FIRST RIDE: 2018 BMW G310GS

An Eco­nom­i­cal And Easy-to-ride En­trée Into The BMW GS Fam­ily By Adam Child Pho­tog­ra­phy by Amelie Mesecke

Cycle World - - News -

In­ex­pen­sive and com­pact ad­ven­ture for the masses.

The BMW R1200GS ad­ven­ture bike flag­ship is just that: a flag­ship. It’s large, com­fort­able, ca­pa­ble, and ex­pen­sive. For these rea­sons it can also be a bit in­tim­i­dat­ing, and it cer­tainly isn’t en­try level. But peo­ple love the GS, and it’s be­come the bike BMW is known for. So why wouldn’t the com­pany want to ex­tend its glow to a much more ac­ces­si­ble mo­tor­cy­cle for a wider audience?

That bike is the 2018 G310GS, the long-awaited sin­gle-cylin­der light­weight ad­ven­ture ma­chine that takes the com­pany’s of­fer­ings for multi-sur­face tour­ing into new low-cost, more ac­ces­si­ble ter­ri­tory. The G310GS is largely based on the G310R road­ster and there­fore shares the same un­usual re­verse sin­gle-cylin­der en­gine with the in­take at the front and the ex­haust at the rear, as well as many other com­mon parts, which helps con­trol cost.

The en­gine de­sign and pack­ag­ing al­lows for a lower cen­ter of grav­ity, as well as ef­fi­cient and di­rect in­take and a shorter ex­haust. The small dis­place­ment and short pipe means there’s no need for a heavy, bulky, col­lec­tor box—the cat­alytic con­verter is in­side the end can. BMW claims 33.5 hp at 9,500 rpm and 20.7 pound­feet of torque at 7,500 rpm.

The bike is small, easy to man­age, and ideal for new rid­ers (de­spite a fairly tall 32.8-inch seat height). Clutch pull is light, gear­box action is pos­i­tive, and the Abs-equipped brakes of­fer friendly re­sponse. Sus­pen­sion tun­ing is on the soft side and copes well with bumps, while the tall rid­ing po­si­tion gives you road pres­ence, al­low­ing you to peer over cars. You have a dom­i­nant feeling on the GS, which is un­usual for an en­try-level bike.

Longer-travel sus­pen­sion (7.1 inches ver­sus the G310R’S roughly 5.5 inches) and a larger-di­am­e­ter, of­froad-friendly 19-inch front wheel help with this in-com­mand stance on this claimed 370-pound-wet mo­tor­cy­cle.

The small wind­screen is stan­dard as is the large lug­gage rack, which can ac­com­mo­date a fac­tory BMW top box. BMW doesn’t of­fer pan­niers in the ac­ces­sories pack, so you’re stuck with an op­tional top box and tank bag.

On the open road the small screen of­fers more wind pro­tec­tion than I was ex­pect­ing. At 60 mph, the sin­gle-cylin­der four-valve en­gine is happy revving at 6,000 rpm. Twist the light throt­tle and in­crease the

revs to just over 7,500 rpm and 75 mph is eas­ily achiev­able—and still the claimed 33.5-hp mo­tor isn’t fazed. Once above 7,500 rpm, how­ever, you start to notice vi­bra­tion, es­pe­cially through the pegs. As the dig­i­tal speedo passes 80 mph, the vi­bra­tion keeps on climb­ing.

Thank­fully the lit­tle 313cc mo­tor doesn’t mind be­ing flogged. Although BMW quotes 33.5 hp, it feels like a lit­tle more. It you want the G310 on the boil, keep the dig­i­tal tachome­ter above 6,000 rpm and don’t be afraid to push all the way to the 10,600-rpm red­line. At 55 mph it’s a fuss-free world, and the bike is far roomier than the 310R. Reach to the levers needs to be shorter for smaller rid­ers, but un­for­tu­nately they're not ad­justable. Also, the sin­gle-cylin­der en­gine can be a lit­tle lumpy at low rpm, and the mir­rors need to be a frac­tion wider—small crit­i­cisms.

Once off the free­way and into the moun­tains, I dis­cov­ered the BMW’S lim­i­ta­tions. The han­dling is user friendly but not sporty. The non­ad­justable KYB fork is too soft—it would ben­e­fit from more com­pres­sion and re­bound damp­ing—and the soft­ness di­lutes the feeling from the front Met­zeler Tourance tire. The sin­gle rear shock isn’t as spine­less but would also ben­e­fit from more con­trol. It is also worth not­ing here the tires are specif­i­cally de­signed with softer side­walls for the GS, so that could help ex­plain some of the sog­gi­ness in the rear end.

The brakes—which are re­as­sur­ing in town—lack bite when used ag­gres­sively at speed. There’s plenty of lever travel but a wor­ry­ing lack of stop­ping power in ex­treme con­di­tions. Plus, the ABS isn’t up to the mod­ern stan­dards. I might’ve been rid­ing the en­try-level GS a lit­tle too hard con­sid­er­ing its in­tended cus­tomer, but even at a mod­er­ate pace it doesn't feel like a BMW should. Your ex­pe­ri­ence level and weight (I’m 172 pounds) might give you a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence. If you’re new to mo­tor­cy­cling, you’ll have very few com­plaints be­cause the baby GS is easy to ride and fun. But if you’re think­ing of down­grad­ing—like many cur­rent ma­tur­ing BMW GS own­ers, or al­ter­na­tively want­ing a sec­ond bike for com­mut­ing—you’ll find the G310GS’S street han­dling limited.

Qual­ity level is im­pres­sive. The only real give­away that this BMW is made in In­dia by part­ner com­pany TVS is the By­bre brakes; By­bre is Brembo’s In­dian sis­ter com­pany. In fact, the ma­jor­ity of parts for the G310GS are sourced or produced in In­dia. But, look­ing at the bike, most will just pre­sume the lit­tle GS was made in Ger­many like the big 1200GS.

The G310GS is an eco­nom­i­cal, easy-to-ride step onto the BMW lad­der; you can prob­a­bly join the GS fam­ily for less than $6,000 (price TBA). It’s an im­pres­sive al­ter­na­tive com­muter that can also take light off-road action. More ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers con­tem­plat­ing down­siz­ing within the GS range will dis­cover it’s a sig­nif­i­cant step down—in power, han­dling, and spec­i­fi­ca­tion. But new rid­ers will love the baby 310GS.

G MEANS GO: The 313cc sin­gle revs to 10,600 rpm and pro­duces a claimed 33.5 hp. Note the header ex­it­ing the rear of the cylin­der (be­low), mean­ing all of the emis­sions ar­chi­tec­ture is in­side the muf­fler (above).

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