Opinion: BMW & TVS are being left behind

Opinion: Too Little, Too Long.

Platform engineering has wonderful benefits for all parties involved, and platform sharing has even more so. The greatest example is the Bajaj-KTM alliance and how it has massively boosted the fortunes of both companies.

As for TVS and BMW, it took a few more years for the G 310 R, the first of their co-developed bikes to go on sale and it was almost immediately on the backfoot, at least in our market. First, there was the excessively optimistic pricing, but even after that, the bike was priced too close to the KTM 390 Duke. The only things going for it at that price were its calmer demeanour and desirable image.

The bigger deficit, however, was not just in power but refinement, and after all these years, it appears that there is no clear fix with the current engine. As for moving to a brand new motor, companies typically plan for anything from seven to 10 years for the average platform life cycle. Case in point, it was only 10 years after the original 390 Duke was launched that we moved to a brand-new platform. As for the G 310 R, it only really started to go on sale in multiple markets by about 2017-2018, so there’s still time to go.

But TVS and BMW both have a significant problem – their motor is now thoroughly outclassed. 310cc has always been a strange, neither-here-nor-there number. For a few years, it found a comfortable slot above the 250s, being overshadowed only by the 373cc KTM, but that has now changed. The game has moved on and 400cc is the new benchmark – KTM and Triumph are already there and RE will soon join the party with its liquid-cooled 450.

When we rode the new RTR 310 (review here) in Thailand, there was a clear feeling that TVS did the best they could with the motor, and then focused on increasing the bike’s appeal in other areas. This is the platform they have to work with and they had to innovate elsewhere thanks to a massive 10hp disadvantage to the KTM, which they did.

I have huge respect for TVS’ engineering capabilities and how they always push the benchmark when it comes to performance and features. Even with the RR 310, they  have tirelessly worked on improving the bike, with something new coming out pretty much every year. Then there’s their racing department, which comes up with some incredible creations – the exotic carbon-fibre One Make ARRC race bike is easily the greatest single-cylinder track bike I have ridden.

But eventually, you just can’t escape the old adage: there’s no replacement for displacement. After some years of success in the top Pro Stock 301-400 category in the Indian national racing championship, TVS’s top Indian race bike has reached the point where it could do with more motor to compete against the more powerful Yamaha R3s and KTM RC 390s.

TVS and BMW need a 400 – both for their road bikes and for their racing programs. The road bikes need to catch up with the competition and the TVS race team could work wonders if they had a bigger motor. Hell, it could even be an opportunity for BMW and TVS to take on the KTMs, Kawasakis and Yamahas in the hot WSBK Supersport 300 championship. How cool would that be?

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