BMw g 310 R

Time to test the up­per crust of the sub-400 seg­ment and find out if this one re­ally lives up to the rep­u­ta­tion of the premium Ger­man mar­que


Just how Bavar­ian is the low­est-ca­pac­ity Beamer on sale?

Af­ter what seemed like an in­ter­minably long wait for the launch of the “made in in­dia” — and the small­est — bmw, the g 310 r fi­nally made its en­try with a premium-for-a-300 price tag of rs 2.99 lakh (ex-show­room, delhi). but then, come to think of it, the 310 se­ries costs just a quar­ter of the next bmw you can cur­rently in­vest in. the 310 r comes with a 313-cc wa­ter-cooled sin­gle that breathes through four valves and churns out 34 Ps at 9,500 rpm. the mod­est power fig­ures aren’t tempt­ing enough to make you sign the cheque, nor is the hefty price tag, which makes this mo­tor­cy­cle more ex­pen­sive than the other sub-400 naked sin­gles avail­able in our mar­ket. what will make you put pen to pa­per, how­ever, is the age-old de­sire to be a proud owner of the iconic blue-and-white badge.

the burn­ing ques­tion that needs to be an­swered: is the g 310 r re­ally a bmw? so, here we are, rig­or­ously test­ing the bike for hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres; rid­ing it through ur­ban traf­fic, then on some wide high­ways, tak­ing a di­ver­sion through the beau­ti­ful hill roads, and, fi­nally, con­clud­ing the ride at the stu­dent cap­i­tal of in­dia: Pune. this gave us enough op­por­tu­nity to give the ger­man street-fighter a thor­ough test and the an­swer to the ques­tion the na­tion wants to know.

back at the of­fice, the big de­bate was in­ten­si­fy­ing. ‘if it’s not a boxer twin or at least an in-line four, then it doesn’t be­long in the bmw line-up!’, ar­gued the purists. the lib­er­als in­sisted, ‘to sur­vive the chang­ing trends and to get the younger buy­ers hooked to the ger­man brand, a rel­a­tively af­ford­able and small­ca­pac­ity mo­tor­cy­cle is what bmw needed.’ for me, the most im­por­tant as­pect about the 310s is their indo-euro­pean con­nec­tion. now that the bike has re­ceived pos­i­tive re­views in the in­ter­na­tional me­dia, we may ex­pect the flood­gate of op­por­tu­ni­ties to open.

the bike has been co-de­vel­oped by bmw mo­tor­rad and tVs mo­tor and is be­ing made from scratch here in south­ern in­dia. there is a whole lot of clever en­gi­neer­ing one can see on the bike. for in­stance, the en­gine has been spe­cially de­vel­oped and has a unique set-up with a re­verse po­si­tion of the ex­haust and the fi unit. thus, un­like the usual sin­gle-cylin­der lay­out, the ex­haust is not routed out from the front but goes out from the rear of the cylin­der. the idea is to im­prove the cen­tre of grav­ity and bet­ter the weight dis­tri­bu­tion. this also helps in em­ploy­ing a longer swing-arm with­out ac­tu­ally in­creas­ing the over­all length of the bike. as is usu­ally the case, a com­pact bike is more nim­ble and ag­ile. light and easy to man­age, small-ca­pac­ity bikes are de­signed for be­gin­ners in europe and that’s what in­dian am­a­teurs should buy be­fore grad­u­at­ing to the more pow­er­ful ones.

i also like the over­all stance and de­sign of the g 310 r: a con­tem­po­rary sil­hou­ette with at­trac­tive styling. you get the usual humped fuel tank along with a sharper-edged ra­di­a­tor cowl, which re­main true to bmw’s in­ter­na­tional de­sign lan­guage. the min­i­mal­ist rear lay­out is sim­i­lar to its more ad­ven­tur­ous sib­ling, the g 310 gs. this is good news for those who take off on oc­ca­sional road trips, since in­stalling the rear car­rier from the gs will be a straight­for­ward and sim­ple fit.

Per­son­ally, i like the white and the red colour the most, but our black and white com­bi­na­tion also caught the eyes of many a passer-by. at least, three of them even pulled over to take a closer look and chat with us about it. all the three of them in their 30s. all three driv­ing mid-sized sedans and de­sirous of buy­ing a piece of the bavar­ian mar­que for years. that roughly sums up the tar­get au­di­ence.

with time, one starts to ap­pre­ci­ate the fit and fin­ish, which has fil­tered down to the small­est bmw of­fer­ing. the build qual­ity is solid and im­pres­sive; prob­a­bly the best the seg­ment has wit­nessed to date. the bmw logo is truly wor­thy of sit­ting proud on the fuel-tank. this also means that the spares will not come cheap. the big as­sur­ance here is that the ser­vice in­ter­vals are long. af­ter the ini­tial ser­vice at 1,000 km, one needs to visit the work­shop only once ev­ery 10,000 km.

this bmw has been de­vel­oped to meet a price point, so it gets a ba­sic halo­gen head­lamp and no leds. the tail-lamp is all-led and looks smart. thank­fully, the 310 r gets a proper two-chan­nel abs and brak­ing is man­aged by by­bre; brembo’s bud­get brand. it also gets qual­ity rub­ber from miche­lin which has a good bal­ance of dry and wet road grip. the non-ad­justable up­side down (Usd) fork in front gets a nice golden fin­ish, while the white monoshock at the rear comes with preload ad­just­ment.

the first thing you’ll no­tice when you get on to the bike is that it’s fully dig­i­tal. the black-and-white lCd unit pretty much has all the ba­sic in­for­ma­tion a rider seeks, such as a rev counter, speedo, clock, and a fuel-gauge. sur­pris­ingly, in­stead of an en­gine tem­per­a­ture gauge, there’s a snow-flake sign that warns you about the en­gine speed. i rode the bike all day long

What I re­ally like about the bike is that it is ex­tremely us­able — be it for your daily com­mute or a spir­ited week­end ride

and was im­pressed by the sim­ple lay­out of the in­stru­ment clus­ter. it was eas­ily leg­i­ble even in bright sun­light.

the seat height is fairly low at 785 mil­lime­tres and most rid­ers can con­ve­niently place their feet on the ground. be­ing a com­pact mo­tor­cy­cle, the seats aren’t ex­cep­tion­ally roomy, but even af­ter spend­ing long hours in it, the comfy cush­ion didn’t cause any sad­dle sore. the rid­ing po­si­tion also helps as you sit re­laxed and up­right. the han­dle­bar is flat and wide and gave me the needed con­fi­dence. good er­gonomics make the g 310 r great city run­about and the oc­ca­sional high­way ride.

the large ex­haust sys­tem seems to be from a big­ger bmw, but the au­ral note isn’t par­tic­u­larly loud. it sounds like most mod­ern sin­gles; muted at lower revs to meet the strict sound norms, but as one revs harder, this trans­forms into a nice, raspy note. one thing that i no­ticed was the prom­i­nent valve clat­ter, es­pe­cially when the en­gine is idling, which makes the sin­gle sound coarse.

bmw en­gi­neers have man­aged to find a good bal­ance of en­gine torque and gear­ing that makes it a very prac­ti­cal and, at the same time, sur­pris­ingly fun to ride. you don’t have to rev it like a ma­niac to ex­tract the juice out of the sin­gle and most of the 28 nm is avail­able at lower revs. thus, even if you’re do­ing, say, 30 km/h in third gear and twist open the throt­tle, the r takes just over 3.5 sec­onds to zip past the 70 km/h mark. on the high­way, slot­ting the r in sixth and rolling on all the avail­able torque gives it im­pres­sive cruis­ing abil­ity. be­ing a naked, it is lighter than the g 310 gs and the fully faired apache rr 310 and feels pep­pier than both from go. how­ever, its strong mid-range around 7,000 rpm makes it so ef­fort­less to use, no mat­ter what the oc­ca­sion. though it doesn’t of­fer neck­snap­ping ac­cel­er­a­tion, there’s enough power to keep things in­ter­est­ing and get you around usual traf­fic with­out ef­fort. Zoom­ing off from sig­nals, it did 0-60 km/h in just 3.42 sec­onds and zero to a ton in a re­spectable 7.8 sec­onds. this should leave lit­tle to com­plain about. the six-speed gear­box of­fers sub­lime shifts and not once did it throw up a false neu­tral.

on the free roads, i got plenty of op­por­tu­nity to open up the throt­tle and en­joy high­speed runs. the g 310 r has am­ple grunt to at­tain three-digit speeds, and we man­aged a top speed of 147 km/h (true speed) as well. rid­ing a naked bike at such speeds will have one en­counter plenty of head­wind, but there are quite a few af­ter-mar­ket fit­ments avail­able on­line al­ready which should re­duce the wind blast to a cer­tain de­gree. be­ing a sin­gle, there are vi­bra­tions to deal with, but the vibes are less than those in the apache rr 310. in fact, while cruis­ing on the high­way at 120 km/h for long dis­tances, the vi­bra­tion was com­pletely bear­able and def­i­nitely not a deal-breaker for me.

with miche­lin rub­ber, the han­dling is very pre­dictable and sure-footed. if you like carv­ing cor­ners, then the r is a per­fect tool. add to the mix the well-sorted bal­ance, sound tyre grip and feed­back, and what you get is a su­per en­ter­tain­ing ma­chine es­pe­cially on the twisties. not once did i feel any hes­i­ta­tion in throw­ing it into high­speed cor­ners. Com­posed, sharp, and fun. the bike’s light weight also plays a cru­cial role here. through­out the day-long ride and not­with­stand­ing vary­ing road sur­faces, the han­dling of the r was spot on. safe to say that the dy­nam­ics are up to typ­i­cal bmw stan­dards.

the two-chan­nel abs brak­ing on the bmw is a wel­come re­lief from the half-hearted front-only units that some of these small bikes of­fer. the by­bre unit en­sured that when it came to an­chor­ing, it’s done with­out any fuss or drama. dur­ing our brake test, we pulled in the reins from 60 km/h to zero in a de­cent 2.06 sec­onds, trav­el­ling just 16.49 me­tres. as you know, de­pend­able brak­ing means more con­fi­dence while go­ing fast.

the r’s sus­pen­sion isn’t very firm but re­mains rigid enough for dy­namic rid­ing. it adapts to a bad road sur­face with­out be­ing too jit­tery and to smooth bends with­out be­ing squishy. the sin­gle seat is con­ve­nient for the pil­lion, too, and the sad­dle re­mains com­fort­able enough for hours of high­way rid­ing. there was no body-ache or dis­com­fort even af­ter a long day’s ride.

Com­ing back to the orig­i­nal ques­tion. the g 310 r is a very ca­pa­ble bike around town and one which also has the mak­ings of a good high­way cruiser. what i re­ally like about the bike is that it is ex­tremely us­able — be it for your daily com­mute or a spir­ited week­end ride. in this seg­ment you have to look long and hard to find a bike that comes to­gether as well as this one. with its ger­man genes, it looks like a bike that has been built to last and one you can de­pend on.

i have to ad­mit that with its sharp look, supreme build qual­ity, and dy­nam­ics this bike truly matches up to bmw lev­els. and so does the price. as one draws to a con­clu­sion, one can’t ig­nore the su­per ag­gres­sive pric­ing of the royal en­field twins, which has shaken up the en­tire in­dian mo­tor­cy­cle mar­ket (much to the de­light of en­thu­si­asts like us). that makes the r premium and aimed at diehard fans of the blue-and-white badge. if you’re truly one of them, then own­ing a bmw is fi­nally within reach.

BMW en­gi­neers have man­aged to find a good bal­ance of en­gine torque and gear­ing that makes it a very prac­ti­cal and, at the same time, sur­pris­ingly fun to ride. You don’t have to rev it like a ma­niac to ex­tract the juice

RIGHT: The re­versed po­si­tion of the cylin­der im­proves weight dis­tri­bu­tion

ABOVE: Large units on the dig­i­tal con­sole are easy to read

LEFT: ABS on the front and rear wheels in­spire con­fi­dence

The fit and fin­ish makes the BMW logo truly wor­thy of sit­ting proud on the tank

ABOVE: The monoshock comes with preload ad­just­ment and is great for dy­namic rid­ing

BE­LOW: In­stalling the rear car­rier from the G 310 GS is a straight­for­ward fit

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