Fresh from producing 98,000 bikes in 2010, BMW is on a product-driven roll that’s taken Europe’s largest motorcycle manufacturer back to pre-recession sales levels. For 2011, BMW looks to keep the momentum by introducing two new luxury tourers: the sportier K1600GT which essentially replaces the now discontinued K1300GT four, and its K1600GTL full-dress counterpart complete with built-in 49-liter topbox.
Both the K1600GT and K1600GTL are dripping with personality, mechanical allure and functional excellence. That’s firstly thanks to the compact inline six-cylinder powerplant that measures just 22 inches in width. The 1649cc engine is claimed to produce 160 horsepower at 7500 rpm, but more importantly, it churns out 92.2 ft-lb of torque at just 1500 rpm (with a peak of 129.1 ft-lb at 5250 rpm).
The 2011 K1600GT will be available...
The 2011 K1600GT will be available in Light Grey Metallic or Vermilion Red Metallic color schemes while its counterpart will be offered in Royal Blue Metallic or Mineral Silver Metallic
Settle into the K1600GTL’s comfortable seat, thumb the starter to let the engine settle to its 900-rpm idle, and you’ll notice that the twin stainless steel exhaust of the GTL actually emits a different tone than those of the GT. While at rest the K1600 is an imposing-looking bikeintimidating evenit’s much less of a handful than you might expect when pulling it backward out of a parking space. At slow speeds the massive motorcycle is a bit cumbersome but well-balanced; the GTL’s low 29.5-inch seat (31.9-inch on the GT, adjustable to 32.7-inch) and well-placed footrests, plus the light-action clutch and smooth mapping of the ride-by-wire throttle, allow confident U-turns or low-speed maneuvers in town.
At higher speeds, the BMW is surprisingly agile for such a big bike with a lengthy 66-inch wheelbase, thanks to the low center of gravity and 52/49 percent weight distribution. The K1600 in either version doesn’t exactly flick effortlessly from side to side along a winding mountain pass, but with minimal rider effort the BMW changes direction in a very assured and confidence-inspiring way, and ground clearance never becomes a problem on either bike, even the GTL with its lower footrests. The different footrest position also delivers a different shifter leverage ratio, resulting in lighter shifting than with the GT.
The ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment) available as an option really makes a difference to the ride quality of these luxury tourers, as does the handling of the twin-spar aluminum chassis. Both models are fitted with BMW’s Duolever front and Paralever rear suspension. The ESA’s tauter Sport setting is good for firming up either end, although on roughly surfaced country roads, Normal mode is best, leaving the Comfort setting for tooling along a freeway at anything up to the 155 mph top speed that either bike is limited to. And you can electronically change the settings in motion, thumbing the button on the left handlebar to alter the rebound damping of each shock, plus the rear spring rate and preload.
When looking to get things slowed down, the triple 320mm disc brakes are undeniably effective. The twin front four-piston calipers are linked to the single twin-pot rear via the front brake lever, with extra stopping power available from the rear foot pedal.