It turns out that being 22 and capped at an A2 licence, as well as measuring a miserly 160cm (5’ 3”) makes it rather difficult, or even impossible, to test ride bikes at dealerships. I am currently riding a Honda CBF500, but having covered over 6000 miles in 4 months, I am now eager to see and discover the world of bigger and more powerful bikes. However, when you add height and age into the equation, finding such bikes whose engines are capped, that have a low suspension and low seat, becomes rather limited; so, when BMW Bahnstormer Maidenhead offered me the chance to test ride the new G 310 R, I leapt on the opportunity.
At first sight, the bike appears to be rather ‘cute’. With a small and petite frame, it is easy to manoeuvre on the ground, is light in the hand and sits neatly. However, take a second glance and you see a completely different beast. You soon realise that despite being small and sweet, this bike has attitude. Its flashing colours demand presence and its fierce, sharp lines and complex angles make it look powerful; you cannot miss it on the road.
When mounted, I could comfortably touch the floor with both feet, which gave me a lot of reassurance. So, we were off! Well, after stalling 3 times… it turns out that the clutch was much harder than I am used to and has to be truly pulled to have an effect something I am not used to.
The bike accelerates with pure precision. It listens to everything you ask of it and obeys immediately, there is no delayed response. Not only is it smooth in the way it rides and flows down the road, but it is powerful and comfortably reaches speeds of 60mph down national speed limit roads; its small engine is nowhere to be seen. The throttle is engaging, comes back when necessary and everything works neatly. This state of the art accuracy and care is also experienced when breaking. The brakes work fabulously, filled with power and purpose, they are strong and give confidence. Finally, it became apparent that the weight and size of the bike inspired confidence in me. I felt agile around bends, was happy to enter them at more speed, knowing that I would be able to lift the bike up in time for the next bend. I had fun! I was riding a toy which allowed me to manipulate it as I wished. Combing this authority that the bike holds on the road with its technical gadgets and you have a very pleased rider. Being used to a simple dashboard, I was very enthusiastic to play around and ride a bike which told me the time, had a digital speedometer, informed me what gear I was in and how much petrol was in the tank! Small BMW things…
Nevertheless, there were various aspects of this bike which must be mentioned. Firstly, as expected from a single cylinder bike, vibrations are quite noticeable. The vibrations become more present when reaching higher speeds, mainly on dual carriageways and motorways. Secondly, due to the small size I could not help but feel like a monster on top of a fly after minutes of riding it – I felt huge. With no screen or any weather protection, I felt as though using its powerful brakes well enough, I would end up flying over the handlebars. You can clearly tell that the bike has not been designed for long distance touring but for quick blasts around the city and short rides through the bends.
Having said all of this I like the bike, there is no denying that it is fun to ride. Despite this, I believe its utility falls into two categories. It can either be used as the perfect first bike, especially for shorter, smaller women, or as a commuter’s bike. For both these jobs, it is agile, small, listens to what it is told, moves quickly and sharply, is light to handle and looks the part. However, for someone like me, who wants to tour, cover miles and see the world, this bike simply does not have enough power.