It would seem as though I had brought some of the lovely weather I had endured while in Spain back with me as we geared up to ride the 2018 BMW G 310 GS. More rain, you’re welcome Southern California. Thankfully, this time around it would only last for the first half of the day, although that was where the good stuff was in regard to our route. Nonetheless, the mixture of weather during our introductory ride of BMW’s lil GS gives us an opportunity to deliver an all-weather review of this new motorcycle.
I haven’t so soon forgotten where I came from. In Illinois, we had all seasons with beautiful Falls and lush Springs sandwiched by incredibly humid summers and frigid winters. I guess what I’m saying is that I need to be happy with what I’ve got. And what I’ve got today, is the chance to test a new BMW.
BMW has done a fantastic job in designing the G 310 GS to carry-on the quintessential GS look while being quite svelte. From the GS beak, to the large, robust rack capping off the rear, there is no mistaking the styling of BMW’s newest addition to it’s ADV family. In my opinion, after having sampled the others, it is the best small-displacement ADV bike on the market in terms of fit and finish.
The 310 GS uses a 41mm upside-down gold fork which, aesthetically, offers a premium look that rivals in the category have yet to opt for, although it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be suspended better than a traditional style fork. The cast five-spoke aluminum wheels look fantastic, and the 19-inch up front is helpful off-road – while I might have liked to see spoked wheels on a bike with off-road potential. Lighting is well-placed with the turn signals up high out of the way of impending tip over damage surprisingly perhaps, no LED lighting has been used on the 310.
Graphics and colors also exude GS DNA with Cosmic black, Racing Red, and Pearl White Metallic. The Pearl White Metallic adds $100 and is the only factory option on the 310 GS. Pricing is set at $5,695 and BMW has gone the extra mile to cut their destination and handling fee in half, to $245, which will get you out of the dealership under $6,000 before tax.
The single-cylinder, 313cc GS is quite comfortable around town with its wide handlebar, upright riding position, and nimble handling characteristics. While the suspension is quite soft, it’s comfortable around town. The 32.9-inch seat height which may seem high to some, but the suspension squats considerably once mounted.
We began our day cruising out into the backroads of San Diego County where it immediately started raining, progressing from light drizzle to full-on vision-inhibiting rain. Am I back in Spain? Déjà vu? Although the G 310 GS is devoid of electronics such as traction control or cornering ABS and rider modes, it is still somewhat comforting to be on a bike with lower horsepower and torque numbers that is lightweight and easily maneuverable in these adverse conditions.
BMW claims 34 hp at 9,500 rpm and 21 lb-ft of torque at 7,500 out of its single-cylinder engine, numbers that are nearly identical to the parallel-twin Versys-X 300 we dyno’d this past September. Engine performance is admittedly mild most of the way through the rev-range with the most excitement coming in close to the 10,600 redline. It can take a bit of getting used to in order to keep the motor in its peak performance range, but owners will likely come accustomed to it.
Once we made our way to the beginning of the fire road, we paused to discuss the next part of our route. t was suggested that we turn off ABS. On the G 310 GS, ABS is easily disabled while moving with a dedicated button on the right control module. Yes! Although there are no off-road modes or complicated algorithms detecting the rate of wheel spin individually, I was so happy to see an easily switchable ABS system on a bike like this. Of note, like many other models, ABS will be turned back on if the key is switched off. If the ABS light is off while riding, it is on, if the ABS light is solidly lit, ABS is off. Easy as that.
While making our way up a somewhat slimy, flat section of dirt I began to toy with the bike’s limits of traction. I was surprised by how well the stock Metzler Tourance tires hooked up on the muddy ground. With the 110/80R19 up front and 150/70R17 in the rear, those hunting for even more traction should have a fair amount of choices.
Even with our brief stretch of wet pavement in the morning, it was enough to notice the lack of initial bite and overall weakness of the brakes. The 310 GS uses Bybre brakes front and rear, a 300mm single disc with a 4-piston radial-mounted caliper fore and a 240mm single disc aft clamped by a single-piston floating caliper. For those of you not familiar with Bybre brakes, they are a subsidiary of Brembo used by small-to-medium displacement scooters. ByBre: By Brembo.
While our dirt section was almost devoid of bumps, there was still a section or two where we were happy to have the 7.1-inches of travel front and rear, that being said, the bike bottomed with my 170 lbs on it going over a relatively small washed out section on the side of the fire road at slow speed.
Just as we were nearing our lunch stop, the skies opened, the clouds blew away, and we were left with the sunny California weather we know so well (and that those who had traveled to San Diego had hoped for). After lunch, we hit the road, eager to push the bikes to there limits to really test the performance of the machines.
I am happy to admit even when hustling into corners with the fairly soft suspension, once in a corner at speed, the suspension was predictable and linear in its stroke without bouncing all over the place. I’m sure speeding through tight switchbacks would offer a different outcome; however, it worked just fine where we were riding.
Braking on dry pavement at speed only further accentuated the weaknesses of the braking system on the G 310 GS. The soft front suspension coupled with the weak stopping power leads to very little feel or feedback at the lever, something riders of varying skill levels will likely notice.
Let’s take a step back for a moment though and consider the potential buyers of the BMW G 310 GS: a new rider or one interested in the adventure motorcycle segment who doesn’t want to make a $15,000 investment just yet, or perhaps the buyer of the wee GS has a 1200 in the garage already and wants a bike to slap on the back of the RV while on summer road trips. Well, Any of the aforementioned will likely be happy with the 310 GS. The performance attributes that can be seen as negatives, when comparing the motorcycle to costlier larger machines are probably going to be enough for the intended audience of the new 310 GS. On the spec sheet, the BMW stacks up nicely to potential competitors like the Kawasaki Versys-X 300. So closely in fact, that I had to ride one of these bad boys an hour and a half home on the 5/405 freeway so we can have a chance to test it more thoroughly and get it side by side with the competition for a good ‘ol fashioned MO shootout.
|2018 BMW G310S Specifications|
|Engine Type||313cc, liquid-cooled Single w/reverse-cylinder design|
|Bore and Stroke||80.0mm x 62.1mm|
|Valve Train||DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder|
|Horsepower||34 hp at 9500 rpm (claimed)|
|Torque||21 lb-ft. at 7500 rpm (claimed)|
|Clutch||Multi-plate wet clutch|
|Frame||Tubular steel frame in grid structure with bolted rear frame|
|Front Suspension||41mm Inverted fork, non-adjustable; 5.5 in. travel|
|Rear Suspension||Single shock, preload-adjustable; 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|
|Seat Height||32.9 in.|
|Wet weight||373 lbs (claimed)|
|Fuel Mileage, observed||701 mpg (claimed)|
|Fuel Capacity||2.9 gallons|