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It is a matter of great pride that a premium motorcycle marque like BMW is producing their small capacity bikes in India. It is a matter of greater perplexity as to why it isn’t being sold here!
Earlier we had ridden the BMW G 310R in Australia this time it was the turn of its adventure sibling, the G 310GS.
The small adventure offering from the Bavarian manufacturer makes far more sense than its roadster counterpart. The 310R would have to take on the might of the Austrians in the form of the already entrenched Dukes. Not an easy battle that! The 310GS, on the other hand, will have first-mover advantage, with KTM’s adventure 390 still nowhere close to realisation. The only direct competition it will have is with the Royal Enfield Himalayan which was plagued with issues when first launched.
Currently, the 200+ cc is one of the fastest-growing segments in the Indian motorcycle industry. Riders are desperate to upgrade to something that will be a whole lot more fun, without burning a hole in their pocket. Therein lies the success of the KTMs. In India there being a dearth of racetracks and proper stunting a sport in its infancy, most riders take to touring to indulge their biker cravings. And it really doesn’t matter what the motorcycle is, sport, naked, cruiser, cafe racer; all these bikes are used to traverse the length and breadth of the country.
BMW makes motorcycles for almost every genre, but it is the adventure GS series which the company is most identified with. The mighty 1200 GS is the benchmark which every other manufacturer aspires for. Therefore it makes sense that the German manufacturer would use the small roadster they launched in 2015 to build a 310GS. This bike makes so much sense that you wonder why didn’t they do it earlier!
A motorcycle which is powerful enough for most highways in India, can do all the off-roading that most tourers are skilled for and is nimble and light enough for your daily commute.
The 310GS is based on the 310R, sharing the same unique engine, with the single cylinder engine rotated. The exhaust is facing the rear, the intake at the front, this has allowed a relatively more compact build. The wheelbase could be kept shorter for better handling, while the swingarm is longer for straight line stability. The exhaust is also substantially shorter with the cat-con being held in the end can. The 313cc single produces 34PS at 9500 rpm and 28Nm at 7500 rpm, a rev happy mill it is!
Differences in the bike are aplenty both on paper and in the real world. The front fork is 41mm wide but now gets 180mm of travel as compared to the 140mm on the roadster. The rear monoshock also gets 180mm of travel, which is 49mm more. Built to absorb the bumps and undulations of dirt! The suspension is soft and sags with the weight of the rider and the forks are not adjustable, probably on account of keeping the cost in check.
Wheelbase is now 1420mm, almost 50mm more than the R. The biggest difference though is probably the 19 inch front wheel, which makes a world of difference in the way the bike responds. The rear wheel is still 17 inches and is alloy. A question that some might have is how can alloy wheels be fitted on a bike intended for dirt? BMW hasn’t built an outright dirt machine. The alloys are fine for the intended usage and should also be a blessing from punctures. Tyres are Metzeler Tourance which should provide good grip in most conditions. The tyre sidewall height is more than the roadster for improved protection off the beaten path!
The bike is physically much bigger than the roadster which is clear when you see it in flesh or even on paper! 70mm longer in length, 60mm wider, 150mm taller and 50mm higher saddle height. The latter can deter a lot of shorter riders, but two things must be mentioned. Even at 5’5” I could get one foot down or tiptoe on both on the stock saddle. Secondly, BMW provides seat options to lower it by 15mm, bringing it almost as low as the NS200.
At 169.5 kg kerb, the 310GS is pretty light, even though it is 11 kilos heavier than the roadster. The less weight really helps the rider’s confidence when out on dirt. The biggest downer is probably the tiny 11 litre fuel tank, which should give you a usable range of around 250 kms.
First of all, as soon as you turn the ignition on, you’d realize that the exhaust note is one of the least encouraging things about this bike. There are noticeable vibes in the footpeg as the revs climb, especially the left one. It feels quick off the mark, but not as quick as the Duke 390 (for reference). Revs to be built up before a smile will be plastered on your face. It felt great riding on the city roads, negotiating traffic with ease. The handling was spot on and left nothing more to be desired.
Though unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to take it out of city limits and try our hands on dirt roads. The front suspension tends to dive a little too much when braking hard. That could be attributed to the softer suspension setup for dirt. That didn’t unsettle the bike, just something avoidable with an adjustable fork.
It felt great overall in terms of ergonomics, ride quality, and handling. Though admittedly, we’d love to spend more time on the saddle, including off the tarmac, to give you a more informed opinion about this bike.
Unlike the 310R the baby GS is immediately recognisable as a BMW. If you peel off the badges, it still resembles the iconic 1200 GS. Build quality is commendable and reportedly most of the parts are sourced in India itself. You aren’t buying a cheap Beemer, you are getting a smaller more affordable one!
BMW better get this bike to India fast, because we are waiting…