The motorcycle industry, staggered by the Great Recession, has not collectively recovered. The reasons are manifold, including aging boomers and low interest from younger generations. Like most bike companies, BMW is addressing this with enticing, inexpensive bikes like the new G310R, assembled in India. It costs about half as much as the F800R, the next bike up in BMW Motorrad’s naked “Roadster” lineup. But what do you get for your money?
Weighing 349 pounds wet, BMW’s smallest model is appropriately light and offers enjoyably nimble handling. Its standard seating position is like Goldilocks’ porridge — just right. The naked styling, athletic and tidy, draws positive responses wherever you ride. And the LCD instrumentation is simple and effective. So, give this schoolboy platform an A.
Motorcycles are all about the engine, and here the G310R earns a B. The bike’s liquid-cooled 313cc DOHC single-cylinder also appears in the G310GS, a pint-size adventure bike; its rearward-tilting cylinder and cylinder head help idealize the center of gravity. Rated output is 34 hp, giving the bike a 10.3:1 weight-to-power ratio (akin to BMW’s M240i coupe).
The counterbalanced thumper is shaky at idle — almost lawn mower-like, unfortunately — and then smooths out as revs build. The power curve is flat on the bottom, which is suitable for city traffic, but then soars excitingly on top. For a little bike, the G310R is thus entertaining; it’ll pop wheelies at low speeds and can power past 90 mph in sixth gear while averaging 49 mpg.
Suspension and brakes are low points, with the underdamped fork allowing an abrupt pitching moment during hard braking. Likewise, the front brake feels stiff and wooden, and the rear brake — like the front, incorporating ABS — is disappointingly soft. Grade this a C, at best.
There’s much to like about the G310R. For practically credit-card money, it’s a beginner’s bike that is also entertaining enough for pros. Some aftermarket bits would make this one lovely lightweight.
As is, and overall, the G310R is a B student in the entry-level streetbike segment. Feathery, attractive and with good performance, there’s way more to fancy about it than not — especially given its price. And it’s an interesting mix: a basic bike, built in a developing country and carrying a premium badge. Welcome to motorcycling’s new order.
"New World Order" was first published in our 2/26/2018 issue, subscribe today!