BMW G310GS blog: Two days of off-road trails

John Milbank, BikeSocial Consumer Editor
By John Milbank
BikingMilbank BikeSocial Consumer Editor, John owns a KTM 1050 Adventure. He's as happy tinkering in the workshop as he is on twisty, bumpy backroads, and loves every bike ever built (except one). He's bought three CBR600s, two Ducati Monsters, several winter hacks, three off-roaders, a supermoto pit bike, a Honda Vision 50 and built his own custom XSR700. 

 

Mileage: 3156 | Power: 34bhp | Torque: 21lb-ft | Weight: 169.5kg | Price: £5,100

 

Ruts can go f@*k themselves. And so can sand.

I’m not a great off-road rider, and after spending two days riding from Northampton to Wells-next-the-Sea and back again, on as many trails as possible, my inability to navigate some of the terrain thrown up proved the point. But I can’t think of any bike (beyond my little MSX125 Africa Grom) I’d rather have been on.

Over the years I’ve dabbled with the off-road experience – I’ve owned a Yamaha DT80, a Honda MTX125, a Honda CRM250 and a Yamaha WR250. I’ve also broken my ribs twice, and torn my rotator cuff. With every injury, I get more nervous about leaving the tarmac.

At the press launch of the G310GS I was impressed with how easily I could ride this bike on the gravel trails, so wanted to use one not only every day on tarmac, but to get me back into exploring the byways of Britain…

 

BMW G310GS off road review

Taking my wife out on some fire trails before fitting the Anlas Capra X rubber was no challenge to the bike, but it did highlight the need to wind the preload right up when carrying a pillion

 

Is the BMW G310GS tough enough for trails?

It’d be fair to be nervous about the little BM’s strength after the recall for snapping side-stand support. Mine did fail, but having stripped the bike down, I still maintain that this is a pretty solidly-built bike. It’s also proven itself on the Australian APC rally, and through being ridden across the Trans American Trail by Jenny Morgan.

Rally Raid Products in Northampton makes enduro parts for bikes, and has a full kit for the G310GS, including upgraded suspension, spoked wheels, higher and flatter bars, and other parts – owner John Mitchinson believes the bike makes a great lightweight adventure; “Especially if you’re on your own somewhere, this thing is so easy to pick up if things go wrong.”

 

BMW G310GS off road review

In the mud, the BMW might not be the very best, but it is more capable than me

 

Does the 310 make me a trail-riding god?

Sadly, I’m still pretty rubbish at riding off-road. I spent two days with round-the-world adventurer Nathan Millward, the Trail Rider Fellowship’s Creative Communications guy Greg Villalobos, Rally Raid’s John and Adam Mitchinson, and their mapping expert mate George. They’re all excellent trail and enduro riders. I’m still not.

The plan was to ride as many trails as possible over the 400mile trip. George promised a good two thirds of the route would be trails. In the end we fell short, though still covered over 300miles in all, around half of them trails on the way, and a third on the way back. A combination of ridiculous heat, time taken to shoot video, and my exhaustion meant we had to come off the trails more than we hoped, but besides large rocks, we covered almost every surface – grass (great), gravel (okay), dusty trails (great), wet mud (tricky), sand (nope), dense forest (awesome), fords (brilliant) and ruts (f@*k ruts).

The 19” front wheel rides well over harsh surfaces, and the ground clearance is good – a talented rider can blast along on this, but me… I pottered. Standing up gives better control and helps to absorb the harshest bumps and holes, but as soon as I dropped into even the shallowest ruts, I’d flop back down onto the seat. Sand is best tackled with your weight well back and the gas on… I tried, and I didn’t fall off for the whole trip, but I was usless and it was exhausting; riding off-road is like skiing – the better you get at it, the less effort it requires.

 

Off-road on the G310GS

John joins a team of experienced off-road riders as they compare the little BMW with Royal Enfield’s Himalayan

 

Could it be better?

To an experienced trail rider, the suspension is the most obvious weakness off-road. At my level, it’s not such an issue, but even I found it was bottoming out too easily. Riding one of Rally Raid’s modified G310GSs, the difference was clear, with much more control over the damping from the Tractive fork internals and shock.

The upgraded bike’s repositioned bars also gave me a more commanding riding position, and made it slightly comfier to ride standing up, while the Scorpion exhaust gave a much more pleasing bark to the engine.

Having ridden with Nathan on his Royal Enfield Himalayan, I realised how much more luggage capacity he has – while I carried everything I needed without any problems, thanks to the MotoFizz Camping Seat bag, I envied his pannier racks and strapping points on the front. With the right kit, it’d be possible to throw more over the GS though – just be aware that uphill with a full-laden G310GS is not going to be as rapid as a larger-capacity machine.

But with a bigger engine comes more weight in the motor and frame, which would be to ruin what makes this miniature Gelände/Strasse so good.

Yes, there are better off-road machines, but given my ability, despite the limited suspension, it’s more than capable of tackling the little adventures that come from straying off the tarmac every so often… and that’s all I really want.

 

BMW G310GS off road review

The shock protector is a neat standard touch on the BMW

 

Three things I’m loving about the 2018 BMW G310GS

• I can enjoy it on more surfaces than bigger, heavier adventure bikes

• There’s a fantastic upgrade path thanks to Rally Raid

• 70mpg while riding off-road

 

Three things that aren’t so good…

• Trails highlight the budget suspension

• Luggage capacity isn’t great

• It’s not the fastest bike, but it’s fast enough with a top speed of 85-90mph

 

Modifications and accessories

• Givi top box mounting adaptor: £61 | www.givi.co.uk

• Givi M5 top box rack: £41.70 | www.givi.co.uk

• Givi Trekker 52 top box: £250.80 | www.givi.co.uk

• Anlas Capra X tyres | www.anlas-tyres.co.uk

• BarkBusters handguard kit: £121.99 | www.rg-racing.com

• R&G adventure Bars: £199.99 | www.rg-racing.com

• R&G fork protectors: £39.99 | www.rg-racing.com

• R&G offset cotton reels: £59.99 | www.rg-racing.com

• R&G radiator guard: £76.99 | www.rg-racing.com

 

2018 BMW G310GS specification

New price

£5100

Capacity

313cc

Bore x Stroke

80x62.1mm

Engine layout

Single cylinder

Engine details

Reversed orientation (exhaust exits rear),
liquid-cooled DOHC

Power

34hp (25kW) @ 9,500rpm

Torque

21 lb-ft (28Nm) @ 7,500rpm

Average fuel consumption

70mpg tested while riding off road

Tank size

11 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

170 miles

Rider aids

ABS (switchable while riding)

Frame

Steel trellis

Front suspension

41mm upside down forks

Front suspension adjustment

None

Rear suspension

Monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment

Preload

Front brake

1 x 300mm disc, Bybre four-piston
radially-mounted caliper

Rear brake

240mm disc, Bybre two-piston caliper

Front tyre

110/80 R19 Metzeler Tourance

Rear tyre

150/70 R17 Metzeler Tourance

Wheelbase

1420mm

Seat height

835mm

Kerb weight

169.5kg

Website

www.bmw-motorrad.co.uk

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