BMW G310GS: Quality Downsized
Little GS keeps the family tradition alive at a price that makes friends
Everyone knows that you shouldn’t change a winning recipe. But what about when the recipe gives an all-you-can-eat buffet and all you need is a small plate? This is perhaps what many manufacturers have been thinking for the last few years because we have seen way more small-displacement models that offer a real alternative to bigger, full-size motorcycles. The latest to offer a more affordable and user-friendly solution to new, smaller or less experienced riders is the all-new BMW G310GS. We attended the international launch on the Spanish roads around Barcelona.
You wouldn’t miss it at first glace: the baby GS has all the familiar traits of the family. With a standard riding position, “GS” fins on each side of the tank and a clear adventure look, the 310 has everything to please fans of this type of bike.
Leaving the Arts hotel to ride through the busy streets of Barcelona, we quickly discovered that the 310 is very comfortable in urban traffic. Its nimbleness allows a rider to flow into the traffic with ease. It has the manoeuvrability of its big brother without its size which makes the 310 an urban-traffic scalpel. Of course, its tiny single-cylinder 313 cc mill only churns out 34 horsepower but that’s plenty enough to zip through town. It was surely one of the first goals its designers had to make this bike not only affordable but also appealing to a wide array of motorcyclists. The engine offers enough power for safe highway overtakings and only starts inducing slight vibrations in the frame around 105 km/h. Not bad at all.
If the R1200GS requires a lot more experience to get all the juice out of it, the 310GS is for everyone (except perhaps for experienced riders who will quickly see the limits of the bike). The little Germanic beauty is produced in India and its manufacturing and quality control is just as impeccable as if it were produced in Germany.
As many manufacturers do, BMW likes to offer several variations on a unique platform, e.g., the R nineT family. The 310GS is the latest iteration of the 310 platform. It looks a lot like the G310R that we recently described in our pages. It has the same frame, the same engine and the same Bybre ABS brakes (but switchable for off-road use).The brakes offer enough stopping power for normal riding but lack a bit of bite when harder stops are needed.
The rear wheel is the same as the 310R’s hoop but the tire on it has a higher profile and a more aggressive design for multi-surface riding. The rubber is also softer. The 19-inch front wheel is two inches greater in diameter than the 310R’s, offering more stability in off-road mode.
The suspension is similar on both models but the GS’s offers more travel (180 mm front and rear) and the rake is optimized for off-road riding. The fork would benefit from being a little firmer for sporty or off-road riding; it is designed for light use and it shows. Heavy or more aggressive riders will wish to have more adjustment possibilities than just the rear suspension preload. But this is the price you pay to get a more affordable motorcycle.
Also, the standing position was uncomfortable because of the low handlebars. Mirrors were also an issue as they were in the way when standing on the pegs. But keep in mind that this GS is for light off-road riding and not for practicing your power slides. Anyway, there’s not enough torque to put the rear wheel sideways or power wheelie the front wheel over an obstacle.That’s not the purpose here.
The baby GS will give you a great spirited ride as long as you keep revving it. Keep it in the 7,000 rpm range and it’ll hang a smile on your face. Keep in mind that the soft fork will sink rapidly on harder braking but will also absorb most of the road’s bumps and cracks to deliver a smooth and comfortable ride.
With a three-year warranty, an affordable price, a premium finish and good looks, the G310GS is an interesting offer and will find buyers in its category. Competition in the small displacement segment is harder every year and the market is getting crowded but the little Beemer offers something different. In addition, the little mill is very efficient and gets fuel consumption down to 3.3 l/100 km. And even though it weighs only 313 pounds, it looks bigger. Like the 310R, it doesn’t look like a small beginner’s motorcycle. This will appeal to most buyers who want a small motorcycle but don’t want to be seen riding one. The G310GS is still $1200 more than the G310R but it elegantly paves the way to endless dirt roads while providing a surprisingly smooth ride.