The BMW’s tubular steel frame is built for rigidity, durability and to keep costs down. Shoving the motor right up the front of the bike has allowed BMW to fit a long die-cast ali swingarm for less nervous, more sure-footed handling. An S1000RR-look-a-like front end features non-adjustable upside down forks and an ABS-equipped radial-mount four-piston Bybre caliper, biting a 300mm disc. The single rear shock is non-adjustable.
The G 310 R has a low, friendly riding position and with a seat height of 758mm it’s easy for the short riders to get their feet flat on the floor at a standstill. But the BMW still manages to have a big bike feel and spacious riding position, so if you’re coming from a bigger bike, it doesn’t feel like you’re downsizing.
The softly padded seat is comfy for an hour or so, but for all-day riding it will eventually give you bum ache. For a decent length commute it’s fine, though.
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 from 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 clutch and brake lever especially, is a long way from the bar. It’s the same on all their models, so BMW test riders must have giant hands.
One of the advantages of a single-cylinder design is low weight. Tipping the scales at 158.5kg ready-to-go, the G 310 R is light and manoeuvrable around town and on the open road.
At middling speeds, the brakes lack bite and the steering is vague, but push through this and the BMW comes alive. The ABS-assisted brakes work the harder you squeeze the lever and lazy lines turn to crisp curves when you push the front end hard into a corner.
Fit some sporty tyres and you could have some serious fun on the G 310 R. This is the sort of bike that will tech new riders more about the art of cornering and maintaining momentum than a powerful 600 or 1000 ever will.
The new 34bhp, 313cc, 4v single-cylinder powerplant is fitted backwards, so the inlet is at the front and the exhaust at the back. BMW says the design allows a straighter, more efficient flow of air into the engine and lets the motor fit closer to the front wheel for better weight distribution. Twin camshafts and valve gear is based on the S1000RR as is the superbike’s DLC (Diamond Like Coating) on the rocker arms and gudgeon pin.
Like all the single and twin cylinder machines in the A2 class, the G 310 R doesn’t have the most evocative exhaust note in the world, but the power delivery is so smooth and vibe-free that you forget you’re riding a single and the throttle pick-up glitch free. At low speeds there’s a decent amount of grunt and you can easily keep up with city traffic, but when you want to turn up the wick the motor turns from sensible commuter to sporty BMW. It’s free-revving and surprisingly urgent for its modest 34bhp. Flat out it might just crack the ton and slip the clutch like a maniac and it will even do wheelies an S1000R would be proud of.
But at low speed the transmission isn’t perfect. The clutch can be grabby when you pull away and downshifts are stiff and sticky when you’re rolling to a stop. It all works better the faster you’re going, but around town and at low speed the BMW isn’t as refined as its glossier Japanese rivals.
BMW have kept costs down by designing and engineering the G310R at their HQ in Munich, but building it in India, with partners TVS. They’re the third largest bike manufacturer in India and produce over three million machines a year, but the G 10R isn’t a rebadged TVS. It’s uniquely BMW, built in a dedicated area of the Indian factory and armed with lots of clipboard-wielding BMW quality control staff. They’re shipped to Germany once built and distributed around the world.
Only time will tell how reliable the G310R will prove to be.
The G 310 R isn’t about the speed, luxury and technology you’d associate with big Beemer’s. It’s been deliberately built down to a price to make it one the best value mainstream restricted licence machines out there – cheaper than its Japanese and European competition. Not only that, it only costs £500 more than a Honda CBR125 learner machine and £200 than a snazzy Aprilia RS4 125 Replica.
There’s little to point to the fact this is a budget Beemer. The paint finishes are flawless, the plastics are nicely finished and you get some snazzy equipment for your money: a multifunction LCD dash, an S1000RR-aping front end, including non-adjustable upside down forks, Bybre radial four-piston calipers and Michelin Pilot Street radial tyres.