2018 BMW G 310 R Review

BMW's dramatic entrance into the entry-level category

2018 BMW G 310 R on-road action
Our first ride on the 2018 BMW G 310 R showed a flexible, fun all-around motorcycle. This Indian-built motorcycle is the first production BMW to made outside of Germany.Courtesy of BMW

BMW has been on the gas in recent years, producing exciting new product across several categories. One area yet to be addressed--in fact, historically never addressed--has been that of a truly affordable entry-level platform. With a scheduled summer arrival in stateside dealers, the early release 2018 G 310 R looks set to fit the budget and fuel the aspirations of a broad worldwide audience.

The lightweight, nimble handling, attractively styled G 310 R will naturally appeal to novice riders. Having a firsthand look at its superb build quality along with spending a day in the saddle, I’m pleased to report that the fun-to-ride nature of BMW’s single-cylinder sport naked isn’t lost on this seasoned enthusiast.

2018 BMW G 310 R static right-side view
The Bavarians are aiming at the Austrians with this one. KTM 390 Duke vs. BMW G 310 R? Yes, it will happen soon.Courtesy of BMW

In development for more than five years, the G 310 R has been highly anticipated since first appearing in public at the Milan Show in late 2015. Not only does the G 310 R represent BMW’s first foray into sub-500cc streetbike production, of greater significance is that this is the first model to ever be manufactured outside of Germany. Designed and developed in Munich by BMW Motorrad, production is handled by TVS Motor Company, a BMW partner located in Bangalore, India. “There were some delays that were expectable, but we wanted to have it perfect before putting it on the market," Project Manager Jörg Schüller says. “It took time to bring the two worlds together. With two different cultural backgrounds, while each is very professional, this needs time.”

2018 BMW G 310 R headlight details
Is "traditional modern styling" a thing? This bike suggests it is. While the styling is solid for a new motorcycle, what impresses on this $4750 machine is fit, finish, and perceived quality. Even the frame welds are nice.Courtesy of BMW

The result? A bike meeting BMW’s standard for quality that belies its $4750 price tag. Taking a quick walk around the G 310 Rs at the press launch showed that refinement is visually evident in clean welds on the tubular-steel frame, quality castings, precise fit of every plastic body panel and extensive use of allen head fasteners. Same for the view from the saddle: A full-feature LCD dash including bar graph tachometer, gear indicator, shift light, trip computer functions, and more, greet the rider. Handlebar switchgear is topnotch, the grips and bar end weights would be at home on an S1000R, an inset BMW logo atop the bar mount and radial dimpled steering stem nut cap the upscale presentation.

2018 BMW G 310 R on-road action
Here's proof that being out of the office is the best thing you can do.Courtesy of BMW

All well and good, but how’s the powertrain and chassis fare? We set out on a 120-mile test loop through the Hollywood Hills tracing the Mulholland Highway to the coast with a photo stop at the famed Rock Store and a seaside lunch in Malibu. Stop-and-go traffic escaping the city provided ample opportunity to experience the G 310 R’s novice-friendly 30.9-inch seat height and ease at which its 313cc liquid-cooled, four-valve single moves us away from traffic lights. Clutch pull is light with linear engagement that, combined with a hint of throttle, provides consistent, smooth, stall-free leaves from stops. Maintaining revs between 3000 and 6000 rpm provides ample torque and low vibration for a relaxed run up through the light-shifting, short-throw six-speed gearbox. My bike had a mere 315 break in miles on the clock when I set off, and if I have any complaint it was a bit of notchy tranny action finding neutral at stops.

2018 BMW G 310 R engine details
The 2018 BMW G 310 R's single-cylinder engine provides good midrange torque, with a smooth, easy-to-use clutch that makes leaving the line cake.Courtesy of BMW

Cable-operated, the fuel injection provides crisp response with an intuitive sense of control. Pin it at low revs and a subtle hit in delivery can be felt at 6000 rpm with power continuing to build linearly to the 10,600-rpm rev limiter. The claimed peak output of 34 horsepower at 9500 rpm proved easily capable of keeping up with fast lane Hollywood Freeway flow. In top gear, engine revs align with indicated mph: 7000 rpm equates to 70 mph. I rode in a guided group, so there wasn’t an opportunity to test the bike’s top speed. Engine vibration finds a sweet spot at 55 mph, with vibes felt through the frame, saddle and grips moderately increasing beyond 6000 rpm. The bike is narrow so splaying your knees and heels slightly to avoid direct contact helps isolate the rider from the engine’s pulse.

2018 BMW G 310 R on-road action
Cornering performance for the 2018 BMW G 310 R is very good, with light, neutral steering and decent grip from the Michelin Pilot Street radials. ABS brakes are standard.Courtesy of BMW

Chassis stability on the freeway was steadfast impressive, lending the G 310 R a confidence bolstering sense of being larger than its dimensions would suggest. The engine’s unique configuration with its rear-canted cylinder and aft facing exhaust port allowed a more forward placement in the frame and increased swingarm length for an optimized 50/50 weight distribution. Threading twisties in the Santa Monica Mountains at a spirited pace aboard the lithe 349-pound thumper revealed abundant cornering clearance and decent grip from its Michelin Pilot Street radials. Steering is neutral and telepathically light in effort. The KYB suspension soaked up rough patches while having enough spring and damping control to keep the chassis settled when aggressively flicking through side-to-side transitions or hammering the brakes.

ABS comes standard on the G 310 R and worked very well on the damp roads encountered during the morning hours of our ride. The single 300mm rotor/radial mount four-pot caliper combination up front requires a fairly firm application at the lever to invoke the ABS on a dry surface. Strangely, the lever is positioned quite far from the bar and has no adjustment provision to accommodate smaller hands.

2018 BMW G 310 R cockpit view
The LCD gauge package is excellent and controls, fit and finish, and rider interface are very good for an under-$5000 motorcycle.Courtesy of BMW

Upon return to the host hotel, I noted the dash displayed a 62-mpg average. Considering all the stop-and-go riding and general horseplay involved, squeaking 200-plus miles out of the 2.9-gallon tank would seem a reasonable expectation.

When BMW stepped outside its firmly established touring/adventure box and produced the S1000RR, it captured a category. Based on our first hands-on encounter with the Bavarian Motor Works' latest venture into uncharted territory, don't be surprised if history repeats.

2018 BMW G 310 GS studio 3/4 view
2018 BMW G 310 GSCourtesy of BMW

The 2018 BMW G310GS

Beemer’s mini ADV

Hot on the heels of the new G310R roadster comes a G310GS adventure variant expected to arrive on showroom floors six months after the R. Sharing the same basic engine and frame, the GS model offers features aimed to provide modest off-road capability and will be priced slightly higher. Most notable is suspension travel increased to 7.1 inches front and rear along with a larger-diameter 19-inch cast-alloy front wheel and ADV-type Metzeler Tourance tires. A wider handlebar, increased seat-to-peg room, stubby windscreen, and luggage rack are standard fare. Of course it wouldn’t be a member of the contemporary GS family without the obligatory nose-beak fender face-lift.

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2018 BMW G 310 R static left-side view
Styling is decidedly not retro, but with a G 310 GS adventure model on the way, how far behind can a Scrambler or other vintage interpretation be?Courtesy of BMW
2018 BMW G 310 R front wheel details
A single 300mm disc provides good braking capability and is armed with ABS. KYB suspension provided good damping qualities. (You can purchase 300mm discs here!)Courtesy of BMW
2018 BMW G 310 R instrument details
Clear and easy to read, the gauge package provides a lot of information, including average miles per gallon, which on our ride was indicated at 62 mpg. Not bad for the generally swift and fun pace at press launches.Courtesy of BMW
2018 BMW G 310 R seat details
Two-up, if you like. Biggest credit to the seat is that we didn't think about it on our press-launch day ride.Courtesy of BMW
2018 BMW G 310 R swingarm details
Gearing was well suited to engine power and city-to-highway riding. Running 70 mph nets 7000 rpm in sixth gear, and keeping up with fast freeway traffic was within the bike's capability.Courtesy of BMW
2018 BMW G 310 R exhaust details
2018 BMW G 310 RCourtesy of BMW
2018 BMW G 310 R on-road action
The G 310 R is a good time on a winding road. Light steering and stability are hallmarks here.Courtesy of BMW
2018 BMW G 310 R on-road action
2018 BMW G 310 RCourtesy of BMW
2018 BMW G 310 R on-road action
2018 BMW G 310 RCourtesy of BMW