The amount of load-shedding we’ve had this year has been intense, the loss of power either at home or in the office is one thing, but what’s also annoying, is the havoc being caused daily at most intersections, travelling around the city, either by car or big bike, has become a real painful experience.
So, I decided to reevaluate my vehicle setup as owning a small motorcycle for me right now makes more logical sense.
I do enjoy the research that goes along with any new purchase, as my father always says… “The hunt is better than the kill”.
Looking at our ZA Bikers Buyers Guide, was an excellent place to start this research.
I was looking at bikes between 300-400cc because I would mainly be using the bike in and around town, however, if I need to go on the highway occasionally, then I can do so—the fuel economy is also typically good within this cc range. My budget was approximately around the R100k mark, and there are a lot of good options available in SA within this search criterion, which gave food for thought…
A few good options:
TVS APACHE RR 310
Pricing From R79,999 (RRP)
Pricing From R68,900 (RRP)
KTM RC 390
Pricing From R114,999 (RRP)
Pricing From R62,999 (RRP)
BMW G 310 GS
Pricing From R118,300 (RRP)
Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
Pricing From R107,699 (RRP)
KTM 390 ADVENTURE
Pricing From R122,999 (RRP)
Pricing From R114,950 (RRP)
First to go from my list were the mini adventure bikes, as I have no dirt requirements, and I prefer a bike with road tyres for better handling. Next were the supersport bikes as they are just not my cup of tea. I must admit, high on my list was Yamaha’s X-Max, I am a big fan of maxi-scooters in general and in particular ones from Yamaha. They are just so practical, with great under-seat storage, and the ease of an automatic twist-and-go throttle, making the riding experience very simple. At the time, there was no stock available, ruling this out as an option for me. This then left me with a few naked bike options.
Narrowing down my search:
After serious consideration, and please understand that these are all excellent bikes in their own right, it came down to my personal preferences, a preference that I may have had for a while…
Back in 2017, I bonded with a certain naked bike at the local media launch, what stood out to me at the time was; the styling of the bike, the ergonomics/comfort and the fun factor, which reminded me of why I started riding.
After much thought and research, this then pointed my riding boots to my local BMW Motorrad dealer in Sandton, to revisit an old Kindle, the BMW G 310 R.
The latest 2023 model has several styling updates which have improved the overall wow factor since its entry into the market back in 2017. My eyes were drawn to the Passion Red colour scheme option, as it looked stunning! It also matches our ZA Bikers brand’s colours to a tee.
Another factor as to why I really like the BMW G 310 R, is that it doesn’t look like a youth’s bike, it has a mature look to it, which matters to me as a 43-year-old rider. Also, it doesn’t look out of place within the BMW Roadster lineup.
I made my decision on the spot that this is the right bike for me.
Special mention needs to be made to the guys at BMW Motorrad Sandton, their assistance in helping me with the purchase process, made the whole buying experience seamless. It was such a pleasure dealing with these guys, they were very professional indeed.
I have now owned my bike for approximately two months, and it’s very close to its first service, so I would like to share with you my initial impressions of the G 310 R.
Updated in 2021, is the new LED headlight, which gives the bike a premium look over its predecessor, the daytime running light is proper and the vision at night is excellent. The overall build quality is very good, it feels like a BMW even though it’s made in India (by TVS – which is a very good brand in its own right). For example, there are no flappy clutch/brake leavers, which isn’t always the case with entry-level bikes. The attention to detail on this entry-level bike from BMW Motorrad is commendable.
Another nice touch is the mounting points on the rear grab handles. They have been conveniently placed, for strapping down a small bag onto the rear seat. In the rainy season, I will likely strap my waterproofs down here, I might even endeavour to overnight trip somewhere when it gets warmer, just strap a 10L tail bag to the rear and I am all set for a tiddler trip.
I am not a big fan of modern-day TFT displays, so the simple LCD screen is perfect for me, it gives me all the relevant information that I need and the buttons work intuitively.
Riding around town is so much fun, it reminds me of when I started riding many years ago, I often find myself (when it’s quiet) riding around the streets of Sandton, just for fun. The ergonomics for me are spot on, the seat is very comfortable, there’s no sliding forward onto the tank, footpegs and bars are in a neutral position, and everything just feels right—there’s no discomfort whatsoever.
The design of the motor is very clever, basically, the cylinder head has been turned around with the inlet facing forwards and the exhaust pointing backwards. This means the air flows directly into the inlet, with the exhaust already pointing out the back, there’s no need for any U-turns in the plumbing, giving a more efficient flow, resulting in more power.
Power figures are 25Kw @9250rpm and 28Nm @7500rpm, the motor is very smooth throughout the entire rev range and is very punchy down low. For a single-cylinder bike, around town, there are not many vibrations from the pegs or controls, I have only noticed this increase when revving higher on the highway (more on that later).
The tyres are Michelin Pilot Street Radial (Front: 110/70 R17 Rear: 150/60 R17) these are great little commuter tyres and are known for longevity (tyres are tubeless). The bike handles through the bends really well. Brakes are from Brembo’s sister company Bybre, with single discs on both ends, the stopping power is adequate for a small cc bike with a good feel.
Up front, the suspension boasts upside-down gold anodised forks, which give the bike a real premium/sporty look. Although none-adjustable, the setup works just fine. The rear shock is adjustable for pre-load only. The overall ride is very plush, which is a highlight for me, as I have ridden some other bikes in this class which feel way too firm, this makes the G 310 R very easy to live with daily.
The fuel economy is welcomed, with an 11L tank I am getting approx 300km of range, which works out at an average of 28km/L.
With any bike, there’s always a gripe or two. With the G 310 R, the same gripe I had in 2017, is still present—it’s not a significant issue, but rather a personal preference.
Let me explain…
Currently, I am riding on the highway at 7,000rpm as this is the motor’s sweet spot (the bike redlines at 10,000rpm – max speed 143kph). The rider (me) and motor are relaxed at these revs.
The issue that I have is that the speedometer indicates 112kph, which is below the national speed limit (120kph), ideally, I would like to be travelling at the same pace as the traffic flow. If I ride the little Beemer to say 7500-8000rpm then I am travelling at 120kph, but, because of my mechanical sympathy, I don’t want to be riding my bike high in the rev range for long distances—the rider (me) and motor are not as relaxed at these higher revs.
Changing the front sprocket to a 17T (currently 16T) should drop the engine revs when travelling at 120kph to around 7000rpm.
I will endeavour to research this further, and I might ‘possibly’ change the front sprocket to a 17T if there are such options available. What I also might consider doing, as part of fine-tuning the G 310 R to suit me, is to fit a slip-on exhaust pipe and air filter, just to give the bike a bit more oomph!
I’ll report back in a follow-up article, as and when…
Overall, although there are no stand-out features on the G 310 R, everything works very well, and therefore, I am very happy with my decision. Travelling around the city now during load-shedding is no longer a painful experience, in fact, it’s actually a lot of fun.
BMW G 310 R
For more information on the bike featured in this article, click on the link below…