BMW’s plucky little roadster just got hotter

LISTEN 08:43

BMW rolls into 2021 with what it calls a soft re-imagination of its plucky little roadster, the G 310 R. Not only did BMW tuneup the looks, but the new G 310 R sports a number of tech upgrades and safety equipment to boot. The engine is a carryover from last year, even though it, too, hits the showroom floor with buffed engine-control electronics and mechanical features. New paint packages finish out the details that make their model debut in MY2021.

  • 2021 BMW G 310 R
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    313 cc
  • Top Speed:
    89 mph
  • Price:

2021 BMW G 310 R Design

  • All around LED lighting
  • Adjustable hand levers
  • Subtle restyling
  • Narrow waist
2021 BMW G 310 R
- image 963877
2021 BMW G 310 R
- image 963866

The factory tweaked the look of the G 310 R with a little nip here and tuck there, but the overall effect is rather subtle. The front fender carries right on over with its foil-shaped uprights that split the wind around the bottom of the inverted front forks and protect the swept area of the inner fork tube from road grime.

The headlight housing was adjusted to accept the new LED headlight and LED DRL lightbar that improves your two-way visibility with the world. New LED turn signals sprout from the upper sides of the headlight housing well out of harm’s way.

Behind the steering head, the radiator cowlings ride lower than before, plus the cheek fairings and fuel tank are now separate pieces to change the look in profile. One thing that remains the same is the narrow waist and skinny saddle entry that gives your legs a break when you go to deploy your training wheels.

The stock, one-piece saddle comes with a built-in pillion pad, and the rear end has a beefy set of J.C. handles for your passenger’s comfort and security. The rear mudguard and LED taillight from the outgoing model carry right over, but the LED tech spreads to the rear turn signals to complete the all-around LED illumination that brightens this year’s model.

A sporty rider’s triangle pulls the pilot into an aggressive riding posture over the tank with fixed values, but both the brake and clutch lever can be moved in or out with a 6 mm range of adjustment so you can at least dial in for your hand size.

2021 BMW G 310 R Chassis

  • Agile handling
  • Quick reversals
  • ABS
  • Lightweight and compact
2021 BMW G 310 R
- image 963868
2021 BMW G 310 R
- image 963875
2021 BMW G 310 R
- image 963876

Tubular members on the G 310 R make up the “spaceframe” to use the factory’s own parlance with a die-cast aluminum swingarm to finish out the skeleton. A set of inverted, 41 mm forks float the front end on fixed values while a central spring strut supports and dampens the motion at the rear end with adjustable preload as the only stock suspension tweak.

Symmetrical and lightweight, the 17-inch cast wheels round out the rolling chassis. The rubber comes in a 110/70 up front ahead of a 150/60, and the profile and tread is such that you can count on deep lean angles to both sides, if you have the nerve for it. As for the suspension stroke, you can count on 5.5 inches of travel at the front axle and 5.1 inches at the rear, which is plenty for riding on mostly civilized roads.

Priority was to keep weight low, and the result is the G 310 R weighs in at a low 349.4 pounds, soaking wet. With such a low working weight, it’s no surprise that the factory opted for but a single front brake to manage the bulk of the stopping power. A four-piston calipers bites a 300 mm front disc, and out back, a 240 mm disc and single-pot anchor take care of business, all under Beemer’s proprietary ABS protection. The steering geometry checks in with a 25.1-degree rake angle and 4 inches of trail to give the G 310 R an eager nature that handles flicks and reversals well and delivers a spirited riding experience.

Frame: Tubular spaceframe
Front Suspension/ Travel: Upside-down fork Ø 41mm/ 5.5 inches (140 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Drawn die-cast aluminum, directly hinged central spring strut, spring base adjustable/ 5.2 inches (131 mm)
Trail: 4.0 inches (102.3 mm)
Steering head angle: 64.9°
Front Brakes: Single-disc brake Ø 300 mm, 4-piston radial brake caliper
Rear Brakes: Single-disc brake Ø 240 mm, single-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad ABS
Wheels: Five-spoke light metal die-cast wheels
Front Wheel: 3.0 x 17"
Rear Wheel: 4.0 x 17"
Front Tire: 110/70 R 17
Rear Tire: 150/60 R 17

2021 BMW G 310 R Drivetrain

  • Liquid-cooled, 313 cc single-cylinder engine
  • 34 horsepower and 20 lb-ft of torque
  • Self-boosting anti-hopping clutch
  • Automatic idle-speed control
2021 BMW G 310 R
- image 963874
2021 BMW G 310 R
- image 963869
2021 BMW G 310 R
- image 963865

The powerplant on the new G 310 R is a carryover from last year with its four-stroke, one-lung configuration. An 80 mm bore and 62.1 mm stroke adds up to a 313 cc total displacement with a mild, 10.9-to-1 compression ratio. This gives the liquid-cooled mill a power output of 34 ponies at 9,500 rpm and 20 pounds of grunt at 7,500 rpm, so this is clearly an engine that likes to operate in the higher rev range.

Dual over-head cams time the quad-valve head with a counterbalancer shaft that helps mitigate some of the vibration inherent with a single-cylinder thumper. This year, the electronic throttle control comes with a high level of fidelity and response to demand, plus it rocks an automatic idle-speed control to prevent stumbles when accelerating from a standstill.

Power flows through a six-speed transmission to the rear wheel via a tough, O-ring chain, and the final drive ratio turns in a top speed of 89 mph; plenty fast for everyday work. There’s a “self-boosting” clutch (slip and assist) that mitigates the effects of backtorque from the rear wheel to protect the integrity of the rear contact patch and prevent rear-wheel hop on hard downshifts.

Electronic fuel injection and a three-way catalyst in the exhaust system helps the engine meet EU-5 emission standards which should hold it in good stead with the emission authorities Stateside.

Engine: Water-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine, DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Displacement: 313 cc
Bore x Stroke: 80 mm x 62.1 mm
Power: 34 hp (25 kw) @ 9,500 rpm
Torque: 20.6 lb-ft (28 Nm) @ 7,500 rpm
Compression/Fuel: 10.9:1
Engine control unit: Electronic injection BMS-E2
Emission control: 3-way closed-loop catalytic converter, emission standard EU-5
Clutch: Self-boosting multi-disc clutch in oil bath, mechanically actuated
Transmission: Claw-shifted six-speed transmission, integrated in the engine housing
Primary translation: 3.083
Translation ratios: 1st: 3.000, 2nd: 2.063, 3rd: 1.588, 4th: 1.286, 5th: 1.095, 6th: 0.955
Final drive: Endless X-ring chain with shock damping in rear wheel hub

2021 BMW G 310 R Price

2021 BMW G 310 R
- image 963870
2021 BMW G 310 R
- image 963873
2021 BMW G 310 R
- image 963878

Since the MSRP has yet to be announced at the time of this writing, I can’t be specific on the ticket. However, the 2020 rolled for $4,945, and even with the improvements this year I have a hard time imagining the price exceeding the $5k mark by very much.

2021 BMW G 310 R Competitors

2021 BMW G 310 R
- image 963864
2019 - 2022 Kawasaki Z400
- image 810168

BMW comes into direct competition with the Big Four for a slice of the U.S. sportbike market, so I went straight to Kawasaki’s own small-displacement naked sportbike, the Z400 ABS.

Kawasaki Z400 ABS

Kawasaki Unveils New Models at 2018 EICMA Exterior
- image 804360

As is its wont, Kawasaki embraces an angular and aggressive build for the Z400 that is as distinctive as a fingerprint, and it comes off looking more extreme in its overall presentation. Like the Beemer, the Kawi carries a minimum of bodywork, even less if you consider the lack of a chin fairing and barely-there radiator cowl.

ABS and slipper-clutch technology are constants across the board but comprise the entirety of the safety equipment on both machines. Kawi gets a leg up in the comfort category with its Ergo-Fit system that lets you massage the rider’s triangle to suit your particular body style, something you can’t do with the G 310 R without a trip to the parts department, maybe even the service department, as well.

The 399 cc mill in the Z400 is a parallel twin that produces 28 pound-feet of torque – 8 more than the BMW – and so the Beemer’s mill falls short in this respect. It falls short in the claimed top speed as well against Kawi’s 91 mph top speed, but only by the skin of its teeth. Unsurprising given the displacement difference, really.

Price is still up in the air with the G 310 R, but the Z400 rolls for $4,999 and I reckon that’s right about where the BMW will land.

Read our full review of the Kawasaki Z400.

He Said

“The Euro-tastic good looks of the G 310 R aren’t as extreme as some of its competitors, a point in BMW’s favor to many and a point of contention to others. This year’s tweaks are just enough to call it a kinda’ new version of the existing model though visually the two year models have a lot more in common than not. The safety equipment is sufficient, but it would be a safer bike with maybe some traction/anti-wheelie control. Oh well, there’s always next year.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “There are a lot of sweet updates on the new G 310 R that almost steer it into hooliganistic territory. Wheelies, stoppies, and general shenaniganery benefit from the electronic tweeks and my old-lady hands appreciate the adjustable levers. It’s a nice little bike, compact and capable, that delivers a spirited ride for what could be your most fun-loving commute ever.”

2021 BMW G 310 R Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Water-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine, DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Displacement: 313 cc
Bore x Stroke: 80 mm x 62.1 mm
Power: 34 hp (25 kw) @ 9,500 rpm
Torque: 20.6 lb-ft (28 Nm) @ 7,500 rpm
Compression/Fuel: 10.9:1
Engine control unit: Electronic injection BMS-E2
Emission control: 3-way closed-loop catalytic converter, emission standard EU-5
Clutch: Self-boosting multi-disc clutch in oil bath, mechanically actuated
Transmission: Claw-shifted six-speed transmission, integrated in the engine housing
Primary translation: 3.083
Translation ratios: 1st: 3.000, 2nd: 2.063, 3rd: 1.588, 4th: 1.286, 5th: 1.095, 6th: 0.955
Final drive: Endless X-ring chain with shock damping in rear wheel hub
Chassis:
Frame: Tubular spaceframe
Front Suspension/ Travel: Upside-down fork Ø 41mm/ 5.5 inches (140 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Drawn die-cast aluminum, directly hinged central spring strut, spring base adjustable/ 5.2 inches (131 mm)
Trail: 4.0 inches (102.3 mm)
Steering head angle: 64.9°
Front Brakes: Single-disc brake Ø 300 mm, 4-piston radial brake caliper
Rear Brakes: Single-disc brake Ø 240 mm, single-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad ABS
Wheels: Five-spoke light metal die-cast wheels
Front Wheel: 3.0 x 17"
Rear Wheel: 4.0 x 17"
Front Tire: 110/70 R 17
Rear Tire: 150/60 R 17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall length: 78.9 inches (2,005 mm)
Total width (across hand lever): 33.4 inches (849 mm)
Seat height, unladen: 30.9 inches (785 mm)
Wheelbase: (1,374 mm)
Curb Weight: 349.4 lbs (158.5 kg)
Perm. total weight: 760.6 lbs (345 kg)
Fuel tank capacity: 2.9 gallons (11 l)
Fuel economy (WMTC): 70 mpg (3.33 l/100 km)
Maximum speed: 89 mph (143 km/h)
Electrical system:
Alternator: 330 W
Battery: 12/8 V/Ah
Headlight: LED
Starter: 0.5 kW
Details:
Color: Cosmic Black, Polar White, Limestone Metallic
Price: TBA

Further Reading

BMW Motorrad

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
- image 789359

Read more BMW news.

TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
About the author

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: bmwmotorcycles.com, kawasaki.com

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