BMW 310 twins review: Life is short, buy the bike

The BMW 310 twins are finally here in India. Here’s what they are like to ride

The first fruits borne of the partnership BMW Motorrad signed with TVS in 2013 to build sub-500cc motorcycles at the latter’s plant in Hosur: introducing the the BMW G 310 R and G 310 GS.

For starters

Both bikes have a satisfyingly imposing presence. The naked 310 R is compact but muscular, with clean, sophisticated lines. The large panels on either side are inspired by the mighty S1000R litre-naked, and they sit on a smart-looking grey panel that resides below. Inscribed across these panels are the only name badging you’ll see on the bodywork. Below this is the engine block with the BMW stamping and it’s aptly finished with a small belly pan below.

If you’re wondering why some details look familiar, it because the TVS Apache RR 310 runs a similar gold suspension fork, wheels, and nearly the same exhaust unit. The foot-peg holder is a different design, though, and this single silver unit holds both the rider and pillion footrests. As on the TVS, the rider gets rubber-topped footrests, while the passenger pegs are metal. The G 310 R has a single-seat unit, but it is deeply scooped out and supportive. The tail section has neatly integrated grab handles and a brake light that sits on the very end of the rear fender. The face gets a simple-looking triangular halogen headlamp, with the plastic panels around it on either side.

BMW 310 twins review: Life is short, buy the bike

The first thing that catches your attention with the G 310 GS is how much bigger it looks than the R. Sure, it still looks tiny before something like a R 1200 GS, but the GS is visibly taller, wider and more imposing than the 310 R. It uses the same headlamp as its naked sibling, but the face is otherwise different, thanks to a big ADV-style beak and a small windscreen that sits on top.

Both bikes use a fully digital display, which has plenty of information to offer, but you need to swap through menus to see all of it . This isn’t a full-colour TFT unit like you get on the KTM 390 Duke. Fit and finish levels are the best you’ll get at this price point, and the switchgear quality is excellent too.

Tech talk

Both bikes share the 313cc four-valve, liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine. Max power stands at 34hp, while torque peaks at 28Nm. These are the same numbers you get from the TVS Apache RR 310, which also uses this motor. A precise six-speed gearbox handles transmission duties, and the clutch lever is reasonably weighted. Neither bike gets a slipper clutch, which is available on the KTM 390s and several more affordable machines.

BMW 310 twins review: Life is short, buy the bike

In terms of performance, it’s a familiar affair with a tractable motor that gives above 6,000rpm. The handlebars are rubber-mounted on both and vibrations aren’t completely absent, but they’re well-controlled. Vibrations in the seat are almost non-existent, too, but both the G 310 R and the GS generate a buzz in the footpegs above 6,000rpm. Overall, refinement levels seem good enough to comfortably get along with, but this engine is not as smooth as the one on the KTM 390.

The big difference is in the suspension travel. While the R offers 140/131mm of front/rear travel, the GS has substantially more with 180mm of travel at both ends. Braking hardware is identical on both bikes, with a 300mm disc up front bitten down on by a radially mounted four-pot Bybre caliper. A 240mm disc serves at the rear and dual-channel ABS is standard on both. Given the GS’ mild off-roading aspirations, ABS can be disabled via a neatly integrated button in the left switchgear console. Fully fuelled, the R weighs 158.5kg; the GS is heavier by 11kg.

Different strokes

It’s astonishing that two bikes which share the exact same frame/sub-frame, swingarm, brakes, and engine can be so different to ride. The G 310 R puts you in a sporty riding position, but one that is comfy with just a hint of lean down to the bar. Performance is similar to the Apache RR 310, but the riding position with moderately rear-set pegs and a nice, flat handlebar changes things. The fact that the R is more compact and lighter than either of its platform siblings gives it an increased sense of agility.

BMW 310 twins review: Life is short, buy the bike

Hop (or rather, climb) onto the GS and the differences are immediate. You sit much higher, the bodywork feels more substantial and the riding position is more relaxed, thanks to more forward-set pegs and a wider handlebar . Engine performance is largely the same, but where the 310 R felt supple but taut, the GS simply steamrolls down the road and swallows all manner of bumps and potholes. Ride quality is excellent, and you could cover massive distances with ease. At the same time, the suspension is too soft for aggressive riding and there’s limited feel coming off that large 19-inch tyre. In a nutshell, the GS is a fantastic all-road motorcycle that can take on some easy off-roading as well.

Problem areas

The dealer network is still tiny, with only seven outlets across the country. Price is the bigger issue. Yes, the three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty is a great move, but at ₹2.99 lakh (ex-showroom, India), the G 310 R is a whole ₹76,000 more expensive than the TVS Apache RR 310, with which it shares its entire rolling chassis, electricals and even the same engine spec. The TVS takes it two steps further with a full fairing and a set of expensive LED headlamps. The KTM 390 Duke costs nearly ₹60,000 less and offers nearly 30% more power and a richer feature set that includes the likes of a powerful full-LED headlamp, a slipper clutch, and a TFT display.

The G 310 GS is a quick and premium ‘adventure’ bike . that comes at a price point of ₹3.49 lakh (ex-showroom, India).

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 10:36:03 AM |

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