BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03 – New Naked Learner Comparison

Later this year the learner market will be joined by two important new models. One will be a naked version of what is in our opinion the best learner sportsbike on the market (the Yamaha R3) to be known as the Yamaha MT-03. The other is the first in a new partnership for BMW by way of the G 310 R which will see the German manufacturer target the entry level market for the first time. Let’s take a look at what each offers and who is likely to reign supreme in learner naked category.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

For this comparison, the MT-03 is somewhat of a known quantity already. Firstly, other than some ergonomic changes it is the same bike as the Yamaha R3 but with different looks. Secondly, the MT-25, which is a smaller capacity version of what western markets will get has already been ridden and reviewed in Indonesia where it went on sale late last year and reports are that it is a very solid machine.

The brand new BMW R 310 G on the other hand is a clean sheet motorcycle in more ways than one. The engine is brand new, it’s a totally new platform and it’s the first motorcycle to come out of the BMW/TVS partnership which sees BMW design the bike while it is manufactured by TVS factories in India.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

Looks wise, the BMW comes across as uninspiring and very generic. With the white, blue and red livery it’s sometimes hard to distinguish it from the Honda CB300F – and Honda are hardly known for their design flair. Comparing the G 310 R to the likes of the Kawasaki Z300, 390 Duke and MT-03 makes it seem even more boring and benign. BMW has played it disappointingly safe with the G 310 R and given that the S 1000 R looks so aggressive and modern, we feel it’s a missed opportunity by the Bavarian brand to make this bike stand out.

The MT-03 takes most of its styling cues from its bigger brother MT-07 and MT-09 bikes which is a good thing. We’ve always found the new MT range of bikes to be quite handsome and they manage to stand out without looking overly aggressive and brash like Kawasaki’s Z range can sometimes be.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

Fit and finish wise we wouldn’t expect there to be too much difference between the two. While BMW would usually go the extra mile with quality of finish, the fact that these bikes are being produced in India will no doubt mean that typical German attention to detail will be lost. Add to that the fact that this bike will have to compete on price – despite its badge – and there’s little doubt that the Yamaha will sit alongside the BMW without any embarrassment.

BMW obviously sees this as a potential issue to customers and were at pains to point out that quality control would be of the highest order in their press release, a snippet of which is below:

TVS Motor Company’s quality management system has been based on Japanese role models for many years. For the G 310 R, this system was extended to include the requirements and standards specific to BMW Motorrad, and within the area of quality management there are interdisciplinary teams from both companies working in close collaboration.

Furthermore, staff were specially selected and trained by TVS for production and assembly. Additional training programs were held for assembly workers together with colleagues from the BMW Motorrad plant in Berlin-Spandau over a period of more than a year prior to the start of serial production. From the very first motorcycle to come off the production line in India, they have also contributed to the high assembly standards and heightened quality awareness. All in all, production of the new BMW G 310 R is subject to the same quality criteria that apply to production at the BMW Motorrad plant in Berlin-Spandau.

This goes on for two whole pages of the press release. Time will tell how the finished product stacks up. The best comparison that can be made is with the KTM 390 Duke and RC 390 – both made in India and probably do suffer slightly in terms of quality compared to the rest of the KTM range produced in Australia. Again however, we’re comparing budget entry level bikes to higher end machines that sometimes cost more than family cars.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

Our major area of concern with the G 310 R is the engine. BMW chose to go with a single cylinder engine while the majority of the competition has moved towards twins, the exception being KTM and Honda (although the latter is expected to shift to two cylinder units in the near future). And while the 390 Duke and RC 390 are great bikes, one of their weaknesses is something many single cylinder powerplants suffer from – vibrations.

Like the KTM’s, the G 310 R will feature a single counterbalancer to help combat these vibrations but generally speaking, they will still be present at higher revs. These become more noticeable at higher rpm which means that on long highway stints, they can become annoying and fatigue inducing. BMW’s track record with vibrations hasn’t been wonderful lately either, with the otherwise brilliant S 1000 XR suffering from sometimes severe vibrations at certain engine speeds.

Power and torque wise, the Yamaha has a fairly large advantage over the German, whereas torque figures are more closely matched.. The MT-03 will put out 30.9 kW (42 hp) @ 10,750 rpm and 29.6 Nm (21.8 lb-ft) @ 9,000 rpm. The G 310 R produces 25 kW (34 hp) at 9,500 rpm and torque of 28 Nm (20.65 lb-ft) @ 7,500, meaning that the BMW will probably be slightly more responsive down low as one would expect from a thumper.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

But does the BMW have a weight advantage to counteract this power deficit? Yes, it does. The MT-03 with a full tank of fuel tips the scales at 168 kg (370 lbs) – and that is including ABS brakes. The G 310 R will come in at 158.5 kilos (350 pounds) – a not insignificant weight saving of almost 10 kilograms considering the small power figures here which therefore amplifies power to weight ratios. That said, some of that difference is due to fuel tank capacity with the MT-03’s 14 litre tank able to take in 3 more litres than the BMW, reducing the weight difference by about 2.5 kilograms.

With braking, the both the G 310 R and MT-03 make do with single 300 mm discs up front, but the G 310 R takes it up a notch with a radially bolted 4-piston caliper compared to with a two-pot caliper on the Yamaha. The BMW also gets steel-braided lines – a rarity at this end of the market.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

Suspension is similarly comparable between the two machines as well, albeit the MT-03 will potentially be marginally more sharp. Both feature 41 mm forks, with the G 310 R’s being inverted. Travel for the BMW is 140 mm up front and 131 mm at the rear, while the Yamaha is slightly shorter at 130 mm front and 125 mm behind. Handling should be fairly comparable with a nearly identical wheelbase (only 6 mm separates the two), although the BMW does get a slightly wider tire of 150/60 compared to the Japanese bike’s 140/70.

Other dimensions are also near identical. Seat height for the G 310 R is 785 mm and 780 mm for the MT-03. Overall length for the Yamaha is 2,090 mm and the BMW comes in slightly shorter at 1988 mm. However, trail on the BMW is marginally more at 102.3 mm as opposed to the MT-03’s 95 mm meaning that on paper at least, the Yamaha will corner slightly more aggressively and that will be assisted by the skinnier rear tire, too.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

On paper, the G 310 R will have a big fight on its hands. It’s down on power, slightly on torque although it does have a weight advantage. It also looks to have better quality anchors up front. The key will be to its handling and comfort. Will it suffer from engine vibrations like the 390 Duke? And what will the quality of its suspension components be like?

There’s also the price. There’s little doubt BMW will price their bike above most of the competition by way of its badge, but that’s a very difficult ask to make of new riders who generally seek value for money as a main determination of their purchase. The G 310 R also doesn’t really appear to try to win on looks either, although beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We’ll find out later this year.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

BMW G 310 RYamaha MT-03
Engine Type313 cc 4 strong, single cylinder321cc 4 stroke inline twin
Bore And Stroke80 mm x 62 mm68 mm × 44.1 mm
InductionBMS-E2 42mm throttle valven/a
Compression Ratio10.6:111.2 :1
Valve TrainDOHC; four valves per cylinderDOHC; four valves per cylinder
Horsepower25kw (34hp) @ 9,500 rpm30.9 kW (42.0hp) @ 10,750 rpm
Torque28 Nm @ 7,500 rpm29.6 Nm @ 9,000 rpm
Drive Train
Chassis / Suspension / Brakes
Front Suspension41 mm fork, 140 mm travel41 mm fork, 130 mm travel
Rear Suspension131 mm travel125 mm travel
Front BrakeSingle-disc brake Ø 300 mm, 4 piston caliperSingle-disc brake Ø 298 mm, 2 piston caliper
Rear BrakeSingle-disc brake Ø 240 mm, twin piston caliperSingle-disc brake Ø 220 mm, twin piston caliper
Front Tire110/70 R 17110/70-17M/C
Rear Tire150/60 R 17140/70-17M/C
Trail102.3 mm95 mm
Wheelbase1,374 mm1,380 mm
Seat Height785 mm780 mm
Wet Weight158.5 kg168 kg
Fuel Capacity11 litres14 litres

Yamaha MT-03 Embraces the Learner Market

Joining what is now a smorgasbord of low capacity motorcycles, the Yamaha MT-03 will join the fight and sit alongside the impressive Yamaha R3 as the company’s entry level offerings in western markets. Bearing much of the styling cues of the bigger MT-09 and MT-07, the ‘baby’ MT will no doubt steal plenty of sales away from other rivals – and go head to head with BMW’s new offering as well.

As you’d expect, there’s not a huge difference between the MT-03 and the R3, save mainly for its looks and ergonomics. Being a naked, the riding position is far more upright than the little sportsbike. The upright handlebars offer a wide lock-to-lock steering angle of 68 degrees, giving the MT-03 rider plenty of maneuverability in slow traffic, and Liquid cooled parallel twin 321cc engine will be familiar to YZF-R3 owners this feature also makes the bike easy to move around when wheeling it in and out of garages or parking spaces.

The two-level seating arrangement features a 780 mm high rider seat that gives a feeling of sitting ‘in’ and not ‘on top of’ the bike, and enables the typical rider to get both feet on the ground during stop/start riding. The raised passenger seat gives plenty of space for a passenger, and features aluminium grab bars for added comfort.

No changes have been made to the engine, brakes or any other areas of the bike, which therefore means power of 30.9 kW @ 10,750 rpm and torque of 29.6 Nm @ 9,000 rpm, a 298 mm single disc at the front and a 220 mm one at the back. Wet weight is actually down on the R3 by a single kilogram.

Yamaha MT-03 Could Be Released As Early As This Year

Two bits of news have surfaced in the last few days regarding the upcoming Yamaha MT-03. The as yet ‘unconfirmed’ naked version of the entry level Yamaha R3 that is all but guaranteed to be released in western markets instead of the MT-25 which is for developing countries. Until now, it had been assumed that the MT-03 would debut sometime late next year, but it could be a lot earlier than that.

Indian magazine Topgear India stated in an article regarding the Indian release of the R3 that the MT-03 (which they refer to as the MT-320) will be released in March of next year. Given that western markets almost always get new releases before India (the exception being smaller KTM bikes like the 390 Duke which are made in India), this would likely mean a release of late this year or very early next year in North America, Europe and Australia. It almost guarantees that the MT-03 will be officially unveiled later this year at EICMA, the worlds biggest annual motorcycle trade show.

The other bit of news is that the first official renders of the MT-03 have been discovered from trade mark and design applications filed with the European Union. Obviously, the MT-03 looks virtually identical to the already released MT-25 with the exception being the inclusion of ABS on these renderings.


Final Production Version of Yamaha MT-25 Revealed

Indonesian site TMCBlog has gotten the big scoops all along on the Yamaha MT-25 and today got to not only see it in full for the first time but to go for a ride it as well. The MT-25 will start hitting dealerships in South East Asia over the next few months and will hopefully transform into the MT-03 (or FZ-03, depending on where you live) and live alongside the faired Yamaha R3 sportsbike sometime late next year.

Final Production Version of Yamaha MT-25 Revealed

The pictures of the MT-25 are basically what will become the MT-03 in western markets, save of course for the larger engine and the deletion of the number plate holder on the front screen. You can also clearly see the similarities between the little naked bike and the new Yamaha R3, such as the dash, exhaust and rear fender. Major changes are the usage of handlebars instead of clipons and from our eye, slightly changed positioning of the rider footpegs.

Given the early success (and high praise from most) of the new Yamaha R3, it will be great to see another addition to the entry level market, this time as a naked to compete with the likes of the Z300, Benelli BN 302 and 390 Duke. To see the full gallery, head on over to TMCBlog.