Bona Fide Begin­ner Beemer

BMW brings the world-mar­ket G 310 R sin­gle to US shores

Sport Rider - - Front Page - BY KENT KUNITSUGU PHOTOGRAPHY COUR­TESY OF BMW MOTORRAD

BMW brings the world- mar­ket G 310 R sin­gle to US shores

As one of the old­est mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers in the in­dus­try, the one knock on BMW is that it has never had a real en­try- level mo­tor­cy­cle. Yes, Beemer­philes may ar­gue the sin­gle- cylin­der F650 se­ries or the par­al­lel- twin F800 mod­els qual­i­fied as “begin­ner” bikes, but their rel­a­tively tall seat heights and rather high prices com­pared to the rest of the com­pe­ti­tion in that mar­ket put the two small- dis­place­ment BMWS off of most novice rid­ers’ shop­ping lists.

En­ter the G 310 R. De­signed by BMW en­gi­neers in Mu­nich but man­u­fac­tured by the com­pany’s TVS Mo­tors part­ner in In­dia, the G 310 R is in­tended as a “world” model that will be sold in nu­mer­ous mar­kets around the globe in ad­di­tion to the USA and Europe. The G 310 R rep­re­sents the Ger­man man­u­fac­turer’s first real at­tempt at an en­try- level model, and the com­pany has put a lot of ef­fort into what it hopes will be a bike that will gen­er­ate big sales world­wide.

Be­ing pow­ered by a 313cc sin­gle- cylin­der en­gine, it’d be easy to as­sume the BMW pow­er­plant is your ba­sic run- of- the- mill de­sign, but in usual BMW

style, that’s not the case here. Tak­ing a page from Yamaha’s YZ450F mo­tocrosser, the BMW has its four- valve cylin­der head ro­tated 180 de­grees, with the in­take ports in the front and the ex­haust ports in the rear. The cylin­der assem­bly is also tilted rear­ward, which al­lows the en­gine to be mounted far­ther for­ward for more front- end weight bias, in ad­di­tion to a longer swingarm for nu­mer­ous ben­e­fits. In­ter­est­ingly, the cylin­der head fea­tures fin­ger- type cam fol­low­ers, with the over­all de­sign mim­ick­ing the S 1000 RR su­per­sport ma­chine— though with a some­what low 10.6:1 com­pres­sion ra­tio and claimed max­i­mum horse­power out­put of 34 hp at 9,500 rpm, it’s clear the G 310 R isn’t look­ing for out­right speed.

The rest of the G 310 R ap­pears rather con­ven­tional, with a steel- tube frame and non­ad­justable KYB sus­pen­sion. Throw a leg over the BMW, and you find that the 30.9- inch seat height will make it much eas­ier for shorter rid­ers to get their feet planted; over­all er­gos are good, with the seat pro­vid­ing de­cent com­fort (an hour in the sad­dle was no prob­lem) and the han­dle­bars slant­ing your torso for­ward just enough to counter the wind. The small­ish LCD in­stru­ment panel boasts an abun­dance of in­for­ma­tion with­out be­ing crowded or overly dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate, and its high con­trast al­lows for easy recog­ni­tion even in bright day­light.

Hit the big gray starter but­ton, and the BMW quickly rum­bles to life…al­beit a very whis­pery and muted rum­ble. The clutch ac­tion is nice and light with good feel, which— cou­pled with the ami­able power­band and short first gear— should help novice rid­ers avoid stalling. Trans­mis­sion ac­tion is fairly crisp, though we no­ticed some dif­fi­culty in find­ing neu­tral on our bike. There’s ad­e­quate low- end power to get you go­ing, even though the power re­ally be­gins around 4,000 rpm and con­tin­ues build­ing steadily un­til ta­per­ing off about 500 rpm short of the 10,000- rpm red­line. The sin­gle- cylin­der en­gine doesn’t dis­play any un­wanted vi­bra­tion un­less you hug the tank with your knees or touch the ex­haust with the heel of your right foot; then you’ll no­tice some vibes, show­ing how ef­fec­tively BMW was able to iso­late the han­dle­bars, foot­pegs, and seat.

Where the G 310 R re­ally sur­prises is in the han­dling de­part­ment. De­spite the mostly non­ad­justable sus­pen­sion (only spring preload in the rear shock), the spring and damp­ing rates are a good com­pro­mise be­tween ur­ban plush and canyon firm, pro­vid­ing a fairly smooth ride dur­ing our ur­ban trav­els while keep­ing the chas­sis from pitch­ing about while carv­ing the twisties. Granted, the G 310 R’s en­gine doesn’t ex­actly have the power to cause the rear sus­pen­sion to squat out of cor­ners, but the sin­gle 300mm disc and By­bre (Brembo’s In­dian sub­sidiary) four- pis­ton/ra­dial- mount caliper up front pro­vide more than enough brak­ing power to test the fork’s anti- bot­tom ca­pa­bil­i­ties, even with the ABS. Even the most ag­gres­sive brak­ing maneuvers were han­dled with­out bot­tom­ing or chat­ter­ing.

Speak­ing of chat­ter­ing, the Miche­lin Pi­lot Street tires fit­ted to our G 310 R pro­vided good grip and quick, yet neu­tral, over­all han­dling within the range of the BMW’S tar­get mar­ket. But if and when your skills progress to the point that you re­ally start hav­ing fun in the canyons, be pre­pared for the Miche­lins to start chat­ter­ing as a warn­ing be­fore they lose grip.

With a sug­gested re­tail price of $4,750 that in­cludes the stan­dard ABS, the BMW G 310 R is sit­u­ated right among its com­pe­ti­tion that in­cludes Honda’s CBR300R, Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 ABS, KTM’S 390 Duke, and Yamaha’s R3. Build qual­ity is typ­i­cal BMW (read: ex­cel­lent), the en­gine ba­si­cally sips fuel (don’t worry about the small­ish 2.9- gal­lon tank), and there’s al­ways the ben­e­fit of BMW’S su­perb dealer sup­port. Looks like the choices for en­try- level rid­ers in the USA are go­ing to be even bet­ter for 2017. SR

A sin­gle 300mm disc and ra­dial- mount/four- pis­ton By­bre (Brembo’s In­dian sub­sidiary) caliper with steel- braided lines pro­vide good, lin­ear stop­ping power. KYB 41mm in­verted fork works well de­spite non­ad­justa­bil­ity. The G 310 R’s LCD dash­board pro­vides a

In­for­ma­tion in an easy-to- read for­mat (ex­cept for the tiny bar- graph tachome­ter) and has enough con­trast to be seen With a low 30.9- inch seat height, the G 310 R of­fers shorter rid­ers an easy reach to the ground, and we spent more than an hour in the s

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