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ADV BikesRally Raid G310GS Off-Road Test

Rally Raid G310GS Off-Road Test

The smallest GS gets a performance-oriented makeover.

Published on 09.04.2018
The motorcycle riding public can put manufacturers in a tough spot. We want performance without discomfort, ground clearance and lots of suspension travel without a tall seat height, adjustability without complication, and protection and a massive tank without massive weight. OEMs have to make compromises at some point and while the 2018 BMW G310GS is a whole heck of a lot of bike for $5,695, the corners BMW cut to reach that price-point are quite apparent.

This is where Rally Raid Products pick up the slack. For those that aren’t familiar, Rally Raid is a UK based aftermarket company that specializes in adventure bike products, as well as trials, enduro, motocross, and rally racing. To see an example of their previous work, check out this Rally Raid CB500X we tested. Jenny Morgan, ex Dakar racer and Adventure Rider, helped develop the original CB500X Rally Raid Kit and had a hand in the kit for the Rally Raid G310GS as well.

Rally Raid G310GS Adventure Motorcycle

We recently got a chance to catch up with Jenny at the Overland Expo in Arizona and got our first ride on the new Rally Raid G310GS. The GS that we tested was her personal bike on which she has been riding across the US. Since we’ve already ridden the stock G310GS extensively on the road and most of the Rally Raid upgrades are designed to improve the off-road capability of the bike, we headed straight for the trails. But before we get into how it performed, let’s first take a closer look at the Rally Raid mods on this bike.


Rally Raid G310GS Kit Upgrades

It is clear that the G310GS’s stock cast wheelset was a cost saving measure that makes it more of a city dweller than adventure bike, but a major part of the Rally Raid Kit is the wire spoke wheelset. They retain the stock 19”/17” wheel sizes and they also accept all of the stock braking and drive equipment including the cush drive and ABS rings. Spoked wheels are the only way to go for true off-road riding, as is evident by all moto and off-road bikes coming with spokes, as well as dual-sports and most serious adventure bikes. They are more resilient for off-road riding since they can flex and aren’t brittle like cast wheels. They also offer a smoother, less-harsh ride.

Rally Raid G310GS Adventure Motorcycle

Other than shock pre-load, the stock fork and shock on the G310GS are non-adjustable and come from the factory with very, very soft damping. For anything more than flat, smooth dirt roads, the suspension was out of its league. To fix this RR offers two levels of suspension upgrades. Level 1 adds performance and adjustability keeping the standard suspension travel to keep the seat height the same. A new spring (optional rates) as well as preload caps with air bleed screws and plastic preload washers are included. It is “spring,” singular, since the G310GS’s fork is a separate function fork with damping in the right leg only and, therefore, only one spring. This is a bonus for those working on the bike themselves. The Level 1 shock is a complete unit from Tractive Suspension with adjustable preload and combined rebound/compression adjuster.

Level 2 is also available for both the shock and fork. The Level 2 fork has increased travel of 25mm (1 inch) and the shock is 20mm longer (.8 inch). The Level 2 shock is a completely different unit than the level one and includes a remote reservoir (dirt bike style) and independent high speed compression, low speed compression, and rebound adjustments.

Rally Raid G310GS Adventure Motorcycle

Rally Raid G310GS Adventure Motorcycle

Protection and Extras
On this G310GS the protection has been increased with a tubular engine guard with skid plate, Barkbuster handguards, and a radiator guard. To lighten up the bike, the rear rack has been removed and a Tail Tidy kit cleaned up the license plate area. The cockpit was opened up a bit with bar risers and a wider Renthal Fatbar. Doubletake Mirrors and a kickstand shoe up the convenience factor, and lastly, a Scorpion muffler replaced the stock unit and saves the bike about 6 lbs.

How It Performed

In the name of full disclosure, we only had a short time with the G310GS so we can’t really get into gnarly detail, but the time we did have was in the dirt so we can give you a pretty good idea of how things worked.

The BMW G310GS already had a pretty off-road-like feel in stock form, but the Renthal bars and risers helped make it even more dual-sporty. This change alone made the mini GS easier to ride in the dirt and gave the bike better leverage and body position for trail use.

Rally Raid G310GS Adventure Motorcycle

The next thing that was quite noticeable was the suspension. The G310GS that we tested had the Level 1 suspension and was sprung for Jenny. We didn’t ask her weight but she’s at least 45 pounds lighter than either of the ADV Pulse testers. Even so, the performance upgrade was immediately noticed.

Overall, the bike felt more balanced and it didn’t react as much as the stock bike did to big hits or uneven terrain. When we rode the stocker, the fork and shock would bottom out very hard, very often. The shock was particularly violent. With the Rally Raid Level 1 kit, we didn’t bottom out the shock at all, or even come close. The fork we could get pretty close to bottoming, but it was way more controlled and didn’t have any of the stock bike’s harshness. The bike was actually able to charge, not slow down for, moderate rollers, waterbars, and medium size hits.

Rally Raid G310GS Adventure Motorcycle

Rally Raid G310GS Adventure Motorcycle

In chunky, rocky sections of the trail, we could ride the RR GS much faster and with greater confidence than the stock bike. As we said before, the balance of the machine is head and shoulders above the stock machine. Rather than having the bike pitch forward and back, losing forward drive, with every rock and hole, we could just pick a line and drive through the rough trail without hesitation.

One thing that was annoying about the stock fork was that when the front wheel came off the ground, there was a harsh clank when the fork topped out. This was greatly improved with the Rally Raid fork, but it was still there.

Who It’s For

For the new ADV rider, the stock G310GS makes a ton of sense, especially with its low ticket to ride. Yet for the more experienced rider who really wants a lightweight, single cylinder, Bavarian-engineered adventure motorcycle with a low seat height and decent highway manners, adding some of these Rally Raid products bumps up the performance factor considerably.

Rally Raid G310GS Adventure Upgrade Kit

Rally Raid G310GS Adventure Motorcycle

No, this isn’t a budget build, but even taking the overall cost into consideration, there is no other bike quite like the Rally Raid G310GS Adventure on the market. There are cheaper dual-sports that offer this level of off-road performance but they tend to be much taller, and some are heavier, and overall have a whole different feel than this mini ADV machine. Also keep in mind that products in the Rally Raid Kit can also be purchased separately, so you can pick and choose just the parts you need if you want to save money.

Bottom Line

The BMW G310GS in stock form is a fun bike. It doesn’t have a monster of a motor, long-range capabilities, or much performance in its suspension, but for what it is, we enjoyed the bike. But with the upgrades offered by Rally Raid, the mini GS goes from just fun, to actually capable of more serious riding. One of the biggest worries on the stock bike was damaging the cast wheels since they are not designed for the rigors of off-road riding. With wire-spoked wheels and heavy duty rims, that worry is gone. Adding to that peace of mind is the added engine protection and a more comfortable cockpit. Overall, the Rally Raid G310GS Adventure is the bike that we all hoped the stock G310GS would be.

Parts List As Tested

• Tubeless Spoked Wheel Kit: $1,685.50
• Fork Kit Level 1: $319.44
• Tractive Shock Level 1: $640.49
• Scorpion Exhaust – Titanium: $565.85
• Tractive Hydraulic Preload Adjuster: $280.92
• Kickstand Shoe: $50.57
• Radiator Guard: $98.62
• Tail Tidy Kit: $151.70
• Renthal Fatbar: $111.66
• Double-Take Mirrors x2: $175.30
• Barkbuster Hardware Kit Fatbars: $113.78
• Storm Plastic Guards Black: $47.76
Full Kit Total: $4,241.59

More details on the Rally Raid G310GS Kit can be found on the Rally Raid website.

* All prices converted from the British Pound

Author: Sean Klinger

With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs. 

Author: Sean Klinger

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Eric W.
Eric W.
September 8, 2018 11:25 am

Great upgrades. This is the bike BMW should offer off the showroom.

September 27, 2018 10:38 pm

Most bikes in the sub 500cc class, like this BMW are build with regards to the asian market. So high performance specs are neither necessary nor possible within the budget. Modifications like these will give you big problems in countries with tight regulations like Germany and others in Europe, where even the replacement handlebar requires certification and an entry in the bikes papers! So wouldn`t it be great if KTM finally came with it`s 390 Adventure and gave it a performance level right from the factory, that equals this BMW?

Chris Robinson
Chris Robinson
April 5, 2020 9:45 am

I’m very interested in a lighter weight adventure bike that is equally good both on and off road. In this article you mentioned there were no other contenders in this price point and cc size however you all did a build for a versys 300 that seemed very much to compete with this bmw. My quedtion is how do you believe the 2 compare to each other in terms of pavement use and offroad use since both have upgraded features? I believe the versys has more fuel range and more hp but perhaps not as much tractability offroad with it’s higher revving engine? Your thoughts on the better “all around” bike?

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
April 15, 2020 1:04 pm
Reply to  Chris Robinson

Overall, I think you get a more versatile adventure bike when you modify the Versys-X 300 like we did ( It’s a lot better bike on the highway. The G310GS Rally Raid is cool but limited on the highway because of the single cylinder motor. Plus the Versys already comes with wire spoke wheels so you can save some money there to invest in improving the suspension.


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