Who doesn’t enjoy a good scamper around town with no agenda other than to check out what a fine day it is and to see where you might end up for lunch? Besides, when it has been raining for too many days in a row, at least by SoCal standards, you don’t let a blue-sky day go to waste. Instead, you roll out that 2021 BMW G 310 R that’s been looking at you expectantly every time you haul another load of laundry into the garage. There are several updates for 2021 worth exploring.The BMW G 310 R is the perfect bike for urban day rides. It’s small and agile, easy to handle, and the 30.9-inch seat height ensures I can get my feet flat on the ground at every stop.
Those are all important, as I’ve joined the post-Christmas bustle on the boulevard. Drivers are still a bit distracted, leading to unexpected stops and evasive action. The 310 is also narrow enough to thread the lanes to move me to the front of the queue, keeping me ahead of the fray.I have to give the throttle a good twist to move off handily, as the 313cc single’s torque uncharacteristically does not come low in the rpm range. Also, the late-engaging clutch has to be kept in mind.BMW added ride-by-wire to the 2021 G 310 R to meet Euro 5 emissions requirements. A side benefit is that the ECU is programmed to automatically increase the rpm if the engine is about to stall. Particularly for a novice-targeted bike, this is a great benefit.The ergonomics make for a comfortable ride as I tool along the San Fernando Valley’s suburban roads. The close-to-upright seating allows me to easily look over my shoulder to keep an eye on the surrounding traffic, as well as take in some new storefronts emerging from the COVID-response-scarred economic landscape. Footpeg position is lightly sporty, and the reach to the handlebar is natural.I am underwhelmed by the newly adjustable hand levers. There are four positions to choose from, with the closest setting narrowing the previously fixed gap between the lever and grip by about a quarter of an inch. I don’t have small hands—women’s large gloves—and I still found the reach slightly long in the closest position. Happily, the clutch lever has a very light pull due to the new assist function, which is joined by slipper capability.Taking winding Sepulveda Blvd. through the Sepulveda Pass—a favorite fast-flowing four-lane bypass of the eternally congested San Diego Freeway with roots that date back hundreds of years—gave me a chance to twist the 310’s throttle harder. I pushed back into the seat and leaned into a sportier stance.The short-stroke DOHC single’s real power is in the higher rpm range, and I was able to keep tabs on the 500cc twin of my riding buddy on the wide, sweeping turns. The Michelin Pilot Street tires performed flawlessly under as much demand as the 310 can muster.The G 310 R has a single 300mm disc up front, and that is enough stopping power for the expected use of the novice- and urban-targeted bike. Initial engagement is soft, so you have to give the lever a healthy squeeze to extract the full power from the four-piston Bybre caliper. However, this is a good strategy by BMW for preventing mishaps with riders who haven’t yet finessed their hand controls.The bike comes equipped with ABS, and it’s not hard to trigger it with a firm foot on the brake pedal. I didn’t find it intrusive. Instead, it felt reassuring when supplementing the front brake for faster deceleration.Sepulveda Blvd. has a few well-remembered harsh bumps that the G 310 R takes surprisingly well. In general, the mostly non-adjustable suspension damping is better than expected. I had already noticed this back in the Valley, where many streets are overdue for resurfacing. Perhaps because the target audience is on the less experienced side, and often smaller, the G 310 R is a bit softer sprung, which works well for my 115 pounds.After a fast ride skirting Bel Air on swooping Sunset Blvd., we make it to the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. This brings the speeds down again and shows how easy the BMW is to handle in busy environments.The liquid-cooled single’s power is smooth and predictable, shifting is spot-on, and there is little to manage. At just under 350 pounds with the three-gallon fuel tank topped off, the diminutive bike never feels physically overpowering, and that adds confidence to riding in dynamic surroundings.With so much to look at and no schedule to keep, I don’t mind that we’ve been caught by stoplights at what seems like every other block. The G 310 R is fun to cruise on, and to be seen on with its eye-catching red trellis frame and red wheels. It’s a sharp-looking bike, and the new LED headlight and turn signals add a more modern look.Continuing east on Sunset Blvd., we eventually find ourselves crossing the Los Angeles River on Cesar E. Chavez Avenue into Boyle Heights—it’s time to get serious about food. A few turns later, we’re at Lupita’s, a family-owned and operated Mexican restaurant on 1st Street.Parking the G 310 R on the sidewalk for a quick photo at the bike rack, we head inside and fill up on handmade everything: caldo de pollo, chorizo breakfast burrito, tortillas, refried beans, chips, and salsa. After eating twice as much as I should have, I’m fortified for the ride back over the river, through the city, to the northern Valley.It seemed prudent to jump on the freeway at this point. The sun seems to set all of a sudden at this time of year. Once it drops behind the mountains, it feels like the temperature free-falls. We needed to make time, and the G 310 R can handle freeway speeds. While not quite pinned, I did have the throttle nearly wide open to keep up with the fast-moving vehicles.The 310 R is stable at full speed, and the Michelin Pilot Street tires had no quarrel with the rain grooves. However, I notice three things on the Hollywood Freeway: this is a naked bike, so the wind blast at high speeds is unrelenting; the design of the gas tank is not suitable for gripping the bike with your knees; the buzz from the single-cylinder powerplant at 7000 rpm renders the mirrors almost useless. These three observations remind me that while small-displacement motorcycles can make great commuters, that has to be qualified. Off-freeway, the G 310 R is maneuverable, narrow, and light, and snaking through congestion points is an enjoyable challenge.On fast-moving streets, the BMW is comfortable, and the expected single-cylinder vibrations aren’t intrusive–you can still get good useful images in your mirrors. A short freeway stretch is fine, but there are better choices if your daily journey is in the fast lane in a major metropolitan area.Regarding the knee grip issue, someone thought it was a good idea to design a crease in the tank where the rider’s knee lays against it. While I hadn’t picked up on this uncomfortable interface when tooling around town, it was immediately apparent when I hit freeway speeds. Instinctively I squeeze the bike to get a secure grip when the windblast increases, but the G 310 R is rather uncomfortable to grip tightly with my knees.These issues aside, there is a lot to like about the 2021 BMW G 310 R. The ergonomics, physical size, agreeable personality, and engine size make it a very welcoming novice bike. It works great as a commuter bike for many riders, and is a perfect spin-around-town bike for an experienced motorcyclist looking for a more casual ride.Photography by Don WilliamsRIDING STYLE
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!