Earn Every Curve
Our First Ride on the G 310 R
Whenever a manufacturer unveils a new model line, months —if not years— of ingenuity and hard work is paralleled with the curious buyers and prodding journalists looking to know more.
With great anticipation and eventually heavily-baited breath, first the journalists, then the customers meet with the motorcycle… but don’t always get to ride it at that time however. Leaving everyone with an even deeper desire to bond with it… to ride it, to learn about the power, its delivery and the feel of it all.
Turn the key and hit the starter switch and the passionate heart skips a beat… vroom? Crunch? Well?! Is it good, or bad? As reporters, while waiting for that first impression, we always hope the mew machine will be good for the brand as well as the market. It can go either way. But this is the newest machine from the Bavarian builder, known for their precision and craftsmanship, so what would you expect from the newest Single?
The short answer: It’s better than you’d think!
It doesn’t “look” like a small-
displacement bike, it just is.
In the Saddle
At the international press launch, held locally this week in Los Angeles, California, I was able to swing a leg over it, push the starter button and sigh a breath of relief as the spark and pistons come to life in my hands. Smoothly thumping a surprising amount of power (34 horsepower!) from the 313cc cavity. Almost imperceptible at first —while wearing earplugs, a helmet and unfamiliar with its sound amongst the city traffic around me— the girl can grunt when you get her up and running, and by the day’s end, I was mentally looking for space in my garage to park one. Luckily it won’t need much space!
Suited up and fired up, I just happen to be on the first bike in line, on the first press wave of the event, in the first group (1 of 5) and following the staff’s leading the ride, no journalist was getting an earlier impression than myself, but many more were fractions of a second behind me. En masse, 26 machines departed the funky-fresh Mama Shelter hotel in Hollywood and made way for Mulholland drive. Famous not only for it’s stellar views of Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles as well as the homes of the celebrity elite, the name is also connected to LA’s water supply. Named in honor of the civil engineer responsible for capturing and delivering water to Southern California, from the Owens river valley 233 miles North via aqueduct. The 21-mile sideline road was completed in 1924 and survives today as perhaps one of the most scenic commuter routes in the country, replete with single-lane traffic jams, numerous traffic signals and countless potholes… perfect for testing a motorcycle designed for commuter living.
And that’s just the appetizer!
For the remaining 100 miles of our ride today, out through the canyons of Malibu to the Pacific Coast highway and back again, we gave the newest “G” the usual thrashing about… curiously opening compartments, flipping switches, intentionally missing shifts, slogging, chugging and otherwise racing through the mountains with my colleagues in tow and a smile on our faces. “Impressive bike”, “well worth the money”, and “great stuff” fall from our lips between traffic stops and photo passes.
Subjecting ourselves to the equally same punishment, we had been fed mountains of calories for lunch and endless cocktails over dinner back in the city, it’s a grueling job, but hey… you know. And regardless our start —or finishing— weight, nor our height (ranging from 5’2” to 6’5”) everyone found a comfortable ride to carry them home to Mama’s. With a golden 41mm upside-down telescopic fork and preload-adjustable only rear shock with just over 5 inches of travel overall, and a 30.9-inch one-piece scooping saddle, I never once found myself cramped or bottoming out the bike. “Built to perfection” you might add when you get your chance to ride it. They’ll be arriving this summer to dealerships, get your name on the waiting list!
Reaching forward and peering down on the digital display you’ll find the peak torque (of 21 ft-lbs) at a claimed 7,500 rpm is happily attained in second gear as you race into the corner. Between 8- and 9,000 rpm (nearing the peak horsepower point at 9,500 rpm), in 4th gear, you’ll find the sweet spot as you rip around any and all apexes. Swift, but not scary, you’ll be surprised how much fun you’ll be having, and at such low speed… but who really needs to go faster than 60 mph around a damp, blind corner anyway? We couldn’t have had any more fun than we did on this ride up to the Rock Store, and when the traffic piled up around us we legally slipped through the cracks with ease. While the gear position indicator is welcomed, so would also be a slightly larger tachometer line.
Slowing down for a cup coffee, and to warm our chilly fingertips, we started to notice the details. Stylistically, the racey demeanor of the new naked standard comes from its bigger brother, the S 1000 as will the GS when it comes out next year, inspired by the waterboxer. You can’t fix what isn’t broken! The 310 is loaded with aesthetics typical of the brand, like the finely-textured tank cover and nacelle, the familiar passenger grab rails now include holes designed as lashing points, and the stylish die-cast alloy wheels appear to be inspired by those found on sport touring stablemates. The pair of single disc brakes, one each front and rear (300mm/240mm), leave you maybe wanting some more, but with price points come compromises, but not in safety. The braking system does come standard with a 2-channel ABS kit. The tubular steel frame and aluminum swingarm create a total wheelbase of just over 54 inches, for a sharp and light 25.1-degrees of rake.
Designed in Germany and built to spec in India (and yes they intentionally put the engine in backwards for a lower, more-forward center of gravity), the G 310 R is a world-market bike, ready for any fuel quality and emissions test, and will retail in the U.S. for just under five-K… at $4,750 including ABS… for a BMW? Yes! Which will you choose: Strato Blue, Cosmic Black or Pearl White?
Validation! The Munich India Connection
Now in partnership with the Indian TVS Group, the newest roadster will be produced the in the Hosur plant in Tamil Nadu, India under direct guidelines provided from the Munich designer.
While we tend not to give small bikes their due credit —or respect— the Germans have just invested in changing the American perspective on bikes built farther from the Asian Pacific shoreline by expanding TVS Motor Company’s Japanese-based management system and including requirements and standards specific to BMW Motorrad as perfected in the Berlin-Spandau plant. The times, they are a changing!
Regardless of your passion, your style, your genre, over the last 100 years BMW has built a bike for you… they even tried their hand at building a few dirt bikes in their more recent history. This time they turn their attention away from the usual big-fast-and-expensive and to speak the masses, towards the largest market on the planet, small-bike riders. Last year BMW sold 136,963 motorcycles to the world markets (up 11% from 2015), India alone sold 16.5 million two-wheelers between April 2015 and March of 2016… million! And TVS sold 200,200 units in March of 2016 alone. Who wouldn’t want to get in on that market?!
While the trend isn’t typical of the American market, it is in many other parts of the world… almost all of them in fact. Travel overland in any other country and you’ll find small-displacement motorcycles doing duty as necessity over luxury. There, in places like Latin America and Asia, riding a motorcycle is more akin to lifestyle than culture… everyone rides, or has ridden a motorcycle in there life, where riding small motorcycles is like riding a bicycle in ours, commonplace. They don’t even see them as “small” bikes, just bikes. That might be a lesson we may never learn here at home, but even as a “toy” the new G 310 R will be the most fun toy in your toybox.
Optional accessories will include both a low-option and comfort saddles, two top case options, a center stand, heated grips, a 12-volt socket and more. Curious what one might look like with a full fairing? Check out the concept TVS Akula 310 also due out next year and just imagine how far the German designers would take that…
And That’s Not All
The future is bright for the new line as well, with a GS-style edition on the horizon for (presumably) 2018, with more suspension travel (180mm front and rear), a taller front wheel (19-inch), and sporting the waterboxer’s good looks. Why fix what ain’t broken? They had a non-running unit on display at lunch for us to oogle… some of us immediately noticed the ABS button on the left hand gear switch. Exciting!
In the end, the amount of fun we had ripping these machines around the hills, then slicing back though the city, I almost completely forgot I was on a small-displacement motorcycle. Not only is it fun to do it, its now possible to do it, at an affordable price!
So much bike for the money!
The Future is Bright!
- 180mm of wheel travel front and rear
- 17-inch rear, 19-inch front wheel
- Slightly less rake, same trail
- Switchable ABS? We see a button!