Published on August 24th, 2017 | by Boris0
2017 BMW G310R REVIEW – Eine kleine Nachtmusik
Each time I’m invited to ride a LAMs bike, I spend some time trying to retard myself to the level of a teenager who is new to bikes.
After all, this is the target market and understanding what it wants is rather crucial to being able to critique the bike. So I drink Red Bull and stalk people on Instagram.
But there’s also something to be said of the grey beard earned over millions of kilometres and more than four decades of riding.
So I end up riding the LAMs bike with a this strange and often conflicting paradox inside my head…
“Gee, that’s kinda cool,” my teenage brain says.
“Gee, this could use 100 more horses and tyres made from real rubber, and I need to pee,” my normal brain replies.
It’s rare when the two brains agree on anything.
The new BMW G310R is that rarity.
Even if your idea of classical music is AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, you’re probably aware of Mozart’s stunning piece (but if you aren’t, you can listen to it HERE), which he called ‘Serenade No.13 for strings in G major’, and which the world literally mis-translates as “A Little Night-Music” because Mozart kept the piece in a folder entitled Eine kleine Nachtmusik.
The correct translation of Eine kleine Nachtmusik, is “A Little Serenade” – and that is precisely what BMW’s brand new G310R is, a wholly engaging piece of work as satisfyingly pleasant to ride as Mozart’s serenade is to listen to. Amadaus would have been proud.
No-one was more surprised by this than me.
It is, after all, a LAMs bike. My interest in LAMs bikes is purely academic. They exist because our government likes to pretend it cares about aspiring motorcyclists by legislating them onto motorcycles that sometimes feel like they’re powered by steam.
And when you’re used to belting around on much more powerful bikes, it’s all too easy to dismiss a LAMs bike as being inadequate and boring.
The G310R cannot be dismissed on that basis. It is more than adequate and entirely not boring. It is, in fact, a most engaging and rewarding little bike, a true serenade, and one which BMW is hoping will do more than just inflame Australian LAM riders. It has aimed this bike at emerging global markets, and its aim is true and sure.
You might remember how so many people laughed at BMW when it decided it was going to take on the Japanese in the litre superbike class. You will note how no-one is laughing now.
BMW pretty much rules the big-bore Adventure market, punches on with the best of them in the superbike segment, and produces world-class, continent-crossing tourers. So when BMW decides to specifically build a LAMs bike (yes, the G650GS Sertao was a LAMs bike too, but it wasn’t specifically built as one and young people ignored it), I’m thinking it’s not going to do it half-heartedly.
And it hasn’t.
The G310R feels and looks like a bigger and rather more grown-up motorcycle – which is important when you’re struggling to find something cool about your new LAMs bike. There are hints of S1000 in its design and there are hints of R1200R there as well.
And it is quintessentially German in its finish, which is where it was designed, even though it is built in India.
BMW went into partnership with TVS, the third largest motorcycle manufacturer in India (TVS takes its name from the first three names of its founder, Thirukkurungudi Vengaram Sundaram Iyengar), and just like KTM, Harley-Davidson, and Suzuki, BMW sits in strict supervision over this partnership.
Yeah, I know. You’re not the only person in the First World to hear “Made in India” and see half-naked Hindus squatting in the dirt beside the Ganges beating cheap metal with hammers and forging pistons from scrap iron scrounged from garbage dumps.
You are seeing a myth. The truth is very different, and the factory manufacturing the G310R is altogether state-of-the-art. Google it. See for yourself. If you think for one second BMW (or any of the other manufacturers who use India because labour costs there play well on their bottom lines) would imperil its reputation as a brand by permitting shoddy work to roll out the doors, you just don’t understand how important customer expectations are to a motoring marque.
I was a doubter myself. Hell, I’m pretty much carved out of cynicism. And I’m at peace with where the G310R is made.
The press corps did not baby the bikes at the launch. And if anything was going to fall off, fail, or appear like it was from old shoes, I would have noticed.
But I’ll get to that in a minute.
We must first examine the promises the numbers make.
The factory claims the G310R produces 33.6 horsies at 9500rpm, 28Nm at 7500rpm, and weighs a mere 158.5kg wet. I have no reason to doubt this.
But I have caught the Bavarian in a fib. It claims the top-speed of the bike is 144km/h. It’s not. It’s more than that. Quite a bit more than that. I know this because my speedo showed me numbers with sixes in them. If I weighed a few kgs less, I’m pretty sure the numbers would have had sevens in them.
Actually, the way the torque is delivered makes the G310R feel like a more powerful bike than it actually is. Not S1000R powerful, sure, but power is a relative term. In top gear, the little Bavarian hauled itself quite handily up hills, and is, quite frankly, the only bike I’ve ever been able to keep up with Steve Martin on…because LAMs bikes will only go so fast, no matter how fast you can actually ride.
Do you know how empowering it is to be able to sit in Steve Martin’s mirrors, throttle held to the stop, head down and teeth clenched? Hell, in my imagination we could have been chasing the podium at Spa Francorchamps rather than belting around the back of Airlie Beach in Queensland.
What this revealed, apart from the fact that Steve Martin will always be faster than me, LAMs bike or no LAMs bike, is that the G310R behaves with remarkable integrity when its being held wide open for protracted periods of times.
For a single, it is smooth, and breaks from current engine-building tradition by being a back-to-front arrangement. It sucks air from the front of the cylinder and the exhaust comes out the back of the cylinder. This is not revolutionary, or even unique, but it is rare. BMW reckons it’s all about “mass centralisation” and I guess it does kind of move some weight back in the frame.
But there is more to the G310R’s integrity than just a funky arse-about donk.
The swingarm is a comparatively longer unit, so the bike’s wheelbase is a sweet-riding and stable 1374mm, and while you can only adjust the rear Kayaba suspension for preload, it doesn’t really matter. Multi-adjustable suspension will only confuse and terrify beginners, and the G310R’s bouncers worked just fine.
How fine? Fine enough for BMW to allow me to run it around a racetrack.
I thought this was a big call. If there were any shortcomings on the bike, or if there were going to be questions about its build-quality, I was pretty sure Whitsunday Raceway would answer them.
So after a pleasant morning haring around Shute Harbour and its environs, BMW took us to Whitsunday Raceway.
This is the premier Supermotard track in Australia. It is about a kilometre long, and it makes you pay attention and work every metre of its nicely-surfaced length when you ride a motorcycle on it.
And if anything’s going to go ‘Ptang!’ on the G310R, it’s going to go ‘Ptang!’ when you’re fanging the guts out of it on a racetrack, over and over, round and round.
So what happened?
Well, apart from me finding the limits of the rear tyre once or twice – the first time being a most spectacular pre-highside rear-step-out that terrified me and horrified BMW’s marketing manager, Nigel Harvey, who was on my rear wheel at the time – nothing happened at all.
Nothing fell off. Nothing broke. Nothing failed. And it was a hoot to ride in anger.
The tight track was ideal for the G310R, and it demonstrated quite well just how competent the bike really is. We dropped the tyre pressures down a bit (from 36 to about 28 from memory), and just had at it – like kids in toy shop.
The G130R steered neutrally and tipped in willingly – BMW wanted it to feel “GS-like”at the front-end (ie. planted) and has largely succeeded. The Bybre (By Brembo – though why Brembo doesn’t just call the brakes it makes ‘Brembo’ remains a mystery), ABS-equipped, braided-steel-lined brakes worked well, with adequate feel and very little fade, and the suspension proved more than equal to the task. Not many members of the press corps is lithe, small and LAMs-sized, but like I said, the bike feels and acts like a much bigger bike. The gearbox shifted smoothly and positively, the seat allowed you to hang off the side quite easily, and that torquey little motor just kept on giving. I did wish the tyres were a little stickier, and they would be if I owned one.
I liked it a lot. It was a LAMs bike, but it didn’t feel or even look much like a LAMs bike, so me liking it did not affect my manliness.
The G310R has quite a lot going for it if you are a learner.
It has a bolt-on rear subframe, so if you are showing off to girls and flip it doing wheelies, you wouldn’t necessarily write the bike off.
It was really miserly with fuel. BMW had independently tested it and showed it would drink 3.3litres of juice every 100km. That means you’d get more than 300km out of its 11-litre tank. You won’t get this chasing Steve Martin, but it’s nice to know it’s possible if you’re an impoverished youth living on cups of noodles.
You can have the seat in three heights. Standard is 785mm, the low version is 775mm, and if you’ve got supermodel legs, you can get ‘comfort’ version that sits you at 815mm.
But the totality of what you’re getting is all BMW.
And that is important – both to BMW and to a prospective buyer.
That blue-and-white logo (no, it’s not a propeller) is a motoring symbol that carries a great deal of expectation with buyers. The company prides itself on producing quality vehicles, and it has not cut any corners with the G310R. It is as impressive a LAMs bike as I have ever ridden, and it costs $5790 (plus ORC), so BMW wants to be a serious player in this market segment.
But the G310R is not just aimed at beginners. If that was the case, BMW would certainly have named it Falconlord or Furyfang and painted it yellow. Instead, it is called the G310R and it is a proper-sized small-capacity road-bike adults can have a blast on as well as kids. This is a pretty good trick for a manufacturer to pull off.
I genuinely liked the G310R. It was easy to ride (as it should be), has a wonderfully flexible engine and a great deal of integrity and class. It looks cool, is built well, and most importantly, is a true BMW.
That means you can look down your nose a bit at non-BMW riders. And that’s always fun.
Engine type: Water-cooled, single-cylinder 4-stroke engine, four valves, two overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication
Bore x stroke: 80 mm x 62,1 mm
Capacity: 313 ccm
Rated output: 25 kW (34 PS) at 9500rpm
Max. torque: 28 Nm at 7500rpm
Compression ratio: 10.6 : 1
Mixture control / engine management: Electronic fuel injection, BMS-E2
Emission control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-4
Alternator: 330 W
Battery: 12 V / 8 Ah, maintenance free
Clutch: Multiple-disc clutch in oil bath, mechanically operated
Gearbox: Synchromesh 6-speed transmision Integrated in the motor housing.
Drive: Endless O-ring chain with shock damping in rear wheel hub
Frame: Bolted steel frame, drive unit load-bearing, tubular steel rear frame.
Upside down fork: Ø 41 mm
Solid die-cast aluminum swingarm, directly hinged monoshock, adjustable preload
Suspension travel front/rear: 140 mm / 131 mm
Wheelbase: 1374 mm
Castor: 102.3 mm
Steering head angle: 64.9°
Wheels: Cast aluminium wheels
Rim, front: 3.0 x 17″
Rim, rear: 4.0 x 17″
Tyres, front: 110/70 R 17
Tyres, rear: 150/60 R 17
Brake, front: Single disc, diameter 300 mm, 4-piston fixed caliper, radially bolted
Brake, rear: Single disc, diameter 240 mm, single-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad ABS
Length: 1.988 mm
Width (incl. mirrors): 896 mm
Height (excl. mirrors): 1227 mm
Seat height, unladen weight: 785 mm
Inner leg curve, unladen weight: 1785 mm
Unladen weight, road ready, fully fuelled: 158.5 kg
Permitted total weight: 345 kg
Payload (with standard equipment): 186.5 kg
Usable tank volume: 11 l
Reserve: 1 L
HOW MUCH? $6990 RIDE-AWAY
You can see more HERE
Pictures by Dean Walters