The BMW G 310 R has been one of the most-awaited products from BMW Motorrad India. Manufactured by TVS Motor Company, the G 310 R is BMW Motorrad's answer to the small displacement segment (300-400 cc) and although it proudly wears the German brand, it's completely made in India. Priced at ₹ 2.99 lakh (ex-showroom), the BMW G 310 R though comes at a premium, but what it makes up for is in the way the bike is engineered and in overall build quality.
Also Read: BMW G 310 R Road Test Review
The KTM 390 Duke may wear an Austrian brand name, but it's also made in India, of course KTM is owned by India's Bajaj Auto. And priced at ₹ 2.54 lakh (ex-showroom), the KTM 390 Duke is the BMW G 310 R's closest rival. On paper and specifications, both bikes seem evenly matched, although it's the KTM which has a slight displacement and power output advantage (373 cc vs 313 cc; 34 bhp vs 43 bhp). But then, it's not just about a slightly larger engine and more performance on paper, but the sum of everything which differentiates a great bike from a good bike. So, let's get things rolling!
Watch the BMW G 310 R First Ride Review Video Here:
Design and Features
The KTM 390 Duke has been around for a while now, and even though the bike got a comprehensive nip and tuck in 2017, it's the BMW which feels newer and better built. The upside down gold-coloured forks, impeccable fit and finish, nicely contoured body panels, and particularly the Pearl White Metallic, BMW 'HP' race colours of our test bike certainly give the BMW G 310 R an aura of premium quality, even when standing still. Overall build and paint quality is pretty good, and the G 310 R feels solid and built to last.
The instrument panel is digital and has all the required information on display, but the clutch and brake levers are non-adjustable, something which should have been standard considering the ₹ 2.99 lakh (ex-showroom) price tag. It's definitely got road presence, and the BMW does look and feel solid, and has good proportions too. The seat is comfortable, and the cushion is neither too hard, not too soft, and is perfect for long hours in the saddle.
Also Read: BMW G 310 R First Ride Review
In comparison, the KTM 390 Duke looks sportier, with the sharp creases on the bodywork and the orange-coloured exposed trellis frame as well as colour-coordinated wheels and standard hand guards. The KTM also looks more premium with its distinguishing LED headlights (which the BMW misses) and the feature-rich, full-colour TFT instrument panel. And it is smartphone enabled, with the KTM My Ride app and is certainly a stand-out feature, and even offers a range of customisation options and a long list of necessary information.
And the KTM's standard dual-channel ABS also gets modes - Road, Moto (ABS on front wheel only), and it can be switched off completely. The BMW also gets dual-channel ABS, but it cannot be switched off. And while the KTM gets adjustable levers, the BMW misses out on those, as well as the LED headlight.
Also Read: 2017 KTM 390 Duke First Ride Review
Engine and Performance
|Specifications||BMW G 310 R||KTM 390 Duke|
|Engine Type||Single-cylinder DOHC, liquid-cooled, front intake||Single-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled|
|Engine Displacement||313 cc||373.4 cc|
|Maximum Power||34 bhp @ 9,500 rpm||43 bhp @ 9,500 rpm|
|Peak Torque||28 Nm @ 7,500 rpm||35 Nm @ 7,000 rpm|
|Maximum Speed||143 kmph||167 kmph|
|Frame||Tubular steel bridge-type with rear subframe||Steel Trellis|
|Front Suspension||41 mm front fork, non-adjusable, with 140 mm travel||43 mm, inverted WP fork with 150 mm travel|
|Rear Suspension||Spring preload adjustable shock, with 132 mm travel||WP monoshock with 150 mm travel|
|Front Tyre||110/70 x 17, Michelin Pilot Street Radial||110/70 x 17, Metzeler Sportec MS|
|Rear Tyre||150/60 x 17, Michelin Pilot Street Radial||150/70 x 17, Metzeler Sportec MS|
|Front Brake||320 mm disc with four-piston ByBre caliper||300 mm disc with four-piston ByBre caliper|
|Rear Brake||240 mm disc with single-piston ByBre caliper||230 mm disc with single-piston ByBre caliper|
|ABS||BMW two-channel ABS, not switchable||Bosch 9.1 MP two-channel ABS, switchable with three modes|
|Kerb Weight||158 kg||139 kg (dry)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||11 litres||13.5 litres|
|Price||₹ 2.99 lakh (ex-showroom)||₹ 2.44 lakh (ex-showroom)|
The 313 cc, reverse-inclined, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine belts out 34 bhp at 9,500 rpm and 28 Nm of peak torque at 7,500 rpm. The engine is peppy, with a strong low and mid-range, and that is where the BMW G 310 R is happiest at. There's ample top-end too, and our test bike crossed 140 kmph with ease, but getting there and sitting at high triple digit speeds all day may not be what you'd want to be doing on the G 310 R. This BMW may be well built and feel solid, but after around 7,000 rpm, the vibrations will begin to creep in. There's also some buzz on the footpegs and handlebars, but the vibes from the fuel tank is what gets to you. But it will happily cruise at 110-120 kmph, and with enough top end to reach more than 140 kmph, if the need arises, but the engine isn't happy sitting at high revs for too long.
The KTM 390 Duke also has a single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine. But it's slightly larger at 373 cc displacement, and if it's pure performance you're looking for, it's immediately apparent which one brings more joy as the revs climb. The 390 Duke's engine puts out more power and torque as well - 43 bhp at 9,000 rpm and peak torque of 37 Nm at 7,000 rpm. But it's the way the 390 Duke performs and accelerates that makes it the more fun bike to ride. The KTM 390 Duke now gets ride by wire, and throttle response is crisp, and accelerating through the gears is pure joy and entertainment.
If the BMW feels solid and stable, it's the KTM which will get you grinning as you whack open the throttle. There's a bit of vibration on the handlebar and footpegs, but nothing as disturbing as the buzz on the BMW's fuel tank. And there's some amount of vibration to be expected from a performance-oriented single anyway, so you learn to live with it, and appreciate the 390 Duke for what it offers. You can cruise comfortably all day at 120 kmph, and given enough tarmac and if you're keen to brave the windblast, it will go all the way to 152 kmph.
Ride and Handling
On the move, the BMW G 310 R has a supple ride - comfortable, planted and taut. Over minor road undulations and the occasional broken stretch, the BMW sails over quite comfortably. Ride quality isn't exactly plush, but it's not too harsh to make you complain about being uncomfortable. The ergonomics are spot on, and you have a neutral and comfortable riding position, with the handlebar and footpeg positioned with easy reach to make a long ride not very tiring. Handling is taut, and the G 310 R feels stable and planted, even around a corner. The Michelin Pilot Street radial tyres offer very good grip, and even when leaned over while taking a fast corner, the BMW G 310 R feels planted, and without any sense of the bike weaving or feeling out of control.
The moment you switch to the KTM, what is immediately obvious is the different riding position. The seat height of the KTM 390 Duke is higher and the handlebar is placed forward as well, so the rider sits with a slight crouch towards the front, over the fuel tank and engine and knees naturally falling into the recesses on the fuel tank. It's a sporty riding position all right, but not overtly aggressive to make it uncomfortable, even for extended periods in the saddle. That said, the seat cushion material is slightly on the stiffer side, although the KTM offers more room for the rider to move around, particularly when negotiating a set of corners.
The BMW G 310 R is a well-built, well-engineered roadster which certainly oozes quality and has the performance and hardware to make it quite a likeable bike. It's not exactly the go-fast street hooligan, if that's your idea of having fun on two wheels. But it does everything to satisfaction, and will do most things expected of it with satisfaction, and that includes a decent highway cruising speed as well, and fantastic brakes. But, at ₹ 2.99 lakh (ex-showroom), the BMW G 310 R is still on the expensive side, despite its premium fit and finish and solid build quality. That price tag is what robs the BMW of making it a great entry-level performance roadster with an attractive price to performance ratio.
The KTM 390 Duke on the other hand, makes for the more entertaining bike to ride and at ₹ 2.44 lakh (ex-showroom), the KTM is significantly less expensive than the BMW. It also boasts of European brand value, and has a long list of features which the BMW lacks. But most of all, it's the KTM which comes out tops, whether it's pure performance, handling or the sheer joy of riding an entertaining street naked. And with a price difference of more than ₹ 50,000, it's difficult to ignore the fact, that the KTM will bring more fun, more joy, every time you take it out for a spin, and at the same time, at a much lower cost. So, in the ultimate analysis, it's the KTM 390 Duke which comes out tops in this comparison.
(Photogtaphy: Rakesh Singh and Azam Siddiqui)