiff and sticky when you’re rolling to a stop. It all works bet­ter the faster you’re go­ing, but around town and at low speed the BMW isn’t as re­fined as its glossier Ja­panese ri­vals.

One of the ad­van­tages of a sin­gle­cylin­der de­sign is low weight. Tip­ping the scales at 158.5kg ready-to-go, the G310R is light and ma­noeu­vrable around town and on the open road.

At mid­dling speeds, the brakes lack bite and the steer­ing is vague, but push through this and the BMW comes alive. The Abs-as­sisted brakes work the harder you squeeze the lever and lazy lines turn to crisp curves when you push the front end hard into a cor­ner.

Fit some sporty tyres and you could have some se­ri­ous fun on the G310R. This is the sort of bike that will teach new rid­ers more about the art of cor­ner­ing and main­tain­ing mo­men­tum than a pow­er­ful 600 or 1000 ever will.

The BMW’S clos­est ri­val is the £4499 KTM 390 Duke. The Aus­trian-made ma­chine has an­other 10bhp so is un­doubt­edly faster, but the BMW han­dles just as well and the rear shock, brakes and gear­box are bet­ter. The G310R also has a calmer, more grown-up feel to it.

But it has to be said that all these af­ford­able A2-li­cence ma­chines, built in Asia, re­gard­less of the man­u­fac­turer, have a slightly cheap feel to them and don’t re­ally get the pulse go­ing.

Where are the zippy en­gines, the fully-ad­justable sus­pen­sion, grippy tyres and brakes so sharp they’ll have you over the bars? Where’s the lust? But what I want would cost dou­ble the G310R, and that’s no good for any­one. Only Du­cati’s Scrambler Sixty2 comes close to of­fer­ing some­thing spe­cial for re­stricted li­cence-hold­ers, but that’s over two grand more than the BMW.

The big ques­tion is: who is go­ing to buy the G310R? Will it be new rid­ers who yearn for a BMW badge, com­muters, or even own­ers of big Beemers who want some­thing smaller and cheaper? Well, let’s hope it’s all of the above.

More than just an A2-li­cence bike, the G310R is a ma­chine BMW hopes to tempt non-bik­ers into our fan­tas­tic two-wheeled world. And for that, it de­serves to sell like hot cakes for the long-term health of mo­tor­cy­cling.

The G310R gets bet­ter the faster your ride it

The lit­tle Beemer is nim­ble and comfy for about an hour and has enough zip to keep you en­ter­tained through the twisties

The G310R looks chunky and funky and will at­tract lovers of the BMW brand

2 Sturdy chas­sis A tubu­lar steel frame is built for rigid­ity, dura­bil­ity and to keep costs down. Shov­ing the mo­tor right up the front of the bike has al­lowed BMW to fit a long die-cast ali swingarm for sure-footed han­dling. 1 Re­verse cylin­der BMW’S new 34bhp, 313cc, 4v sin­gle-cylin­der en­gine is fit­ted back­ward – in­let at the front and ex­haust at the back. This gives straighter, more ef­fi­cient air­flow into the en­gine which is closer to the front wheel for bet­ter weight dis­tri­bu­tion. 3 Top-notch parts An S1000rr-look-alike front end fea­tures non­ad­justable up­side-down forks and an Abs-equipped ra­dial­mount four-pis­ton By­bre caliper, bit­ing a 300mm disc. The sin­gle rear shock is non-ad­justable. 4 Of­fi­cial ex­tras Just like the rest of the BMW range, there’s a host of of­fi­cial ac­ces­sories avail­able for the G310R. They in­clude a low seat, com­fort seat, lug­gage, cen­tre stand, LED in­di­ca­tors, a 12-volt socket and heated grips.

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