Last you heard, the BMW G310GS showed off some nimble dance moves over the winding B-roads of East Malaysia. Now, the plan is to abandon reasonable tarmac. We’ll be terrorising some 15-ish km of dirt, mud and streams to get to the start point of the hike up Rainbow Waterfall in Sungai Lembing, Pahang. Although, the distance is probably better measured in the number of funny spills – nobody’s getting out with clean pants!
Story by: Cherie “Anyhowly” Tan
Photography by: The Gasoline Addict
The sleepy Lembing river once nourished one of the largest tin mining operations in history, deep in the heart of early-1900s British colonial Pahang. These days, its namesake town dozes in sepia-toned stupor around the winding river banks, but is the gateway to a backyard of exhilarating wilderness – the quintessential moto-adventurer’s playground!
But first, a good old-fashioned market breakfast. The notable eats of Sungai Lembing are like most of its inhabitants – rustic and Chinese. Nearly all are handmade from scratch, charcoal-cooked, made with mountain water, or some charming combination of the above. We waste no time in ploughing through a checklist of “Lembing Specials”. A note to future visitors: don’t leave until you’ve tried their yong tau foo, mountain water tofu and mountain water noodles. On weekends, sio bak (roast pork) that’s charcoal-grilled in traditional brick kilns also draws hordes of tourists to an unassuming shophouse in Kg Jeram Takar, just a few turns away from the central market. Ask around for “Ah Ding’s Roast Pork”, and be in the queue by 4.30pm for first dips on the juiciest cuts!
Put on your wandering shoes and you’ll discover other Instagrammable gems around the village, including a tin mining museum and a jaw-dropping suspension bridge that’s survived a century of use by humans and motorcycles.
Follow the road from the town square across the wooden bridge, then past the Chinese cemetery; it will climb ruggedly until the tarmac abruptly ends. From here on, it’s rough going all the way to Rainbow Waterfall. Taking the reins is Juvena Huang, aka The Wandering Wasp, who needs no introduction as the first Singaporean lady to ride 44,000km solo on a Vespa across India and Pakistan to Europe. A poster-child for the carpe diem way of life, Juvena will leap at any chance to turn off the beaten path. Can the G310GS take her where many seasoned bikers would fear to tread?
First up: switching off the ABS so it doesn’t get in the way of fun. That’s a simple matter of thumbing the ABS button until its icon lights up on the dashboard – without even having to slow down. Easier than scratching your nose under a full-face helmet.
Standing on the pegs, it takes some jostling around before Juvena gets accustomed to gripping the wide seat and tank. Working the brake pedal is abit of a hit-and-miss for her in that posture. Again, the taller riders grumble about the awkward slouch because of the low-slung handlebars, made worse by uncomfortably narrow foot pegs.
In its stock sprocket ratio, the G310GS struggles to conquer very steep inclines, but generally the bike remains enjoyably perky and nimble over varied, undulating terrain. The power comes on predictably linear, with no snappish, torquey surprises to pitch you off the saddle. Even moving off on loose gravel was unexpectedly smooth, with no sensation of the rear tyre scrabbling about. Of course, we’ve had some help in the traction department, with the stock Metzeler Tourance tyres already swapped out for the knobbier Karoo 3s.
Suspension travel is adequate to soak up all the lumps and bumps at slow speed, but unleash a little more aggression, and the shocks bottom out. Take it easy, cowgirl! The brakes dish out enough bite for stopping in a hurry, but when you DO stop, the overly-long side stand and poor lean angle makes parking a bitch. In fact, the only time the bike has an accidental lie-down is while we’re wrestling with the stand.
Although the terrain is a touch gnarlier than the “mild offroad” the bike has been marketed for, the G310GS tractors steadily across obstacles, keeping the rider in control with its manageable weight and usable power.
Well, no rest for the wicked (or the determinedly adventurous). After we park the bikes at the base of the waterfall, it’s another 45min hike on foot to the top for a cool-down soak and picnic.
For 24,000sgd (on-the-road pricetag), you’ll get a luxury-brand Class 2A machine that should win over two distinct types of buyers: Seasoned riders who could use an additional bike for effortless city commuting, and newer riders who want a friendly, capable, all-rounder that delivers a legit big-bike feel without the steep learning curve.
We say that the G310GS is a very focused machine. The mild traits that draw frowns from demanding, mature riders are precisely what would put smiles on the faces of those building the confidence to ride out and really explore.
Bone-stock, the bike has proven itself competent on fire trails and over light obstacles. For serious dirtwork, we would swap in the following, in order of priority:
– Bar risers
– Shorter side stand with broader foot base
– Downsize the front sprocket by 1 tooth
– Spoke rims
– Wider pivot footpegs
– Stiffer and adjustable front and rear suspension
We hear that Rally Raid already makes what would scratch that itch.
If you think the mini beemer fills a gap in your multistorey carpark and in your achy, wanderlusty heart, we suggest you swing by Performance Motors Limited for a test ride yourself. Just don’t go tearing up the grass outside their showroom just because you know you can.