Tag Archives: Morocco

BMW F750GS in Morocco • 1200-km review

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After ten successful years, in 2018 BMW Motorrad replaced the 700 and 800GS parallel twins with all-new ‘750’ and 850 versions. As before, the two models share an identical 853-cc engine but, along with other aspects, are significantly different. According to this detailed BMW press release (click and it downloads; worth reading if this bike interests you) the 750 makes 20% less power (77 / 95hp) but only 10% less torque (83 / 92Nm; see graph, right). It also has a lower seat, a little less weight and suspension travel, better fuel consumption as well as cast tubeless wheels with a smaller 19-er on the front. The 750 will also run stock on 91 RON fuel (unlike the 850 unless modified) and is significantly cheaper: in the UK it currently goes from £8225 vs £9875 for the 850 which makes it cheaper than an XT700.
I’ve ridden the old 700 and 650 twins in Morocco and for me, these lower, mildly less revvy, 19-inch and tubeless shod bikes have always been a better, real-world travel bike option to the flashier, taller 800 and now 850, even if the ‘bigger’ bikes probably outsell them.

Like many P-twins these days, the new engine uses a 270-degree crank to give an impression of more torque – or maybe just because it’s fashionable. They are no longer (or cannot be) engineered to sound like a 1200GS, but even at basic levels, both models come with an array of electronic rider aids and position the fuel tank back up on top, so lifting the centre of gravity.
I rode a bottom of the range 750 (LED dash; no quickshifter, connectivity, ESA and so on) for a week, on winding Moroccan mountain backroads and easy desert trails, covering some 1200kms or 750 miles. The bike had 6300km on the clock (114 hours running time) and was fitted with a thick Givi bashplate, crash bars, handguards and rear racks.
In Adventure Moto World you might say it’s competitors include the KTM 790, Guzzi V85TT, XT700 or just updated Tracer 700, the V-Strom 650 (£6500 discounted new) or a 1000cc Africa Twin. The BMW is cheaper than all of them except the ageing Suzuki and the Tracer, new or old.

What they say

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It keeps your engine running, every day. Your heart beats to the rhythm of the BMW F 750 GS. It’s your ticket to the adventure. Because with the balanced Enduro all-rounder, you will master all paths, regardless of the road surface, and expand your horizons – because you want more. The F 750 GS gives you more power, more comfort, more spirit of GS. Feel the strong-charactered engine and enjoy the ease of handling of the F 750 GS. While you’re off discovering the world, you have the bike with the automatic stability control (ASC) and the ABS safely under control. And with the ex-factory option Connectivity, the 6.5-inch TFT-display shows you among other things which junction you have to turn off at or who is calling you. Clear and concise – without distracting you from the road. The entry into your next experience is – also thanks to the low seat height – easier than ever before.

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  • Compared to the 850, at just £8225 it’s a very good deal
  • Enough real-world power to get the job donef75spex
  • Great brakes with ABS 
  • Great suspension too. HPA shock with rebound damping
  • Stable in corners. Long and low, just like the old 700/650.
  • Turns better than old 700 – must be down to the higher CoG plus rake and trail changes.
  • Tubeless tyres with easy-access side valves
  • Traction control (‘ASC’) plus a rain mode
  • LHS scrollable menu with all the essential metrics
  • Seat – no complaints this time.
  • BMW-style 12-v power outlet on the dash
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  • Heavy With the added metalwork mine probably came in at 230kg wet, but only felt it when pushing around or trying to pick up.
  • Windscreen? More a small transparent plate which does nothing much.
  • Engine lacks character compared to a Yamaha CP2 or even an NC750.
  • Fuel consumption worse than the 700 – averaged 70mpg (but only measured twice).
  • The thin digits on the LCD dash were hard to read easily or if not in direct sun.
  • Remaining range (400km when full) proved a little optimistic when pushed to the limit.

Review

As do-it-all gravel travel bikes, the old 650 and 700 twins were both better than most people thought. With some K60s, I took a 650 quite a way out of its (and my) comfort zone back in 2012. So I expected to like the new 750, even if I’d be held back by stock road Anakees.
The 750 retains what looks like a long wheelbase; there’s a cubic foot of collector box packed in behind the engine and in front of the back wheel. Initially, I found the cable-less, electronic throttle lacked damping and the steering had that sports-tourer ‘self-leaning’ thing (like my old TDM). It must be a calculated consequence of weight, rake and trail but as the miles passed by I soon didn’t notice either, instead revelling in the bike’s more positive attributes.


The gearbox has an uncharacteristic slickness for a BMW, easily tapped without the clutch, and I sure appreciated the correctly positioned foot controls after the well-used Sertao I rode the week before which needed foot lifts to brake or change gear. With a few accessories my bike probably weighed not much less than a GS12, but like the 12, it sure feels less once on the move.
A big difference between the 700 was locating the slightly bigger 15-litre tank back up front. This raises the mass of the bike, but as mentioned in the 700 review, too low a CoG can make a bike hard to turn easily. and on the dirt, including loose hairpins, the 750 didn’t exhibit the resistance I felt in the 700.

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The 750 and 850 are oddly fitted with a, to me, anachronistic telescopic steering dampers which I’ve not seen since the 70s and which to me signifies a way of disguising a bike’s instability due to poor frame design. It’s not mentioned under that name as in the long press release pdf. A few years ago there was a new version of the 1200GS which was soon recalled or somehow hampered with an unpredictable steering shimmy fixed by retrofitting a steering damper, iirc. Perhaps the 853-cc twins are set up with the same angles and weight distribution. I couldn’t see any way of adjusting the damper and it didn’t have any electronics attached to it.
Road or trail, out of the crate the 750 retains the same excellent suspension without masses of baffling adjustments. For the first few days I left the rear preload as it was, then gave the HPA (left) several cranks (maybe 5 full turns) which stopped my boots dragging (and even being dragged off) on some bends. (I had the same problem with the Sertao the previous week; I’ve never had feet dragged off the pegs before, but they did point down at 45°). Once firmer up and raised a bit, much less boot dragging though I felt I should have increased the rebound damping a tad, but could not be bothered to meddle as it worked fine.

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One sad day I’ll count them up, but the circuit I use in southern Morocco must have over a thousand bends. By the end of it I was confidently swinging through the less gravelly curves, never needing to rev over 5000 rpm (about 120kph) to make progress at a location-related pace (ie: not going berzerk).
On start-up it produces a cleverly engineered bark, but like the weight, that soon dissipates on the move and there’s little impression of the off-beat crank’s charismatic throb, even if the torque is all there. For a 270°, the motor lack the character of Yamaha’s CP2 700s (which make 10% less power) and even the NC750 I briefly owned.
On one very steep, rough and loose switchback climb I made the conscious effort not to slip the clutch (done to minimise the risk of stalling and then falling over) and the 750 managed to chug its way at walking pace round most bends until I lost my nerve or ran out of space. You’d not manage that on a big thumper, though next week I’ll try the same test on a 310. I only got to log two tanks to accurately estimate the fuel consumption which averaged 70mpg (58.2 US; 25kpl). One reading was 10% higher, the other 10% lower and pretty similar to the 2012 650 (68.2) but much lower than the 700 (81mpg) with 100,000 on the clock. This reading closely matched the displayed average of 4L/100km (25kpl).

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This was my second chance to get to grips with traction control (or Automatic Stability Control: ‘ASC’). On gravelly tarmac the TC light fluttered briefly on the dash, and trying to activate it on the dirt, occasionally the power was notably constrained to hold the back-end in line. But this was me throttling on like an idiot; normally I’d exercise my own traction control to keep wheelspin as I want it. On the dirt letting the back-end step out is usually intentional, either because it’s fun or to rear-wheel steer and square off a tight corner. This is as opposed to the front, which once slipping usually ends in a fall. That’s what you’re really trying to avoid, especially on road tyres but there’s no way electronics can manage that; it takes better tyres or less speed.
It’s likely that on a long, steep and loose climb the TC would beneficially constrain wheelspin, but only up to a point. On low-traction slopes of sand, mud or wet grass I bet it would soon tie itself in knots. Only momentum and knobbly tyres work here but would take quite a nerve piloting nearly a quarter on a ton of 750GS.

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It seems to me that TC and modes are nifty but non-essential riding aids which – at negligible weight penalty (unlike ABS) – have become inexpensive enough to throw on to bikes which don’t really need either but which help give the impression of added safety getting more for your money. If they’re serious about safety, I’d sooner see TPMS included as stock, but you can buy a kit for 30 quid. TC and modes might suit riders without decades of pre-electronic riding experience under their belts. As with GPS or smartphones, you either merely find them handy; or you don’t know how or can’t see the point of managing without them.

They say the cast tubeless wheels have been strengthened. Good to know and I like the easy-access valves (left) which eliminate grovelling about with an inflation hose. Fitting a TPMS cap might make it a bit vulnerable to flying rocks, but the valves at least can be easily replaced. On a long trip I’d carry spares.
The ABS was never an issue on the dirt (though I didn’t do any emergency braking). I did find the brakes – or associated fork dive – a bit grabby, but better too much than not enough and the ABS safety net is always here. On the Sertao the previous week, the ill-positioned brake pedal saw me lose the back brake on long descents. No such problems on the twin.

Some LED dash figures like the clock were too thin and therefore hard to read at a glance, but once I got my head around it, the menu on the left bar displayed some useful data including 3 trip meters (including daily), average and live L/100km (hopefully changeable to another metric), ambient and water temperatures and remaining range. I can confirm that the bike I was riding had logged 114 riding hours in 6300kms.
I didn’t cover huge distances in one sitting but the seat on the 750 felt a whole lot better than previous iterations (not hard to do). I think it may even have been height adjustable, but though I took it off a couple of times for other reasons, this was not obvious.

I can’t say the same for the near-useless piece of clear plastic screen (left) which just gives the mounting bolts something to do until you fit something actually useful. I did notice the slimness in the bike’s waistline did make standing up much more comfortable than on the older underseat-tank models. The bars were the usual 2 inches too low for me (6′ 1″). Under the seat there’s some useful stash space, partly because of the skimpy, three-piece toolkit (right).

Summary
On the road and easy trails there really is very little to dislike about the 750GS. I know everyone will ignore me but it’s got enough of everything you need in a travel bike with maybe a little too much weight and electronics. The looks are subjective but I’d say are an improvement and in line with the current humpbacked GS look, all the way down to the 310GS. It’s got a potential 400km range, plus the brakes, torque and stock suspension to do it all. Essential additions would include an actual screen, a centre stand plus pannier racks for your luggage and probably a bashplate and other protection. Having tried it, I could live without TC and a rain engine mode (which I forgot to try) and settle for a similar bike like a mechanically proven Tracer (old model from £6700; 2020 model £7400 claimed) or 19-inch V-Strom for less weight and a lot less money.

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Himalayan in Morocco: High Atlas

Himalayan Index Page

Has it really only been six days in Morocco? Seems like ages.
A few photos from the ride so far.

Balleria: €83 open-return at the counter.

Nice boat mister.

Gibraltar: Rule Brexannia!

Big advs as far as the eye can see. And a chimney stork.

Pointy bridge – no stork nests on there.

Bell Moto III + Qwik-Strap. Good combo on the non-ballistic Him.

In to the hills.

Windy and 6°C.

Popcorn and peanuts for lunch + a tub of Vache for emergencies.

Anergui – always wanted to visit.

Mule bridge.

Up the Assif to MH18. Easy enough if not too wide.

Follow the river.

Two mules on a bridge.

No way through to Taghia they say. Fair enough.

2900m – highest sealed road in Morocco. Probably.

Ait Bou’ valley.

Overpriced kasbah. You live and learn.

That centre stand needs bending before it gets bent.

Low route to Demnate. Glad to have the grippy Michelin Wilds.

Old Bedford AWD – an Enfield among lorries.

Back in the clouds on the Demnate crossing trying to outrun a forecast downpour.

Never ask a duck for directions.

Himalayan just laps it up.

I appear to have soiled myself.

Young Berber ninja patrol.

Back down to Skoura.

Your classic Moroccan lunch.

Goat in a crate + some seasoning.

Leatherman sugar breaker.

Midday at the oasis. Boots nearly dry now.

…..

Next – a couple of day trips back into the hills, then down to the Sahara for some desert biking.

Trail Biking Tours in southern Morocco

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mememAn easy introduction to small-group, backroad trail biking in Morocco, suited to seasoned road riders with little or no off-road riding experience. Your time is maximised by flying in and renting a bike before heading out over the Atlas mountains for an 800/1100-kilometre lap of southern Morocco right down to the edge of the Sahara.
Using my nearly 40 years of riding in North Africa and the knowledge based on writing Morocco Overland and the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, 
we take relaxed, dirt-road excursions of 2-3 hours. That may not sound much but with the scenery, deserted roads, great food and cosy lodgings, it all adds up to a memorable mini-adventure which will leave you satisfied rather than exhausted. Read the riders’ reviews below.


Start/end Marrakech
6-day Easter 2019 tour £750 + bike rental + flight
7-day autumn 2019 tours £860 + bike rental + flight
Dates and availability
Read the FAQs


What a brilliant trip that was. A great balance of challenge and relaxation. RS
We would like to thank you for a beautiful trip that will remain in our memories forever. RBE
Interesting mix of people + your amazing quiet knowledge of the area made it all feel so easy. JT.
Thank you so much for all your help and guiding. The tour has been an indelible memory for me. JK
You’ve ruined green laning in the UK for me now ;-) TY
Great mix of rough and smooth, with a dose of true Moroccan culture. [And] the biking – just right. Loved it. BR
I felt I had experienced much more than the typical tourist fare  It was great to get off the beaten track. CR

If you’ve been there and done that, southern Morocco holds no great challengeBut just as it was for me back in 1982, first rides to North Africa can be a shambles. I came back 82-cassisfrom that trip having not seen or done half as much as I could have.
Today, I still hear of first-time visitors stuck at the border on cumbersome, overloaded machines before getting shafted, ill or breaking down while tackling over-ambitious itineraries while the days slip away. That can be all part of the adventure if you’re young, carefree and happily naive. For everyone else, a short, guided tour can be a great primer to genuine adventure motorcycling or just a great biking holiday.

New bikes • New routes • New lodgings • New 6-day Springtime

For 2019 we’ll be renting the new BMW G310GS I’ve adapted my proven formula so the riding is more suited to these bikes. I’ve again upgrading some of our amazing lodgings and have refined the routing so that there’s always an all-sealed option in the event of bad weather or other set-backs.a310-15-1

Also, because the new G310GS is more road-oriented than the former, clapped-out XR250s, the difference between the 310s and say, a G650GS single or the F700GS twin is less pronounced. Therefore, although the default bike for this tour is the 310GS, these heavier but less revvy bikes are now suited to the tour, assuming they’re available and you feel you can handle the extra weight. Seat heights are not so different. They cost between 25% and 55% more to rent than the 310GS but are quite a few years older and have much higher mileages. Things like ABS and a full dashboard may not work. Read my recent report on doing the lap on an old F700GS.

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The Tour

You fly to Marrakech and check-in to a modern hotel where we all meet on the first evening for a meal and briefing. Next morning it’s a 4-minute walk from the hotel to organise the bikes. We then set off for a 100-km ride to a remote lodge in the High Atlas and next morning continue on a, loop following deserted backroads and spectacular mountain and desert pistes, right up to the very last day returning over the Atlas to Marrakech.tour-2019a

As importantly, we use ambient lodgings, ranging from simple Berber home-stays to impressive kasbah-style boutique hotels on the longer tour, enjoying the hosts’ warm hospitality and freshly prepared food. Many riders often regard the food as a highlight of the tour.

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My knowledge of Morocco gained from researching and writing the Morocco Overland guidebook means barely a day or a mile need be M3-coverwasted getting to the places overlooked by most tourists, tours and other guidebooks. When things go awry and delays crop up, as they do, I know the region well enough to reschedule the itinerary at the drop of a valve. On this trip we’ll barely see other tourists and when we do stray into their territory the whole circus can be quite a shock.

warningThis tour is not a hardcore off-roading, dawn-to-dusk challenge.
It is a laid-back but adventurous backroad trail and road ride through southern Morocco’s mountains and deserts.
Please re-read the red above to avoid disappointment.

However, you still need to be:
• Experienced and level-headed to ride competently on winding mountain roads where anything can lie beyond the next bend
• Fit enough to handle a couple of hours off-roading and
Flexible enough to accept the vagaries of back-country travel in North Africa.

Sound like your sort of thing? Then read the FAQs carefully and check out the gallery below or here and here.tour2019d

BMW G310GS: first ride in Morocco [video]

 

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310GS reappraisal a few months later

In a line
Great-looking mini GS that’s not at all bad for what it is, but don’t kid yourself it’s anything other than a 30-hp road-bike motor packed into a 170-kilo bike.

Note: this was a brand new bike but with several non-standard mods. More below.

• Feels like a full-size mini GS
• Indian-made build quality looks solid
• Efi motor runs smoothly up to 23310 - 3200m/7200′
• Great brakes and easily switchable ABS
* Mitas E-07/ Metz Karoo 3 do-it-all tyres better than stock
• 19″ front wheel great on road and trail
• Suspension, including USD forks, surprisingly well damped
• Good economy – averaged 88 mpg (73.2 US; 31.3kpl; 3.21L/100k)
• Range looks good too; well over 300km or about 200 miles
• Yes it’s 169kg wet (claimed) but like a GS12, it carries it well.

• Thin, soft seat
• Occasional stalling off 1st gear3310 - 4
• Mirrors blur above 90kph as vibes set in
• LCD display a bit hard to read in bright sun
• Tiny screen
* G650GS spoke wheel conversion loses tubeless feature
* Clanking DIY bashplate and front fender hits DIY engine bar on compression
• It’s only a ‘310’

* Non-factory modifications
Note this recall: dodgy sidestand. Followed by owners’ comments.
Long termer – also interesting to read

Review
In Morocco Honda XR250 Tornado imports stopped a couple of years back and the Marrakech rental agency I use for my fly-in tours is finally replacing their weary 7-year old XRs with the BMW G310GS. Honda’s newer CRF250L had been a contender too, but 3310 - 34Honda Morocco don’t list it. As it is, the 310s suit the agency’s BMW profile and their brilliant, unkillable Tornados, some with over 100,000km on the clock, have paid for themselves many times over. It will be interesting to see if the 310GS stand up as well and for as long.
I flew out for three days with two mates, both experienced desert and overland riders. At the end of it neither were that excited by the 310; it’s a big bike with a small engine. I myself was pleasantly surprised.

Performance
310gspowerOfficially, BMW claim the 310GS makes 34hp at 9500rpm. An independent dyno run here shows it’s more like 30hp and Cycle World got a similar figure (left). No great surprise there; most official manufacturers’ figures are optimised.
Although the bike doesn’t feel that heavy once on the move, the additional 20% of power over a regular 250 is negated by a similar weight gain adding up to a claimed 169kg. Coming down the twisty R203 back to Marrakech, the old Tornado (135kg) could just about keep up. Climbing up to the pass it struggled, especially once the carb started choking on the elevation. I never revved the 310 over 5-6000rpm, nor really needed or wanted to; the efi helps it pull smoothly but above 6000 it all got unpleasantly buzzy. And yet, according to the Cycle World power graph it’s only making 20hp at 6000rpm after which the extra 10hp pile in. Even then, I suspect that like any bike this size, riding across Spain on a mission to Morocco wouldn’t be much fun.
3310 - 13Brakes were great as you’d expect. On the dirt  it was the weight and suspension which held us back alongside the XR, and on road or trail I tend not to brake hard to maintain momentum. I forced the ABS on a couple of times to see how it responded and, with no frights, was happy to leave it on. Overall it’s a huge potential benefit, especially on the front.
The slightly notchy gearbox I can forgive at such low mileage, but the occasional stalling on pulling away or at low rpm was irritating and I read is not unique to our two GSs. It’s possibly a gutless, negligible-flywheel small-bike knack to overcome with experience and more rpm. Cutting out as I tried to ease round a steep hairpin without feathering the clutch nearly tipped me over. You’d hope a remap at a service may iron this out.

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Economy and range
Over three fill ups my 310 averaged 88 mpg/73.2 US – 31.3kpl – 3.21L/100k. The official BMW website claims 3.33L/100km (94mpg) which like the hp, also sounds massaged. Still, that was some 20% more than the 88,000-km old XR which, with the same sized 11-litre tank, completed a 230km loop on fumes. Meanwhile, it looked like the 310 was good for at least 300km at that consumption. But – I hardly ever exceeded 90kph (56mph) at which point the vibes set in. As I often observe with these small-bike mpg comparisons, if I rode a bigger bike like my XSR and especially the ultra frugal CB500X RR at such modest speeds, I bet (in fact, I have) got similar fuel mileage, but with the benefit of proper overtaking and cruising speeds when wanted or needed. It’s possible of course that the mileage could improve as the bike runs in, and that our lowered 21/25 psi tyre pressures didn’t help efficiency.

3310 - 32Build quality
Looking the new bike over, there’s nothing glaringly cheap or shoddy to suggest this bike is made in the same place they build Enfield Bullets. Paint, welds, plastics, assembly and finish all look well up to BMW’s standards. That may all change after a few months rental use.
At the end of the first day’s piste bashing we thumped and waggled various bits to make sure nothing had come loose or broken, but apart from the fender and non-stock crash bar or bashplate clanking, all looked in order. Unde310seatr the seat was a handbook in Turkish and a near-proper toolkit which included spindle spanners (won’t fit the new spoke wheel nuts) and a C-spanner for the shock. And for load-carrying duties the rear subframe looked a lot more chunky than what you’d find on a CRF250L for example.

3310 - 10Suspension
I was pleasantly surprised or should I say relieved by the springing. Weighing 92kg (Simon is nearer 70kg), I was expecting the hefty GS with 180mm/7 inches of travel to cripple me on the dirt- or on broken roads. The 310 was certainly slower on the dirt than the clapped-out XR, but road or trail the spring rates and suspension damping felt unusually good compared to cheaply sprung Jap bikes like my XSR before I did it up. Like any big or modestly sprung bike, as long as you progressed smoothly, rough roads and trails were fine. On our bikes the front fender pushed against the DIY engine crash bar and somehow rubbed on the tyre knobs underneath (you can hear it in the video above at 2:48). They ought to fix that before the fender cracks.
3310 - 24If I owned a G310GS I’d fit some firmer forks springs and consider a shock spring, but it’s a relief to have half-decent suspension out of the crate, as I recalled on the F650GS SE from 2012.
The USD forks aren’t adjustable but USDs usually have better action than conventional forks; the back shock can be cranked with a C-spanner once you remove the LHS side panel. We thought about it but didn’t bother.


The Rally Raid G310GS RR kit

310rrFollowing their deservedly successful Honda CB500X RR conversion which I also used in Morocco, Rally Raid have developed a similar kit for the G310GS in their quest for supporting smaller machines to use as real-world, all-road travel bikes. I’ve not seen, far less ridden this bike but there’s a lengthy development thread on the advrider vendor forum, and on the same website Jenny Morgan has just set off to ride a new 310GS RR along the Trans America Trail, as she did with a CB500X RR a couple of years back. Nathan Millward tries one out here for Bennetts Bike Social (right). Rally Raid G310GS Adventure
Rally Raid’s kit replicates some of what Loc2roues have done to the 310s we rode: proper bash plate and engine guard, hand guards, tail rack, all-road tyres and a conversion to spoked wheels. IMO this last modification is redundant on a road-oriented travel bike – this isn’t a WR250 – but at least Rally Raid offer to make the spoked wheels (1150g lighter up front; 2kg heavier at the back) tubeless which is a real benefit on the road.
Beyond that, Rally Raid will do you a taller screen, suspension improvements, swaps and height increases, bar risers, lighter pipes and other accessories, but I see no wider footrests listed, nor a seat. I’d imagine they’ll get round to those. You could spend over two grand to end up with a slightly heavier but much more functional bike that still only makes 30-hp. But heck, it sure looks good and the suspension upgrades ought to eat up the trails.

3310 - 22Road riding
Coming back over the High Atlas with the tyres back at 2 bar (BMW manual recommends a rather low 1.7-1.9 bar), me ‘broken in’ to the machine and in a bit of a rush to catch the plane, the 310 swung effortlessly through the hundreds of bends up and down the R203 Test n Test road. Along with me knowing this road well, great ABS brakes the now worn-in new Karoo 3 tyre on a 19-inch wheel all helped with stability and confidence to make the GS fun to ride.
But on a flat straight road and reluctant to cane the new engine, the 310 feels little better than a 250, albeit still adequate for the quiet 310testMoroccan backroads. Initially the bike’s bulk can trick your brain into thinking you’re on a 650 until you try and nip past something. This is to be expected with any bike of this size and weight, but at 90kph the usefully wide mirrors blurred and the motor got unpleasantly buzzy. Top speed they say is 144kph/89mph but at the speeds we rode, the handling and brakes have little danger of being outrun by the engine’s performance; ideal for inexperienced riders, especially in wet conditions or on the dirt.

3310 - 2Comfort
The seating position feels natural; for once I’m not cramped nor look it. But it took just a couple of minutes out of Marrakech to notice the thin and soft padding of the 835mm/33″ seat. I thought it might be a thinner, lowered option but was told it was standard. This was by far the worse thing on the 310, recalling my agony on the F650GS SE I rode here a few years back. Add the big step and it means you can’t slide back. As mentioned, the vibes over 6000rpm (about 100kph) make it uncomfortable to travel above this speed, but the vibes may fade with some miles or the engine smooth out at higher rpm.
You sit fairly far back; the tiny screen was too short to be effective, although if crouched right down I could just get under the vented wind blast. Taller screens will be an easy fitment.
I didn’t meddle much with the modes of the LCD display whose digits I found a bit thin or too small to read in bright sunshine, but all the basic functions are there, hopefully including the ability to swap between kph and mph when abroad.

aspecnoslevOff road
Swapping with the MTB-like XR on the trail, you notice straight away how much more slowly and carefully you need 3310 - 7to pilot the 310. That’s to be expected for what it is (I keep saying this!), but it was still possible to roll along smoothly thanks to the efi, suspension and general layout (dropping the tyres to 21/25 definitely helped). The suspension never bottomed out hard, not did the ally bashplate clang on anything other than kicked-up stones or the engine. Even without risers I (6′ 1″) could stand up with only a small stoop (above left), but 3310 - 6after a while the narrow pegs became uncomfortable, even on my off-road boots, compelling me to sit back down. On the slow, rough track up to the 2200-m Tizi n Oumerzi pass the other two said the fans kicked in and the bikes were hard work, but when I took over on the smoother descent the 310 was great fun – to be honest like any adv bike, large or small. (With ambient temperatures up to 34°C, I myself never heard the fan come on. You wonder if the reversed engine – exhaust pipe at the back – may help keep the radiator cool).3310 - 21

Conclusion
This new-ish 300-cc category is a bit obscure in the UK and much of the developed world; offering little extra over the well-established and huge selection of 250s. Elsewhere class or power categories may be different and must be where the main market for this bike lies (in India it costs about £3260).
Before I rode it I assumed that the G310GS would be poor compromise for my sort of riding: too heavy and road-oriented for off-road exploring beyond smooth gravel tracks (like my current XScrambleR), but too underpowered on the open road in the face of hills, headwinds, traffic and payloads unless you cane the nuts off it (like last year’s WR250R).
This may be so but in Morocco the GS felt right in its element. The easy trails and quiet, sub-100kph backroads suited the 310 (or any ‘250’, tbh). That ought to translate to a good small RTW travel bike where the last thing you actually need is a quarter-ton, 140-hp behemoth. But I’ve found choosing a bike with this little power depends a lot on your weight (if not your size), the load carried and your expectations. When overlanders settle for the clear-cut limitations of a 250 they hope to gain a more manageable machine off-road. You wont get that with the 310. For my one-week tours it’ll probably be more suited to experienced riders comfortable with its weight and bulk on the dirt; the lowish seat helps here over the annoyingly tall XR.
crf250lrallyG450GSSo if you’ve owned a lot of bikes, large and small, the 310GS isn’t such an exciting proposition, but I’m sure its great looks, price, spec and bulk will lure newer, younger riders into the all-conquering Cult of GS. Otherwise, at about the same price Honda’s CRF250L Rally (right) might be worth a look: 13 kilos lighter, better protection and the similarly great looks which these image-conscious millennial demand. And it’ll surely be more nimble on the dirt.

Now a G450GS that was no heavier – that could be an interesting machine for more mature riders and which might prove be worth developing into a do-it-all travel bike.

XSR 700 Scrambler – some Morocco pics

Scramlogo
• XSR 700 Scrambler index page

Tender - 6A few shots of my XSR700 Scrambler after a month in Morocco, leading three tours. I’m impressed with how it’s shrugged it all off, just like my old Teneres in fact. But then, why wouldn’t it?
All I do is turn off the Tutoro chain oiler for the piste, then wipe it down and turn it on again for the highway.

Tender - 23The engine is just right. I keep forgetting it’s restricted to ~48hp (bought it like that and liked it). The Heidenau K60 tyres are just right too; letting a couple of seconds out makes a big difference on the piste where I’m glad the ABS is disabled. Could do with a bit more and better suspension at times, and standing up is like pushing a wheelbarrow, but it’s a Scrambler, not a trail or enduro bike. Within it’s limitations, I can now sling it about on the dirt and on road. It turned out well. Riding it home in a week or so.
Full 6000-mile report shortly.

Some pics by Jim B and Jim L.