BMW’s £4290, 313cc, 34bhp G310R does everything a first big bike, or commuter should do: it’s easy to ride, practical, brilliant on fuel (a claimed 85mpg) and will even put a grin on your face when you want to play.
The G310R is built down to a price and it’s the most affordable of its Japanese and European restricted licence rivals. Not only that, it only costs £500 more than a Honda CBR125 learner machine and £200 than a snazzy Aprilia RS4 125 replica.
To keep costs low the G310R was designed and engineered BMW’s HQ in Munich, but built in India, by their partners TVS. But there’s little to point to the fact this is a budget Beemer. The metallic white paint finish on our test bike is flawless, the plastics are nicely finished and go get some snazzy equipment for your money: a multifunction LCD dash, an S1000R-aping front end, including non-adjustable inverted fork, Bybre radial four-piston calipers, Michelin Pilot Street radial tyres and a reverse-cylinder engine, with the intake at the front and exhaust exiting form the rear.
The G310R has a low, comfortable riding position and with a seat height of 785mm it’s easy for short riders to get their feet flat on the floor at a standstill. But the BMW has an all-round big bike feel and spacious riding position, so if you’re coming from a bigger bike it doesn’t feel like you’re downsizing.
Looking down at the controls its clear you’re on a BMW. There’s the giveaway propeller badge on the tank and a cockpit that, dash aside, could be an S1000R supernaked. The switchgear is similar, as are the straight bars and handlebar grips. Mirrors are small, but give a decent view of where you’ve just been. One of the only real niggles with the controls is the non-adjustable clutch and brake lever especially, is a long way from the bar.
Power delivery is smooth for s single, the throttle pick-up is glitch free and the motor emits few vibes. At low speeds there’s enough grunt to keep up with city traffic, but when you want to turn up the wick the motor turns from commuter to sporty BMW. It’s free-revving and surprisingly urgent for its 34bhp.
At low speed the transmission isn’t perfect, though. The clutch can be grabby pulling away and downshifts rolling up to junctions are stiff and sticky.
The 158.5kg G310R is light and manoeuvrable around town and on the open road. But at medium-speed brakes and steering lack bite. But the BMW comes alive when you push it harder. It handles and stops superbly when you really grab it by the lapels.
The BMW’s closest rival is the £4499 KTM 390 Duke. The Austrian made machine has another 10bhp so it’s faster, but the BMW handles just as well and the rear shock, brakes and gearbox are better. The G310R also has a calmer more grown-up feel to it.
Compared to its Japanese rivals the G310R doesn’t have such a glossy togetherness about it around town, but is more exciting at speed.
Engine 313cc (80 x 62mm), 4v single-cylinder
Claimed power 34bhp@9500rpm
Claimed torque 21ftlb@7500rpm
Frame Tubular steel trellis
Kerb weight 158.5kg
Tank size 11l
Seat height 785mm
On sale: End October 2016
BMW G310R: A2 licence rivals
The premium one: Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
(£6450, 41bhp, 183kg, 790mm seat height)
Genuine Italian style and quality…but at a price.
Best all-rounder: Honda CBR500R
(£5599, 47bhp, 194kg, 785mm seat height)
Top dog. It mixes performance and practicality with rugged build quality.
The raciest: KTM RC390
(£4999, 44bhp, 147kg (dry), 820mm seat height)
An RC390 will thrash its rivals on track, but build-quality can be iffy.
Best naked: KTM 390 Duke
(£4499, 44bhp, 139kg (dry), 800mm)
The BMW’s direct rival – it won our naked A2 group test earlier this year.
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