With BMW’s announcement that it will be producing a small-displacement, single-cylinder motorcycle – the G310R – aimed at newer riders and available come the latter stages of 2016, the German marque has signaled to everyone that it’s aiming at world domination. And if you’re familiar with South Park or internet memes, I’m imagining the plan goes a little something like this:

Step one: Lure new riders with the G310R.
Step two: After a while, move them up to the G650, F700, or F800 models.
Step three: Move them up again to the RnineT, R1200 or S1000 line.
Step four: Finish them off with the K1600 series.
Step five: ???
Step six: Profit!

There are a lot of players in the naked little bike category, but none pose a greater threat to the BMW G310R than the KTM 390 Duke.

There are a lot of players in the naked little bike category, but none pose a greater threat to the BMW G310R than the KTM 390 Duke.

Ok, so that was clearly an attempt at humor. On paper anyway, BMW seems to have a formidable small-displacement motorcycle on its hands with the G310R. The problem it faces is a stacked field of competitors from Austria and Japan in the form of the KTM 390 Duke, Suzuki GW250Z, a pair of Hondas – the CB300F and CB500F – and the not-yet-announced-for-America-but-probably-will-be-soon Kawasaki Z300 and Yamaha MT-03 (likely to be called the FZ-03 if/when it comes here). The irony here, of course, is that none of these machines are manufactured in their OEM’s home country, as global economics dictate these motorcycles be produced in up-and-coming markets – India, Thailand, China, and Indonesia in this case.

So, with the small-displacement, entry-level category heating up, let’s take a look at all seven of these models to see how the BMW stacks up. Here we’ve gathered the relevant specs to draw some conclusions. Pricing has yet to be announced for the BMW (and the Kawasaki and Yamaha have yet to even be announced for America), but save for the CB500F, the sweet spot in this market is between $4000 – $5000. Expect the G310R to slot in near the KTM at $4,999.

Kawasaki has not officially said the Z300 will be coming to the U.S., but we’d be surprised if it doesn’t.

Engine

The S1000R-inspired G310R’s 313cc Single features two camshafts and four valves, but its distinctive feature is its slightly rearward canted cylinder and reverse-mounted cylinder head, placing the air intake towards the front of the motorcycle while the exhaust exits from the rear of the cylinder head, giving the header a more direct route towards the silencer.

BMW claims 34 peak horsepower at 9,500 rpm and 21 lb-ft. at 7,500 rpm. When compared to the G310R’s closest likely rival, the KTM 390 Duke, the BMW falls slightly behind due to 60cc less displacement. Using the power numbers we obtained with the 390 Duke’s close sibling, the RC390, we get 39.7 horses at 8,900 rpm and 24.6 lb-ft. at 7,000 rpm. At a claimed wet weight of 345 lbs., the Duke also has a 4-lb. weight advantage over the G3.

The Yamaha MT-03 is another model not slated for the U.S. Like the Z300, we expect that to change very soon.

That said, the two European brands have a leg up on the other five bikes here. Assuming power outputs for the Z300 and MT-03 are similar to their fully-faired counterparts, the Ninja 300 (34.6 hp, 17.6 lb-ft.) and YZF-R3 (35.3 hp, 18.9 lb-ft.), respectively, the two Japanese twin-cylinders lack the torque of the BMW and KTM Singles and carry a nearly 30-lb. weight penalty, both bikes claimed at 370 lbs. For comparison, the Ninja 300 tipped the MO scales at 381 lbs., the R3 at 370 lbs. Thirty pounds is a big burden to carry, especially when you’re asking less than 40 horses to do it.

Unsurprisingly, the CB500F Honda, with the largest displacement of the group, produces more power and torque (43.0 hp, 29.1 lb-ft.) than the rest, but not by much. It’s also the heaviest model here at 418 lbs. The 286cc CB300F Single puts up a respectable 26.2 hp and 17.4 lb-ft, and weighs in at 351 lbs., while the Suzuki brings up the rear with 19.2 hp, 13.7 lb-ft., and a 407-lb. curb weight. At 248cc, the Suzuki has the smallest displacement here and is also the only one with single overhead cam. It should also be noted that the Suzuki is listed as a 2015 model and is not listed under Suzuki’s 2016 lineup.

Honda's CB500F could be an option for larger riders looking for a little more oomph, but it's also the heaviest bike of the seven.

Honda’s CB500F could be an option for larger riders looking for a little more oomph, but it’s also the heaviest bike of the seven.

Suspension/Brakes

As budget-minded motorcycles intended for new or newish riders, none of the seven models come with sophisticated suspension, though the BMW and KTM again stand out from the crowd with inverted forks. Both add a certain element of sophistication and class to their respective models despite the overall low price point. Only the CB500F offers fork spring preload adjustability. Rear suspension is similarly basic, each offering a single shock only adjustable for spring preload. That said, in our time with the Duke, CB300/500, Ninja 300, and R3, all are capable of ripping up a canyon road at a rather respectable pace while still providing a decent ride everywhere else. There’s no reason not to expect similar handling from the BMW.

With its 25.1º rake and 4.0 inches of trail, the G310R’s geometry is similar to the rest. The KTM, again, has a slightly sharper rake, 25.0º, but so does the MT-03. The Suzuki and Kawasaki have the laziest rake angles, 26.0º, but the Z300 has the least amount of trail, 3.2 in. Compared to the Ninja 300’s 27º rake and 3.7-inch trail numbers, that’s a rather steep difference. The BMW has the second-shortest wheelbase at 54.1-inches (bested only by the Duke’s 53.8 inches), so it should be poised to keep pace with the pack-leading KTM come the tight stuff. All seven bikes ride on 17-inch wheels, and all but the CB500 use 110mm-wide front tires. The KTM and BMW use slightly fatter rear tires (150 vs. 140) than the Japanese roadsters, save for the CB500’s 160.

At $3,999, the Honda CB300F is the most affordable in our grouping, but lacks the pizzaz offered by most of the competition.

At $3,999, the Honda CB300F is the most affordable in our grouping, but lacks the pizzaz offered by most of the competition.

Like the rest of the BMW model range, the G310R will come standard with ABS, a major plus in our opinion. The KTM has such a feature as standard equipment, as do the Z300 and MT-03. All seven models rely on a single disc at either end, with the BMW’s front measuring 300mm. It’s clamped by a radial-mount four-piston caliper with gold anodizing. Steel-braided lines are also standard. Those are trick features for any bike, matched only by the KTM in this crowd, though the Austrian skips the gold anodization. The Japanese models feature single front discs ranging in size from 290mm to 320mm and are all clamped by twin-piston calipers.

In our experience, we’ve been disappointed with the KTM’s braking, favoring the braking power of the Japanese models instead. Our suspicion is a simple brake pad swap is all that’s needed to bring the KTM in line with the others. On paper anyway, the BMW should be among the best in this group when it comes to shedding speed.

With the smallest engine, the least power, and the second heaviest curb weight, the Suzuki GW250Z puts up a weak showing compared to the rest of the pack.

With the smallest engine, the least power, and the second heaviest curb weight, the Suzuki GW250Z puts up a weak showing compared to the rest of the pack.

Other Odds and Ends

When talking about bikes aimed at newer riders, seat height is an important topic. At 30.9 inches, the G310R is within 0.2-inch of all the others except the 390 Duke and its 31.5-inch saddle. Should that be too high or too low, BMW has also made available accessory seats that either lower the seat height to 29.9 inches for shorties, or 32.0 inches for taller folk.

Fully digital LCD gauge clusters provide the BMW, KTM and Honda riders with information, while the Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha all feature an analog rev counter. Gear-position indicators on the BMW, KTM, Suzuki, and Yamaha get bonus points, especially for the price category these bikes reside in.

Sharp looks and impressive numbers make the BMW G310R sound appealing on paper. But the proof will come once we get to throw a leg over one.

Sharp looks and impressive numbers make the BMW G310R sound appealing on paper. But the proof will come once we get to throw a leg over one.

In the end, there’s no reason to believe the BMW G310R won’t have what it takes to claim the crown among the small-displacement naked-bike field. Just look what it did in the liter-class sportbike category. It observed the field and made an astounding (and arguably better) product at a competitive price. BMW appears to be following the same formula at the other end of the spectrum, with the competition equally as fierce at this end of the field.

Of course, comparing specs on paper can only tell you so much. We’re looking forward to testing the BMW G310R against its rivals. Here’s hoping the Kawasaki Z300 and Yamaha MT-03 are able to join the party. Hover over the image below to see the complete spec chart for each bike.

  • kenneth_moore

    BMW may have the better bike, but when it comes time to buy my son’s bike later this year, it’ll be the dealership that makes this an easy decision. The KTM dealer acts like he wants our business… the BMW dealer does not.

    • Auphliam

      Maybe if you showed him the 6-step plan above he’d be more inclined :)

    • BDan75

      It’s always amazing to me how often that’s the case. There’s a local multi-brand dealership I occasionally like to browse. There are usually two sales guys sitting there, and most times I’m lucky to even get a grunt of acknowledgement.

      I mean, I hate getting pounced on by hard-sell types…but geez, you’d think that something like “Hi, let me know if you have any questions” would be a pretty standard approach to people browsing around your bikes.

      Makes you want to go talk to the manager/owner…but then, you figure the attitude probably comes from the top.

    • john phyyt

      I certainly don’t wish BMW anything but success : However ; this does appear to have tenuous parallels ; KTM dominated ( perhaps still does) 450 dirt bike area;and BMW tried to enter with a very competent but slightly less edgy
      bike.

      This bike seems really “okay” and your grand-dad will definitely tell you tales of his old air-head. However when you need to entice a buyer the KATO will
      get the money; Don’t you think? I mean just look at it.

  • Vrooom

    Comparing BMW’s claimed HP to actual numbers for the Duke is misleading. I had a BMW R1100 RSL with a “genuine” 100 hp engine, that dyno’d at 78 or so.

    • TroySiahaan

      Since we don’t yet know what the BMW is putting to the ground that’s why the chart lists manufacturer’s claimed numbers as well as actual rear wheel numbers from the bikes we’ve tested. KTM claims 43 hp, BMW claims 34 hp.

      • Vrooom

        Fair enough, I do get you had nothing else to compare it to. I’d guess they’d have more than a 10 HP difference when RWHP is available.

  • DickRuble

    “seat height is an important topic”, yes..if you’re a pygmy. There are 6’8 new riders and 4’8 new riders. The new rider should pick the bike he/she can handle. Motorcycle power and power delivery are important to all new riders. Some countries have instituted permit rules for that. Nowhere have I heard of bikes having mandatory seat limitations. New bikes are more and more compact, as if their target customers were midgets. Yet the younger generation tend to be significantly taller and heavier on average than their parents. Maybe motorcycle manufacturers should consider that.

    • Old MOron

      Cheer up, Dick: “BMW has also made available accessory seats that either lower the seat height to 29.9 inches for shorties, or 32.0 inches for taller folk.”

      • DickRuble

        I am sure you see the flaw of the approach. Try getting on a X-small size bicycle and making it comfortable by just adjusting the seat up or down by one inch. Then try a bicycle with an appropriately sized frame.

        • Old MOron

          Sure, I see what you mean. And perfection, especially in an inexpensive bike, will be hard to come by. But look at the pics above. If you add some height and girth to those riders, it doesn’t seem like the handlebars would suddenly be in their laps.

          I’m 5’10”, 170 lb, and I can ride a little TTR125L all day at Mystery School. I’m going again this spring.

          Anyway, I’m not discounting your lament. I think Evans is 5’11”. Maybe Mo will put him on a tall-seat-equipped G310R. Or maybe John Burns can persuade Jim Hatch to put a few miles on the saddle.

          What do you say, MO? When you do your comparo, you can include an evaluation for larger riders.

          • DickRuble

            5’10, 170 lbs.. you’re lucky and you’re riding a motocross bike, which is inherently more accommodating. Now take a 6’3 190lbs dude and put him on a 250cc sport bike.

          • 12er

            6’6 here, I found it easier to assume nothing fits, until it does… Just going by the numbers doesnt work for me anyway. Leg lenths, torso lengths etc all vary on us. So I just have to try on.

          • Kevin Duke

            The guy in the CB500F picture above is around 6’2″ and 260…

          • Old MOron

            Huh? Oh yeah, Dirty Sean! And I found the story from which that picture was taken. http://www.motorcycle.com/shoot-outs/2014-middleweight-mash-six-way-shootout-video/4 “Even Big Dirty Sean couldn’t crush the little CB500F’s spirits.”

            Who needs Fishy Hatch? Give us more Dirty.

  • Russ

    And once again the Suzuki TU250x is ignored. True, it won’t win any races against this crowd but it’s mighty easy to live with if you’re looking for a nice commuter motorcycle and not a pseudo racing machine. I’ve been riding since 1968 and have owned many cycles, larger and smaller, and the 2013 TUx is one of my favorites and the only one I still own today.

    • Kevin Duke
    • Kru Chris

      Hear, hear. Reliable, simple and comfortable “bread and butter” commuter bikes which can handle touring as well are in demand. I’m tired of sporty (= uncomfortable) handlebars. Am enjoying a 1998 Kawa GPX with brilliant touring handlebars. They make an incredible difference to the riding experience.

  • kawatwo

    Still hoping for some cruiser offshoots of these bikes for the 5″1″ wife :)

    • Old MOron

      Especially if the “kawa” in your screen name is a reference to Kawasaki, I know this may be an obvious question, and I apologize in advance. Has your wife tried the Vulcan S, with the Ergo Fit adjusted to the smallest settings? I realize it’s somewhat bigger and more expensive than these bikes, but well, I’m just putting out a knee-jerk thought here.

      • Ozzy Mick

        “Knee jerk thought”, Old MO? What’s that? A bit of a head shake? Heads up? How r u anyway?

        • Old MOron

          You know, like most of my thoughts: unrestrained, uncontrolled, unimproved, unconsidered, unworthy…

          Other than that, I am satisfactorily well. Thank you. Are you still in the far east? I’ve seen a few stories on China’s stock market. I don’t suppose that’s any of your doing!

          • Ozzy Mick

            Haha, no chance, or dough, mate, of causing China’s slide down the slippery slope. However
            some may doubt that as I pack my bags and leave/flee next week for a 3 day ride in Malaysia on a Versys 650, before returning to Oz and big hugs with my Bandit for good.

      • kawatwo

        Yup Kawa is for Kawasaki. My favorite company in the world. My wife is a complete beginner though. We had an 88 250 Eliminator for her but even that was almost too much for her as her first bike ever and parts were too hard to find. She can fit the Vulcan S and someday that would be an awesome bike to move up to but for now I can’t imagine a better next bike for her than a 300 Eliminator or a Virago 320, or Rebel 300 none of which exist yet. It just seems logical one of the big 3 would do this. I am thinking it is just a matter of time. Right now we are looking at 125 Eliminators or a Virago 250 for next bike.

        • Old MOron

          When I was in school, I owned a Rebel 250 for about a year and a half. I rode that thing from Hell A to San Diego more than once to visit my folks. That was a lot of freeway miles at high RPM. Those are tough little bikes. I hope your wife enjoys her beginner bike as much as I enjoyed mine.

        • Ozzy Mick

          Sigh…Virago 250…my first bike when I returned to bikes after a 30 year layoff. My biggest regret was to sell it. Struggled in crosswinds on the highway but ideal for commuting.

  • JMDonald

    Brand attraction, loyalty and name recognition all weigh heavy with a lot of buyers seeking to create an identity for themselves. Specifications and performance combined with actual cost factor in somewhere with some but not all buyers. Looking at all the bikes in this segment what will be the determining factor prompting someone to buy? Who knows? Everyone is different. I like this BMW. I wish it was available when I was in high school. It is way nicer than the CB350 I rode back in the day.

  • Michael Mccormick

    Funny BMW waited until KTM rolled out an affordable single. I still think the Ninja 300 is the best all rounder and you can buy a used one and remove the plastic if you have to ride naked.

  • Paul Lucas

    UNDERPANTS!!!!

  • Kevin Polito

    In the standard, naked, and sport bike world, “shorties” have 30-inch inseams. In the cruiser world, where most actual shorties are relegated by the motorcycle industry and moto-journalism, inseams between 25 and 28 are accommodated.

    • BDan75

      I suspect there are reasons beyond height discrimination why cruisers often have 25-inch seat heights and standards and sportbikes don’t. Stuff like two-inches of rear suspension travel…pegs that touch down during mild cornering…65 inch wheelbases…V-twin engines w/ air intakes on the side…

      I’m no engineer, but I’m guessing that if you start redesigning your sportbike so that it has a 25-inch seat height, you have two basic options: 1) Turn it into a Grom; or 2) Turn it into a cruiser.

      • dinoSnake

        As I constantly note, a previous sportbike that I owned, the legendary 1984 Kawasaki Ninja 900 ZX900A, had…a 31 inch seat height.

        If Kawasaki could put a 31 inch, super-comfy thickly padded seat on a sportbike in 1984…exactly what is the excuse that they can’t seem to do the same today?? If you find a modern sportbike with an under 32 inch seat, with padding as thin as a board, in today’s motorcycle market it is somehow considered “low”.

        So I’m going to pound it home ONE MORE TIME! TO THE THICK MOTO-JOURNALISTS WHO WON’T LISTEN TO JOHN Q. PUBLIC:

        The average American motorcyclist is now over 44 years old, according to AMA studies. The average adult male’s height, for that generation, is 5 foot 8, according to the federal government’s CDC.gov. The average male height, factoring in ALL adult males 21+ and over, according to the CDC! is…5 foot 9.5 inches.

        SO STOP CALLING ANY UNDER 6 FOOT “SHORT”!!!!

        If yoy are over 6 foot, you are TALL. Congratulations. But you are NOT American normal (average height) and you’d better get used to it, and start reviewing products with an eye towards average, not exclusively from your outside-the-norm perspective.

        • Ozzy Mick

          I’m not American but I’m guessing the average height of adult males in Oz is similar. I WAS 5’7″ but I had my height measured at a medical check up recently and, shock horror, I had SHRUNK! I’m now 5’5″! Bike manufacturers and moto journos should take this into consideration – us older folk, who make up the bulk of buyers,need bikes that have even lower seats!

          • dinoSnake

            Well, in this year’s International Motorcycle Show I doubt (almost) anyone bothered to notice: on BMW’s stand every bike on display had…the low seat option installed!

            It seems BMW got the hint; last year they lowered the stock seat height of the new R1200RT and are offering lower seats as a ‘no cost’ option during ordering. Someone, somewhere, must have (finally!!) noticed that they were putting off a LOT of customers with their standard seat heights (and I know this because my boss left his K1600LT behind and sold it, as he got sick of dealing with the tall seat).

            BMW is just about the only company offering differing seat heights to suit various customers’ needs, too bad every other company doesn’t seem to have a clue…or, to care.

          • Born to Ride

            Ducati has always offered multiple seat options for their bikes, and the new monster and multistrada have adjustable seat heights. Not to mention that the Diavel allows my 30 inch inseam to firmly flat foot the bike with the higher “comfort” saddle. Low seats are not no-cost options though.

          • KYspeaks

            Welcome to the 5’5 club, I’m riding a Shiver with 32 inch seat height, tip toeing all the way, not the most elegant.

        • Martin Buck

          I don’t have a height problem (5’11”) but I agree with you. My earlier bikes all had cushy comfortable seats, without excess seat height. Similar to aluminium foot pegs, manufacturers now believe every ordinary commuter bike should be race spec, with arse up, head down riding position, solid plastic seats with no movement, hard hand grips, and all contact points being as hard as possible. Things were not like this years ago. There were rubber foot pegs, soft rubber handgrips, even rubber pads on the fuel tank, and an all day comfortable, soft and lush seat foam. Us ageing bike riders need an upright position, with some wind protection, soft seats so we don’t get piles, rubber hand grips so the vibration doesn’t numb our hands, and soft suspension so our numerous ancient injuries and arthritic limbs don’t go into a spasm every time we hit one of the craters in our deteriorating road network. Previous buffering was to reduce engine vibration, now it is road vibration that is the enemy. We still want to ride, but we need some comfort! And we have the money to demand comfort.

          • Brian Brink Plagborg

            Get yourself a V-Strom, mate :-)

          • Brian Brink Plagborg

            PS. I own one, being 6″,0, andthats just suiteable <.-<9

        • FreelancerMG

          Your ZX-9 was able to get away with it because of it’s relatively long wheelbase and relaxed geometry. It wasn’t a super-focused track machine in which you’re trying to somewhat compare it to now. Sport bikes have progressively been getting their dimensions shrunk yet engine capacity remains the same or even gets bigger, so in order to squeeze everything you need into a smaller wheelbase with with sharper geometry is to make the bike taller. This is what happens when we see a sharper focus on intended usage versus the much more generalized setup from 30 years ago. This is also kind of funny as far as sport bikes are concerned because most of the best of the best riders in racing are practically horse jockeys on custom machines that are actually taller at the saddle than what you purchase off the showroom floor.

          You’re seeing nakeds with taller seat heights due to the long time demand for a sportier naked bike that performs closer to a sport bike in handling without all of the plastic. So there again, you need to shrink overall wheelbase and sharpen geometry and customers don’t want to concede engine size so again, you gotta build up a bit more and you get a little higher seat height to compensate. Also, when I roll into most shops, the FZs and street/speed triples seem to see almost as quickly as the tech can get them built out of the crate (sometimes a they’re sold before they even leave the crate.) Especially in Europe, the sport nakeds are selling very well compared to the US market which is probably why you don’t really see some of the other naked ever come to the US.

          It’s also ironic to see someone complain about saddle height on an adventure tourer. The bike, by it’s design necessity has to have a tall seat height to get the greater clearance needed for the longer stroke suspension for light duty off-road work the bike was designed for. It’s hilarious to read posts or hear complaints about seat height issues with adventure touring bikes or dual sports/supermotos when that’s the whole point of the bike. I’ve seen 5 foot tall women ride stock height dual sports and supermotos just fine. People have been streeting bikes with 35+inch seat heights for a while and seem to be doing just fine. Those motogp guys seem to be doing just fine with bikes that seem to require a step ladder for them to get on.

          There are plenty of bikes out there with seat heights under 31 inches if you really want one. The problem is, people want a bike type that has a taller seat height by function and complain that it’s too tall. If you really want the bike, you’ll make it work. The motorcycle type trends like anything else, are cyclical in nature. There is a period of specialization but as the major generation gets older, you start seeing more friendly all-rounders get put out until that previous generation gets too old to even ride anymore then the cycle repeats for the newer generation.

          • Kevin Duke

            Great reply! Especially about the adventure bikes. Rally legend Gaston Rahier should be a lesson on what’s possible from a short dude. http://i49.tinypic.com/2czda55.jpg

          • dinoSnake

            I’m not talking about supersports, I’m talking about today’s standards, ADV’s, and many other styles of bike. When a “beginner” 250 has a 31+ inch seat, and that’s considered “short”, there is something TERRIBLY WRONG.

            when even midrange STANDARDS have 32-inch seat heights, your excusing the ridiculous heights of today’s bikes just doesn’t hold water.

        • Ian Parkes

          Short people are always so angry.

          • dinoSnake

            Since I am, quite precisely, American Average Height, you can take your tall bias somewhere else.

        • sgray44444

          Funny thing is, if I were American average at 5’8″, I would be riding a GSXR750. Since I’m 6’4″, I ride a Vstrom.
          I can understand what you’re saying about beginner bikes. A lower seat height is a definite advantage. After learning to ride though, a taller seat gives a couple important advantages- more legroom for the long haul, and better visibility.

      • Jack Meoph

        I encountered a MC instructor on a site, a long time ago, that worked in Asia. His solution was simple. He taught all of his vertically challenged students to cover the rear brake pedal with their right foot, so that it would give them a reminder to slide their body to the left of the bike so they could easily get their foot firmly planted on the ground. He even noted that there were still some who would be on tip toes because of their height, or lack there of. But that did not deter them from riding, because Asia.

        And yeah, the BMW looks to have possibilities, but the Ninjette is still going strong.

  • Ozzy Mick

    I commented on this before when Dennis Chung (I think) reported on this newbie from BM – I still don’t get it! Who’s gonna buy this bike? BMWannabes? Only to be looked down on by the…ahem…true, elite – dare I say it? – snob, old (as against mature) BM owners? Maybe they’ll buy them for their offshoots…In this market segment, I suspect that newbies will be curtailed by their available finances as to choice of bike, or may consider it unwise to spend excessively on a learner that may end up scratched, bingled, dropped or, God forbid, smashed? And in my humble opinion, oldies looking at downsizing, like me, will probably be keener on the Duke for its superior specs, performance, and cache, if that’s what they want.

  • Kevin Polito

    Adjustable ride height is not rocket science. If manufacturers wanted to, they could easily design this feature into any style of motorcycle so that when a motorcycle comes to a stop, it automatically lowers to enable short-legged riders to mount and hold the bike up. When it reaches a certain speed, it rises up to operating height, to allow maximum cornering clearance. Suspension travel and ride height can be independent. This feature already exists on cars, and the technology has been around for half a century at least.

    • BDan75

      Whatever the technical challenges or lack thereof, having a bike that’s in the process of “kneeling” while I’m coming to a stop sounds like a recipe for trouble.

      • Kevin Polito

        And why is that?

        • BDan75

          You’re approaching an intersection. Imagine it’s an intersection like many where I live: asphalt with deep, irregular “ruts” from cars. As you’re focusing on slowing the bike, controlling it over irregular pavement, and getting a stable foot down, you now have to contend not only with the relative distance to the pavement changing at one rate, but the height of the seat changing at a different rate.

          It’s that kind of uncertainty and unexpected change that leads to tip-overs, much more than the weight or height of the bike.

          In short, you propose a complicated solution that’s likely to cause more trouble than the original “problem.” I use quotes because unless you’re trying to ride a bike that’s just plain too big for you, some combination of practice, simple bike modifications and a good pair of heavy-soled riding boots will allow you to easily handle a bike you’re not able to flat-foot. Nowhere is it written that you have to be able to put both feet flat on the ground to balance a motorcycle. Just like there’s no rule that you have to put both feet down.

          If this were as big a problem as some people seem to think, or if there were a simple solution, wouldn’t you imagine that the Asian manufacturers–who’ve built umpteen-million bikes for markets with much smaller average heights than the US–would have come up with it by now?

          In the end, people out at the tails of the bell curve have to be realistic about products designed for the mass market. If you’re 4’11” and 95 pounds, the Kawasaki Concours 14 probably ain’t the bike for you…just like the Honda Rebel probably isn’t a good choice for an NBA forward. But the idea that a 30″ seat height on a narrow, lightweight motorcycle is an insurmountable obstacle for somebody with a 25″ inseam is, to put it bluntly, wrong.

          • Kevin Polito

            That’s a very long-winded, speculative scenario not backed by real-world conditions. I have been riding since 1974 and ride an 800-lb bike. I have plenty of real-world experience with a variety of bikes. By “simple modifications” you mean lowering the suspension and reducing the travel and/or reducing the seat thickness, both of which result in deteriorated ride and comfort. And the “thick-soled boots” idea is ridiculous also. To be able to back up and maneuver a heavy touring bike, you need to be able to use both legs with feet flat on the ground. Even on a relatively lightweight bike, maneuvering on tiptoes is a hazard, and backing up is nearly impossible. You speak of supposed solutions for short-legged people without having had short legs or trying any of your suggested solutions. And you fall back on the suggestion that experienced riders with short legs ride a lighter bike, smaller bike, or certain type of bike. The motorcycle industry should design motorcycles, as the automobile and truck industry, to fit all sizes of riders.

          • BDan75

            Translation: You want to be upset over something without actually thinking about why things are the way they are…and you don’t want to be bothered by the idea that the status quo might, just might, have to do with real-world problems and compromises rather than corporate ignorance, journalistic chauvinism, discrimination…whatever.

            Not backed by real world conditions? Man, they must have nice roads where you live.

            Thick-soled boots are ridiculous? I can’t flat-foot my R1200GS in my track boots, but I come closer in a pair of heavy, wide-soled HD boots I own…and I can tell you, seat height aside, I feel considerably more stable, esp with the bike loaded (I typically use one leg at stops). But okay, I guess my experience there counts for nothing.

            Backing up? Maneuvering? When I ride my Concours 14, I take care that I don’t HAVE to back up. Backing is awkward on a small bike…why would I want to punish myself on a big one? And the Connie is bike I can (barely) flat-foot. If I DO need to do any backing, or extensive maneuvering in tight spots, I get off the bike. And if the situation is such that I still need help, I get help.

            I also own an XR650L with a lowering link and the front forks raised in the clamps. Guess I haven’t tried that solution either. Even so, I rarely use both feet on that bike. Never dropped it.

            Finally, since apparently you haven’t noticed this in the 42 years you’ve been riding: motorcycles aren’t cars.

            But, ya know, when you stop to think about it…cars have ridiculous limitations too. I mean, where’s the Miata for the 6’8″ 350 lb person? You’re telling me they can’t build a tiny, lightweight sports car that will fit a big person? That I have to buy something that can’t handle just because I’m big and tall?

            Life is so unfair…

          • Kru Chris

            TBH, I had the weird experience of being too short for my Africa Twin 750. To reach the ground on one side – on tiptoes! – I had to tilt the bike…

  • Bevin

    Just for fun can you include the Ducati Scrambler sixty2 in your shootout. I know its way more money but it seems to have a similar spec sheet.

    • Kevin Duke

      Good suggestion. We forgot the new little Duc, mostly because Ducati had a media launch for the bike but didn’t invite moto media to it, instead inviting non-moto press so the bike could be exposed to non-riders.

  • John Toporowski

    Why didn’t you put the Suzuki DRZ400SM in the mix? Seems like a better competitor than the other Suzuki you included.

    • Kevin Duke

      I think if a DRZ and a GW were parked next to a G310, most would say the GW is the more likely match. The DRZ would also stand apart for the largest engine and a far higher price.

      • John Toporowski

        CB500 is larger and included in this mess and 10cc between a Duke and DRZ is minimal. I’ll give you price.

        • Kevin Duke

          Okay, give me price and 27cc, not 10cc. :)

  • Y.A.

    That Suzuki looks 20 years old. Yeech

  • Dan Nibbelink

    Check out the CSC RX3 (it is a Adventure Tourer with bags and engine guards) and the soon to be announced CSC RC3 Sport bike. Save $1000+.

  • eric watkins

    if that’s BMW’s 6-step plan, they shot themselves in the foot by making the water-cooled RT every bit as good as either of the K1600 tourers.
    They’ll never get me past step 3.

  • Heidi Still

    Well lets see every entry level bike has been a HUGE failure – F800 with killer fuel pumps and dangerous stalling issues. F650GS or F650C with water pump issues and steering bearings that last 20K miles and expensive services ($500 to $600 for oil change). Dealers that sabotage your bike. Dealers that overcharge you by $4000.00. Poor dealer network. Dishonest dealers. Dealers that have no clue how to troubleshoot an issue ( popping wheelies in the parking lot does not count as troubleshooting and riding a bike with penny loafers with no socks as troubleshooting and being charged big $$ for it and declaring the bike has no issues) – what a joke. In both cases the bike had issues which made them dangerous to ride. When I went to another shop – real mechanics found and fixed the issues. I have 920,000 miles on BMWs and would never buy anything from them again. Customer service is a JOKE. Customer service will lie to you about issues. Customer service could care less that the 5th final drive failure screwed up your vacation that you worked to 2 jobs to afford.

  • Moe Badderman

    # “that was clearly a failed attempt at humor”
    fixed that for you