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Finally, after a lot of ‘finallies’ we finally have a final finally. See, that is what too much waiting does to curious motorcyclists. Anyway, without letting my emotions lead me astray, let me get this out: the bookings for the BMW G 310 R and BMW G 310 GS are open and it seems BMWs creative agency had a ball making the creative, because even they knew that the keyword was ‘WAIT’.
Text: Sundeep Gajjar with inputs from Sunil Gupta & Karan Singh Bansatta
Photos: Sundeep Gajjar & Sunil Gupta (shot with Sony Alpha Mirrorless Cameras)
Riding Gear & Luggage solutions: Rynox
After a lot of waiting and whining, speculations and hearsay, the G 310 twins are officially here. The bikes were already being sold in the foreign markets but made their way to India just now. Considering the fact that both the bikes are produced here in India at TVS’ Hosur facility, the wait for the bikes here in India has been a bit too long.
So, Herzlich Willkommen! BMW. To India.
Going back in time to the unveiling of these motorcycles, one notices that there has been a lot of hoopla surrounding these two motorcycles. The reasons: a small BMW, being manufactured in India for the international market and the quality on par with the BMW standards being praised worldwide. The most prominent though is the uniqueness of the two, especially the G 310 GS.
Before going there, there a few questions that linger. What is causing manufacturers like BMW Motorrad to shift towards the premium entry level segment? Why BMW Motorrad would chose India to manufacture these bikes?
The shift towards the entry level segment is not really a shift. In case of a few manufacturers like BMW it is, but entry level segment has always been fairly populated. The manufacturers who are new in the segment may have entered after chalking out the answer to this question; how can we have more and more people attached to our brand? The answer might have been; by providing the experience of our premium bikes on more widely accessible platforms. The answer to the second question is quite simple. Manufacturing in India is cost effective. After all, these are not the only bikes being manufactured in India and sold worldwide. And the fact that India’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, is not bad to disprove the age-old adage that you can’t bake your cake and have it too.
But there is one more reason: India is a very young country, with lot of testosterone and adrenaline rushing through its millions of youngsters who are also earning and hustling to make their mark. And a 34 BHP motorcycle with a BMW badge certainly helps the cause.
Anyway, focusing on the task at hand, the motorcycles are still quite alien to us Indians simply because they are not here yet. Not even for a demo. But we got to test these babies (quite literally) in Australia. We have ridden both of these bikes extensively and we are going to try to provide you as much information as we can about; how these bikes are, what’s there relevance here in India and *drum roll* how will these two fare against the competition, especially the G 310 R (because the GS has almost zero competition in India. almost). We have piled up quite a lot of questions and now, after having a taste of these two, we are more than able to answer the questions. So, let’s get down to business.
Just the BMW badging?
There’s been a lot of chatter about the bikes being offered for a premium (still waiting for that) just because of the BMW badge. So if these bikes see the same success in India as they have seen in the international market, would it be because of the nepotism arising due to a BMW relation? Is the BMW badge like an infinity gauntlet for these two motorcycles lacking the infinity stones? Absolutely not. We have seen both of the bikes in flesh and our gleaming eyes are a testament to the fact that the two G 310s are immensely beautiful bikes. They would be perfectly suitable as standalone bikes with or without any badging. Their genome truly belongs to the bigger and badder two wheeled Beemers. But then *customary line* ‘Looks are subjective’ so we share what we feel about the two.
Starting with the G 310 R that belongs to the roadster family of BMW Motorrad, the baby roadster from BMW surely looks the part. Big, muscular, naked and aggressive. Sharp headlamps, chiseled tank with the G 310 imprint, bikini fairing with the R imprint, USD forks and brake calipers finished in gold and a minimalistic tail section make the G 310 R look formidable but not in an ‘out of this world’ way like the flashy competition from Mattighofen. Although the BMW roadster family has some big names but when it comes to the visuals, the G 310R is a gentle hint towards the F 800 R. A gentle hint mind you.
Without undermining the G 310 R, we’d say that the G 310 GS steals the show simply because India hasn’t seen the likes of it yet. Not just India, the world. It is unmistakably a BMW GS with the typical GS headlight fairing and the beak. The bike does share the engine and chassis with the G 310 R but that’s where the similarities end. The G 310 GS exudes adventure be it the bigger front wheel, enlarged rake and elongated wheelbase or the utilitarian rear. The stance of the motorcycle makes the bike look bigger than a 300cc. In fact, much bigger. We’d have loved to see spoked wheels instead of alloys and this might slip under the nitpicking column but sometimes the purist inside takes over so it can’t be helped. But you never know, optional accessories might add this one too.
The build quality, fit and finish is top notch and worthy of the BMW badge. The praises being hurled worldwide on the build quality of these two asserts the fact even more. And thankfully, it’s not subject to the ‘MadeInChina’ effect.
Performance. We do not even get to tease our readers by delaying the juicy details for a while because BMW Motorrad India has been doing that for quite some time and any further delays might be outright irritating. So we’ll just present our views on what we think about the performance of the Baby Beemers. Although it’s quite unlikely but the specs discussed ahead are taken from the BMW Motorrad international website, so there can be a few changes in the Indian spec G 310s.
The G 310 R is propelled by a 313 cc, water-cooled, 4 stroke, 4 valve, DOHC, single cylinder engine with a bore x stroke figures of 80mm x 62.1 mm. Phew.
The engine is good for around 33.5 bhp of power at 9500 rpm and 28 nm of torque at 7500 rpm. It features electronic fuel injection and is mated to a 6 speed transmission. The top speed mentioned on the BMW Motorrrad website is 143 kmph which will be enough to keep the highway heroes happy. And alive. We did 115 on the speedo double up on the Australian motorways in 6th gear at 7000 rpm. It is a buzzy engine, but that’s how single cylinders are.
Another notable thing is the compression ratio which sits at 10.6 : 1. Therefore, the high quality petrol (power of sarcasm here is around 197 bhp) in our country should be enough to make do. But there maybe a few changes made to the India spec models to make them more accepting towards the petrol on offer in our country. The engines on both the G 310 R and the G 310 GS are exactly the same so let’s see how the same engine performs for two distinct motorcycles.
The G 310 R is a very fun bike to ride. It weighs only 158.5 kg (wet) and therefore boasts of a very respectable power to weight ratio. This makes the G 310 R a peppy little pup. There’s a certain feel the ride of the G 310 R offers. It’s a beautiful amalgamation of sedate and powerful. The power delivery is very linear and the acceleration progressive. Having said that, we’d like to assert that by no means is the bike boring. We had a blast riding it in the Blue Mountains on wet tarmac. Riding around the city is fun because of the rev happy nature of the engine and highway cruising is equally satisfying.
The G 310 GS uses the same engine but weighs a bit more. It tips the scale at 169.5 kg (wet). The added weight does simmer down the acceleration a little but that does not make the GS a slouch. It cruises on the highway just as comfortably as the R and the added wind protection is a bonus.
Perhaps the ultimate power perception test of the engine could be; getting off the saddle of a Ninja H2 souped up to 280 BHP and immediately riding a 34 BHP single cylinder. Although the power difference was gigantic and I felt like I was tied in chains, but after a while I started to enjoy the power beyond 7000 RPM mark of the 310s and the carefree attitude with which I could ride these.
The G 310 R is built upon a bolted steel frame and a tubular steel rear frame. The front suspension comprises of a 41mm upside down (USD) forks and has a travel of 140 mm while the rear is a monoshock with preload adjustment, directly hinged to the die-cast aluminium swingarm with a travel of 131 mm. The wheelbase is rather short at 1374 mm. Front tyre is 110/70 R 17 and the rear is 150/60 R 17, both wrapped around cast aluminum wheels. Braking duties are handled by a 300 mm single disc up front with a 4 piston caliper mounted radially and a single 240 mm disc at the rear. The motorcycle also gets ABS on both front and rear brakes.
The above specs make the G 310 R’s handling very neutral. Not lazy. Neutral. The side to side transitions are quick and the bike is willing to go corner carving as well if the rider demands. The shorter wheelbase makes the bike sensitive to the slightest of inputs but it is not hyperactive and the turn-ins hardly take the rider by surprise. The feedback from the tyres and the chassis is very positive giving the bike a poised and confident feeling even in the corners. The suspensions are a little stiff on both the ends. They do the job of handling the slight undulations on the road well while not compromising on stability when the bike is leaned into a corner. The brakes offer ample bite and feel. In addition to that, the brakes are very progressive as well. ABS is not overly intrusive and intervenes in extreme cases and that too without robbing the bike of feel.
The G 310 GS uses a tubular steel frame with a bolted rear frame. 41mm USDs up front and a monoshock with preload adjustment, directly hinged to the die-cast aluminium swingarm at the rear comprise of the suspension system. The travel though is considerably increased when compared to the G 310 R. The travel on the G 310 GS is 180 mm at both the ends to facilitate… to facilitate… OFF-ROADING (hurray). The increased rake results in a longer wheelbase of 1420 mm. The front tyre is 110/80 R 19 and the rear is 150/70 R 17, but that didn’t affect the handling geometry, even with two up. The wheels are cast aluminum but the front wheel is bigger to facilitate… OFF-ROADING. Braking unit is similar to the G 310 R with a 300 mm single disc up front with a 4 piston caliper mounted radially and a single 240 mm disc at the rear, both equipped with ABS.
The G 310 GS is a very sedate handler and is not maneuvered as easily as the G 310 R which is quite obvious. But that is relative analysis. In general the GS is a very capable handler and cruising on the highways is stable due to the longer wheelbase and the bike does not shy away from some corners either. But after mentioning off-roading two times and that too in capitals, it’s the off-roading prowess of the baby GS that we want to know about. The bike shines as soon as it goes off the tarmac and it feels home in the dirt. The subtle changes in the dynamics of the GS help it achieve its goal of being an adventure tourer. The tyres on the GS are suited for the off-road adventures that are brought upon us unintentionally. And sometimes intentionally.
Some people might have an issue with the tank capacity of only 11 litres (!), which will give it a range of around 320 or so but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker even for the tour-bugs.
The rider’s triangle on the G 310 R is right on the money for a street fighter. The hanldlebars are neither too low, nor too high creating a commendable balance between comfortable and sporty. The footpegs are also slightly rearset fulfilling the same purpose. The G 310 R’s seat height is 785 mm which should be comfortable enough for shorter riders and the bike is roomy enough to accommodate taller riders as well. Long tours on the bike might suffer due to the lack of a windscreen though. The seat is roomy and quite comfortable so touring on the G 310 R might not be a very long shot.
The G 310 GS is predictably much more comfortable. With an upright seating position and slightly softer suspension, the GS is as comfortable as they come. The motorcycle is roomy and accommodates the vertically gifted quite comfortably. The seat is plush and long rides are a piece of cake for the baby GS. The seat height is 835 mm which is the middle ground between the low seat option of 820 mm and the comfort seat option of 850 mm (variable seat height; if that does not justify the BMW badge, we don’t know what does). Even with the low seat option though 820 mm can be sort of a deal breaker for shorter riders so it must be taken into consideration.
First we’ll go back to the Avengers’ infinity gauntlet reference. The two entry level Beemers are surely not a gauntlet (BMW badge) without the stones (proof of what BMW stands for). Although, we won’t go as far as to say that they have all the stones and can wipe out the entire universe (competition here in India) with a snap of their fingers. But still, the two beemers are formidable foes to the existing motorcycles in their respective segments.
The G 310 R is somewhat late to the party, but then Bruce Wayne usually arrives late. And in style. While the GS is late as well, even today there is no one to give it competition when it comes to wooing the ladies (read: adventure ride junkies) here in India.
The G 310 R is meant for those who would like to go to work comfortably. And in style. And on a BMW. And ahead of the most of the traffic. And occasionally take a day off of work for a ride outside the city. But the going might be a bit tough for the G 310 R due the presence of KTM Duke 390, Benelli TNT 300, Bajaj Dominar 400 etc. so the pricing will play a big role in the fate that the R suffers here in India post launch. It ticks a lot of right boxes and that BMW connection is worth a lot as well.
The G 310 Gs on the other hand is seemingly in the clear because the Indian market has not seen a lot of adventure tourers in the entry level segment except for an Impuls’ive attempt at being close to the Himalayans. Cleverly put, right? Also, BMW ‘Versys’ Kawasaki is going to be an interesting battle, but the mean green is quite expensive and nowhere near being a bike for the masses. Anyway, the entry level adventure tourer segment needed something like the GS to facilitate riders who like adventure but Africa Twins and Tigers are out of reach for them. Therefore, it won’t take much doing for the GS to succeed but again, pricing will play a very important role.
We’ll just have to wait for an official communication or announcement from BMW Motorrad India about the pricing of the G 310 twins and till then a precise verdict is reserved but the two bikes do hit the spot nonetheless. What going to be interesting is to see if it sets off a chain reaction or not. The KTM Adventure 390? The Ducati Multistrada 400? A smaller Tiger? And then of course the Jap four. Whatever the future holds, I am sure Dr.Strange has done his calculations and all of the possibilities look delicious for the Indian motorcycling enthusiast…
No. Nothing is. It is a step towards perfection though. With a better BMW Motorrad lineup. With better quality entry level premium bikes being available. I would personally prefer a tad bit more power, but then power is addictive. More is never enough. The vibrations are slightest and unavoidable due to the nature of a single pot, its nowhere close to being a dealbreaker. The tank capacity of the G 310 GS could have been a tad bit better. Not that 300+ kms on a single tank is too bad.
A fully loaded GS310 with aluminum panniers, top case, a tank bag, auxiliary lights, GPS, heated grips, a couple of jerry cans and a spare set of tyres loaded on the rear seat. With me standing on the footpegs and riding off with a dust cloud into the horizon across the valley of Spiti…
And as an added bonus, we compared the GS to an elder of the family as well. The G310 carries forward the legacy of BMW GS series and has taken all the styling cues from its bigger siblings as well. When placed alongside the R 1200 GS, it wasn’t hard to tell what the BMW designers in mind had as the benchmark for the G310 GS design. Visually, the baby GS ticks all the right boxes for a budget adventure motorcycle; however, when it comes to practicality, it has got some big shoes to fill. It didn’t disappoint us in any department during our 500 odd kilometers ride; however, only time will tell whether it will be as durable and long lasting as BMW bikes are known for.
Also, following is a list of cycle parts and some usual spares and their prices for reference. Please note that these are the Australian prices and the cost of these should be different (& hopefully lower) here in India.
Rear Sprocket 114
Front sprocket 54
Front disc pads 110
Rear disc pads 58
Brake lever 63
Clutch lever 63
Mirror 104 each
Indicator 99 each