Can the BMW G310 GS overcome Royal Enfield's dominance when it comes to touring in India?
Now, we get that comparing a Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 to a BMW G 310 GS seems a bit outlandish. But hold on, there's more to this than meets the eye. When you think of Royal Enfield, especially RE enthusiasts, you’d think of travelling to Leh Ladakh. And the Interceptor 650 equipped with a parallel-twin engine, better chassis, stickier tyres, and most importantly a relaxed riding posture, makes for a strong case for itself as a tourer. The BMW G 310 GS, on the other hand, is bred to be an adventure tourer. It gets long-travel suspension, an upright rider’s triangle, dual-purpose tyres and a peppy engine to make strides. No matter which way you go, you have two very good options to choose from.
However, there’s the question of the price tag. While the Interceptor offers great value for money, the GS has the German build quality and reliability going for it. So, which one of these bikes is a better proposition, at least on paper?
Ridability and Ergonomics -
Let’s start off with the newly launched Interceptor and its touring capabilities. In terms of ergonomics, you sit fairly upright and quite comfortable with just the right amount of lean towards the handlebars. The footpegs aren’t too rear set either. Moreover, a low seat height of 804mm means even short riders can flat foot quite easily. We test rode the Interceptor 650 for a little over 1,000km and loved the way it handles on highways. RE also offers saddlebags and a fly screen as optional extras which should make touring all the more fun.
That said, its single elongated seat is a bit too narrow and way too soft for our liking. Within just half an hour of riding the seat pan tends to dig into your hindquarters, thanks to the soft cushioning. To add to this, the Interceptor’s softly sprung (with pillion) suspension setup doesn’t filter shocks from our ‘well-paved’ Indian roads all that well. For a quick fix, we’d suggest you dial up the preload on the rear springs which should make the suspension a bit stiffer. The Pirelli Phantom Sportcomp tyres which come as standard offer good grip while cornering and braking. Speaking of braking, the disc brakes on the Interceptor work exceptionally well and it even manages to outbrake its competition, the KTM 390 Duke and HD Street 750. That’s a 200kg+ motorcycle coming to a standstill from 100-0 in less than 48 metres. Impressive, ain’t it?
Much like the Interceptor, the riding position on the BMW G 310 GS is upright. However, a tall seat height of 835mm makes even hopping onto the bike a bit problematic for average-sized riders. Flat-footing the bike is a whole different story. There are upsides to the GS though: its long-travel suspension setup which is set on the softer side offers excellent ride quality and soaks in undulations with ease. A taller handlebar and a higher ground clearance mean trail riding won't be much of a problem either.
The dual-purpose Metzeler Tourance tyres on the G 310 GS offers good grip on both tarmac and rough roads. With the GS you also have the option to slap on panniers and a top box which allows for better storage space. Dial in the option of switchable ABS and you can slip and slide in the dirt, a feature most off-road enthusiast would love. It tips the scale at 169.5kg which is fairly light for an adventure tourer.
The 270 degree, parallel-twin motor on the Interceptor not only makes more power compared to the GS, but it’s also a lot smoother thanks to the twin-cylinder setup and balancer shafts. Also, 80 per cent of its torque is produced at revs as low as 2500rpm. While that stands true, don’t mistake the bike to have a low top speed, because the Interceptor hits over 170kmph quite easily and has the ability to sit at 130kmph all day long without breaking a sweat. Its 13.7ltr fuel tank and a fuel efficiency of 25.93kmpl should see you riding for over 300km before hitting the fuel-pump.
Though the BMW G 310 GS has a smaller, single-cylinder engine compared to its competition, it's a lively one. It offers loads of mid-range grunt and even pulls from 45kmph in 6th gear. A smooth and precise 6-speed gearbox coupled with a light clutch makes life in the saddle a lot easier. That said, its 11ltr fuel tank will have you visiting the fuel station quite often.