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  • December 20, 2016
  • Alfonse Palaima
  • BMW Motorrad
  • 63 Comments

2017 BMW G 310 R: MD First Ride

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.

63 Comments

  1. Tommy See says:

    Watching all the ADV smaller machines on YTube it all makes sense to just have fun and buy what you feel good about. It does not matter what you ride it’s that you ride. Don’t be afraid of money use it and enjoy life.

  2. BS says:

    BMW should stick to what they do best (or adequately more precisely) and not just throw a model out there to try to get in on the little bike market.

  3. Provologna says:

    BMW “…intentionally put the engine in backwards for a lower, more-forward center of gravity…”

    Does the above mean BMW swapped the normal orientation for the exhaust and intake tracts? Which places the fuel injector on the forward facing side of the cylinder head, where would otherwise be located the now-rear facing exhaust header? And this mod allowed the cylinder head to cant more forward, thus lowering the CG? Whereas, a forward facing exhaust header would otherwise interfere w/the front tire?

  4. DCE says:

    I want to see a photo of one of those 6′ 5″ riders actually riding.

  5. beasty says:

    Hmmm, I think I’ll put this one on the short list also. Just an observation, not a critique, if you take that BMW badge off the blue one, damned if it doesn’t look like a Suzuki.

  6. Tyg says:

    “Well worth the money”, say the people who aren’t actually buying the bikes.
    I can see how it may be relative to some of the other bikes, but…

  7. KenLee says:

    Big tail light in US version looks much worse comparing to European.

  8. Don says:

    Thank God they kept the engine hidden from view.

    • Bob says:

      From the perspective of this 68 year old, that can be said for most motorcycle engines nowadays.The water cooled Triumph twins are the only non-air cooled bikes that don’t look like some sort of industrial process equipment.

  9. Bigshankhank says:

    Just waiting on the comparo between this and other in-class bikes. Everything about it is ticking the right boxes for me (looks, price, presumed quality, ergos, performance) but having had a 390 Duke for almost two years now, I am curious to see them ridden side by side. Or better yet ride my Duke to a BMW shop and ride one myself.

  10. steveinsandiego says:

    bated breath and sneaked up

    i’m considering a 300 cc mc. yamaha’s r3 is first on my list to test ride, if the dealer(s) will allow me. second is the kawi ninja 300. problem with beemer is dollars: purchase and service (no DIYer here…). may consider the honda cb500, but i want a bike around 400lbs.

    • Dave says:

      I think the BMW stickers lower than both the R3 and the Ninja 300, and has one fewer set of valves to inspect, when that time comes.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      The BMW is first and foremost a bike for the world, and we in the US are just lucky enough to get it. With that in mind, I suspect maintenance will be fairly cheap and easy even compared to the fully faired Ninja and R3.

      As for the Honda 500, give one a test ride. It feels lighter than it is.

      • Brian says:

        Agree about the Honda 500s. At least for a larger person, I feel like that’s a better option if the bike needs to do any sort of distance at higher Interstate speeds, etc. And they’re still quite light (and yet heavy enough not to feel like a plastic bag in the wind around big trucks, etc.)

        • Dave says:

          I’ve read that the Honda 500’s aren’t much, if any better on the highway than the current 300’s. Short gearing and little overhead in the engine’s rev-range were cited. Still, very cool bikes.

          • KenHoward says:

            I’d say the Honda 500s benefit taller riders by having a more spacious rider-triangle (especially, of course, the 500X). The 310GS should be better, as well.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            It’s just my opinion of course, but I think it feels more relaxed on the highway. And like Ken said, it also feels like a full size motorcycle.

    • Scott says:

      “bated breath and sneaked up”

      Correct! A +

      “i’m considering a 300 cc mc. yamaha’s r3 is first on my list to test ride, if the dealer(s) will allow me. second is the kawi ninja 300. problem with beemer is dollars: purchase and service (no DIYer here…). may consider the honda cb500, but i want a bike around 400lbs.”

      Grammar and punctuation? C –

  11. LordBeal says:

    I believe Spiderwatts means riders as opposed to posers on larger machines. Riders don’t have issues with size.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Well, I think he is wrong there. Riders do have issue with size. Otherwise we’d all be riding 300s. This bike will attract people just getting into motorcycling or those who prefer small bikes. As much as I like it, it isn’t going to get me into a BMW dealership.

      I think the more profound thing it does for BMW is open up a worldwide market that they didn’t previously participate in where a 300cc is a big bike.

    • Fivespeed302 says:

      What is a poser really?
      By definition: a person who acts in an affected manner in order to impress others.
      synonyms: exhibitionist, poseur, posturer, fake; informal show-off

      So you’re saying we should find the ugliest, most unimpressive bike available, and never attempt pushing said bike to its limits? You must be a Ural owner. 😉

  12. Joe says:

    I can see it. This is much more interesting than a Suzuki TU or GW 250, and better looking than a Yamaha SR400.

  13. Dave says:

    Re: ” The GS version (due next year) is likewise inspired by BMW’s big waterboxer.”

    Surprised this comment isn’t already generating more excitement.

    This bike looks great. It’s a BIG step in the right direction (my opinion) of divorcing displacement & quality expectation. ie. small bikes might be more appealing to more existing riders if they didn’t mean so much sacrifice to the rest of the riding & ownership experience.

  14. Grover says:

    Looks best in solid Blue.

  15. Vrooom says:

    Surprising they get that kind of power out of a 300cc single.

  16. jimjim says:

    Sounds like a great small bike at a very reasonable price and BMW quality to boot.

  17. Ronbob says:

    The best mileage I have seen from my 2 years of CB300F riding is 59. It just wants to be thrashed. I ride it almost as much as my Buell XB0SX.

  18. Buzz says:

    Nice to hear from my old bud The Fonz!

  19. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Will compete extremely well with the Japanese competition…and introduce a new generation to high cost parts and maintenance

  20. Froste says:

    Another good bike spoiled by someone’s infatuation with pretentious gold colored fork tubes.

  21. Tank says:

    Finally, a BMW I can afford.

  22. red says:

    Not pretty but everything else sounds great!

  23. downgoesfraser says:

    nice

  24. bmbktmracer says:

    I like the blue one! Back in the day I had a shiny new Suzuki GS450E. It was the funnest motorcycle I’ve owned. Small bikes are fun because you can ride them hard without generating go-to-jail speed. Plus, as commuters they’re agile and get about 60 MPG. As an added bonus, if you have a wannabe rider around, they’re great teaching bikes.

  25. Jeremy in TX says:

    Great looking bike. Sounds like they have a winner on their hands.

  26. CrazyJoe says:

    Come on Ducati a Monster 300, a Multistrada and a Panigale 300s. Aprilia an RESv2 and a Caponord 300 please.

  27. motocephalic says:

    I have been calling the dealership for months in anticipation of this bike. I thought they would have it here in the States last year. I am told not to expect it here till August. Can’t wait to try this against the KTM 390.

  28. Spiderwatts says:

    Great review. Another fantastic choice for motorcycle RIDERS.
    The fair price to have a BMW product along with the good review should bring a lot of RIDERS into dealerships. Sounds like a good choice for a second bike if you are blessed with the space, money, and possible approval of your spouse/significant other.
    And Thank you Motorcycledaily for giving us reviews and motorcycle related articles to enjoy over this holiday season. Merry Christmas to you all!

    • mickey says:

      Don’t understand your emphasis on “RIDERS”? What does that mean? Do “RIDERS” in your opinion, only ride Beemers? Or only ride small bikes? Please explain

      • Spiderwatts says:

        Riders of their bikes instead of the honeys nest of nitpickers and complainers waiting to attack any bike reviewed here. Or the classic bike owner or previous owner of one who does not ride anymore or logs 500 or so miles a year and thinks he’s Dave Barr. Does that help?