Strap yourself up to your seat guys. Things are going to get wild here. 2017 saw the launch of the brand new KTM Duke 390 that is said to wipe out any competition there has ever been. Later in the year, the German brand BMW Motorrad will be launching its smallest motorcycle, the G 310 R which is manufactured here in India by TVS. These two machines will change the face of the middleweight naked sports segment which until now had the Mahindra Mojo and the foreigner Benelli TNT 300 from Italy.

We will sit down and chalk up a charge sheet to decipher the best machine you would want to invest in according to your needs and wish. Although the KTM is a notch above in all departments, we will have it here just for the sake of comparison. Mahindra is the least expensive of all and the Benelli is the only one with two cylinders and has that Italian flair that no one carries. The Beemer, on the other hand, is built for the world market and will remain to be a neutral contender in both style and performance compared amongst the rest here.

All the four motorcycles will have a condescending effect on the Indian two-wheeler market, and they have the fresh breed of entry-level naked performance motorcycles to blaze the much needed thrilling experience to enthusiasts and purists. Making motorcyclist get into a realm of more content and less bitter, here is all the help you would need to pick one for yourself:

STYLING

BMW G 310 R

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For the BMW good looks unmistakably run in the family, and this G 310R takes the genes of the S 1000 R. As the tagline says, this bike is manufactured for the world market, and it does the job of pleasing everyone rather naturally. The sculpted design is modern in both idea and execution right from the word ‘GO’. It is highlighted with the small triangular headlamp, a “dynamically modelled” fuel tank, and classic roadster proportions. The powerful surfaces of the fuel tank give it a clearly defined, muscular look from any angle.

Although the bike shows up as a naked roadster, the generous surfaces on the bike produce a more closed, sporty silhouette. The body lines on the 310 direct towards the front wheel, thereby underscoring the subtleness. The instrument cluster on this G 310 R is an uncluttered LCD screen having excellent clarity and a wide range of information to show you.

Polished embossing and use of high-end materials are evident throughout the bike and frankly speaking, this bike exudes a visual level of quality that is unexpected in such a low-cost production. The gold-anodised fork and brake callipers emphasise the workmanship of the machine. Except for the plastic switchgear looking cut-price, the rest of the G310R components look very BMW. An exceptionally lustrous paint job, high-quality alloy castings and forged triple clamps make this roadster a visual treat. This sure is an inexpensive BMW, but you cannot make the mistake of calling it cheap.

KTM Duke 390

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KTM has always walked along the edge of extreme looks, and for the Duke 390 2017, it gets major visual updates and aesthetically the most notable change is the all-new headlight with LED running both on DRL and the mains. An entirely new design that borrows cues from its eldest brother, the Super Duke R. It has a 20 LED unit that comes as an AHO feature.

The bodywork is more aggressive and mental than the outgoing model and includes sharp design language with tank spoilers and the newly uplifted tank design, all made to cut just through anything. The powder-coated Chromium-Molybdenum-Steel trellis frame is exposed to give that nakedness. The tail section is longer and is chiselled to expose more of the detachable subframe.

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Another big note is the first in the segment full TFT colour display instrument cluster at the cockpit that shows all the information you could ask for and in a manner appropriate for a bike of this level. Different modes for the various assistance systems can be selected using an illuminated menu switch on the left side of the handlebar. This will take care of your smartphone controls too while it is tethered to the bike.

Benelli TNT 300

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The TNT 300 inevitably manages to create a good first impression, with its subtle design and impressive specifications, it is still not that outrageous as compared to the bigger capacity TNTs. Nevertheless, it manages to appear as a handsome looking motorcycle with its sizeable dimensions and perfectly styled body panels.

At the front, the TNT 300 has a long and sharp face with a sleek looking headlamp, which somehow bears a close resemblance to the Duke 200 currently on sale in India. On moving sideways, the bulbous and curvaceous fuel tank manages to draw your attention, which is flanked by vertical tank extensions sporting the bike’s name on them. The tail section of the motorcycle has an unfussy sense to it with a simple design, which ends up on a small tail lamp.

The switchgear and overall build quality are top notch and even includes a toggle for hazard lights, a rare but important feature in motorcycles of this segment. The exposed frame and the rear suspension units give the bike a meaty appeal that shouts Italian flair. That said, the Benelli TNT 300 may not be an outrageous design, but definitely, scores brownie points with its simple yet arresting silhouette.

Mahindra Mojo

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It took Mahindra more than three years to develop its first ever premium motorcycle in the form of Mojo. The unusual and quirky first impression will catch anyone off guard, and Mahindra has made this feature into their stride to make the Mojo as distinctive as possible. The oddball design proposition may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it will grow on you once you give it a long stare.

The dual pod round headlights and the eyebrow-shaped LED daytime running lamps give the Mojo a unique face, and make the motorcycle look premium. Extending the premium touch is with the golden finish USD forks and the twin tubular members of the frame running below the fuel tank. Snazzy.

The body coloured rear fender is nicely styled and gives the Mojo a unique identity at the rear. The bike also comes with a sharply styled engine cowl and the twin exhaust pipes, one on the either side is seen only on the Mojo. The switchgear and overall fit and finish are extremely well – kudos to Mahindra for taking the factor of build quality seriously.

Overall Dimensions

Make ModelBMW G 310 RKTM Duke 390Benelli TNT300Mahindra Mojo
Length1988mm2150mm2130mm2100mm
Width896mm760mm800mm800mm
Height1227mm1115mm1120mm1166mm
Wheelbase1374mm1357mm1410mm1465mm
Seat height785mm830mm795mm815mm
Fuel tank11l13.5l16l21l
Wet weight158kg163kg196kg176kg

POWERTRAIN

BMW G 310 R

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Although it is the smallest bike from BMW, when it comes to performance, it is anything but small. Perfect for a handful of folks new to motorcycles, it is a rocket trainer for the experienced purists and is sure hell lot of fun for everyone riding on this machine. The combination of being lightweight and having a real powerhouse has always won the wars for every manufacturer, and this is no exception.

The G 310R mill is anything but simple. It’s got an all-new 313cc backward-tilted, four-stroke, single cylinder, water-cooled engine paired to a 6-speed gearbox. This engine will deliver 34 bhp at 9500 rpm, with a 10500 rpm limiter, and a stated maximum torque of 28 NM at 7500 rpm. A moderate compression ratio of 10.6:1 is aimed at running this in different markets across the globe. Clutch action is light but misses out on a slipper clutch, probably the reason why the idling is at 1500rpm ruling out rear wheel chatter on the overrun. Euro 4-compliant catalyst whispers rather than booms. But that is of course only below 5000 rpm.

With a spontaneous throttle response, lively pulling power, full-blooded engine characteristics and a high maximum engine speed of 10500 rpm, the new G 310 R deliver very dynamic riding performance figures for excellent riding fun within its class.

KTM Duke 390

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The mechanical front is where you see all crackers bursting. The Duke 390 was always known for its mad performance and power delivery, and thankfully, there is no change on this front. The motor still produces 44 bhp @ 9000 and 36 Nm of torque @ 7000 rpm from its 373.2cc single-cylinder, liquid cooled engine. The engine still is matched with the same 6-speed gearbox as before, with short ratios to make the bottom end as well as top-end performance much more thrilling. The forged piston, Nikasil-cylinder-coating, balancer shaft and forced feed lubrication all give in for that 44 barking horses.

This rev loving engine now gets state-of-the-art tech and a few segment firsts that can make other contenders sweat in their pants. A new ride-by-wire system ensured excellent throttle response and smoother acceleration. The motorcycle is now also equipped with new anti-hopping clutch/slipper clutch that prevents rear wheel stamping during sharp braking or accelerations.

There is an Evaporative Emission Control System ‘EVAP’ system that prevents fuel evaporation, a new Bosch fuel pump and a new CAN BUS system from the Moto3 WSBK with love. A brand new side mounted exhaust unit replaces the underbelly configurations to meet Euro-IV and BS IV norms. This new exhaust sports a stainless steel underfloor pre-silencer and a rear aluminium absorption silencer that contains the catalytic converter.

Benelli TNT 300

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The bike may have a TNT in its name, but unlike the triple-cylindered naked Tornados, TNT 899 and TNT 1130R, the TNT 300 is a twin cylinder, 300cc motorcycle. The liquid cooled engine pumps out some pretty impressive numbers – 37bhp of maximum power and 27Nm of maximum torque. The only bike in the comparison list with twin cylinder layout.

Given its parallel twin layout, this 300cc mill on the bike is refined and has a linear feel in its power delivery. The engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox, with the initial ratios set on the taller side and the higher ones on, the shorter side. Like all the Benellis, the TNT 300 too has the potential to sweep you off your feet with its addictive exhaust note!

Mahindra Mojo

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For a new motorcycle maker who has made only 110cc engines till date, Mahindra needs to be praised heavily for coming up with an indigenously developed 300cc engine, which happens to be its first ever big bike engine. The four stroke, single cylinder, liquid cooled, fuel injected engine, which displaces 295cc, churns out 27 bhp of power and 30 Nm of torque.

On paper, the power output of 27 bhp may not seem too much for a 300cc engine, but on the go, the motorcycle manages to impress you with the sheer amount of torque. With a strong low-end power and mid-range grunt, the torque is in abundance and serves you with immense pulling power as and when needed. The motorcycle feels vibe-free even at higher revs, with the engine destined to run longer and longer miles, as it is being promoted as a sports tourer. The large 21-litre fuel tank too gives it the largest range than other motorcycles in this category.

Mahindra succeeded on the expectations and cleared the ambiguity surrounding the development and prowess of this engine, as the powertrain has a solid punch and built-to-last feel. Mated to a 6-speed gearbox, the engine has an abundance of torque in the lower as well as middle rev range, which makes it a vivacious motorcycle to ride on all kinds of roads. The refinement levels too are quite commendable.

Engine Specification

Make ModelBMW G 310 RKTM Duke 390Benelli TNT300Mahindra Mojo
Capacity cc313373.2300295
Bore/ Stroke mm80/62.189/6065/45.276/65
Output34bhp @ 9,500rpm44 bhp @ 9000 rpm39 bhp @ 11500 rpm28 bhp @ 8000 rpm
Torque28Nm @ 7,500rpm36 Nm @ 7000 rpm27 Nm @ 10000 rpm30 Nm @ 5500 rpm
Typesingle cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valvessingle cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valvesIn-line, 2 cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid cooled, 8 valves, DOHCLiquid-Cooled, 4-Stroke, Single-Cylinder, DOHC
Clutch typeWet- MultiplateWet- Multiplate with PASC anti hopping clutch, mechanically operatedWet- MultiplateWet- Multiplate
Transmission6-speed6-speed6-speed6-speed

RIDE AND HANDLING

BMW G 310 R

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The kind of styling on the 310 leads to an aggressive yet comfortable riding position with an upright and low seat height with a relatively high handlebar. The feet is made to tuck slightly back allowing the rider to commit more on the racetrack or sit upright on a multi-hour highway run. Thanks to the longer swing arm and short wheelbase, we can be assured of excellent stability, and agile controls make it a very friendly bike to twist, turn and dance around the town. The ergonomic layout of the handlebars, footrest and hand control elements ensure a superb riding sensation.

This bike carries a broad spectrum range regarding riding capability with comfort, sport and dynamic riding situations. This BMW will offer you with a supple ride compared to its contender as the longer swingarm allows the chassis to dampen the forward and backwards pitching and will also take care of softening the weight transfers. Hence the ride will remain precise, light-footed and stable all the time.

The suspension is well calibrated and uses the KYB 41 mm inverted forks and a mono shock. This provides a highly rigid composite structure for precise control of the front wheel, thus giving the G 310 R a directionally precise and secure steering response. 5-spoke alloy wheels wearing 110/70R17 and 150/60R17 tyre keeps unsprung weight down at the axles. Stopping this is by ByBre (Brembo’s Indian subsidiary) 300mm single disc front brake with radially bolted 4-piston fixed calliper and 240mm rear disc brake with 2-piston floating calliper. In-house dual channel ABS is a standard feature.

KTM Duke 390

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The Duke 390 still hasn’t received any upgrades regarding chassis, and thus uses the same light steel grade frame which optimises handling and precision. The frame also uses lightweight materials in its construction which has resulted in low kerb weight. The bike gets adjustable brake and clutch levers, giving a far more superior control for the rider and boost his accuracy levels. The pillion seat is now even more comfortable with 12 mm thicker cushion. The steel fuel tank is contoured to perfectly match the supersport style and provide the rider with a tucked in confident feel. The riding stance is also now little more forward biased which tends to put a little bit of more weight on the handlebars.

Like the overall design language and engine, the rest of the mechanical hardware of the Duke 390 too has been lifted off from the previous generation Duke. At the front, the Duke comes fitted with 43mm inverted hydraulic telescopic forks, while at the rear, it comes with a fully adjustable hydraulic mono shock with rear aluminium swingarm, both of which are sourced from WP.

In development with Brembo, KTM has developed a powerful and excellently flexible brake system. This means that the driver always has his Duke fully under control. The pads are now sintered and at the front, the bike gets a 320 mm disc instead of the 300 mm previously used and a 230 mm unit at the rear. The ABS is made by Bosch and is switchable. Meaty 17” Metzeler tyres sport on the orange alloys.

Benelli TNT 300

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The TNT 300 weighs 185 kg, which may rob a bit of enthusiasm when read first, but with high set handlebars and rear set footpegs, the TNT 300 promises to be one easy-to-handle motorcycle. With its balanced ergonomics, the bike is equally at home in both traffic-clad city streets and open highways.

Benelli has equipped the TNT 300 with the best of hardware, which includes trellis frame, underbelly exhaust, inverted hydraulic telescopic forks at the front and side-mounted mono-shock at the rear and fat Pirelli tyres on both ends, which make the bike one sweet machine to ride on both straight stretches as well as intimidating corners.

The TNT 300 also becomes the first bike in its segment to be adorned with dual disc brakes at front, while a single disc brake finds its presence at the rear. Though, sadly, there is no ABS to inspire confidence on towering speeds, especially around corners.

Mahindra Mojo

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Being a Mahindra, the Mojo may astonish you with the amount of premium hardware it comes with. Mahindra has kitted the Mojo with the very best of mechanicals to make the motorcycle as premium as possible, to take on the competition very seriously.

On the front of suspension, the Mojo comes with upside-down telescopic forks and high-pressure gas charged mono shock with rectangular swingarm at the rear. The suspension has been tuned on a softer side to take on bad patches of roads as well as bumps and potholes with very ease. The seating posture is a bit upright with mid-mounted footrests, which make the riding posture less aggressive and more comfortable.

The motorcycle also comes with a 320mm petal disc brake at the front and a regular 240mm disc brake at the rear. The brakes do have the adequate bite but could have been a bit sharper. There was a lack of ABS when it was launched, nut Mahindra equipped it with the safety feature for 2017. The bike also comes with premium Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres, which are undoubtedly the best tyres in this segment. The tyres are made up of soft rubber compound and give the Mojo equal composure on corners as well as straights and bad sections.

Chassis Specifications

Make ModelBMW G 310 RKTM Duke 390Benelli TNT300Mahindra Mojo
Suspension / FrontKYB Upside down fork 41 mm43mm WP upside-down; 125mm travelInverted telescopic forksUSD Telescopic Fork
Suspension / RearSolid die-cast aluminum swingarm, directly hinged monoshock, adjustable preloadWP monoshcok; 150 mm travelOff-Set rear monoshockGas-Charged With Internal Floating Piston
Brakes / FrontSingle disc, diameter 300 mm, 4-piston fixed calliper, radially bolted, BMW Motorrad ABS320mm Disc 4-piston radial fixed calliper, Bosch 9MB two-channel ABS296mm petal-type Dual disc with 2-piston hydraulic calliper, ABSSingle 320 Mm Disc. Calliper: Radial
Brakes / RearSingle disc, diameter 240 mm, single-piston floating calliper, BMW Motorrad ABS230 mm Single-piston floating calliper, Bosch 9MB two-channel ABS220mm hydraulic disc with ABSSingle 240 Mm Disc. Calliper: Floating
Tyres / Front110/70 R17110/70 R17120/70 R17110/70-ZR17
Tyres / Rear150/60 R17150/60 R17160/70 R17150/60-ZR17

PRICE

BMW G 310 R

When it comes to pricing, it is higher than its closest rival, the KTM Duke 390. At around ? 2.5 lakhs, we will be required to pay that extra for that premium image of BMW. As reported earlier, BMW is rethinking strategies of pricing this motorcycle only because of KTM’s Duke 390.

The BMW G 310 R will be available in the three strikingly expressive colour variants Cosmic Black/Polar White non-metallic, Strato Blue Metallic and the elaborately designed Pearl White metallic.

KTM Duke 390

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The new gen Duke 390 is priced at ?225730 (ex-showroom). That is a good ?25000 jump from the previous model.

The bike now also gets UV resistant paint to keep the colour from fading due to exposure to the sun. The motorcycle is available with a single colour option of Orange and black as of now. We may get a new White colour as well in the coming months

Benelli TNT 300

This here is the most expensive of the lot as it will be locally assembled at DSK Moto wheels plant in Pune, through the parts sourced from China through the CKD route. The 300 is priced at ? 3.51 (ex-showroom).

You will be able to get hold of four colours in the options list. Green, White, Black and Red. All of these comes with Red painted exposed trellis frame except for the Green coloured one which will have a silver coloured exposed trellis frame.

Mahindra Mojo

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Everyone had hoped Mahindra to price the Mojo at a suitably good point of price, to make it one of the most value for money offerings in this segment. Keeping its previous track record of pricing its products excellently still intact, Mahindra has priced the Mojo at an excellent price of ? 1.58 lakh. The least expensive of the lot here.

The bike comes in a single variant with all the kit and features mentioned in the article above as standard. Mahindra is offering Mojo in three different paint schemes – Volcano Red, Glacier White and Charcoal Black.

VERDICT

This is a section worst feared by any auto-journalist. Picking a winner. There is no best and the worst. What there is, is opinions. If another guy were doing this, probably he would flick my article out and get on with his. Or probably not, rather share a drink with me for agreement. What I mean is, at the end of the day, it is up to how you look at every motorcycle.

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BMW Motorrad has not necessarily been a household name. With them costing a bomb to import and maintaining them was a nightmare for the complexity the Bavarian company had put into them. But things are up for a change as we speak and by the time you will be reading this piece, TVS is already producing this single cylinder G 310R for BMW in their Hosur plant in full swing.

Pragmatic in the best sense of the word, it offers precisely what is needed – for dynamic performance and comfort, both in town and out in the country. This could be your perfect companion for both your daily commute and to break away from that same routine. It can happily take down winding country roads and also flexible through the narrow city snarls. And thanks to its low level of fuel consumption and a relaxed, comfortable seating position, it offers the welcome capability of being able to cover a long distance at a time.

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When it comes to the Benelli, well, it seems like the jack of all trades, but the price pulls it all the way down. It sure has a lot of equipment with the twin cylinders, twin brakes and some cool hardware but when it comes to styling, it is not the best looking amongst the rest, even after considering the fact that it is an Italian design. Sure, it lacks the flair to be called as an Italian machine and needs to work hard on creating a striking image of being a new brand, but given its all-rounded nature, it is one compelling motorcycle hard to ignore.

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The Mojo does have its fair share of shortcomings – the overall styling is not too eye-capturing like the rest of the bikes mentioned above, and Mahindra doesn’t have a sorted experience in making entry-level sports bike like Bajaj has. But then, it is the sincerity of Mahindra towards developing the Mojo that has paid them rewards. The Mojo, despite being the first ever big bike from Mahindra, has shocked everyone with its premium fit and finish, refined and powerful engine and premium suspension, brakes and tyres, which has made the motorcycle very much desirable. Not only this, with comfortable ride quality and sorted suspension, it successfully ticks all the boxes when it comes to the sole purpose it has been designed for – touring. But then, at this price point, subjective styling is hard to ignore, something which the Mojo sadly has.

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The KTM, on the other hand, is a whole other beast. There is no doubt in the fact that the updated 2017 Duke 390 is one of the best motorcycles under the 500 cc category. The naked streetfighter is also one of the best looking motorcycles of its segment as well. The naked Streetfighter not only gets a sharper styling but also gets an additional ride by wire throttle, adjustable brake & clutch levers, anti-hopping clutch/slipper clutch and a new exhaust system. The first in segment TFT instrument cluster is swanky and opens up a lot more user experience for you to go through.

On paper, the Duke 390 is better off in gaining on the other two rivals probably in every department. The blokes at KTM have managed to design and engineer something better of the already superb performer in an attempt to smack the competition out of the ballpark. It is aggressively priced lower than the rest, but by no means cheap. It had better performance figures, nimble riding dynamics and packed with tech to clear the long-standing ordeal compared to any other on the list.

Final scores

Make ModelBMW G 310 RKTM Duke 390Benelli TNT300Mahindra Mojo
Economy7668
Features7887
Performance7986
Quality8888
Safety7886
Styling8977
Value for money7868
Numbers says it all7.2887.287.14