“What have I gotten myself into?” The question repeatedly popped into my head all throughout the evening after I arrived in Barcelona and the following morning after a night of restless sleep. When it comes to four wheels, I’m free diving in the deep. When it comes to two, I’m pretty much wading into the shallows, with floaties on. Nevertheless, there I was in Spain, set to ride BMW’s new entry-level adventure bike from Barcelona to Andorra and back over the course of 48 hours. It would be by far the longest ride I’d been on, my first time riding in Europe and my first time on a motorcycle in two months. And, from the moment I threw a leg over the seat of the G310 GS, I knew I’d made one hell of a great decision to make the trip.
One concern after another was allayed by the bike’s newcomer-friendly setup. Its low 32.9-inch seat height allowed my feet to easily rest on the ground when stopped. (An even lower 32.2-inch seat is available.) Its 374-pound curb weight freed me from stressing about having too much bike underneath me to control. ABS comes standard (and can be turned off for off-road riding), paired with a four-piston caliper and 300mm front disc and dual-piston caliper and 240mm rear disc setup. Comfort and safety are as much a part of an enjoyable riding experience as power and dynamics, especially for new riders.
That being said, the bike doesn’t disappoint in those respective areas. On paper, a 313cc single-cylinder producing 34 horsepower might not seem all that appealing for riders aspiring to go on grand adventures, but after more than 350 miles, many of them ridden at high elevation, I assure you that it is plenty enjoyable. Essential to that enjoyment is combatting fatigue, and BMW has helped there by eliminating hand-killing vibrations and equipping the bike with a super-comfy seat. My hands did, however, get moderately sore as a result of the non-adjustable clutch and brake levers. Not that I claim to have giant mitts or anything, but I was surprised that the levers weren’t positioned closer to the grips. Still, I remained engaged and alert, able to enjoy all its power — which is enough to have fun, but not so much that it’ll get you in trouble, provided you’re not being stupid. As one of my groupmates, who had decades of riding experience, said: “You can really override it and it won’t bite you, so long as you know what you’re doing with the bar.”
When considering the packaging of the engine and chassis design, the excellent manners make perfect sense. The single-cylinder is tilted backward and the head has been rotated 180 degrees so the intake is at the front, giving the bike a low center of gravity with more weight distributed towards the front wheel. Coupled with a short wheelbase and a long aluminum swingarm, the engine setup gives the bike that most-desirable feeling of being flickable. Of course, you still have to respect it — no motorcycle is idiot-proof, as riders prove on a daily basis — but the “baby GS” clearly wants to be your friend.
Rolling down the road in a group of five riders, all standing and looking out at the incredible scenery, is what I imagine the quintessential GS experience to be. As far as I’m concerned, BMW has succeeded in distilling that and making it very accessible, both in pricing and required skill level. This bodes well for the G310 GS, as it is intended to be the global point of entry into BMW Motorcycles; even though it wasn’t made in Bavaria, it feels every bit a Beemer. And for $5,695, it’s a whole lot of bike for the money.