Johannesburg - Earlier this week an 11 year old Indian-born British boy scored 162 points on the IQ test - beating both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

If Arnav Sharma is given the opportunity to thrive and flex his intellect there is no telling what this pint-sized genius could achieve, and we could be hearing his name a lot more in the coming years.

It is to a motorcycle with a pint-sized engine that BMW Motorrad has turned in taking a leap into a whole new market segment for the German brand, and on first impressions the new G 310 R is a bike we'll be hearing a lot more about in future.

BMW Motorrad, which is a dominant player in the over-500cc motorcycle market, has entered the commuter brat pack with a compact bike that's easy to ride, has great build quality, and comes with an appealing R62 990 pricetag that makes it accessible to people who previously couldn't afford to be part of the BMW fold.

The G 310 R could well be a work of genius.

I rode the new bike at its South African media launch this week on a route that zig-zagged through Joburg's city streets and surrounding suburbs, where it proved to be a light and zippy thing perfectly suited to the nip and tuck of urban riding. 

With its light 158.5kg weight and low 785mm saddle it's a bike that you quickly settle into and build confidence. It's an unintimidating machine that will make friends with new riders, making it an ideal first bike.

It's light without feeling flimsy, and the G 310 R has a grown-up nature with a solid feel and  the marque's typical high-class finishes; having the bike built in India has clearly not affected BMW's quality standards. The all-digital instrument panel is comprehensive and tells you what gear you're in, your fuel level, average fuel consumption, and the distance to empty.

The little Beemer has a nice bump-soaking ride, cavorting over suburbia's scars and manhole covers without feeling jittery or transferring all the nasty bumps through your butt and wrists.

It zips through its six gears fairly smoothly, and the brakes - ABS-assisted discs at both ends - are powerful. 

The biggest surprise is the perky power deliver and lusty sound of that little 313cc single-cylinder liquid-cooled engine, which makes outputs of 25kW at 9500rpm and 28Nm at 7500rpm. Apart from a quirky clutch action that makes it somewhat prone to stalling on pull off, the power delivery is perfectly suited to the bike's urban role. 

It has a pleasantly free-revving nature and good low-down torque, enabling quick bursts of pace to get you out of trouble, and allowing you to overtake traffic where the average underpowered scooter would have to hang back. 

Although this is no breakfast-run bike it's not just confined to city limits and my ride on the freeway confirmed it's easily capable of triggering speed traps - BMW quotes a 145km/h top speed.

The torquey engine doesn't require you to constantly seek out the 10 500rpm limit, but it's fun to do just because of the pleasant ear candy involved. It's a sporty little war cry that gives this bike some real soul, elevating it from the ranks of a prosaic commuter. 

I never knew such a small-engined city bike could be so much fun. 

The BMW G 310 R is a fuel sipper too at a quoted 3.3 litres per 100km, giving it a theoretical range of over 300km from its 11 litre tank.

Star Motoring

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