Could 2016’s BMW G310R be the start of a new, mini X-bike range? Search me, but when the 650Xs (below) came out in 2007, we got the ‘enduro’ X-Challenge, a city scrambling X-Country and the motardy X-Moto. I ran an XCountry for a year or so – one of the lightest bikes in its class, but for some reason the X-y threesome were a sales flop and by 2009 were dropped. BMW 650 singles returned as lardy Sertaos and G650s and now the KTM 690 dominates the big-thumper, hardcore travel bike segment.
Broadly speaking, Honda did the same modular thing with their CB500s in 2013: naked F, sporty R and the be-beaked X which I currently run in Rally Raid form. In these cost-conscious times there are doubtless other modular model ranges out there.
And I’m told there is talk of the G310R coming in an adventuresome ‘X’ or ‘GS’ form, offering the possibility a lightweight – or perhaps that should be ‘small capacity’ – all-roader with a bit more poke (34hp one reads) than a 250. And if this website’s stats are any guide, the most popular of those must be the CRF250L which was derived from the road-oriented CBR250R. (right).
Of course, what’s got the keyboard ninjas worked up is that the 310 will be made by TVS in India, even if the entire production plant is being shipped over from Germany, complete with dust-proof air locks, like a dioxin lab. The ninjas are rightly citing the KTM 390, also built in India, as proof that you can’t have your cheap labour cake and expect Western consumers to eat it up with a jammy grin.
But we’re assured, motorcycling in the West is in decline compared to the boom in the developing world. The 310 is said to be built specifically for these places where roads aren’t as smooth as Spain’s deserted Ruta de Plata, and if you can carry a farmyard and family on the back, so much the better.
So, while the subframe hangs out like a lonely teenager in a shopping mall, that frame is steel all round and its solidity presumably explains the R model’s hefty weight of ‘less than 160kg’ wet. And I thought the CRF-L was heavy at 146kg. Still, what’s pitched as developing world durability works for round-the-world travel bikes too, where – excepting fuel consumption – performance is not a priority. And you’d hope the engine pointing backwards (inlet tract up front) will help this thing return close to 100 mpg (35.5 kpl).
I like the long swingarm; looks like it takes up half the wheelbase and puts what’s on the back ahead of the back spindle. You do wonder what that belly pan is covering. If it’s just for show there’s ground clearance to be gained down there. But like the Honda 500s, I don’t suppose they’ll get round to offering a high, slim out-of-the-way pipe for the ‘310GS‘.
What would we like? Obviously a bit more suspension travel without needing a crane to get on it; a 19 front with tubeless all round, a bit of a fairing, 400-km tank range plus somewhere to go with it. Oh – I nearly forgot the FIM-mandated beak.
In late 2016 we may know if our needs have been met, but by April 2016 the Man from BMW was saying there would be a GS-style 310 in the range. A few days later, an artist’s impression F310GS appeared online at Rushlane.