2017 BMW G310R

Editor Score: 87.5%
Engine 18.0/20
Suspension/Handling 13.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.5/10
Brakes 9.0/10
Instruments/Controls4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.0/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 8.0/10
Value 9.0/10
Overall Score87.5/100

If you’re wondering how important the small-displacement segment is to BMW, here’s a figure to chew on: Edgar Heinrich, BMW Motorrad’s Head of Design, estimates, on a global scale, its current model lineup, excluding the G310R, appeals to approximately one million motorcycle shoppers. This means motorcycle consumers are buying bikes in segments BMW currently is present in. That includes everything from the G650GS on the low end, all the way to the K1600GTL at the other extreme.

Add in the G310R and BMW says its potential motorcycle audience has now doubled in size: two million people. All thanks to one motorcycle. That’s how important the G310R is to BMW. Further driving home the 310R’s importance was the sheer number of people on the BMW payroll in attendance at the model’s international press launch in Hollywood, California; both from BMW North America’s New Jersey HQ, but also from the motherland in Deutschland. Clearly, there’s a lot riding on this new Beemer.

A Little Backstory

It’s been more than a year since we first broke the news about BMW’s G310R, and since it’s been awhile, here’s the pertinent info again: It’s powered by a 313cc fuel-injected, DOHC, four-valve Single, with bore and stroke measurements of 80mm x 62mm, respectively. Compression ratio is a modest 10.6:1. What makes the 310R unique is its reversed cylinder-head arrangement – its intake faces forward, with the exhaust pointed towards the rear. The entire engine is tilted backwards slightly, allowing it to be placed as far forward in the steel-tube frame as possible. BMW claims 34 hp and 21 lb-ft of torque at the crank, with an impressive claim of 71 miles per gallon (though we weren’t able to verify this ourselves).

The G310R may be manufactured in India, but TVS Motor Company has a very close working relationship with BMW. There’s a dedicated production line within the TVS facility strictly for the G310, with assembly-line workers trained by BMW.

The G310R may be manufactured in India, but TVS Motor Company has a very close working relationship with BMW. There’s a dedicated production line within the TVS facility strictly for the G310, with assembly-line workers trained by BMW.

BMW’s hoping the little G310 will capture the hearts of future S1000R riders, and with a base price of $4750 – $249 less than the KTM 390 Duke but $601 more than the Honda CB300F – it seems poised to do just that. It’s pretty big news in itself that BMW is finally entering the entry-level market, but not to be forgotten is the fact the G310R will be manufactured in India with help from the TVS Motor Company (though it should be stressed the 310R was designed and engineered in Germany). We shouldn’t be surprised, as KTM’s 390 Duke is made in India with help from Bajaj, and numerous other OEMs are shifting manufacturing of their small-displacement bikes to other countries to drive down costs.

In the process of patiently waiting for our chance to ride the G310R, we decided to throw it in a virtual test, including it in a spec sheet shootout with competitors like the KTM 390 Duke, Suzuki GW250Z, Honda CB300F, CB500F, as well as the Kawasaki Z300 and Yamaha MT-03 – two bikes we thought for sure would be on U.S. soil by now but are still conspicuously absent. On paper, the BMW looks every bit a match for its contemporaries, but we couldn’t know for sure until we threw a leg over one. It’s been a long time coming, but that opportunity has finally arrived.

If one day you take this turn on a G310R, BMW’s hoping you’ll come back another day on a S1000R.

If one day you take this turn on a G310R, BMW’s hoping you ’ll come back another day on a S1000R.

Beginner Bikes, The BMW Way

While small-displacement motorcycles are typically aimed at new or otherwise inexperienced riders, BMW also wanted to attract the attention of those with plenty of miles under their belts looking for another bike to add to their collection – say, to commute with, run errands on, or even to play in the canyons. In short, the G310R achieves all of these goals.

Sitting on it, the 30.9-inch saddle height doesn’t intimidate, and the slim tank/seat junction make it extremely easy for someone of my 30-inch inseam to flat-foot the ground. Still, taller or shorter riders will be happy to know accessory seats will be available, raising the seat height to 31.5 inches on the high end and 30.3 inches on the low end. Weighing in at a claimed 349.4 lbs, the little G feels almost toy-like between the legs. Seating position skews more upright, with only a slight bend forward and pegs aren’t too high up, either. What’s really impressive is how narrow the bike feels between the knees – almost as if you can touch your kneecaps together. BMW wants you to know there’s nothing to be afraid of with this bike.

It’s a short reach to the ground with the standard seat, though taller or shorter ones are also available. Making it particularly easy to touch the ground is the narrow tank/seat junction. Note also the brake light and plate holder. It’s cantilevered from the tail section and shakes quite a bit when riding over rough roads. It’s perhaps the only portion of the bike that seems even remotely like an afterthought.

It’s a short reach to the ground with the standard seat, though taller or shorter ones are also available. Making it particularly easy to touch the ground is the narrow tank/seat junction. Note also the brake light and plate holder. It’s cantilevered from the tail section and shakes quite a bit when riding over rough roads. It’s perhaps the only portion of the bike that seems even remotely like an afterthought.

Once underway, that easygoing theme continues. Power delivery from the 313cc Single is smooth and gentle, with power meted to the rear tire via a cable-operated throttle. The wrist has to twist a long way to reach full throttle, but it’s likely a good thing considering potential ham-fisted noobs the bike is aimed at.

BMW’s 313cc Single powering the G310R breaks from tradition and has its cylinder head spun 180º compared to traditional single-cylinders. It’s also small, compact, and wedged as far forward as possible for better weight distribution.

BMW’s 313cc Single powering the G310R breaks from tradition and has its cylinder head spun 180º compared to traditional single-cylinders. It’s also small, compact, and wedged as far forward as possible for better weight distribution.

Thirty-four horsepower isn’t much to work with, and its initial power delivery is slightly dull, but once past 4,000 rpm the 310R has an impressive amount of scoot for its size, continuing up to its 10,000-rpm redline. Vibration – or lack thereof – is hugely impressive from the counterbalanced Single. At freeway cruising speeds there’s almost zero buzzing felt in the hands or feet. Even at redline the vibration is very muted. Oddly, the most vibes I felt was between the seat/tank junction, conveniently placed to tickle the nether regions…

Clutch pull is light, too, making it easier to modulate when leaving a stop or especially when negotiating traffic. Good, too, since the lever isn’t adjustable (neither is the brake lever). In typical BMW fashion, shift throws are very short and positive, making it easy to shift up the gears with or without the clutch. The first three gears feel closely spaced together, with fourth gear a nice place to be most the time. Freeway speeds are easily attained, and despite its size the BMW doesn’t feel vulnerable cruising along at 80 mph, unlike some other small bikes. Sixth gear and 7000 rpm will have you cruising along at 70 mph.

There’s no quickshifter here, so changing down the gears is done the old-fashioned way, with the clutch. Finding neutral was an issue at times, but that might be because the units we were riding had less than 400 miles on the clock. Time and more miles will tell if neutral will become easier to find.

A clean, clear, and crisp LCD instrument cluster is fitted to the G310R and is even easy to see in direct sunlight. It provides all the necessary information, including a big gear position indicator, fuel gauge, and speedometer. The tach is a bit hard to read at a glance, but the engine is usually spinning so high anyway you can just shift by ear.

A clean, clear, and crisp LCD instrument cluster is fitted to the G310R and is even easy to see in direct sunlight. It provides all the necessary information, including a big gear-position indicator, fuel gauge, and speedometer. The tach is a bit hard to read at a glance, but the engine is usually spinning so high anyway you can just shift by ear.

The G310R gets its styling inspiration from the S1000R naked streetfigher, and it even acts like one in the canyons. Without much power “You have to earn every corner,” says Heinrich. A 41mm Kayaba inverted fork is non-adjustable but is well damped for both canyon riding and average commuting. Together with the steel tubular frame, aluminum swingarm, and preload-adjustable shock, the 310R handles a twisty road with ease. The bars give good leverage to throw the bike into corners, and both ends never seemed fazed by the spirited pace we were flicking in either direction.

If anything, the Michelin Pilot Street Radial tires (110/70-17 front, 150/60-17 rear) were the weak point, the front never truly feeling planted, and both ends giving a small slide during one particular photo pass. In fairness, it was a relatively cold day and it’s possible the cold pavement didn’t jibe with the cold tires. BMW reps on hand said the 310R will be available with either Michelins, Metzelers or Bridgestones depending on the market, but it hadn’t yet been finalized which tires we’d be getting in the U.S.

Being a world model, the G310R’s suspension was tuned to meet the demands of some of the toughest roads… in Brazil. BMW tell us Brazil has some of the worst roads in the world, so if suspension components can survive that locale, U.S. roads are nothing.

Being a world model, the G310R’s suspension was tuned to meet the demands of some of the toughest roads… in Brazil. BMW tell us Brazil has some of the worst roads in the world, so if suspension components can survive that locale, U.S. roads are easy.

Also, the G felt just a tad slower to turn than I remember from the KTM 390 Duke. My brain could be playing tricks with me, however, as the geometry measurements are almost identical between the two. The BMW has slightly more rake (25.1º vs. 25.0º on the KTM), slightly more trail (4.0 inches vs. 3.9 inches), a longer wheelbase (54.1 inches vs. 53.8 inches), and weighs a paltry four pounds more than the Austrian.

When it comes to stopping power, the BMW isn’t lacking. A single 300mm disc is clamped by a radial-mount ByBre four-piston caliper in front, with a 240mm disc and two-piston caliper out back. ABS is standard. A similar stopping system is found on the 390 Duke, and while we had complaints of a soft lever and mediocre brakes on the KTM, there’s no such issues on the BMW. Braking power is strong but not overpowering, with decent feel at the lever. If anything, ABS intervenes too soon. But that’s coming from the perspective of an experienced rider.

120716-2017-bmw-g310r-Kevin Wing Photo-9011

The Path Towards World Domination

By all accounts, the BMW G310R is hugely impressive. It’s a comfortable, non-intimidating scoot for the new rider, but it’s also a hoot for the experienced veteran. It’ll easily handle commuter duties, especially with the selection of top cases available in the BMW accessories catalog, but is also fun if you feel like harassing sportbike riders on tight, twisty roads. And the fact it’s so smooth and refined belies its modest $4750 price tag.

You have a lot of choices when it comes to the small-displacement category. Now you can add one more: The BMW G310R.

You have a lot of choices when it comes to the small-displacement category. Now you can add one more: The BMW G310R.

During his speech, Heinrich mentioned that BMW wants to sell 200,000 motorcycles by the year 2020, and that this is only possible if the company “attacked different markets.” We’ve already started to see the fruits of this strategy with the S1000 and RnineT lines, and now new doors are opening with this, the G310R. Don’t be fooled by its low price point and where it’s made, as it’s still every bit a BMW in terms of fit, finish, and quality. And unlike some other small-displacement motorcycles, this isn’t one you’ll get bored with quickly.

Here’s the catch: if you’re interested in one, BMW tells us the G310R won’t be hitting dealerships until late Spring or early Summer 2017. You’ve already been waiting this long for the bike, why not wait a little longer?

2017 BMW G310R
+ Highs

  • Excellent fit and finish
  • Entertaining for new and old riders alike
  • Competitive price point
– Sighs

  • ABS intervenes too soon for experienced riders (and is always on)
  • No heated grips! (It’s an accessory)
  • Still another six months away!
2017 BMW G310R Specifications
MSRP $4,750
Engine Type 313cc, liquid-cooled Single w/reverse-cylinder design
Bore and Stroke 80.0mm x 62.1mm
Fuel System EFI
Compression Ratio 10.6:1
Valve Train DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Horsepower 34 hp @ 9,500 rpm (claimed)
Torque 21 lb-ft @7,500 rpm (claimed)
Transmission 6-speed
Final Drive Chain
Front Suspension 41mm Inverted fork, non-adjustable. 5.5 in. travel
Rear Suspension Single shock, preload-adjustable NA. 5.2 in travel
Front Brake 300mm single disc, radial-mount 4-piston caliper, ABS standard
Rear Brake 240mm single disc, 2-piston caliper, ABS standard
Front Tire 110/70-17
Rear Tire 150/60-17
Rake/Trail 25.1º/4.0 in.
Wheelbase 54.1 in
Seat Height 30.9 in. (claimed, 30.3 in. and 31.5 in seats optional accessories)
Curb Weight 349.4 lbs. (claimed)
Fuel Capacity 2.9 gallons

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  • HazardtoMyself

    Finally the questions are answered.

    1.) Price point – Right in line with the rest of the class. Pleasantly surprised.

    2.) Release date- Later than originally stated, but oh well. Maybe we will get lucky and see early spring.

    Bring on the shootout. Been waiting on this one to actually hit dealers to determine if we will be adding the R3, BMW or even possibly an aging Ninja to the garage.

    Off subject, but in consideration for a future shootout have any MO staff heard anything a little more concrete than the internet rumors about the Ninja jumping to a 350?

    • Born to Ride

      This ever-present displacement war in the small displacement class is silly. Pretty soon they are going to be shoehorning 5-600cc engines into these tiny chassis just to keep ahead of the competition. That being said, I really wish the R3 was a triple in the neighborhood of 350cc. Would make a perfect bike to learn sport riding. I think it would sell like crazy, even if it was 5-6 grand.

    • TroySiahaan

      As far as I know, I’ve heard nothing about a Ninja 350.

  • SteveSweetz

    “ABS intervenes too soon” – please elaborate.

    Why would ABS intervene at any time other than for the first split second where the wheel stops moving as detected by the sensor ring. How do you know you weren’t actually at the lock threshold? Maybe the stock tires have less grip than you anticipate?

    • Alexander Pityuk

      Most of the modern ABS’es can detect slip gradually all the way from 0% to 100% and not just completely blocked wheel. Ideally they try to not even allow it to block. And here lies the huge difference of how successfully different systems achieve that goal.

      • TroySiahaan

        Basically, yes. Also, having been fortunate enough to ride many motorcycles over the years, with and without ABS, I’ve got a decent understanding of how to load the front tire while hard on the brakes without it locking. Some bikes, especially ones geared towards new or newer riders, err towards being conservative with ABS intervention, cutting in when the tire hasn’t actually locked yet. Of course, this all applies during perfect conditions. During a storm, for example, I doubt I could stop in a shorter distance on this bike with ABS off (not that you can turn it off on this bike).

        • SteveSweetz

          I understand you have experience, but I’m not sure I’m willing to take your word that you implicitly understand where the locking point is on a bike you’ve never ridden or locked up before the couple of hours (if that) that you rode it for review.

          I’d love to see moto-journalists put their pride to the test and see if they can actually stop shorter than the computer on a (modern) bike with ABS that can be disabled.

  • JMDonald

    Product loyalty starts early. Long live BMW.

  • Campisi

    The one I looked over at the Long Beach IMS had Allen hardware. It may sound like nitpicking, but as someone who already works on a number of other modern BMWs not seeing Torx bolts really let me down.

    • john phyyt

      I hate Torx . everyone has allen keys. If you are BMW then you have torx . for the rest of us this “lack” is a bonus.

      Best of times. Premium Brand, with real world usability excellent fuel efficiency, cheap running costs and easy 80mph. This bike could probably outperform an older norton commando and to my eyes looks great.

      • Born to Ride

        Hate working on European cars in the shop because I always have to borrow the random ass torx bits that I don’t use enough to justify spending 100$ on a set.

        • Fivespeed 302

          I spent about $35 on my kit at the local hardware store. All for one 45mm bit so I could take the seat off my Zero.

        • Jens Vik

          Whats up with the torx hating here? It is a superior bolt head.
          Maybe one has to be european to see that. I guess flat iron still kicks ass in USA 🙂

      • TC

        Buell used torx bolts on the Ulysses, and a healthy dollop of loctite on every fastener.

    • DickRuble

      My bike has Torx *$@$F* all over and I hate them. Allen would be fine by me.

  • gjw1992

    All good – but desirability 8/10. Really? A Kawasaki or KTM would be cooler to much of the audience for this class of bike. And a Honda for those who want stolid reliability.

  • Vrooom

    It will sell, it looks like a good bike, the price is really the only reason you’d look elsewhere. I’d love to see that dyno shootout with this and the other bikes on it when the opportunity arises. I’d probably get the Kawi if I wanted a bike like this, but due to the $, not the ride.

    • TroySiahaan

      We’d like to see that shootout, too. Except the Kawi Z300 and Yamaha FZ-03 still haven’t made it to the U.S. yet. Oddly enough.

      • DickRuble

        Oddly enough? Your best guess, where are these 300cc bikes going to sell mostly? They will bring these to the US only if the anticipated sales volume compensates for the costs of logistics (training, parts, EPA certification..). My guess is that the numbers are so small in this category that the manufacturers are struggling to figure out a way to make it worth it.

        • Jason

          The Ninja 250 was Kawasaki’s best selling model for years (maybe decades)

          • DickRuble

            That may have been decades ago. I have only seen one 300 recently (a 2013 model) and it had far worse built quality than my 2001 MZ Skorpion.

          • Born to Ride

            I see tons of them on my campus. There is at least 5 parked behind the engineering building on any given school day. And yes, sitting next to a new R3 in that blue and silver scheme, it looks like dog sh*t.

          • Vrooom

            Year’s ago I had a Skorpion Traveller.

          • DickRuble

            Will probably not sell mine for another ten years…

          • Jeremiah Mckenna

            Just because you haven’t seen more than one doesn’t mean that they aren’t selling. The 250-300’s are a large portion of the sales due to their affordability.

          • DickRuble

            Who rides them? I live in the suburbs of a major American city and I saw only one in recent years.. I see plenty of big bikes.. and way too many cruisers, some supermotos, no street 300’s… The only one I see are in the for sale ads, are those are models from 15-20 years ago.

          • Jeremiah Mckenna

            In the past few years, I have moved from the greater NYC area to Phoenix, then to Seattle area and now in New Orleans area. I would see/do see and talk to people that ride/rode them all over in all of these areas. There are a lot in Cali, where I often visit as well.

            Again, just because you haven’t seen them doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. Not to mention that they look similar to their bigger brothers sitting still and it can be a little harder to see the differences when in motion.

        • Jeremiah Mckenna

          Low sales numbers? The 250-300’s are one of the larger segments in the motorcycle market due to their affordability. Look at the Grom. There are a ton of those all over the place because they are inexpensive. If you wreck one or blow it up etc., no need to file an insurance claim, you just go out and buy another one. It may be EPA certs, but I really don’t see that as being a major issue. Honda has even upped the CC’s on their Rebel to this range.

  • Matt Forero

    Wow, US availability has been pushed back again? After playing with it at the Long Beach show, the switch gear feels a bit better than the Duke, but the bike is at a 10hp disadvantage. I don’t really see a reason to choose this over the Duke unless you’re really offended by the color orange.

    • TroySiahaan

      IMO, the BMW is more refined, more polished than the baby Duke. But it also has a smaller engine and the KTM looks cooler to my eye. It’s a toss-up.

    • Mark D

      The BMW looks a lot more “grown-up.” That’s enough of a selling point to many! Also, the dealer network for BMW is much better than KTM.

  • DickRuble

    We’re living in exciting times for the motorcycle market.. in India.. At this pace they’ll have 500cc motorcycles by 2080. That, of course, if the Hero Turbo Diesel scooter doesn’t crush the market…

    • Jeremiah Mckenna

      India already makes the HD Street 500 and 750 for the Asian markets.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Sounds pretty cool, especially the smoothness of the engine and good brakes, and the price is right. Surprised it weighs a porky 349 pounds though. I guess they don’t sell them by the pound.

  • TC

    $4750? I bought a new 1974 Yamaha RD350 for $825. That’s why we moto-geezers get the senior discount, because we remember how much things ‘used to cost’, dagnabit.

    • Mark D

      $825 in 1974 dollars is worth $4,038.87 in 2016 dollars.

      See: https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=825&year1=1974&year2=2016

      Now get off MY lawn old man; I need it for collecting good cheap, modern motorcycles that are objective 20x better than your old RD350 for the same price! 😉

      • TC

        My memory of the good old days does not take inflation into account, and also, the older I get, the faster I was.

  • StreetHawk

    It’d be useful to have info on valve adjustment intervals and other forecast maintenance costs on the current class on entry end bikes. These bikes are sold on price point but some see over $200 required for mandatory first service. The perceived premium brands charge accordingly premium for this type of work.

  • Nem értem

    It’s so nice to read that the price is pointed low… I wish I had $5000 in my pocket. (and would go buy aDuke 390, ehhehe).

  • Naveen

    Is this smallest Beemer equipped with Slipper Clutch? from where did you guys got this info? Its been not even available in the spec sheet..

    • TroySiahaan

      Good catch. I was given false information during our ride. The G310R does *not* have a slipper clutch. Just a basic multi-plate wet clutch. Story amended. Sorry for any confusion.