Targeting a younger,
less affluent market
segment,BMW rolls out
a sub-$5,000 model.
28 MCN I For Enthusiasts MCNEWS.COM
BMW, long perceived as a brand of expensive, exclu- sive motorcycles reserved for the most discerning and accomplished riders, is set to break from that tradition with the introduction of the all-new G 310 R, perhaps
its first, genuine entry-level motorcycle. The new machine
reflects an attitudinal shift not just for the Bavarian brand,
but the general direction of all manufacturers, indicating
small displacement (under 500cc) and urban mobility represent an important market for the future of motorcycles.
With shades of its S 1000 R brother, the G 310 R cuts
an impressive stance, the wedged bodywork, bold paint
scheme, upside-down gold anodized fork and grown-up-looking mechanicals granting it a much more substantial
presence than its smaller displacement would suggest. The
engine is a liquid-cooled, electronically fuel-injected, 313cc
single cylinder with four valves operating off two overhead
camshafts. The engine has a dynamic rear-tilted cylinder
with the intake on the front and the exhaust header exiting
the rear. Claimed power output is 34 hp at 9,500 rpm.
Throwing a leg over the 310 and pulling it off its side stand
reveals its feathery presence—a mere 349 pounds—and
comfortable ergonomics. Once under way, any concern
about 34 horses being inadequate is instantly assuaged, as
the 310 spirits along just fine. Our time on the new BMW
consisted of a 135-mile circuitous route from Hollywood,
California, up into the Santa Monica Mountains. The test
allowed us to experience the G 310 R in a multitude of scenarios: morning commute traffic on surface streets, freeway,
and mountain twisties, ending the day with the evening
congestion for which L.A. is famous.
On all fronts, the 310 R pleasantly surprised. The bike’s
lithe weight and narrow bars make maneuvering through
traffic-snarled streets a breeze (especially in California,
where lane-splitting is allowed). Perhaps the biggest sur-
prise was the way the little 310 handled open freeway. In
sixth gear, at 75 mph, the bike was planted and relatively
smooth both in terms of engine vibration and absorbing the
road. When we arrived at the remote canyon roads above
Malibu, the 310 again surprised with a degree of sporting
rideability. Despite the bike’s light weight, it has a planted
feel in corners and responds well to rider input, providing a
highly intuitive responsiveness that adds to the fun factor.
ABS is standard, the two-channel system mated to a
single 300mm disc and four-piston caliper on the front, with
a single 240mm disc on the rear. The 310 responds well to
ample rear brake input to settle the chassis on corner entry.
As would be expected with the bike’s light weight, the 310
can be brought down from speed rather quickly with the
stable demeanor of a larger sportbike.
The G 310 R will be manufactured entirely in India under
strict BMW engineering management, representing global-
ization in terms of efficient and cost-effective build. With
the release and subsequent success of the R nine T, BMW ex-
perienced something new: young people in its showrooms.
Chalk it up to marketing campaigns outside the motor-
cycle industry that have increasingly adopted motorcycles
as a centerpiece to showcase products and a hip lifestyle.
Yes, motorcycles are cool again. BMW hopes to snag a
good portion of this rapidly growing segment by offering
an attractive, highly functional, capable motorcycle in an
unintimidating package for an equally attractive price—just
under $5,000, including destination charges. MCN
BMW shifts the focus away
from its typical high-
end clientele. First-time
buyers—of either sex—are
now invited to join the fun.
> By Jeff Buchanan
G 310 R