BMW Motorrad's G 310 R looks to win the hearts of riders from the beginning of their careers for the German brand.
Premium motorcycle manufacturers have a problem in the modern market. While they have plenty of bikes for riders to lust after – those bedroom wall poster bikes – these often don’t translate into sales. That’s often due to riders developing brand allegiance to other manufacturers early on in their riding careers thanks to the general lack of entry-level options from a lot of premium brands. BMW's G 310 R looks to address that problem for the German brand.
With competition for sales hotter than ever, bringing riders into a brand early in their riding careers has become more important than ever for manufacturers, and BMW Motorrad now has a solution to this.
Priced from just $7,690, the G 310 R is the first sub-500cc bike BMW Motorrad has sold new in New Zealand, with the platform already spawning a second variant in the G 310 GS we also tested recently. Add to that the rumours that BMW is also considering other models to mimick other heroes in their range (think S 1000 RR) and it is an exciting time to be a BMW fan.
Previously, BMW had only one motorcycle that could be considered a learner bike, the G 650 GS, but with its tall seat and high entry price, it was still too premium a motorcycle to draw large numbers of riders into the BMW family.
The G 310 R fixes this for BMW with a tight package suitable for any sized learner rider, or a rider considering a nimble bike for daily commuting duties, and at a nearly unheard of price for a BMW.
Its seat height sits at just 785mm, perfect for those shorter in the inseam, and weighs in at only 158kg ready to hit the road. As soon as you swing a leg over the seat and settle in, the package as a whole feels easily manageable. The 'bars are low in keeping with the roadster styling, but are easily within reach, while I found both my feet were planted firmly on the ground.
You do lean forward a little as a result of how low and flat the ‘bars are, but it didn’t result in any discomfort during my time riding the bike and does help to make the little 310 feel like a sportier machine than it really is.
Being a learner bike, you'd expect the engine to be anything but exciting, but that's thankfully not the case. At 313cc, the single-cylinder heart of the G 310 R is compact, yet puts out a very useable 25kW (34hp) backed by 28Nm of torque – plenty of power for town or the highway riding considering the package as a whole weighs only 158kg.
The engine is a clever design with the cylinder head reversed to the norm. This sees the air intake and exhaust flipped around so that air enters at the front, helps explode some dinosaurs in as effective a manner as possible inside the cylinder head, then bursts out the back, completing its journey. This configuration has also allowed BMW to keep the exhaust short, and importantly, keep excess heat away from the rider.
Overall comfort is not bad at all with the seat, in particular, being very comfortable for extended periods. As tends to be the case with BMWs, the G 310 R's levers are typical BMW Motorrad, meaning there is a bit of a reach to them if you have short fingers or small hands.
Stopping duties are handled by a nice big 300mm disc with a 4-piston caliper up front, while out back there is a 240mm disc and single-piston combo with the braking system also including ABS and braided brake lines.
Out on the road, there is plenty of power for the riders this bike is targeted at, with the machine easily able to reach the open road speed limit. In town, it actually feels quite sprightly, nipping in and out of traffic like a pro, thanks to the steep steering angle and relatively short wheelbase.
Once out in tight twisting corners, you really can revel in how easy the G 310 R is to flick from corner to corner. With its approachable power delivery it is the kind of bike you can really learn the ins and outs of "spirited" riding without getting yourself into trouble.
Surprisingly there was only a little vibration making its way from the single-cylinder powerplant through the rubber-mounted handlebar. BMW has done a decent job here of fighting the common complaint of single-cylinder engines, but when the bike is yet to be fully run in you do notice more vibration.
Considering the whole package comes in at a tight $7,690 plus the usual on-road costs, you'd think BMW must have really cut some corners with the G 310 R, but after a prolonged search I only found a couple of places where BMW managed to save a few bucks on their LAMS machine.
For instance, there is a lot of plastic in use, particularly on the sides of the fuel tank, and the dash unit is an LCD affair and not a TFT unit like the Austrian competition has employed on its sub-400cc contender. It does, however, tell you all you need to know including the time and your gear position, and considering the price I really don't mind if I don't have the latest and greatest tech on my bike.
Other than that, the bike oozes the same BMW Motorrad quality you expect to see on the hero bikes like the R 1250 R the G 310 takes its stylistic inspiration from. The switchgear is functional and high quality, there is no rust on any of the metalwork, and the bike overall feels exactly like a BMW should.
BMW is really onto something here, and like a certain American brand with its 500cc cruiser, BMW clearly appreciates that the key to success in the market these days is getting riders in early and building a relationship with them which will see them return for their next purchase.
BMW G 310 R Specs
Engine Capacity 313cc
Bore/stroke mm 80/62
Output kW/hp 25/34 at engine speed rpm 9500
Torque Nm 28 at engine speed rpm 7500
Type liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine
No. of cylinders 1
Compression/fuel 10.6:1 / premium unleaded (95 RON)
Valve/accelerator actuation DOHC
Valves per cylinder 4
Ø intake/outlet mm 33.5/27.2
Ø Throttle valves mm 42
Engine control BMS-E2
Emission control closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter
Power transmission – gearbox
Clutch Multi-plate wet clutch
Gearbox constant-mesh 6-speed gearbox
Primary ratio 3.083
Frame construction type Tubular steel frame in grid structure with bolt-on rear frame
Front wheel suspension Telescopic fork, Ø 41mm
Rear wheel suspension Aluminium swinging arm in conjunction with a directly mounted spring strut
Total spring travel, front/rear mm 140/131
Wheel castor mm 102.3
Wheelbase mm 1374
Steering head angle ° 64.9
Brakes Front Single-disc brake Ø 300 mm
Brakes Rear Single-disc brake Ø 240 mm
ABS BMW Motorrad ABS 6.
Wheels 5 -spoke light alloy die -cast front 3.0 x 17 " rear 4.0 x 17 "
Tyre front 110/70 R 17
Tyre rear 150/60 R 17
Total length 2005mm
Total width with mirrors 849mm
Seat height 785mm
DIN unladen weight, road ready 158.5kg
Permitted total weight 345kg
Fuel tank capacity 11-litres
Fuel consumption (WMTC) l/100 km 3.33
Top speed km/h 143