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ADV BikesFirst Ride on the 2018 BMW G310GS – The Baby GS Has Arrived!

First Ride on the 2018 BMW G310GS – The Baby GS Has Arrived!

 BMW brings its compact, fun and affordable GS to North America.

Published on 03.18.2018

It wasn’t more than a few years ago that a small-displacement Adventure Bike with touring capability straight out of the box was considered a unicorn. Spurred by strong demand, today more and more manufacturers are coming out with simple, affordable and compact adventure motorcycles. Following that trend BMW is now the latest to enter the XS ADV segment, adding the all-new G310GS to their lineup of GS models.

First announced in November of 2016, the Baby GS was expected to arrive by mid-to-late 2017. But it took a little longer than expected to implement BMW’s stringent quality control at the production plant of their Indian manufacturing partner TVS Motors. For many, this new model is likely to become the first experience with the BMW brand. So you can imagine getting it right the first time was imperative.

2018 BMW G310GS Black
BMW is betting it’s going to be attractive to a wide range of motorcyclists, including returning riders, women, commuters, city dwellers and those just looking for a fun and affordable second bike.

With the G310GS, BMW looks to attract a new generation of fans of the Bavarian marque. Achieving a low price point was a top priority, with millennials now making up 37% of new motorcycle purchases. To reach their target, BMW kept control of the design, development and production processes, while taking advantage of lower manufacturing costs in India.

According to BMW, you get the same premium fit and finish of their other GS models but in a simple, compact, lighter, and more-affordable package. An MSRP of just $5,695 and easy financing options make it easy to own, but there’s a lot more to be excited about beyond price.

Technology and Components

The BMW G310GS comes with a 313cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC single that pumps out 34 horsepower and 20.7 ft-lbs of torque — not bad numbers for a small engine. Performance comes from an efficient EFI system and a cylinder head that is turned around backwards to allow cool air to enter and exit the engine in a more streamlined fashion. This configuration also allows for a longer swing arm length on its short 58″ wheelbase, providing more-balanced handling and improved stability. Additionally, BMW claims it lowers the center of gravity and gives a front wheel weight bias that improves responsiveness.

bmw 310 gs
North American G310GS’s get a black ‘wind deflector’ instead of a clear ‘windscreen’ in order to avoid delays in delivery due to US windscreen certification requirements.
G310GS ByBre Brakes.
A radial-mounted BYBRE front disc brake provides ample stopping force. BYBRE is a line of Brembo Brakes made in India.

Premium components on the G310GS include gold anodized upside-down forks, a radial-mounted 4-piston caliper front brake, an LCD instrument panel and LED tail light. ABS is also standard and may be switched ON or OFF on-the-fly. It’s also equipped for the trail with 7.1 inches of suspension travel front and rear, along with a 19″ front wheel and basic sump protection. With a relatively light weight of 374 pounds wet and a seat height of 32.9″ (32.3″ with optional low seat), it’s also easy to manage.

BMW G310GS adventure motorcycle engine

For the highway, the G310GS gets a counterbalanced engine and bar end weights to help reduce vibrations, along with a 6-speed transmission that gives it a good cruising speed. While a 2.9 US Gallon tank may not seem like a lot, its 71 mpg fuel efficiency rating makes the bike capable of going well over 200 miles on a tank. There’s also enough electrical power on tap for a heated vest and electronic accessories with an alternator output of 308 Watts. Touring capability is further improved with a small windscreen, rear luggage rack and adjustable rear preload (using tools).

First Look

BMW G310GS first look

We got our first ride on the BMW G310GS during the US press launch in the hills above San Diego, California. At a glance, the G310GS shares many of the same lines as its big brothers. Side panels, tank silhouette and beak all share a family resemblance to the iconic R1200GS, just miniaturized. Throwing a leg over the machine reveals a fairly low seat height that allows even someone 5’9″ tall to flat foot it at a stop light.

This new model definitely has a back-to-basics feel for a GS. There’s no accessory plug (available as an option), no center stand, no heated grips, no hand controls for the instrument panel, no ride modes or electronically adjustable suspension. A simple LCD instrument cluster and a small 7/8″ steel handlebar convey the bike’s budget focus. Firing up the motor is also less visceral than BMWs powerful GS twins. But you have to keep in mind the price point of the bike, and remember the benefits you get with a lighter and more-maneuverable GS.

Asphalt Performance

BMW G310GS Street Test

Cruising around town on the G310GS feels effortless. It pulls away from stop signs easily, turns on a dime, and squeezes through traffic with ease. The Baby GS accelerates surprisingly well too. It likes to rev and the power is meatier than your typical 250cc. Redline is at 10,000 rpm and seems to have a power surge right around 9,500 rpm that is reminiscent of a two-stroke motor on the pipe. It can definitely give a KLR650 a run for its money from 0 to 60. With a little clutch and a tug on the bars, you can get the front wheel off the ground in first gear (or even second gear slightly) and top speed is 90 mph.

In the twisties it feels a lot like you are riding a sport bike, which isn’t a surprise considering the bike is based on the G310R roadster. Early in the day we had rain to contend with, limiting our ability to push the bike on the wet asphalt. But by noon, the rain was gone and we were soon scraping toes leaning deep into turns. You can flick the bike around, change lines or pick it up in a turn with ease — the twistier the better for this backroad burner. Braking power is also impressive from the radial-mounted front brake. One finger is all you need for emergency stops with the aid of ABS, although there isn’t a lot of feel for subtle braking inputs.

Vibration on the bike wasn’t bad on the highway as you might think but there’s no getting around the fact that this is a small-displacement single-cylinder motor. During a quick speed run on Interstate Highway 5, where the flow of traffic is typically 80 mph, the Beemer had no problem slotting into traffic and riding in the fast lane. But maintaining 80+ for any length of time does get tiring. The G310GS feels much better after slowing down to the low 70s where the RPMs and vibrations drop. The seat was also good for an entire day of riding, although there isn’t much room to move around in the tight seating quarter. We’ll have to see if it remains comfortable when we get it out on longer journeys.

Off-Road Performance

Riding the 2018 BMW G310GS on dirt

BMW is quick to say that riders should look at the F850GS or R1200GS line for serious off-road use. While the G310GS is lighter and has a lower seat height than those models, it doesn’t have as much suspension travel, wire-spoke wheels or protective components that you would want for more technical terrain. What you do get are a lightweight skid plate, serrated foot pegs with removable rubber inserts, and 80/20 Metzler Tourance dual sport tires.

Riding the G310GS on smooth dirt roads was a lot of fun. With its short wheelbase and lighter weight, it was easy to control on the slimy wet dirt we traveled on. It’s very tractable and doesn’t easily break the rear tire loose in a power slide. The front-biased weight distribution and short tank length made it easier to feel what the front tire was doing. And when it did begin to slip, it recovered well.

dirt track riding on the BMW G310GS
The forward-biased weight distribution of the G310GS gives the front wheel a more-planted feel on slick dirt roads.

While sit-down dirt track-style riding was a blast on the 310, standing up was a different story. The stand up riding position is awkward, due to the bike’s low bar height and close distance between the knees and bars. The bars definitely need to be moved forward and higher for taller riders to get in a more-natural stand-up riding position. In addition, the removable rubber inserts also made balancing on wet pegs unnerving.

Riding with ABS off-road was not a problem as the system works well in low traction conditions. In sandy dirt or loose gravel, it’s nice to have the option to switch it OFF though. Switching ABS ON or OFF, without having to pull over, was definitely appreciated.

BMW G310GS first look

BMW G310GS Fuel Tank
A 2.9 gallon tank carries the G310GS 200+ miles between fillups and the engine can also handle low-grade fuels without affecting performance.

The jury is still out on the G310GS’s off-road potential. During the intro, some of the originally planned trails were blocked due to the rains. We didn’t get a chance to ride anything more technical than smooth fire roads. But it did seem to have decent suspension travel and damping when riding through some rough patches off the side of the road. We’ll have to get our test bike out on more technical terrain after adjusting the bars and removing the foot peg inserts to see what it’s capable of. There could be a lot of potential there for riders looking to gain experience off-road on a smaller bike, especially with a little help from the aftermarket.

The Bottom Line

BMW G310GS test

BMW has created a simple, affordable and fun adventure motorcycle that is easy to ride and easy to own. It’s capable of enabling some exciting adventures for those looking to dip their toes in the adventure riding lifestyle. And it’s also appealing to experienced adventure riders that want a more approachable, easier-to-manage GS. What you get for the price tag is well worth it but high expectations for performance, off-road capability and luxury have to be kept in check. However, there are already aftermarket companies developing products for those that want to extend the off-road and touring capabilities of the G310GS.

Nonetheless, we would have liked to see the G310GS come with wire-spoke wheels instead of cast aluminum. Cost considerations may have had a play in that decision. BMW also mentioned they didn’t want to overstate the off-road intentions of the bike. We’ll see if continued requests from potential customers change their minds in the future.

It’s exciting to see more new options appearing in the marketplace that are making adventure riding more affordable and accessible. For $5,695 you get a fantastic city bike that can also be used to explore the backcountry on weekends. And with BMW’s ‘3ASY RIDE’ financing program, the G310GS can be owned for as little as $87 per month. You can expect servicing the G310GS to be significantly cheaper than its bigger brothers too, yet maintenance intervals remain the same as an R1200GS (oil change every 6,000 miles and valve adjustment every 12,000 miles).

BMW G310GS adventure bike experience

The 2018 BMW G310GS is currently available in both Europe and North America. There’s also a range of optional equipment to outfit the G310GS and a line of value-oriented adventure riding gear is on its way. For more details about the 2018 BMW G310GS, go to the BMW Website

2018 BMW G310GS Specs

Engine Type:Single-cylinder, water-cooled, 4 stroke, DOHC
Displacement:313cc
Bore & Stroke:80mm x 62.1mm
Compression:10.6:1
Max. Power Output:34 BHP @ 9500 RPM
Max. Torque:20.7 ft-lbs (28 Nm) @ 7500 RPM
Fuel System:BMS-E2 electronic injection
Fuel Capacity:2.9 US gallons (11 L)
Fuel Efficiency:71 MPG (estimated)
Lubrication:Wet Sump
Clutch:Wet, multi-plate
Gearbox / Transmission Type:6 speed constant mesh
Final Drive:O-ring chain
Frame Type:Tubular steel frame in grid structure with bolted rear frame
Suspension (front):Upside-down 41mm forks, 7.1 in. (180mm) Travel
Suspension (rear):Direct-mount monoshock, 7.1 in. (180mm) Travel, preload adjustable
Dimensions (L x W):81.7 in. x 35.3 in.
Wheelbase:56 in. (1,420 mm)
Trail:3.9 in (98 mm)
Steering Head Angle:63.3°
Seat Height:32.9 in. (835 mm); 32.3 in. (820 mm) optional low seat
Wet Weight:374 lbs. (169.5 kg)
Tires (front):110/80-19″
Tires (rear):150/70-17″
Brakes (front):300mm single disc, 4-piston radial-mounted caliper
Brakes (rear):240mm single disc, single piston floating caliper
Alternator Output:308 Watts
Headlight:H4 12V 60/55 W
Taillight:LED
Max Speed:90 mph
Fuel Efficiency:71 mpg
Color Options:Cosmic Black, Racing Red and the Pearl White metallic
MSRP:$5,695 ($5,795 Pearl White metallic)

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GEAR WE USED

• Helmet: Arai XD-4 Vision
• Jacket: REV’IT! Dominator GTX
• Pants: REV’IT! Dominator 2 GTX
• Gloves: REV’IT! Dominator
• Boots: Falco Avantour
• Bluetooth Headset: Sena 10c

Photos by Kevin Wing

Author: Rob Dabney

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6 thoughts on “First Ride on the 2018 BMW G310GS – The Baby GS Has Arrived!

  1. Unless you’re the elitist type that just HAS to own a BMW or other European bike, look at the Versys-X 300 too. Better yet, ride both. You’ll pick the Versys every time.

  2. Having not ridden either my considered opinion is the kawi looks way better, more like a dual sport and the bmw looks like a roadster. When the kawi becomes a 400 it could be pretty cool. The bmw is $5500 that seems like an ok deal

  3. Pingback: Rally Raid Launches Adventure Kit for the BMW G310GS - ADV Pulse

  4. Rally Raid are doing full suspension replacements which indicates the stock suspension is very poor/road only – The RC390 KTM is a way better bike imho – the engine is way more powerful and tested in the field for several years and power is whats needed on a smaller adv machine – so just get an RC390 and trick up the suspension, then rip past any poser on his Geeeeeee sssssssssssss 310

    or wait for the Kawasaki Ninja 400 to be smized over into a X400.

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