“We’ve got the new G 310 GS for you,”
they told me at BMW.
“Oh, here we go again,” I thought.
I’m not normally found in the ranks of conspiracy theory whack jobs, but sometimes you wonder if motorcycle companies aren’t colluding to have a giggle at your expense. They keep putting me on small bikes.
Sure, they’re all trying to entice a new audience with new entry-level bikes. But at six-foot-three and 225 lb, the result sometimes looks too much like the bear in the circus act.
“Hmm, but maybe not this time,” I murmured walking up to the bike.
The BMW G 310 GS is no minibike. It’s shorter in length, width and wheelbase stretch than anything else in BMW’s GS adventure lineup but it looked to have a solid, substantial presence in the flesh, so to speak.
After signing the waivers and driving away, I performed my usual rolling vanity check in the mirrored glass of a nearby commercial building to see if my dignity had remained intact. (I’ve always wondered if anyone inside those buildings, seeing me stare into the glass as I roll slowly back and forth across the parking lot, has figured out just what I’m up to.)
Well, whaddya know? I didn’t look too stupid.
And even tall riders won’t feel cramped by the easy reach to handlebars and pegs from the 835 mm seat height, part of an ergonomic triangle that can be adjusted with available higher (850 mm) or lower (820 mm) seat options.
The fuel tank is smallish (11 litres) but purposefully wide enough and the switchgear is all BMW familiar.
Despite its burly pose, when you start riding it, the benefits of compact construction and lightweight construction (50-75 kg lighter than other GS models), and other factors contributing to the G 310 GS’s nimble nature start to shine through.
BMWs first venture into the modern sub-500 cc class was the G 310 R naked bike predecessor.
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A multi-function instrument panel features a large LC screen that displays speed, rpm, clock, gear selection, odometer, engine temperature, fuel level, range, average fuel consumption, average speed and time.[/caption]
And this adventure-themed G 310 GS variant follows it up nicely with all the GS cues - the short sport windshield, the tall fork stretch to the 19-inch front wheel, the “Roadrunner” beak profile and high front fender off-road styling cues mirrored in back by the high-angled tail section spaced well above the rear 17-inch rubber.
The G 310 GS starts with a grid-structured tubular steel space frame with a bolt-on rear section, a matchup designed for robust strength and torsional rigidity.
A 41 mm upside-down front fork and rear extended aluminum swing arm and spring strut combine to provide tight handling, along with greater spring travel rates compared to the G 310 R roadster. And the centrepiece of the bike’s chassis is, of course, the 313 cc DOHC four-valve single cylinder engine.
We can trace the GS bones back to the R 80 G/S of the 1980s, the first BMW model to blend enduro and touring qualities into a new adventure category. But the company also has a longer 90-year tradition of building reliable one-cylinder engines.
And this latest one-pot thumper is uniquely tilted rearward for a low centre of gravity and other compact construction benefits, its cylinder head rotated 180 degrees with the intake in front and exhaust outlet at the rear.
“And it likes the high revs,” they told me.
I mentally translated that statement into “better flog it if you want to make the most of its limited size and power (34 hp and 21 lb/ft of torque).”
First Class Flight on BMW’s R1200GS
So, plenty of blasting in range of the 10,500 rpm redline and late shifts to maximize get-up-and-go, and to create a more pleasing high-end roar than the braying exhaust honk of mid-range revs.
The 0-100 km/h acceleration time averages less than eight seconds with a top speed of 143 km/h. You won’t exactly be hanging onto the handlebars for dear life but the get-up-and-go is there all right as long as you’re patient and plan your passing maneuvers accordingly.
BMW designed the engine to handle global fuel diversity but here in Canada, as usual, they recommend premium octane, probably trying to give you every advantage possible.
Let’s admit here that I’m probably the wrong guy for the bike and that a lightweight twenty-something rider with 100 or so pounds less mass would be more able to wring every ounce of power out of this bike.
But so what? I still managed to enjoy the wind-in-you-face freedom and benefits of any bike ride atop this lightweight all-rounder.
Yeah, and it’s light on your wallet, too.
The India-built G 310 GS ($6,450) ranks second only to its G 310 R ($5,250) in affordability in the BMW lineup. That’s less than a third of the price of the full-blown R 1200 GS
Add in a very thrifty 3.3L/100km (comb) fuel econ average and the G 310 GS does just what it was intended to do - provide an affordable gateway to the adventure segment with handsome design, BMW single-cylinder reliability and all-rounder qualities to suit any kind of ride.
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Lithe, athletic lines and all the GS cues give the G 310 GS the road presence of a bigger bike.[/caption]
2018 BMW G 310 GS
313 cc DOHC four-valve single cylinder engine (34 hp, 21 lb/ft).
Six-speed shifting claw manual gearbox wit Z-ring chain final.
As tested 3.3L/100km (comb).
Front 41 mm upside-down fork (180 mm travel); Rear aluminum swing arm with adjustable central spring strut (180 mm travel).
WHEELS & TIRES:
Five spoke aluminum cast wheels - front 110/80R19, rear 150/70R17.
Front four-piston caliper, 300 mm single disc; Rear single-piston floating caliper, 240 mm single disc.
As tested Cosmic Black/Titanium Grey. Also available Racing Red, Pearl White Metallic ($75).