There’s no need to tell you the BMW R 1250 GS is an amazing machine.
The original GS basically created the Adventure bike category and BMW has fine-tuned the bike to make it one of, if not, the best on/off-road motorcycle on the road today.
But there’s no denying the current R 1250 GS is one big motorcycle. This time, though, that’s not a compliment.
To keep with the BMW theme, we’re looking at the G 310 GS. The baby GS some call it, this is a great beginner bike for the new adventure rider. Here, we’ll take a look at what makes the 310 GS a contender.
310 GS Engine
The heart of the matter comes down to the engine. The 310 GS shares much of the same platform as the G 310 R roadster introduced earlier. This means it uses the same 313cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine as its more road-going cousin.
Even though it’s meant for newer or less-experienced riders, the engine actually incorporates some very modern technology, like having four valves and two overhead camshafts with finger followers–that’s a similar kind of technology you find on racing engines to let them rev as high as they do.
In keeping with the high-tech theme, the engine is actually “backward” in the frame compared to most other motorcycles, with the air intake pointed towards the front of the motorcycle and the exhaust coming out the rear.
If you take a look at basically any other motorcycle, you’ll see exhaust headers exiting from the front of the engine. The advantage of placing the engine backward as BMW has done with the 310 GS is putting the intake in a direct path with the incoming air, while also shortening the length of the exhaust header that has to exit the rear of the bike anyway.
It also helps position the center of gravity a little lower. New riders might not care or understand too much about this techy stuff, but more seasoned riders (or those who enjoy the nuts and bolts of it all) might.
BMW says power output from the little engine is a healthy 34 horses and 21 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to move you around quickly and confidently, even as you dip your toes into the off-road side of the adventure scene.
310 GS Riding Position
The key to any good beginner bike is that it has to be inviting, comfortable, and easy to ride. Those elements are what make the G 310 GS so attractive if you’re looking to get into adventure riding and maybe graduating to one of the bigger GS models one day.
This all starts with the seat height, since, if you think about it, not being able to touch the ground will zap your confidence right away. The standard seat height for the 310 GS is 32.9 inches, which should be pretty low for a majority of people and make touching the ground easy.
But if you’re on either end of the height lottery, BMW also offers a low seat option at 32.3 inches or a tall seat option at 33.5 inches.
Once you’re on the bike and have found a suitable seating position, the rest of the controls are inviting, too. The 310 GS places the rider in a neutral position, with bars that are upright and comfortable, and pegs that are low and forward so there’s little strain on your back or wrists.
Clutch pull is very light, which is good because even though the engine makes a respectable amount of power, you’ll be shifting a lot to keep the 310 in its happy spot.
You feel in control on the 310 GS and the commanding view you have of the road ahead is due, in part, to the long-travel suspension–7.1 inches at both ends. Compared to the G 310 R, with “only” 5.5 inches of travel, that’s a lot more travel at the rider’s disposal to soak up bumps, either on-road or off.
The suspension is set up on the soft side to make the ride a little more comfortable for beginners (which is the demographic this bike is aimed at anyway), so more experienced riders might find it too spongy for their tastes. Other than rear spring preload, there are no provisions for suspension adjustments either which, again, will not make experienced riders happy. Newer riders can take comfort in the fact that’s one less thing to worry about.
Obviously, stopping is an important aspect of motorcycling. The 310 GS uses ByBre components, which is a subset of Brembo, the most famous brake manufacturer around.
Stopping power is best described as adequate, and more seasoned riders may find it disappointing. However, for the beginner, a braking system that’s a little on the soft side is a much safer approach to discovering the finer techniques of slowing down. Go for a strong and firm braking system and you could find yourself flipping over the bars!
Fortunately, ABS comes standard, which is great in panic and emergency situations. Once you’re ready to practice your off-road riding it can be deactivated.
On paper, making a beginner bike is relatively simple. You mix together a small displacement engine, comfortable ergonomics, and basic–but functional–brakes and suspension.
In the case of the G 310 GS, BMW has made a lightweight adventure bike beginners can really grow into and veterans can also keep around as a spare. Best of all, it has done so at a price that won’t break the bank: $5795.
Some might call it a gateway drug, but if you’re a new rider looking for a stepping stone to bigger, better GS models, the G 310 GS is a good place to start.