One of the rewarding aspects of my job is letting a motorcycle reveal itself to me. Some motorcycles are narrowly focused, making my job less complicated (and interesting), while others are more mysterious about their true missions. The BMW G 310 GS 40 Years GS writes quite a multifaceted story.
When my wife sent out an emergency text that she brought the wrong shoes for her band’s show at a nightclub in the Atwater neighborhood of Los Angeles, I sprung into action. Perusing the available mounts for the task, the BMW G 310 GS’s sophisticated rear rack grabbed my attention immediately.
I wedged her Alpinestars Jam Air hightops snuggly between the rack and the seat, using the shoelaces as a safety tether. The route to the club included 20 miles of fast-moving freeway, and I knew that would be a test for the 313cc single that puts out 34 horsepower. Although the speed limit is posted at 65 mph on that stretch of the Golden State Freeway, you need to be ready to do 75 mph if you want to stay out of everyone’s way.
Certainly, the G 310 GS, in its latest Euro 5 tune, can hang with the medium-fast crowd on the freeway. However, at 75 mph, there’s not a lot of power in reserve. The adventure-inspired chassis is stable at speed, and the headlight cowling does an impressive job of preventing the windblast from fatiguing the riders. However, it’s a small thumper pushing a 374-pound motorcycle along, and there’s only so much the liquid-cooled DOHC motor can do.
Once off the freeway and the shoes delivered, it was time for urban adventuring on the BMW G 310 GS. There are more hills than you might think northwest of downtown Los Angeles, and they hold many secrets. Hard-to-find streets take you through forgotten neighborhoods, and not all the roads are paved—even in 2022.
It’s hard to imagine a better motorcycle for working through the one-lane roads through the hills. The G 310 GS has plenty of power for the job, and you don’t spend all your attention keeping it under control. The commanding 33-inch seat height provides a great view of your surroundings, and the chassis is agile enough for easily dodging oncoming cars.
I checked out the unpaved roads in question. Yes, some of them may be undocumented. However, enforcement of laws in Los Angeles has been lax the last few years, so I can only imagine the snickers at the other end of the line should someone call the LAPD to tell them a motorcycle is riding a short distance down an unpaved byway. Unless an officer in a bad mood sees you, nothing will be done. That’s fine, as the G 310 GS is quiet and unobtrusive. Only the type that feels right at home on NextDoor.com will feel the need to hop on the phone to complain.
This was reinforced when I rode down one of the dirt roads, and there was a party—complete with a bounce house and someone performing on stage—taking over the road. As I come into view and the entire crowd sees me, they are as surprised as I am.
I wave and indicate that I’m more than happy to turn around and go back the way I came—no need to have their celebration disrupted. To my surprise, everyone started picking up their folding chairs and moving a couch, while shooing children away to make a path for me.
I still wasn’t sure, but they were waving me on, and I didn’t want to be rude. As I rode toward the parting of the sea, I stood up on the pegs and there were audible gasps. I’m not sure what they thought was going to happen—maybe they thought I was going to do a wheelie. I guess that would have been pretty cool.
Instead, I feathered the wonderfully light assist-function clutch and idled my way through the crowd as they cheered. One person yells, “Yeah! A BMW!” The emblem was noticed, though not specifically the stylish 40 Years GS livery.
As I exit, I wave my hand and see the crowd still watching me excitedly. It made my day, and not just because it gave me something to write about. If only I had had a helmet cam; I blame Editor At Large Neil Wyenn for snagging the Sena 50C for review.
So, my introduction to the world of the BMW G 310 GS was an enjoyable one. It’s a great urban adventure motorcycle, and people like it—perfect for not making waves where calm waters are preferred.
More urban riding confirmed that the G 310 GS is fantastic around town. It squeezes between cars effortlessly at stop lights, though you do have to remember to be insistent with the throttle when the light turns green. Casual acceleration will have aggressive four-wheels on your tail.
You must manage freeway usage. Urban freeways, such as the Hollywood Freeway, have a 55-mph speed limit, and that’s within the 310’s capability. When the speed limit ups to 65 mph and it’s lightly enforced, you can feel swallowed up quickly and stick to the two right lanes—unfortunately, that’s where the semis are, so it’s all a bit nerve-wracking.
Although adventure touring will be off the table for most people due to the limitations of a small powerplant, the BMW G 310 GS does quite well off-road for an adventure motorcycle. We all know how unwieldy a 600-pound ADV with street-oriented tires can be in the dirt. Well, the G 310 GS still has street-favoring Metzeler Tourance tires. However, at 374 pounds with its 2.9-gallon fuel tank filled, the intimidation level is considerably lower.
There’s more to the G 310 GS’s off-road story. The sub-33-inch seat height isn’t bad, due to the manageable seven inches of well-damped, though non-adjustable, suspension travel at both ends. On the downside, there’s no switching off the ABS, which can result in the occasional startling moment in the dirt.
I can confidently take on 4×4-requiring rocky dirt roads. Even without airing down the Metzelers, the easy power delivery doesn’t result in unexpected wheelspin or front-end uneasiness. Now, that’s not to say I wouldn’t welcome a pair of Dunlop Trailmax Mission tires on the 19-/17-inch rim combo if I were spending plenty of time on the G 310 GS in the dirt.
While not as dirtworthy as a Honda CRF300L Rally or KTM 390 Adventure, the G 310 GS feels better in the dirt than the twin-cylinder Kawasaki Versys-X.
Tying dirt sections together on paved roads reminds you of the strong points of the BMW G 310 GS. It handles rougher hinterland byways better than pure-street bikes, and that’s what going on an adventure is all about. There’s nothing unpredictable about the power or handling, though you’ll undoubtedly be wishing for more oomph on faster paved sections—such is the life of a 374-pound motorcycle with a single-cylinder 313cc engine.
After having lots of fun riding the BMW G 310 GS, it becomes apparent what and who the motorcycle is for.
If you’re a larger, taller rider, the GS is a particularly appealing 300-class adventure motorcycle. Its heft is less daunting, giving the bike a look and feel of gravitas. Smaller test riders found it on the bulky side and prefer a small dual-sport if they have off-pavement aspirations.
As an exploration motorcycle, either in tight urban confines or on decently maintained dirt roads in wide-open spaces, the BMW G 310 GS has great appeal. You won’t mind dead ends that would have your heart rate increasing on an open-class adventure motorcycle. Picking it up or turning it around will not be an issue for most riders.
If you’re a local urban commuter, the BMW G 310 GS is fantastic. The seat height makes you more visible to smartphone-distracted drivers and allows you to better survey your surroundings.
The BMW badging impresses onlookers, which can be handy. If the same motorcycle had TVS on the tank—the company that makes the 310 in Hosur, India, to BMW’s specifications—you might get a less-welcoming reaction, especially in a status-conscious city such as Los Angeles. Remember that building the G 310 GS in India keeps the price of the 40 Year GS at $6195—the standard 2022 version is $5954. Of course, if you don’t need the off-road capabilities and your image won’t suffer if you’re not on an ADV-style motorcycle, the street-only G 310 R is considerably less expensive at $5045.
So, there you have the criteria for being a BMW G 310 GS rider. It does several things well—commuting, urban exploring, rural off-roading—and if fast freeway runs aren’t on your to-ride, this could be just the small-displacement adventure motorcycle you’re looking for.
Photography by Kelly Callan
- Helmet: Arai XD4
- Communications: Sena 20S Evo
- Jacket + pants: Tourmaster Alpine-Trek
- Back protection: Safe-Tech
- Gloves: Tourmaster Switchback
- Boots: Tourmaster Trailblazer
BMW G 310 GS 40 Years GS Specs
- Type: Rearward-canted single
- Displacement: 313cc
- Bore x stroke: 80 x 62.1mm
- Maximum power: 34 horsepower @ 9500 rpm
- Maximum torque: 20 ft-lbs @ 7500 rpm
- Maximum speed: 88 mph
- Compression ratio: 10.9:1
- Fueling: EFI
- Valvetrain: DOHC; 4 valves
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Clutch: Wet multi-disc w/ assist-and-slipper function
- Final drive: X-ring chain
- Frame: Steel tube trellis
- Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable 41mm inverted fork; 7.1 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-free spring-preload adjustable shock; 7.1 inches
- Wheels: Cast aluminum
- Front wheel: 19 x 2.50
- Rear wheel: 17 x 4.00
- Tires: Metzeler Tourance
- Front tire: 110/80 x 19
- Rear tire: 150/70 x 17
- Front brake: 300mm disc w/ radially mounted 4-piston caliper
- Rear brake: 240mm disc w/ floating single-piston caliper
- ABS: Standard
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 55.9 inches
- Rake: 26.7 degrees
- Trail: 3.9 inches
- Seat height: 32.9 inches
- Fuel capacity: 3.0 gallons
- Curb weight: 374 pounds
BMW G 310 GS 40 Years GS Price: $6195 MSRP
BMW G 310 GS Review Photo Gallery: 40 Years GS