Usually associated with Ken Block’s viral videos, a Gymkhana in automotive terms is a course with various obstacles and challenges to test out the bike’s abilities and clearly, the rider’s skills. While I have been watching Pol Tarres jump his T7 off boulders, and Dakar Rally riders sail on the sand, off-road riding, somehow, hasn’t gotten to me…yet. So, considering myself a novice with the G310 GS at hand, would I be at ease and come to like the paths unpaved this time?
Well, the basics to being at ease with a motorcycle is to have suited ergonomics. So, I stood up on the pegs, with my knees hugging the GS’s well-shaped fuel tank with almost no effort. However, holding on to the handlebar was a stretch, despite being of average height. This would surely be a task for taller riders. Now, the first obstacle was jumping-off of tyres. And the G310 GS handled that with ease. The near-34bhp producing 313cc engine offers incredible punch in the lower-end, and the ride-by-wire throttle means even a light hand at the throttle in first gear would propel the 310 GS skyward. Then, after completing a full turn, which felt easy on the first try, it was time to cross the rock garden.
Aptly named, this section is the trickiest of the lot, filled with large, loose rocks. Again, using the GS’s low-end punch, traversing over the rocks was like slicing through cheesecake. And while the KTM 390 Adventure and Royal Enfield Himalayan left no stone unturned hitting and shuffling the rocks with their sump guards, the G310 GS proved to have much better ground clearance.
However, as I took a full-lock turn to enter the third lane of the gymkhana, the 310 GS stalled. And the daunting memories of me falling off the bike multiple times due to the same issue at the 2019 Off-Road Day crept in….Well, we powered through it this time, around the cone and onto the roller humps and into the rut section of the course, where the G310 GS pleasantly surprised with its suspension. BMW has made revisions to the setup to offer a plush on-road ride. Although, even over the deep ruts, the bike felt composed and settled.
After riding over the balance beam, it was time for my favourite bit of the Gymkhana- jumping the bike off the log. Given that the GS weighs a mere 175kg and has a strong grunt in the low end, jumping it off the log and catching some air time was easy, and equally exhilarating. Again, I was impressed by the revised suspension setup that has been stiffened up a bit.
Unlike the earlier version where the front bottomed out each time it hit the log, the new G 310 GS absorbed the impact well. It also felt settled on landing instead of completely bottoming out at both ends. To end the course, on the last lane of the gymkhana lay the braking section. The goal was to accelerate as hard as possible and come to a complete stop between the cones.
Here, the GS’ newly renewed, stiffer suspension and sharp brake bite came into play. While it was confidence-instilling at first, the overly intrusive ABS and the lack of grip from the Metzeler Tourance tyres turned the entire experience on its head with a feeling of the front-end washing out.