Oh BMW, you’re in trouble you, head on down to India determined, to see if TVS wanna-be-a German, manufacturer.
Any idiot could guess that TVS would say… yes. We’ll build your G310R for a fraction, of the cost. A small piece of the action and just to see the reaction.
A BM-bloody-W, resorts to Indian production? Un-heeeard of, I’m un-sure of the cost. Of what will be lost. I better get a damn good deduction.
5250… it comes in below the race-winning KTM. The cyclinder-twinning gems… of Kawi, and Yammy. The BMW’s so cheap… only the Honda CB300 has it beat.
So question – can the bastard son of Bavaria and Bagalore, manage to be somehow more… than inexpensive? To give a sense-iv luxury, zeal and engineering anew? To be a real BMW?
Well a proper beemer should be fast. And in this area of great import – of sport – the BMW falls just short… Of KTM. 34 horsepower to Katoom’s 43, and 349lbs… relatively weighty. Beemer is still a featherweight compared to most, but it is four pounds heavier than our measuring post.
So thanks to KTM, the G310 goes fast but not fastest. It stops quick but not quickest. Consolation prize to the steel-braided lines… this lever feedback is the best, even if it’s too quickly interrupted by ABS.
Flicking a light bike on narrow tires … you can ride it on a wire. I mean sure – KTM has a steeper rake and a shorter wheelbase… but on the snake this G310 could almost keep pace.
Though not on the straight – 145kp-h is all you’ll get from the 313cc single. Cornering clearance is big-though, even if the suspension wallows out of shape before the pegs scrape.
Now I don’t want to be overly harsh… the BMW is quicker than most and feels fast at heart. But when it comes to performance it doesn’t achieve anything new… maybe I expected more from a BMW.
One, two, three, four, let the numbers fall to the floor. Because when looking at a beemer what’s the measure? Not lap times. It’s luxury and leisure. Driving pleasure.
Engineering a bike to feel luxe is as good as making one go faster. And when it comes to luxe, BMW’s the master. They spend at every point of interaction – because the expensive parts you touch and see are a distraction… from anything cheaper.
Eyes first – see the gold anodized calipers… then pearly paint, then LED lights... BMW showed no restraint in making this thing a sight. It’s an eyeful... and way prettier than its rivals.
Same goes for the dash – my gaze spends most of the time here, so ze Germans coughed up the cash. For an info blast – gear, trip, range, flash. RPM – flash. Temperature – flash.
On a 300 this stuff looks flashy, because it has the quality to be considered in equality with the kit on a litrebike. Same goes for what it feels like.
You touch the seat – awesome – it feels big-bike-solid. You touch the bars – great – the grips are first rate, the logo is deftly sunk, the switchgear doesn’t clunk, it isn’t shrunk… the whole control centre is high brow-and could live on an S one-thou-sand.
Lastly, BMW’s expertise is on display between the knees. The plastics are sturdy, with neither rattle nor gap. Then on the tank they slap this rubber, so when my belt buckle taps and clanks there’s no need for a protector on the tank.
Speaking of which, the 11L hump is a projector, it creates this spectre of a big bike. In reality the G310 is small but the tank is tall, rising and swooping over my legs, so I feel enveloped in a well-developed machine.
Not for a second do I feel perched atop an entry-level motorcycle. And that’s a clever trick when your wad of cash… ain’t that thick. (holding up stack of money)
Now listen to this. For a company that prides itself on engineering, I have no idea how BMW messed up the gearing.
The first three ratios are so tall. I find myself cursing the sprockets… because I so often stall it.
Yet from 4th to 6th, the gearing is tiny… which makes the G310 annoying on the highway.
This isn’t a bike to take across the Ameri-cas, because past a hundred it’ll just buzz ... From about 6500rpm – at the common limit of Canadian plaques – until 10,600 – the limit on your tach.
But setting aside the vibration, there is an amazing amount of stabilization, mainly thanks to the elongation of the swing arm.
And why not? Our G310 might be built by TVS in India, but it was designed fervently by the geniuses in Germany.
What they did is flip the cylinder and lean it towards the rear. That lets us adhere to Euro 4, giving the header a shorter course… to the muffler, so the whole thing is short enough-for… the standards.
Of course the single-on-angle also creates room to finangle forward … the entire engine. Allowing for that extension… of the swing arm for stability. Plus it creates more weight and solidity… on the front tire, so I don’t get the lack of predictability … which often plagues the front end of light bikes.
So the beemer is a solid motorcycle, but here’s the hitch. I’d still want the KTM’s suspension for fast sporting rips. And I’d switch to a twin engine for long-lasting trips. It’s a brilliant all-arounder… but someone discerning will always be yearning for just one better.
Yet I endeavor to show that the G310 is pretty sweet on city streets.
After all, what does one need around town? 70 miles per gall-on, low payment down, something gorgeous and nimble, and a decent status symbol.
The beemer has nothing to fear here. It has top nobility and civility to rule the inner city.
RAP BATTLE – double fast
We’ve seen that every first impression is an expression of luxury. But I question whether BMW kept the same discretion in areas that are more… clandestine.
For example, BMW’s obsession with quality seemed to lessen when I went to adjust the levers… not possible.
Then the exhaust deafens (rev) while at idle it’s barely audible.
Meanwhile the headlight ain’t bright… might just need a correction of direction, or perhaps the problem is luminosity… so either the quality’s off or quality control is soft.
Also I have a suspicion that there’s a lack of precision in the transmission. Presently it’s hard to find neutral and sixth… with low clicks on the clock I could chock it up to the break-in from stock. But we know that BMW delayed provision of G310s based on issues with the transmission. So I worry this could be a long-term condition.
For every luxe feature, there’s something cheaper on second glance. Michelin tires… but not the ones made in France. Brakes by Brembo… not built in Italy though. This bike is neither luxury import nor cheap export. The sum total is just… global.
And that’s the key … maybe a G310 in Canada isn’t the peak of luxury. But some places don’t have many S1000s to make you feel ordinary.
Places like India, where the G310 will be sold for a couple thousand less.
Places like Brazil, where a 300cc beemer is a big bike to possess.
And places like China, where you might have the entire family in tow, and would be thankful for a low gear ratio.
So if the G310 is an average bike to us… it doesn’t matter. Because North American sales are small potatoes… just a smatter compared to the world market. This bike will be assessed on the droves sold ‘round the globe. And it’ll be a success.
Thus, BMW’s smallest bike is just … too big for us.