The BMW G 310 GS BS6’s new price has placed it within the reach of many who might have turned away at the sight of the previous price tag. Here is what you may expect to find if you return for a closer look
Imagine being the smallest (and one of the youngest) members in a family of global repute in a particular field for 40 years. Such is their prowess that people still speak of the heroics that your predecessors performed. For someone like that, winning among their peers is not as tough a job as earning a place in the tribe. The clan in question here is the Gelände Straße or GS, one that has produced icons such as the R 80 G/S to the R 1250 GS. These motorcycles are internationally acclaimed for their go-anywhere ability and some adventurers have even circumnavigated the globe astride GSs. So, in this road test, we will be putting the G 310 GS to the test to see if it has what it takes to bear the weight of that reputed badge.
The baby GS is not a new motorcycle for our market, so what you see across these pages is a BS6 update that comes bearing a few choice upgrades. The cosmetic ones are the most obvious and they include new paint schemes and graphics. Then we have new LED lighting all around, significantly increasing the motorcycle’s visibility on the road round the clock, while the headlamp offers decent illumination for those inevitable night runs that are a part of long-distance touring.
Settle into the saddle and you are greeted by the wide handlebar and imposing bodywork that is characteristic of the GS family’s “big and burly” approach. The instrument console continues to be the same LCD unit as before but it provides all the information you could need spread over multiple windows, including engine temperature and date. I can personally relate to the need for the latter because, having ridden the baby GS for a few hours, I am rather tempted to pick a direction and ride off to wherever the road (or trail) takes me. Could lose count of days quite easily then. The switchgear and plastics feel premium and the overall quality is nothing short of BMW’s standards.
At 835 millimetres, the saddle is fairly accessible for most riders without the need for a stepladder and BMW are also offering a low or high seat as an accessory. Seating position is upright, relaxed, and comfortable while also offering a commanding view of the road ahead. When I had to stand up on the pegs and power through rough sections, the riding position continued to feel easy and natural, even for my tall frame.
Before we talk about the 310 GS experience on paved and unpaved surfaces, I must remind you that the mill continues to be the same 313-cc, liquid-cooled, four-valve, DOHC, single-cylinder unit and it develops the same 34 hp at a slightly lower 9,250 rpm and a peak torque of 28 Nm at 7,500 rpm whilst being mated to a six-speed gearbox. That, in conjunction with the generous spread of power and torque and well-spaced gear ratios, give this GS DQM (Damn Quick Motorcycle) status on the road; 0-60 km/h is dismissed effortlessly within the first three gears. Its abilities on ribbons of tarmac are further sharpened due to the addition of a Ride-By-Wire (RBW) throttle and its precision enabled me to take advantage of the GS’ smooth and predictable fuelling, especially on the twisty switchbacks. Of course, the Metzeler Tourance’s sticky behaviour and the potent brakes contributed in spades to my confidence as well. What was until then a relaxed tour along the countryside soon transformed into a fast session of corner-carving which I felt was remarkable for a motorcycle that has a 19-inch wheel at the front and a 17-incher at the rear. The agile GS changed direction quickly and the suspension set-up ensured that it stayed on course without fuss and that is not all.
For long road trips where you will inevitably find yourself on highways, the 310 GS is just as prepared. Its USD fork and monoshock soak up bumps before they reach your posterior and keep your hands and legs tingle-free from errant vibrations for up to 7,500 rpm while the windscreen deflects most of the wind away from your chest and head. In the real world, that means you can carry triple-digit speeds for longer without tiring yourself out.
In spite of its imposing visual stance, the GS glides through traffic fairly easily once you are used to its dimensions. In fact, I would even say that it is a pragmatic option for the dismal road surfaces we enjoy in this country because its ride quality keeps both rider and pillion comfortable through a wide range of surfaces without having to sacrifice pace.
Now, the question that most ask: ‘Is it any good off the road?’ To answer that, I will have to introduce you to a few new questions. Will it go over broken roads fast? Easily. Will it be manageable on trails? No problem at all. Will it go through everything a 1250 GS goes through? Sure, it will and in a more manageable manner thanks to its overall lighter form. Also, the lack of switchable ABS is a let-down for off-road enthusiasts but it is not a deal-breaker overall.
In conclusion, the G 310 GS certainly belongs to the GS family but only if you judge it for what it is. This is not a machine that was built to circumnavigate the globe but it is certainly capable of doing so. It is not a GS that will spend weekdays inside a garage; it is one that will accompany you to work and social events through rush-hour traffic. As for off-road capability, it can be a learner’s tool while being just as potent in the hands of a veteran because, so far as equipment is concerned, it has it all. The G 310 GS is a motorcycle that can do everything its larger siblings can do off-road and then it plays its trump card and earns the GS badge by being significantly better company in traffic and for everyday runs. Previously, although it was a reliable, well-built machine, it was let down by ambitious pricing, but now, at Rs 2.85 lakh (ex-showroom), it has shed Rs 64,000 and is finally stunningly close to excellent value because it also allows you entry into the exclusive world of BMW.