Article and Photo: Brian Cheyne
When I got the invitation to attend the launch of the little BMW G310 R, I hoped that it would be a city launch rather than on a track. I wanted to see the baby Beemer in its natural habitat. Fortunately BMW obliged, and we took a scenic route through Johannesburg. The route dished up city traffic, twisty roads and even a stretch of the M1.
Edgar Kleinbergen, General Manager of BMW Motorrad SA, gave us some background on why BMW is entering previously unheard of territory. Above 500cc has always been its sole domain, but the market below that opens up a whole new market for BMW. What was missing here was a premium brand, so BMW collaborated with the Indian TVS group to create the BMW G310 R.
Visually similar to the larger S 1000 R, the 310 is unmistakably a BMW. The single cylinder engine (25kw/33.5hp) is slanted backwards with the exhaust coming out of the back of the engine, enabling the BMW engineers to move the engine further forward and extend the swing arm. Linked to upside down front forks, and more weight on the front, the little one is incredibly stable. As with all BMW’s, ABS comes standard.
The 310 appears larger than it should be, and it certainly has presence. Even though the petrol tank only holds 11 liters, the plastic surrounds make the bike look beefier. Switchgear is typically BMW, and the instrumentation is completely digital. The small display holds all the essential information.
The seat is comfortable, and even my length was easily accommodated by the 310. It pulled well and gear changes were slick. Some of us occasionally struggled engaging neutral, but I put that down to the fact that our test bikes had only covered 500km or so.
To say I was impressed is an understatement. The 310 was a long time coming, and the wait was worth it. Changing direction required the smallest of input and the bike reveled in traffic. It does everything required of a commuter, and it does it well.
Being a BMW, I thought that the sticker price was going to be at a premium too, but even that was a surprise at R62 990. Truly an aggressive pricing model. As if that is not enough, there is a GS model on its way early in 2018. Now that will set the cat properly amongst the pigeons.