The next in our series of finalists in Driven's annual Car Of The Year. Today: Motorbike of the Year.

Choices for New Zealand buyers have never been greater and the market has never been so competitive – and you don't need a big budget any more to get a great, safe, brand new vehicle.

This made it a tough choice to narrow down the finalists and caused hours of robust debate among the Driven Car of the Year judges.

Throughout this week we are revealing our finalists, with today's Driven Motorbike of the Year, judged by Mathieu Day-Gillett from BikeRider magazine. On Saturday, the overall winner for 2017 Driven Car of the Year will be announced.

Winner: BMW G 310 R

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Selecting this year's Driven Bike of the Year was a tough ask and, with the range of bikes we've ridden this year – all worthy contenders, I certainly had my work cut out for me.

Not only has 2017 seen tremendous advances in motorcycling technology, with further innovations in safety and on-board electronics but I thoroughly fell in love with a handful of bikes I could easily ride into the sunset.

However, there could only be one winner, which – beating out the likes of Ducati's Supersport and Honda's CRF250L Rally – was BMW's G 310 R, a LAMS-class bike.

Now I know it's controversial to pull a Learner Approved Motorcycle onto the top of the podium but my reasoning for the baby Beemer being my top bike of the year is simple.

Bikes are meant to be ridden and enjoyed and not only can the G 310 R do that for riders of all skill levels, it is also a shining example of what the motorcycle industry needs more of, if there is to be any hope of motorcycling not dying out in coming decades.

With a punchy 313cc, single-cylinder engine producing 25kW of power and 28Nm of torque, a comfortable riding position and BMW's legendary build quality, this bike has plenty of appeal, especially for the urban rider.

If the Roadster styling doesn't do it for you, the G 310 R has already spawned another variant – the G 310 GS – which prompts aspirational thoughts of the style and spirit of the legendary R 1200 GS in the minds of G 310 riders.

The future of motorcycling lies with bikes able to make 'hero machines' accessible – be it on pricing or the ability of riders to manage the things, regardless of their skill level.

With rumours of a sports version of the G 310 in the works (think a miniature S 1000 RR), BMW is not only bringing riders into the brand early, it is also giving potential riders a taste of the joys of riding, whatever their style preference.

Despite what your mum might say to the contrary, we need to encourage entry-level motorcycling as a form of transport that is not only practical, but also a lot of fun. The G 310 takes the gong, because it does just that.

*This year Driven decided to mix up our Car of the Year categories to reflect our readers' interests more. For the first time we have:

- Little Beauties (covering light/compact cars, and small SUVS)
- Family Chariots (medium/large cars, medium/large SUVs), Only For the Rich (premium cars, luxury SUVs)
- Lotto Winner's Choice (performance vehicles);
- Tradies' Delight (utes/vans) and
- Green Power (hybrids and EVs).


For the latest motoring news, and thousands of new and used vehicles for sale, read more at Driven.co.nz.