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