MD has the following report from Alfonse Palaima (aka Fonz) from the world press launch for the BMW G 310 R. You can read our earlier article for the details on this new 34 horsepower, small displacement, reverse-cylinder single from BMW, but here is a report from Fonz on what it was like to ride:
Whenever a manufacturer unveils a new model line, months, if not years, of ingenuity and hard work is paralleled by the actions of curious buyers and prodding journalists, all wanting to know more about not only the new motorcycle, but even more so the new engine.
With much anticipation, fanfare and eventually heavily-baited breath, first the journalists, then the customers meet with the motorcycle … but they don’t always get to ride it the first time. First comes the unveiling. Now, we’re left with an even deeper desire to bond with the new one … to ride it, to learn about the power, its delivery and the feel.
This is the newest machine from the Bavarian builder, famous for their precision, craftsmanship and premium experience, so what should you expect from this lightweight, liquid-cooled single? What did we learn? The short answer: It’s better than you think!
At the recent Los Angeles press launch, I was able to swing a leg over it, push the starter button and experience the spark and piston come to life in my hands. Smoothly thumping a surprising amount of power (34 horsepower) from the single 313cc cavity. The performance of a small displacement bike can be subtle, at first (particularly, after spending weeks on a much larger bike, as I had) — the performance of the G 310 R snuck up on me, 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 happened 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 leading the ride, no journalist at this launch 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 its 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, 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.
Generously watered and fed by BMW, each journalist got on with the job. Regardless of our start — or finishing — weight, or our height (ranging from 5’2” to 6’5”), as far as I heard over dinner everyone found a comfortable ride to carry them home to Mama’s. With a non-adjustable 41mm upside-down telescopic fork (5.5 inches of travel) and preload-adjustable (only) rear shock (5.2 inches), and a 30.9 inch tall, one-piece scooping saddle, at 5’10” I never once found myself feeling cramped by the ergonomics. The ergonomics work from both a comfort and a control perspective.
I found a nice rhythm on the bike – not always the case when testing a new machine for the first time. Reaching forward and peering down on the digital display I find the peak torque (of 21 foot/pounds) at a claimed 7,500 rpm is easily attained in second gear as I race from one tight corner to another. As the canyon opens up a bit, between 8,000 and 9,000 rpm (nearing the peak horsepower point at 9,500 rpm), in 4th gear, I find the sweet spot as I rip around any and all apexes and connect the short straights in between.
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 famous Rock Store, and when the traffic piled up around us we legally (California, remember?) slipped through the cracks with ease on our narrow, upright mounts.
Slowing down for a cup of 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. The GS version (due next year) is likewise inspired by BMW’s big waterboxer.
The 310 is loaded with aesthetics typical of the brand, like the finely-textured tank cover and nacelle, the familiar passenger grab rails (which here include holes designed as lashing points), and the stylish die-cast alloy wheels inspired by those found on sport touring stablemates.
Regarding the instrument panel, while the gear position indicator is welcomed, the thin, digital tachometer line is difficult to follow. Everything else is legible on the high contrast screen. The disc brakes, one each front and rear (300mm/240mm), are adequate, but not much more. Comes with the price point. Nevertheless, 2-channel ABS is standard.
The tubular steel frame and aluminum swingarm result in a short wheelbase of 54 inches. Coupled with 25.1 degrees of steering rake, and a claimed wet weight of just 349 pounds (with the 2.9 gallon tank full), you have the basis for one extremely nimble vehicle.
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. Color choices include Strato Blue Metallic, Cosmic Black and Pearl White Metallic. Check out BMW’s web site for additional details and specifications. Bikes should start hitting U.S. dealer showrooms next summer.