Coming in at a cool ₹3.49 lakh, (ex-showroom), the BMW G310 GS undercuts the Kawasaki Versys by ₹1 lakh, leaves the Royal Enfield Himalayan in the dust and doesn’t have to worry about KTM’s Adventure offering at least till the end of the year.
The baby BMW is finally here and the above mentioned points mean it holds a very interesting position in the market, but does that price justify what you get, or is it just the snob value that one usually associates with BMW? I got to swing my short legs over it for a short while and then some.
Design and Quality
It looks big, bold, intimidating and bulky, which it sort of is at 170kgs and stands tall with a seat height of 835mm. Shorter riders might struggle in this regard, but BMW provides the necessary stilettos in the form of a kit that lowers the height to 820mm. The bold stature and the tall stance mean striking road presence and the GS does turn heads. However, the most uninspiring bit on the BMW GS310 is the bog-standard halogen headlight borrowed straight from 1916. At least an LED offering would have been amazing considering the price and we’re too afraid to ask for a coloured TFT display. The headlight and the instrument cluster is the same for both the bikes, except that the GS gets the ADV treatment and that beak along with the medium-sized windscreen just looks menacing.
Fit and finish is top-notch and the good quality resonates even with the levers and footpegs of the bike. The rubber grip on the footpeg can be removed to expose the rugged spiked treatment it gets that offers loads of grip. Even the switches and brake cables feel built to last. The seat is the same one that’s shared between the two bikes and blends in with the design silo. The back luggage bridge and the semi-off-road Metzeler rubber adds further character and completes the tourer/off-roader look of the baby GS.
To my surprise, the GS feels quite manageable when you first swing your leg over it. It welcomes you with a plush springy hello and lets you sort of relax - kinda like Shrek, intimidating from the outside, but all heart within. A few standing jumps to feel that springy upside down suspension once more and you can’t help but think it is a little too soft, which is a little worrisome when you think of riding on the Delhi highway - on which one may find cattle and imbeciles trying to reach somewhere.
The 313cc single-cylinder mill on the GS is linear and relaxed, it produces 33bhp with 28Nm of torque. That’s not to say it doesn’t have grunt. Give the throttle a twist and it does pull you forward, just that it takes a little while to reach triple digits. The good bit is that it doesn’t feel frazzled and doesn’t at all have that frenzy of say the KTM Duke 390 or even its sibling - the BMW G310R considering it is the same mill. Manoeuvrability is quite good and it has a pretty neat turning radius as well. Corners at high speeds don’t feel intimidating and the BMW pushes through with nimble confidence.
Ride it in Mumbai’s heavy traffic and narrow lanes, though, and that’s when the GS feels a little cumbersome to manage. The few gaps in between traffic that you can cut through extremely easily on a Himalayan or even the 310R, feel like a chore at times, especially if you are a short rider and need to put the foot down almost every 5 seconds in heavy traffic. But with that being said, it eats Mumbai’s potholes for breakfast, even the ones you would classify as craters hardly unsettle the G 310GS.
The relaxed riding position and comfortable soft seats make it quite a companion for long journeys. There’s plenty of room for the pillion at the back as well, with some more space left for resting backpacks thanks to the luggage bridge. We were constantly riding at triple-digit speeds and while there’s no real vibrations that filter through the seat, crank it over 7000RPM and you do notice a tad bit of vibration creeping in on the footpegs. It’s nothing that unsettles you, but a bit more refinement would have been appreciated.
However, to be honest, the 310GS feels more at home when it’s off the road. Yes, it has the same tubular steel frame and the long swingarm, but the frame on the GS has been fitted with different attachment points to accentuate comfort. You get 180mm of spring travel along with the bigger 19in front alloy wheel as well. Riding through muck, loose gravel and uneven terrain is where this BMW shines. It is so capable of handling rough terrain that it begs the question - Why hasn’t BMW touted the GS as a proper off-roader?
Apart from the fact that it limits the user base, there’s hardly any other reason we can think of. People have taken their Bajaj Chetaks to Ladakh and I’m pretty sure the BMW is more than capable of it. Not so fast. There’s another tiny detail that I’ve not mentioned and that’s the puny 11 litre fuel tank. We averaged close to 25kmpl in the city and slightly more on highway runs. In places where there are fewer pump stations, this could be an issue.
Braking is handled via a 300mm single disc at the front and a 240mm unit at the back. 2-channel ABS comes standard, of course, but this can be turned off on the GS. The brake lines are steel-wrapped and the quality shines through. These brakes are in a single word - amazing. They bring you to a stop fast but in a settled manner and there’s no wobble or anything even when you hit them hard with ABS handling it.
Not many people are going to understand what the BMW G 310GS is all about and that’s okay. There’s nothing that comes close to its off-road capabilities and the price at which you get them. Of course, the Versys offers a twin-cylinder mill, but it costs a bit too much and you obviously don’t get that BMW badge. The GS is quite capable on the road and even more off it. For those who want an off-road adventure motorcycle that has enough power and handles like a charm, the GS is worth a test ride. This is a bike that has the potential to influence those riders who wouldn’t usually give off-road riding a go. It opens up a new chapter for adventure riding in the country and that’s why it even bagged our ‘Bike of the Year Award. Yes, it does feel a tad underpowered for its price when you compare it to the KTM, but remember John Ruskin once said, ‘there is hardly anything that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheap.