BMW G 310R Review: The Bavarian Challenger!
The BMW G 310R Review!
BMW G310 R Review. We ride the eagerly awaited made in India German motorcycle in Australia! Read what we think of this lightweight roadster.
BMW Motorrad has been going all guns blazing in almost every segment of motorcycling. But there was something missing. That final piece in the jigsaw puzzle was the introduction of the BMW G310 R. An entry level motorcycle for developed markets, which would see the young ‘uns jump straight out of their prams and onto the saddle of the 310.
The icing on the cake for us Indians is that the BMW G310 R is built in India by TVS Motor!
BMW and TVS had announced their partnership in April 2013. It’s been four years since and we should soon have this bike on Indian roads as well. BMW states that the bike has completely been designed by the German manufacturer, but the production is done by TVS. This allows the bike to be manufactured at a much lower price than if it were in Europe.
In fact it is the first BMW to be produced outside Germany.
Testimony to the manner in which the Indian motorcycle market has grown in leaps and bounds. Add to it the fact that it is far from being unsaturated compared to the developed world.
Before we get carried away about this fact we should remember that Indonesia makes bikes like Yamaha MT 03, Thailand bikes like Kawasaki Z300 and Honda CB 300F and CB500F for developed markets like the USA! While these two countries were probably chosen to reduce the cost of manufacturing, none of them have what India has. Millions of young testosterone laden ready to be bikers from the strongest middle class in the world AND a country so vast, diverse and beautiful, ready to be explored on two wheels!
BMW Motorrad had first unveiled its bike at the EICMA show in 2015. As expected it immediately grabbed attention the world over. In the developed markets it is a motorcycle which would get youngsters on the saddle of a very capable bike and build brand loyalty from the beginning. In developing markets like India, this would be the perfect upgrade for many a tourer/ city slicker/ speed freak!
This is the Bavarian manufacturer’s foray into the sub-500cc segment and neighbouring Austrians are in their crosshairs. The KTM Duke 390 better watch out, the Germans are coming!
It’s the way between the two Ms – Mattighofen and Munich.
Understandably so, the immediate comparison of the G310 R is the KTM Duke 390. Leaving everything else aside – both are made in India by Indian motorcycle companies for European stalwarts. However unlike KTM, TVS doesn’t own any shares of BMW, at least not that we know of.
Let’s compare both the bikes:
Visually the BMW is a gentleman while the KTM is that ultra flashy teenager. Almost all equipment on the Duke has more street presence than on the BMW. The full LED headlamp, the colour giant TFT screen with gizmowizardry like Bluetooth and then the flashy orange of course. The design of the Duke would be suitable for a concept bike, while that of the BMW is subdued and to the point.
Though on its own, the BMW is an eyecatcher. Especially in the White with blue and red that we rode. One of the reasons it garners so much attention is that from certain angles it does look bigger than a 300. It looks pretty, but an LED headlight would have added a touch of modernity to the front.
The biggest difference perhaps comes from the fact that the Duke 390 is a full 10 Bhp more than the BMW G310 R.
So what propels the bike forward to plaster that grin on your face?
A 313cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine with four valves and two camshafts, producing a healthy 34 bhp at 9500 rpm and 28 Nm at 7500 rpm. Figures which are not going to set your heart aflutter, nonetheless it will get the job done. Added to that is the 158.5 kg weight and you have a lightweight roadster ready to fight traffic!
The bike power wheelies in first gear, which is fun in traffic! Acceleration from standstill is excellent and you always have power on tap for your everyday urban riding.
Once out of the city, the 300cc mill doesn’t disappoint. 100 kmph on the speedo is at 7000 rpm in 6th gear. And a top whack of a speedo indicated 137 kmph was achieved, which was 5% more than what the GPS showed.
The sweet handling of this bike is thanks to the rigid tubular steel frame, the rear is a bolt on subframe. Add to that the longer swing arm and you have a motorcycle which is confident through corners and stable as if on rails in a straight line. Braking is taken care by a 300mm disc at the front and 240mm at the rear. ABS is standard. The good brakes would have been great brakes with a larger disc at the front. Stability in hard braking is excellent with the 41mm Kayaba USD forks.
A rather unique feature of the G310 R is the engine mounting, where the intake is at the front and the exhaust is at the rear, allowing the engine to be mounted further ahead. This frees up room, which allows the bike to utilise a longer swing-arm without increasing the overall length.
The end result of which is that the bike is intuitive in its handling. You think and the bike has done it already. Not just corner carving, but urban riding is a lot of fun as well.
The saddle on the G310 R didn’t seem particularly comfortable, though that could be because I had just got off a Ducati Multistrada!
The advantage of developing a solid engine from the get go? You can use the same one, albeit with minor retuning and fit it into different style motorcycles. The GS310 is due to be released in a few developed markets soon this year. It will be an adventure motorcycle with the same engine, however geometry and equipment suited for taking the bike offroad. For example a 7 odd inches increase in front suspension travel, larger 19 inch cast alloy front wheel and maybe tyres like the Metzeler Tourance. And of course – the beak!
Along with the naked ( G310R ), adventure ( GS310 ) BMW sure can come up with S310RR ( which incidentally matches the name of the upcoming TVS full faired bike – the Akula).
BMW have now stated that the bike will be launched not before 2018. The company wants to set up their dealer network before launching the motorcycle here. Which makes sense. Though many enthusiasts will be disappointed with that news. When it does come, it would need to undercut the Duke 390 by 10 odd percent for it to properly challenge the Austrian!
BMW G310 R Review: Video Review
BMW G310 R Review: Tech Specs and Comparison
Ducati Multistrada 950 Review : Mr Traveller Jr.
The Ducati Multistrada 950 Review. We ride the newest and smallest Multistrada in the Canary Islands.
Fifty hours of international travel for ten hours of motorcycling. Well, true passion does usually exist beyond the ordinary but the time equation just mentioned definitely goes further. Of course there were reasons – two of them. 1) The locale – Fuerteventura, the second largest of the exotic Canary Islands, a Spanish province off the Moroccan coast. 2) The machine – Ducati Multistrada 950.
A handful of auto-journos from across the world were invited to experience the Multistrada 950 and admittedly there couldn’t be a better place to ride. The island is big (some 1600 sq. km) and the Ducati boffins had charted a 200km course for the day’s ride. We got every kind of tarmac to roll the wheels. It was fun and a large percentage of that fun came from the bike itself.
The Multistrada series started as a 1000cc adventure bike for road use in 2003. It had a stance and ergos like a dirt bike but shod with 17 inch tarmac spec rubber. It was new and novel, comfortable for day long rides, handled well and sold in good numbers. Healthy commerce usually drives the upward evolution and the Multistrada 1000 evolved into the 1200. The 1200 had the power to rival most superbikes, amazing handling and bristled with enough tech to be almost capable of auto-riding! Of course this came at a price. And the ‘price’ along-with the power when combined with that tall stance made it intimidating for anyone but the well-moneyed and skilled riders.
Ducati wanted to spread that customer base and so they watched, analysed and acted. With the Multistrada 950 they’ve delivered a bike that preserves the versatility and road presence of the Multistrada series while being easier on the pocket and rider.
The 950 looks similar to its brawnier sibling and rides on the same frame (the one on the 1200 Enduro). But that’s where the similarities end. The 937cc engine is the same that powers the Hypermotard and the front fork comes off the Desert Sled version of the Scrambler with slightly stiffer springs. The newer bits include a 19 inch front rim which gives it that slight edge off pavement, the 2-1-2 type exhaust with a lateral silencer and a manually adjustable front screen.
The bike looks good, very ‘Multistradish’ to coin a new word. Fit and finish is great. Swing a leg over the saddle and if you stand anywhere above 5’ 7” you’ll be instantly comfortable with the seat height. The bike is heavy at 227 kilos wet but once vertical and on the roll, the weight isn’t an issue. The instrument console is the simpler LCD version of the older Multistrada and takes you through a self-test when the ignition is switched on.
Thumb the starter and the engine fires quick enough and settles into a steady idle. The liquid cooled L-twin feels responsive to blips of the throttle and sounds quite like the Panigale! That’s a bonus eh! Pull in the light cable-operated clutch (yes it is a slipper clutch) and shift into first with a muted thunk. Get rolling and as you move up through the gears, the first thing that hits you is the seamless fuelling of the 937cc Testastretta 4-valve Desmodromic engine. Throttle response is great and the engine responds precisely to the right hand.
Making 113 bhp @ 9000 rpm and 96.2 Nm @ 7750 rpm, the beauty of the engine lies in its strong mid-range. Some 80% of the peak torque is available from as low as 3500 rpm which makes riding the torque curve such a pleasure. Especially on the twisty bits of tarmac. The engine runs smooth across the rpm band right till its 10,500 rpm redline. Some vibration does creep in past the 5k mark but it is not something that cannot be damped by the soft hand-grips and the rubber shod foot-pegs.
Being geared to do about a 100 kmph in top gear at 4000 rpm keeps things smooth when you’re cruising. Adding to the rideability are the selectable 4 engine modes (Sport, Touring, Urban and Rain) that effectively turn one Multistrada 950 into 4 different bikes! The first two modes let through full 113 bhp though engine response is sharper in the Sport mode. Urban and Rain modes limit power output to about 75 bhp. Needless to say we did try all modes for comparison purposes but were in Sport through almost the entire ride.
The 950 has ‘sedate’ front end geometry – 25.2 degree rake and 105.7 mm trail which when coupled with a longish wheelbase at 1594 mm makes it an utterly stable tourer. Which of course is not to say that it cannot be spiritedly ridden on the really twisty bits. Flickability is great and the well set-up suspension gives one the freedom to pick the choice of pace and pavement. Both front and rear have 6.7 inches of suspension travel. Beefy 48mm dia Kayaba fully adjustable upside down forks up front and the fully adjustable Sachs monoshock with a double sided swingarm doing duty at the rear offer a ride that’s plush while being firm when the pace is amplified. The rear shock is remote adjustable for spring preload, a useful feature especially when adding a pillion mid-ride.
The 19 inch front and 17 inch rear wheels come shod with Pirelli Scorpions, 120/70 and 170/60 respectively. The stock or ‘comfort’ suspension settings did leave the front fork soft enough in compression to sharply dive a couple of inches under hard braking though this was something that needed the right use of a flat-head screwdriver to change for the better.
Brakes on the Multistrada 950 were great. Period. Two 320mm discs with 4-piston 2-pad callipers up front and a 265mm 2-piston floating calliper at the rear were right up there for retardation duty. Couple this excellent Brembo hardware with a 3-level adjustable Bosch ABS and one gets safe and controlled stops. Factor in the 8-level Ducati Traction Control, (both ABS and DTC settings can be memorized) and you get a package that you can customize to the level of riding and response that you like the most. The combo is aptly called the Ducati Safety pack. Setting up either was not straight-forward and could have been made easier.
The 950 comes with a 20 litre fuel tank. Considering Ducati’s claimed mileage figures at about 18 kmpl, this gives an effective range of a little over 350 km. Not bad for a 950cc multi-capability tourer. Service intervals are a high 15000 km while valve inspection need be done only every 30,000 km! The lights are bright and even though we did not get to ride after dark, switching them on at night on a static bike did give a fair idea of their brightness and effectiveness. Switchgear is top notch and a pleasure to operate though for India one will definitely need a louder horn! The bike comes with a USB charging port and a DIN socket for accessories. The LCD display shows a speedometer, fuel gauge, clock, trip computer and gear indicator.
The seat and ergos are spot on for long hours on the saddle. Seat height is not adjustable but accessory seats that can vary the seat height (standard is 840mm) between 820 – 860mm. The manually adjustable windscreen moves some 4 inches up and down and did help keep buffeting of the head low though it was a trifle narrow for my wide shoulders. The wide handlebars provide enough leverage to make the bike light on turn-ins and the rider retains enough controllability even when riding standing on the pegs. Ground clearance is a healthy 185mm which coupled with large suspension travel promises good off-road capability.
The Ducati Multistrada is one of the most versatile and user friendly motorcycles to come from the Italian marquee. It is an approachable, affordable and competent machine that is as comfortable to use for the daily commute as it is for a trans-continental jaunt. The engine feels unstressed, the frame rigid and robust, the ergonomics tailored for long rides and simplicity in use make this an amazingly practical and adaptable motorcycle for a rider who loves to ride his machine everyday, whether to work and back or to chase the horizon.
Ducati Multistrada 950 Review: Features
Bosch ABS – Level 1 adapts ABS intervention to off-road use: there is no intervention on the rear wheel and no rear wheel anti-lift. Level 2 sees the ABS act on both wheels but rear wheel anti-lift remains deactivated. The highest Level3 setting provides maximum braking stability and rear wheel lift-up prevention.
Ducati Traction Control (8 level selection) Level 1 minimizes system intervention and is, together with level 2, best suited to off-road use. Level 8, instead, maximizes ABS intervention and is ideal on wet roads. Ducati sets DTC levels for each of the four Riding Modes; however, these can be personalised to meet riders’ specific needs and saved on the individual menu settings.
Ducati Riding Modes
Ducati Riding Modes first introduced on the Multistrada in 2010, let riders select different pre-set modes that optimise bike behaviour according to their individual riding styles and road conditions. The Multistrada 950 has four Riding Modes (Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro); each programmed to act on the electronic Ride-by-Wire (RbW) engine control system and the ABS and DTC levels. Riding Modes can be changed on the go.
Touring Riding Mode delivers 113 hp with progressive Ride-by-Wire throttle twist response, DTC is set higher (level 5) as is the ABS (level 3).
This Riding Mode is characterised by a direct Ride-by-Wire throttle twist response, a low DTC setting (level 4) and low ABS setting (level 2) with no rear wheel lift-up prevention and 113 hp.
Urban Riding Mode delivers a maximum power of 75 hp with progressive Ride-by-Wire throttle twist response; DTC is set to an even higher intervention level (level 6) and the ABS setting is at level 3.
Enduro Riding Mode gives the Multistrada 950 a maximum power of 75 hp with progressive Ride-by-Wire throttle twist response; DTC intervention is suitable (level 2) for off-road use and the ABS setting is low (level 1), deactivating rear wheel lift-up prevention.
Ducati’s Official Accessories
Ducati Multistrada 950 Review: Tech Specs
Photos Courtesy: Ducati
Hero Honda Splendor
If the title of this article is a bit of a tongue twister, then wrap your head around these figures. Hero has sold more than 30 million Splendors in India since it was launched in 1994. 23 years and the bike still leads the way in monthly sales figures, with the Honda Activa the only vehicle to give it stiff competition. On an average, more than a million Splendors have been sold per year. The Splendor sells more in one month, than many bikes would sell in their lifetime!
Hero sells more Splendors in one month than European manufacturers sell from their entire fleet!
Hero has sold more Splendors than the population of Malaysia. Hero has sold more Splendors than the population of 21 states and Union Territories of India!
The Hero Splendor might have very modest specifications when compared to most motorcycles. With a 97.2cc engine, you wouldn’t expect much, rightly so. But the power and torque figures were never meant to grab your attention. What did get people’s attention was the frugal nature of the engine. The 4-stroke motorcycle claimed a whopping 70 kilometres per litre at a time when people were commuting on the gas guzzling 2-strokes. It might have not been anywhere close to the RX-100 or Shogun in terms of fun, but the real joy was felt in the wads of notes left in the wallet at the end of the month!
With an 11 litre fuel tank, you would get an astronomical tank range of around 700 kilometres! That is if you ever decided to fill the tank to the brim. Most owners would have been happy with a thimble full of fuel for a month!
We petrolheads often get impressed with the 0-100 figures of machines, the oodles of power and truckloads of torque. Yet there are motorcycles like the Splendor which go about their business without a fuss for 23 years. Without any proper maintenance, TLC and often without any sort of rider skills, the bikes would just go on and on and on. Even Duracell will give up earlier!
Almost any biker you will meet has a Splendor in the family or has had a relative with a Splendor. And every one of the owners will swear by their machines. Countless instances can be seen where someone sells off their old Splendor only to buy a newer one!
The bike has barely seen any changes over the two decades. A few new variants have been introduced by Hero after splitting with Honda to keep the prospective customer interested. Though the reliability of the machine over the years has kept a solid hold on the market’s interest. Currently Hero sells the Splendor Pro, Splendor ISmart 110, Super Splendor and Splendor+. You can buy any Hero bike you want, as long as it is a Splendor!
The Splendor will forever remain one of the most important motorcycles of India. It provided affordable transportation to millions of Indians. Collectively the bike would have clocked a billion kilometres across the length and breadth of this country, bringing bazillion good memories for its owners and more so for all those youngsters who robbed their dad’s keys for a quick spin round the block! Fittingly it is the 100th motorcycle of our search for #100Motorcycles in India…