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BMW K1600GTL: First Official Photos


Why should you care about giant luxo-touring machines, sometimes impolitely referred to as “barges?” Because they are the flagships for their respective manufacturers, that’s why, and you can sum up the direction a company is headed in a single glance.

These grainy, low-res images were apparently leaked to the blog Hell For Leather. They show the appearance of the K1600GTL, the first all-new luxury-touring bike BMW has introduced for over a decade. The new bike has a dizzying amount of stuff to talk about, but what’s notable—aside from a 160-hp, 129 ft.-lbs. of torque inline Six engine, of course—is the use of electronics that wouldn’t be out of place on BMW’s top-of-the-line touring cars. Stuff like electronic suspension adjustment (you can actually change spring rates with the push of a button) and a full-color display controlled with a small knob so the rider can use the integrated GPS, audio and Lord-knows-what-else on the fly. The headlights use electronics and sensors to adjust for load and bike angle

Despite all this, the K1600GTL won’t be that big, at least not compared to other giant touring rigs. The engine, at 22 inches wide, is very compact for a Six. It’s also tilted forward 55 degrees to keep the frame low and narrow-feeling. A Honda Goldwing (which won’t be produced for 2011—expect a new version for 2012) weighs over 900 pounds fully equipped (but doesn’t feel like it, honest), so you can bet the new BMW will be lighter, just for the sake of corporate pride. What won’t be light is the price—the 2010 K1200LT retails for a base sticker price of $21,700, and I’m pretty sure the 1600 won’t be cheaper.

Speaking of corporate pride, the use of a new engine configuration—as well as car-like amenities and styling cues—speaks to the new direction at BMW Motorrad. This is on top of revolutionary (for BMW) new products like the F800 and S1000RR. Apparently no longer constrained by the need to use traditional engines like the Boxer or K-bike Four, BMW can flex its engineering, design and financial muscles to lay out competitive new bikes in every segment. This is in an era when the Japanese Big Four appear to be shrinking their commitments to large-displacement models, losing market share and credibility with consumers. Will Europe wrest control back from its Japanese manufacturing rivals? We eagerly await the next five model years.

42 Comments

  1. Martin says:

    Typical BMW. A really nice bike that I can’t afford.

  2. jim says:

    I think the Japanese brands are placing their bets on the Chinese and developing Asian markets. Millions of scooters… that pays the bills. Credibility in a hobbled US ecconmy is mute.
    I own three BMW’s and I plan to buy this one.

  3. SPasse says:

    “I have always found BMW dealers being very supportive; especially of opening my wallet and turning it upside down to empty it.”

    BMW = Bring Massive Wallet

    That pretty much sums it up. I previously had owned 2 K1200 LTs and the routine dealer services were obscenely expensive. As point of comparison, I am currently keeping 2 Goldwings on the road for what is cost me to keep a single K1200 on the road. And the Goldwing is not exactly a “cheap” vehicle to service.

    • clasqm says:

      Yes, when I had a BMW its services were pricey. But they only had to be done every 10 000 kms. Now I own a Honda and a Suzuki and they expect to be serviced every 6 000 kms. So, BMW’s services can be 100/60 = 1.66 times more expensive and still you break even.

      On top of that, BMW’s parts availability is unsurpassed. True, having a limited range of models helps. But you can walk into a BMW dealership and walk out with a part for a 20-year old bike. Try that at your average Japanese dealership!

  4. Jim says:

    BMW is telling dealers that the K16 GT will weigh about 700#, so expect the actual wet weight to be 735-ish. Heavy, but compared to the Wing, the outgoing K12LT and the cruiser based touring rigs, pretty light.

    How can MC Daily say that obvious phone-cam pics are “official”

    • Gary says:

      If That bike comes in at 735 wet it would be super light for a luxo-tourer. H.D touring bikes have gotten heavier 880 wet for an ultra, wings are 920 wet. for those of you complaing they make light bikes. The Jap touring cruisers are heavier than what they predict the k1600. This is what represents where technology takes us.

  5. mark b says:

    Looks like nice technology but I tend to agree with the person who commented about the rear of the bike. Doesn’t look like a very integrated touring package to me. Say what u want about the Wing, but as a 50+ year old commuter rider (66miles/day 10+k/year in New England) my ’08 airbag does everything I want it to from a practical side and techno side. From this photo this model looks a little too sport for me; looks like a passenger would end up right against my back. On the wing an average size passenger doesn’t cramp my style and the heft of the machine absorbs most typical effects of having a passenger at anything above parking lot speeds. I suspect like a lot of experienced wing riders, I’ll wait til the new wing comes out….For me Honda needs to address:
    Add power windshield
    Redesign airbox soas to make air filter changes easy.
    Reduce engine/gearbox noise and improve shifting in lower gears
    Rework front fork to improve suppleness/ride quality
    Consider adding a sixth gear for the highway without changing existing ratios.

  6. sharkwl says:

    Pretty boring really! Still, no match for the Gl1800 Goldwing! The king of touring bikes! Ride on!

  7. BennieJ says:

    I have always found BMW dealers being very supportive; especially of opening my wallet and turning it upside down to empty it.

  8. Artem says:

    Nice, but not for anarchists like me. Ever.

  9. W Devine The Woodlands, TX says:

    I like my 2009 K1200LT….it’s lighter and fast enough for me….

  10. Bob says:

    Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, and BMW will build bikes that offer things that no one knew they wanted and cost way too much. It make sense when I bought my ’04 R1150RSA. The bike has covered 48,000 miles with the original clutch and nothing more than routine maintenance. Sport touring models based on the boxer engine are no longer offered by BMW as the market is “mature”. I guess I am getting mature, but my money is just as green as ever. Have you folks seen the forthcoming Kawasaki Z1000SX? If the offer hard bags I’m going to have to forgo BMW and force myself to spend considerably less money for a nice light weight replacement for my aging sport tourer.

    • Andrew says:

      Nice Nemo allusion. However…I gotta disagree. To pull a line from This is Spinal Tap: “But ours go to eleven.” If I had the money, I would swap my FJR for the K1600GT in a nanosecond.

    • Gary says:

      Bob have you not been in a BMW dealer in the last 7 years a new boxer is lighter faster and better than ever before and to me represent the opitome of sport touring. A R/T weighs 570 lbs wet weight. Thats very light for what you get. And a new GS is even lighter.

  11. BlueSkyGuy says:

    900 Lbs ooooooooooh my thats a tanker. I have a 1979 CBX which is stock and weighs 599 lbs in street trim. Little did I think 30 plus years, liquid cooling, and riding ccomforts could add up to 300 more lbs.

    • jimbo says:

      Remember back then, compared to Suzuki’s GS1000, how heavy your CBX was? (The CBX is about 50 lbs heavier) Are you sure your CBX is really that heavy?

  12. ChrisS says:

    Peter:

    BMW dealers are more supportive than any other I’ve been involved with….whether it be my local dealer or while on the road.

  13. Peter says:

    Gordon

    If you think there is something wrong with the Goldwing Design then I think in your case it must be rider error. If you have the skills the goldwing is an excellent proven design. Ask yourself, if they suck so bad then why does Honda Sell so many.

    If you break down on this BMW, good luck getting any support or a dealer that will support you in an emergency (unless you ride a touring bike in the city).

    The new BMW looks Great from the front to the end of the tank. Then it looks like they ran out of R&D money. Hey lets tack a large box on the back and call it a touring bike. And hey lets design the largest engine possible so you can drive it thru the apex of a corner off the side of the road. Sounds like they key to sucess is all there.

  14. Jay Mack says:

    Nice, but the price of top-end motorcycles has gotten outrageous. You can get pretty nice, lightly used Corvette ZO6 for not too much more than that.

  15. PN says:

    Good for BMW. No, I don’t expect they’ll call their new one-knob electronic controller iDrive, based on how poorly that was received in their cars. That and the
    “Bangle Butt” killed the brand for anyone who knew and respected them. BMW still sold carloads to the incogniscenti, though. I’m wondering what a new GWing will look like. The present one was just too “too” for me. Hey, buy a car for that price! I bet it will have the Interceptor’s new auto transmission.

  16. Bryan says:

    Will this model come with frequent final drive failures also? With all that horsepower and torque, let’s hope they’ve done a serious redesign and over-engineering job on the final drive.

  17. falcodoug says:

    Would love to test ride this thing :)

  18. Vrooom says:

    The more electronic gadgets that BMW puts on their bikes, the less interested I am. Had an R bike 1150 with servo assisted brakes, when the servo went out (all too frequently) the brakes were worse than a bike with a single piston caliper with a single front rotor. I am curious how they change a spring rate.
    Yup, the Goldwing is a 900 lb bike that handles like a 700 lb bike. Undoubtedly this will be an improvement in the handling department, ergos look slightly sportier.

  19. Stuki says:

    Looks nice enough, and I’m sure it will be wonderful at speed. Can’t imagine a clean sheet I6 from BMW not being an absolute gem. I still wish BMW would have made their Superbike contender a 900cc I6, just for charm.

    Unless the Duolever front is modified for less vagueness at crowded parking lot speeds than in current, lighter applications; the Goldie will probably remain the choice for the meat of the US touring market. With BMW perhaps recapturing some of the Type-A, odometer counting Iron Butt’ers that left for Honda when the 1800 came out.

    As a side note, the sheer amount of handlebar pullback required to allow a comfortable touring foot peg position behind these ever growing engines, is starting to look really silly. Not to mention how awkward it makes pushing and pulling heavy bikes around. Looking at this one’s profile, almost makes me wonder if it would be possible to move the rider forward, and place the engine under the rider’s seat. For the worlds first mid engine motorcycle :)

  20. Bud says:

    A Gold Wing weighing 900 lbs, that made me laugh. I had no idea.

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      At least it has a reverse gear

    • craigj says:

      Yeah it’s big, but just try and chase a decent rider up Deals Gap on one. Once that barge gets going, they really handle amazingly well. Besides, the GW guy has to carry all the beer.

  21. Wingman says:

    “… and a full-color display controlled with a small knob so the rider can use the integrated GPS, audio and Lord-knows-what-else on the fly.” This sounds like iDrive, now in most new BMW cars.

  22. fred says:

    How much for a valve adjust?

    • jimbo says:

      Look at the face of someone unfamiliar with motorcycles when you tell them these suckers still need valve adjustments. They must think that’s insane!

  23. Tim says:

    When I first hear that BMW was building a inline 6 I thought of all the time that would be spent syncing carbs. But when I heard that, they were feeding the motor with a single throttle body I got very excited about this bike and the promised GT.
    I am sure that I will be following this bike over the next few years. And I hope that I find myself in the position to consider one when I add the next bike to my stable.

  24. MGNorge says:

    Recall the day before GL1000’s and riders modified their bikes for the long haul. Fairings, luggage and controls laid out to increase comfort. I’m sure this bike will attract Wing shoppers looking for something different. As far as fixing what’s wrong with the 1800, I think Honda’s had plenty of time to hone it to their particular customer. Doesn’t mean a different bike couldn’t be brought to market to suit that sub-group. Wait, Honda has flashed pictures of a more touring oriented version of its newly released VF1200 with more upright rider posture, greater fairing coverage, larger panniers, etc. Maybe that’s their bike right there who view a Wing as too large?

  25. J. Kopp says:

    Just ‘cuz not everyone wants a full dress tourer doesn’t mean this isn’t an amazing motorcycle and a technological tour de force. A 22-inch wide 6??? BMW’s got some smart fellers in their engineering department. They should capture some well-deserved market share from the Goldwing with this baby.

  26. Gordon says:

    Its about time Goldwing got some serious competition. Now those R & D guys will get off their lazy butts and either fix what is wrong with the 1800 or design something new and cutting edge. Tour bikes are not for everybody, but for those who ride these monster machines, this is a welcome choice.

  27. michael (from Sydney, Australia) says:

    Total overkill. Over complicated. Too heavy. Ugly as well. I won’t be buying it. Two cylinders is enough. Rather buy a Guzzi, Duke, Trumpy, Norton, Victory or Harley.

  28. jimbo says:

    Oh, what would I not do for a stripped down naked “R” version? Nothing can touch the sound of a well tuned high-performance inline 6 with a proper singing exhaust (think CBX with 6-1 header). Offer a couple different windshield and/or sport fairings, side bags, and call it a day.

  29. Milt says:

    Be sure and buy an extended service contract for when all that techno stuff starts to break and it will.

  30. WhiskyTango says:

    If you drop that puppy, you might be talkin’ a whole new engine block! (The way that motor seems to protrude.)

  31. jim says:

    techno-deeelux. Hanging onto my oilhead.

  32. MikeD says:

    Slap THAT engine on the K1300R/S Chasis….WUUUALA!!..U GOT URSELF A 2 WHEELED DRAGSTER/STREET TERROR…Specially here on the U.S of A , also known as the land of “BIGGER IS BETTER”/There’s no such thing as Excessive”.

    If their notoriously “strong” rear end can handle it before grenading itself (-_- )’