Test Ride: BMW G 310 GS Small But Mighty

BRIDGEWATER, CT – Motorcycle manufacturers are re-thinking their go to market strategy for the United States. The fresh targets? New entrants into the sport, along with cost-conscious commuters. With that said, small is now BIG and BMW has delved into the fray with two exciting new entries – the G 310 R for the street and the G 310 GS for adventure riding.  

Assembled in India, both platforms utilize the same 313cc, single-cylinder engine but are configured differently for their respective uses. With price tags less than $6,000, BMW can now be considered as a viable option for entry level riders as well as those looking for more affordable, light-weight options.

Recently, MAX BMW loaned me a GS model for a multi-day demo. With a 32.9-inch seat height, the bike stands fairly tall for my 5’3” frame and 29-inch inseam. However, the suspension has sufficient sag, which thankfully enabled ground reach. (The GS also has a 32.2-inch seat option, while the R model offers three seat heights ranging from a low of 30.3” to a high of 31.5”.)

I was eager to get to know the new ‘baby GS’ and did so over the four-day Memorial Day weekend. My first reaction, along with the seat height, is that the fit and finish of the machine is classic BMW with many styling features similar to the larger GS models. The true test however would be in the ride. . .

Upon being handed the keys, I was ready to roll, but I had difficulty getting the kickstand up. It’s placed squarely under the foot peg and dips down a bit prior to flipping back, which presented a problem for me and presumably anyone else who may be inseam-challenged.  

(Note:  BMW recently issued a “stop sale” regarding unspecified failures found with the kickstand and is currently working on a fix.)  

Once rolling, the engine’s pleasant growl winding up through the gears gave me a grin, exuding a very nice exhaust note in higher revs. At less than 400 pounds, and with a comfy standard riding position, I found it to be extremely flickable and fun upon ripping down some freshly paved twisty country lanes.

The transmission of the G 310 GS is fairly smooth in shifting with the exception of finding neutral which was a bit elusive from up or down in the gear pattern. The bike’s ergos seem to be designed optimally for a bit taller rider but certainly not uncomfortable for a smaller framed pilot.

Upon taking to the highway, the bike quickly came up to speed with enough punch in the engine to easily navigate and pass at Interstate speeds. The ride was also pleasant with minimal vibration felt through the pegs and seat when reaching the top of the GS’s power band. The front and rear disc brakes were adequate when slowing or coming to a stop. ABS is standard.

With a small engine, fuel economy is great; estimated at 71 mpg. That makes the bike a great commuter. The tank holds 2.9 gallons and will get you down the road a ways – most likely 180+ miles. When filling the tank, one must be watchful as the tank screen can cause some fuel splash back. 

As my main goal in the demo was to understand the true ADV capability of the G 310 GS, some gravel lanes were next on the docket.  

On the set-up of the machine for off-road, the stock tires on the bike are 80/20 road biased. However, the rim sizing is pretty standard with several more ADV friendly tire options available on the market. 

When standing on the bike, I found myself leaning a bit too far forward due to the combination of peg position and lack of bar risers, which would most likely remedy some of my reach issues. The rear brake lever is set strangely low and not adjustable, presenting an issue when attempting to operate from a standing position. 

Also, the foot pegs proved to be too narrow for standing at length but aftermarket options will most likely become available in the near future.

The most important components of any ADV capable bike are ruggedness and composure in varied terrain and a machine’s suspension takes top billing in meeting these qualifications. The GS’s suspension, while soft, seemed manageable on the tar as well as on groomed gravel surfaces, but upon hitting bumpy terrain at speed, the forks were a bit overwhelmed causing an “Oh $&#!” moment or two.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Morgan/Rally-Raid Products

Thankfully, there are several options to remedy this problem as offered by Rally-Raid Products, which has put together a nice array of front/rear suspension componentry to take this bike to the next level of ADV worthiness. The company offers upgrades such as spoked rims, engine guards, windscreen and exhaust options to further dial in the machine to ADV spec.

The G 310 GS has a reasonable base MSRP of $5,695 and is small, but mighty right out of the box. It’s a perfect entry-level machine that can be utilized as a light commuter or a fun light bike to expand a rider’s scope of chosen terrain beyond the tar. When outfitted with some aftermarket options, more serious ADV riders can quickly turn this bike into a very capable off-piste steed in the small-displacement arena.

Commuters not seeking an ADV model may want to note the base price of the G 310 R is even less at $4,750.


Scenic photos by Victoria Zandonella

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Since 2010, RIDE-CT & RIDE-NewEngland has been reporting about motorcycling in New England and portions of New York.

One comment

  1. So happy they made this!! This is my next bike!