2014 BMW K1600GTL Exclusive Review – First Ride

Grand-Touring Luxury just got grander

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2014 BMW K1600GTL Exclusive

Editor Score: 90.5%
Engine 20.0/20
Suspension/Handling 13.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.0/10
Brakes 9.0/10
Instruments/Controls4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 10.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.0/10
Desirability 8.5/10
Value 7.5/10
Overall Score90.5/100

I was on the glorious Pacific Coast Highway aboard the new K1600GTL Exclusive when I had a thought that might be controversial. I imagined that Soichiro Honda, if given the choice, would prefer to be riding BMW’s new flagship rather than his eponymously named company’s iconic Gold Wing.

Let’s not forget that Mr. Honda’s company had a rich history with inline six-cylinder engines long before the Gold Wing’s flat-Six debuted in 1988. It was under Soichiro’s guidance the RC165 was shown to the Grand Prix paddock in 1965, a six-cylinder moonshot to battle two-stroke machines in the 250cc class. The shrieking 250/6 blew eardrums and minds but, unfortunately, handled poorly and was unreliable. Then, with input from the legendary Mike Hailwood, the RC166 earned 10 victories in 10 races and the 1966 world championship. And the 1967 title, too.

Eleven years later, the CBX streetbike was unleashed, a 1047cc six-cylinder machine that made indelible impressions in the minds of every gearhead. Six cylinders laying in a row across the frame had been seen in a production motorcycle only once before (the Benelli Sei, produced in limited quantities beginning in 1972), and the CBX’s cylinders spilling out the sides and 24 valves sitting under its massively wide twin-cam cover screamed motorcycle like nothing else. Then, in 1981, Honda transformed the CBX into a sport-touring machine, complete with a relatively large fairing and hard-shell luggage.

Honda gave the world six-cylinder power in the iconic CBX. BMW made it better, even if its engine isn’t so proudly on display.

Honda gave the world six-cylinder power in the iconic CBX. BMW made it better, even if its engine isn’t so proudly on display.

And it’s that same formula for BMW’s K1600 platform, of which the GTL Exclusive is the latest iteration. Except the K16’s 1649cc inline-Six benefits from a less oversquare bore/stroke ratio and packaging innovation that significantly narrows the engine (21.9 inches, just 2 inches wider than the old K1300’s four-cylinder motor) relative to the CBX’s, allowing cornering clearance despite 63% extra displacement the Honda could only dream of.

052014-2012-BMW-K1600GTL-exclusive-engineSo, while riding the BMW Exclusive on twisty heaven in the Big Sur area, leaning it over further than any Gold Wing (Honda’s contemporary luxo-tourer and a legend in its own right), I was guessing Soichiro would prefer the sportier dynamics and heavenly exhaust song more than the dowdier Honda.

The K1600 platform has impressed us from the moment we first threw a leg over the luxurious GTL and sportier GT – both large but definitely in charge. Its tuneful exhaust note and incredibly agile handling redefined what’s possible with a plus-1600cc motorcycle. In our testing, the GT first knocked down Kawasaki’s much cheaper Concours 14, then the GTL dethroned the venerable Gold Wing. Either K16 is pricey, but their riding experiences are supreme.

2012 BMW K1600GT Review

Now comes the Exclusive version of the GTL, slathered with every option previously available for the GTL (including ESA II, adaptive headlight, passenger armrests, heated seats and grips, driving lights, crash bars, luggage liners and more) plus a few new ones. “Industry Firsts,” says BMW, are Hill Start Control, backlit-illuminated indicator dials, and a radio film antenna embedded in the topcase lid. “There is no ugly stick,” notes BMW Motorrad USA’s product manager, Sergio Carvajal.

2012 BMW K1600GTL Review

Also, exclusive to the Exclusive is a new seat that is wider and longer in the passenger section, as well as a heated upper backrest and additional padding in the lumbar area. A navigation unit is the only option, although the bike is prepped for the seamlessly integrated and fully featured unit ($800 approx.).

While the GTL Exclusive will be sold in other markets, it’s built primarily for chrome-loving Americans. The Exclusive package also includes a unique color scheme based around four coats of Mineral White Metallic paint, the most expensive stuff from BMW’s car side. The luggage gets accents in Magnesium Metallic Matte, while the seat is a new Magnesium Silver color. The fuel tank is capped with a classy brushed-aluminum cover.

While the GTL Exclusive will be sold in other markets, it’s built primarily for chrome-loving Americans. The Exclusive package also includes a unique color scheme based around four coats of Mineral White Metallic paint, the most expensive stuff from BMW’s car side. The luggage gets accents in Magnesium Metallic Matte, while the seat is a new Magnesium Silver color. The fuel tank is capped with a classy brushed-aluminum cover.

Keyless Ride is another innovation on the GTL-E, using a proximity sensor in the key fob to operate/activate the ignition, fuel-filler cap, steering lock, alarm and luggage locks. The central locking system automatically deactivates when the ignition is switched on, so the fob never needs to be removed from your pocket.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

BMW says the GTL-E has the most comprehensive level of equipment and technology available in any motorcycle, although it has not yet received BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control as seen on the company’s HP4 sportbike. Regardless, its ESA II suspension system is quite advanced and performs flawlessly. Rear preload is electrically adjustable for various loads, while damping can be switched from the handlebar between Comfort, Normal and Sport settings that make a real difference in the levels of control. Its Normal setting would be fine on its own, but it’s satisfying to have the option to tailor the ride to road conditions: loosen it up while super-slabbing or firm it when sport riding.

Sport riding is encouraged by the GTL-E, despite its 793-pound curb weight. Keep in mind that mass is 100-150 pounds less than a Gold Wing or Harley-Davidson touring rigs. The biggest BMW snaps into corners with shocking alacrity for a giant luxo-tourer, and its cornering clearance is far greater than anything in its class. The GTL’s only dynamic flaw is an awkwardness at speeds below 10 mph, forcing a rider to be extra attentive when riding at a crawl.

Check out the significant spec-chart advantages of the GTL-E over its class rivals. It boasts significantly more horsepower, more torque despite the smallest displacement, a much greater top speed (about 140 mph), the most rear-wheel suspension travel by far, the biggest fuel tank, and the lightest weight. The Gold Wing still rules in luggage space, while the H-D Electra Glide Ultra Limited has more load capacity.

Check out the significant spec-chart advantages of the GTL-E over its class rivals. It boasts significantly more horsepower, more torque despite the smallest displacement, a much greater top speed (about 140 mph), the most rear-wheel suspension travel by far, the biggest fuel tank, and the lightest weight. The Gold Wing still rules in luggage space, while the H-D Electra Glide Ultra Limited has more load capacity.

When piloting a large motorcycle, one of the most precarious situations is stopping it on an incline. Helping the big Beemer feel more manageable in this situation is its new Hill Start Control, seen also on BMW’s new R1200RT. Firmly pulling pulling the front brake lever when at a stop activates the rear-brake caliper to prevent the bike from moving until you’re ready to roll again. It automatically disengages when fed power through the clutch, greatly reducing what BMW terms “launch anxiety.” It’s a much-appreciated innovation.

2012 BMW K1600GTL vs. 2012 Honda Gold Wing Shootout

Braking performance from the partially integrated ABS system is exemplary, with firm lever feel and astounding braking power for such a heavy motorcycle. While the rear brake is partially linked to the front lever, the rear brake pedal operates independently, which is our preference.

Passenger comfort was one of the only areas the GTL came up short to its competitors, but the GTL-E appreciably closes that gap. I brought my wife, Carolyn, for our ride from the Los Angeles basin to Monterey and back, and she was transported in regal comfort.

The K1600 GTL Exclusive’s passenger accommodations gets two thumbs up from Duke’s wife, Carolyn. “It’s a luxurious motorcycle ride,” she says. “And the heated seats; total bonus!” With the windshield in its uppermost position as seen here, airflow over both rider and passenger is smooth, with no annoying backpressure.

The K1600 GTL Exclusive’s passenger accommodations gets two thumbs up from Duke’s wife, Carolyn. “It’s a luxurious motorcycle ride,” she says. “And the heated seats; total bonus!” With the windshield in its uppermost position as seen here, airflow over both rider and passenger is smooth, with no annoying backpressure.

“I’ve never had a better experience on a seat, even on the Gold Wing,” she raved, although it must be said she hasn’t yet sampled the pillion accommodations on Harley’s touring bikes. Wifey praised the extra security and comfort provided by the armrests and lauded the generous amount of legroom. “I didn’t have a problem with stiff knees like on some other bikes.” She also liked how the armrests could be flipped up to access the bike’s grabrails when I was riding more aggressively, although she noted the narrow apertures could be a tight squeeze for large hands.

2014 BMW R1200RT Review – First Ride

Despite the plethora of comfort and technology features, any K1600 experience is highlighted by one of the most impressive engines in motorcycling history. The wonderful inline-Six is dichotomous, stoutly delivering 70% of maximum torque at just 1500 rpm but also screaming to a glorious top-end howl reminiscent of a 1960s Jaguar or Aston Martin Le Mans racer. It entices a rider to rev it out just to hear it sing, becoming especially tuneful above 6000 rpm to its 8500-rpm redline, even though spinning it up isn’t required for a swift pace.

The first twist of a K16’s throttle reveals negligible flywheel effect, the engine gathering revs rapidly. Turns out the flywheel effect is low mostly because the K16 doesn’t use a flywheel, instead relying on the smoothness inherent of six cylinders located inline. The lack of crankshaft inertia initially made getting moving from a stop a delicate balancing act until I learned to feel the light-effort clutch bite before I added revs, dramatically simplifying smooth take-offs. Additionally, the GTL’s transmission, while not as seamless as a sportbike, is probably the best gearbox on any plus-1600cc engine.

BMW’s Dynamic Traction Control system can also be switched off if desired Gratuitous wheelie shot is from the standard GTL’s media launch.

BMW’s Dynamic Traction Control system can also be switched off if desired Gratuitous wheelie shot is from the standard GTL’s media launch.

The engine’s ride-by-wire throttle can be set to three modes: Rain, Road and Dynamic. I enjoyed the snappier responses of Dynamic, especially when riding at a sporting pace. But Road mode is better for two-up riding, as adding or subtracting throttle is less abrupt. Dynamic Traction Control adds a security blanket to throttle application, with settings applicable to each ride mode.

The GTL-E’s audio system features both satellite and AM/FM radio, plus iPhone/iPod and music player integration. Audio quality through the four cockpit speakers drops significantly above 65 mph, and the lack of rear speakers leaves passengers with only whiffs of music at highway speeds. Music fans would be wise to pipe tunes to a Bluetooth headset.

052014-2012-BMW-K1600GTL-exclusive-cockpit

Props must be given to BMW’s Multi Controller wheel located inboard of the left handgrip. Most functions can be set or toggled through with simple turns or pushes on the disc. It’s a huge advancement in controlling many electronic gizmos.

I averaged mpg numbers in the high 30s during our trip. Those with less of a hooligan bent should be able to get at least 40 mpg, yielding 280 miles or more between fills of the 7.0-gallon tank.

Conclusion

There is no other bike that can offer the GTL-E’s opulent comfort cruising at 80 mph (with standard cruise control) on the highway while also being able to scream up PCH at a pace faster than some sportbikers. And, in case you were wondering, a slipper clutch on a luxo-tourer can be beneficial. A Gold Wing or H-D tourer is better coordinated at low speeds, but the GTL-E is dynamically tops in every other environment. Harley’s FL line falls short in every performance metric.

The GTL Exclusive is equipped with BMW’s incredibly effective Adaptive Xenon headlight that supernaturally points around corners. It’s bookended by round high-beam lamps whose LED rings glow when running on low beam.

The GTL Exclusive is equipped with BMW’s incredibly effective Adaptive Xenon headlight that supernaturally points around corners. It’s bookended by round high-beam lamps whose LED rings glow when running on low beam.

Interestingly, BMW says the GTL has converted many Harley owners, more than Gold Wing riders. The theory behind it supposes the K16 doesn’t contradict what Harley-Davidson does well.

While the K1600GTL Exclusive’s MSRP of $29,950 might frighten away the proletariat, it could seem like a bargain to a bar-and-shield devotee who just shelled out $38,999 for a CVO Limited. And I’ll bet Soichiro-san would like it, too.

+ Highs

  • One of the best motorcycle engines of all time
  • Comfort and technology features out the wazoo
  • Shockingly effective twisty-road handling
- Sighs

  • Uncoordinated low-speed handling
  • Price
  • No DDC or Gear Shift Assistant

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  • psychobueller

    Just as a clarification the Honda flat 6 went into production for the 1988 Gold Wing.

    • Kevin Duke

      Ah, yes! I was referring to the 1800cc version but neglected the earlier one. Thx for clarifying.

      • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

        Another correction, the engine is still oversquare. The bore is bigger than the stroke…What Soichiro Honda wouldn’t like about the K bike is the teething problems, specifically the water pump and switch gear. Every K1600 sold in AZ before June of 2012 had at least one water pump replaced. I know someone that is on #4. There’s also been a few I’ve read about where the engine grenaded with cracked pistons, but that’s been a lot rarer. Sometimes I wonder how BMW tests their bikes. The best bet is to wait until a model has been out 3-4 years before buying or you risk being a beta tester.

        • TonyCarlos

          How did Soichiro react when Honda had to recall 126,000 Gold Wings because the rear brakes could catch fire?

          • Craig Hoffman

            Soichiro always was an engine guy. Brakes are for pussies – LOL

          • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

            BMW had the same problem on the K1200LT in testing as the bag would catch fire. They moved the caliper to the 6 O’Clock position and that fixed it.

          • TonyCarlos

            Ahh, so BMW caught the problem BEFORE production launch; Honda looked to their customers to be beta testers.
            Makes one wonder how Honda tests their bikes?

          • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

            May be that time, but BMW is really big on having customers be beta testers of their motorcycle products. As I said, if you want a particular model of BMW bike, wait until it’s been out at least 3 years. Here’s some insight into the K1200LT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxbO7QV067s

          • TonyCarlos

            Yeah, I’m familiar with Chris and his rants. He seems to hate everything BMW has made in the last 20 years, despite the fact that he makes his living off of them. If only the engineers at BMW were as smart and insightful as Chris.
            For the record, his complaints about the LT seems to be more about its design than its quality. Yes Chris, it’s heavier than the old K100 that you rode. Yes it has more plastic that must be removed for service (ever wrench a Goldwing?). And yes, like nearly every other liter+ bike these days, you can get embarrassingly low fuel economy if you ride it like you stole it. Do you really think that is how most LTs are ridden?
            But the LT is still lighter than its competition (said Goldwing or HD) and it holds nearly as much fuel. And you should stop looking at HP numbers when you want to compare lux-tourers. Nobody runs these things up to redline (except perhaps moto-journalists) to generate those peak HP numbers.

          • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

            I thought he was funny. As far as making money off them, it seems he limits his work to 2004 and older. If he was smart, he’d at least cover until 2009, if not later. That said, I think he’s spot on in that he’s not lying or misrepresenting anything. May be he should take a test spin on one of the new K bikes. He might like it.

        • Kevin Duke

          Dang it! You’re right. At 72 x 67.5mm, it’s less oversquare than most multi-cylinder engines but still oversquare. Thx for keeping me honest! I’ll get it corrected.

  • Buzz

    I’ve still got mine with 14,000 miles on it. It’s just an amazing bike.

    I know BMW removed the ugly stick antenna from the front in this version, but one thing I like to do is remove the trunk on mine when riding solo and local trips. The trunk is probably 20lbs of top heavy weight.

    I also installed the most badass sounding Remus cans which shed another 20 something pounds.

    • 12er

      You still got it? New record!

      • Buzz

        Hell ya. You gotta pop over to flame wars and stir the pot a little.

    • drkennethnoisewater

      I just got the non-Exclusive, afaict getting the top case off the exclusive is pretty tricky and you lose FM reception.

      Me, I’d rather have an antenna wire in the windshield edge.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Definitely a maybe someday bike. Nice review!

    Most excellent recycling of the gratuitous wheelie shot by the way. I would not be surprised if the BMW rep in control of the keys had a little pre ride chat with Kevin about repeating that act of debaucherous hooliganism on their suave flagship model ;)

  • JMDonald

    Compared to Honda or HD this is the go to bike. It does everything better, is lighter and less expensive. If I had a luxury tourer on the list this would be the one.

    • DeadArmadillo

      I don’t know. I miss my Ultra Classic. BMW’s mostly sound like a maiden aunts Plymouth Valient. My wife and I put many miles on that Harley and it was very comfortable for both of us.

      • TonyCarlos

        And of course we all know the true sign of a bike’s quality is how loud it is.

        • DeadArmadillo

          No, I don’t like overly loud bikes, but I don’t like one to sound like a sewing machine either.

      • JMDonald

        To each his own. I had the opportunity to to ride a GTL over the weekend. For a 700lb. machine I found it nimble and it accelerated like a rocket ship. Torque everywhere. I have to say I like the RT better but know this bike is world class.

        • DeadArmadillo

          Are you going to buy one?

          • JMDonald

            I have narrowed it down to three. The K1600GT, R1200RT or a Multistrada. I like them all for different reasons. Not sure yet which one. I’ll figure it out eventually.

          • DeadArmadillo

            I’d have to put in a word for the RT with it’s comfort, excellent mileage etc. Other than the obstinate way BMW tries to make you come into their dealership for any and everything, some screw ups like their LC display, and the like the RT is an excellent sport tourer. Seemed to me that the K1600′s were the answer to a question that never was asked. Of course I’m a long distance rider so the RT works for me. To each his own.

          • JMDonald

            I see the K1600 as the BMW Motorrad flagship. The six is the ultimate touring engine. It serves an obvious market segment. I love this bike but the 700 lb. weight and price tag are a bit much. I am not ruling it out as a possibility even though the R1200 is more to my liking for a dedicated tourer. If the Multistrada had shaft drive It would probably be my first choice.

  • TonyCarlos

    If the specs listed are actually for spring travel, as opposed to wheel travel, the K16 may well have more front suspension travel than the others as well. With its linked front end, spring travel is less than wheel travel.

  • DeadArmadillo

    It never ceases to amaze me how the ink stained wretches working at the moto-mags drone on and on about BMW. Could it have anything to do with subsidized travel, free dinners and drinks? Now don’t get me wrong. I own a 2012 R1200RT and it’s ok. But while it’s not all that wonderful, I see 20 of them for every K1600. Why don’t you include sales figures of different BMW (and all other brand) models?

    • TonyCarlos

      News flash for ya, Dead. Every manufacturer wines and dines the moto-scribes.
      As for your “20 RTs for every K16″ claim, I have no idea what your point is. The K16 can’t be as good as reported because the cheaper RT outsells it?
      Everyone know BMW sells more boxers than any other model, lead not by the RT, but the GS.

      • DeadArmadillo

        The point that I’m trying to make is that moto-journalists seem to be out of step with people who actually buy motorcycles. If a Martian read motorcycle mags they would think that everyone is riding BMW’s, Ducati’s, and MV Agusta instead of Harleys, Hondas and Yamahas. Travel across country and see who is riding what. When is the last time you saw an article on Suzuki coming from Spain, Africa etc.?

        • Rick Vera

          Moto-journalists seem to me to be in-step with objective journalism, eschewing motorcycle subculture bias and brand loyalty and reporting on the merits of the machines they ride.

          The Dodge Avenger/Chrysler 200 outsold the Mazda6 something like 6-to-1. Does that mean the Mopar twins make the better midize? Fuck no, it doesn’t. With motorcycle purchases often being more of an emotional purchase than a car, we would expect the discrepancies between what may be a superior product based on empirical data and what may be a sales leader based on many other variables to be even greater. Whether it’s based on what they’re exposed to, what they can afford, the mental image they wish to live, or what have you, people buy bikes for different reasons.

          I owned a GSX650F because I couldn’t afford an FJR or RT, not because Suzuki made the better product. I wouldn’t doubt sometime in the future when young professionals have the kind of disposable income the baby boomers do now, we see a shift away from some of the stalwarts like Harley (at least with the current product offering) and move towards the BMWs, Ducatis, and MV Agustas.

          So with that, I’m quite content with our moto-journalists here at motorcycle.com and elsewhere talking about what’s good and not what sells. If you want the latter, go talk to a salesperson, not a journalist.

          • JMDonald

            There has been a debate about the ethics in moto journalism among many of my fellow riders for a long time. It must be difficult at best to offer up honest critique without biting the hand that feeds you. When you know that going in it is easier to disseminate the good information from the fluff. Like you said “People buy bikes for different reasons”. They are loyal to brands, types, sizes, you name it. It is funny to me that some feel it necessary to dis certain brands or even types of bikes. If you are not trying to create a persona it is a whole lot easier to be happy with what you buy. Bias and discrimination are good things. Even in moto journalism.

          • Kevin Duke

            Using bias and discrimination is a bad business model. We are treated nicely by all OEMs, but we can’t gloss over any deficiencies in their product or we’d lose credibility. Over the years some OEMs has expressed dissatisfaction we had pointed out flaws in their bikes, but we’ve never been labelled as unfair. Hope you guys think so, too.

          • JMDonald

            Bias and discrimination based on truth, logic and reason are fundamental to good analysis. I also understand that fairness is also part of that building block. Truth in fairness carries more weight than truth alone from a number of perspectives. The goal should always be to perfect your product as much possible. Any successful OEM or person knows this. They will take constructive criticism and use it to support this goal. The people that review and use their products demand the truth good or bad. This enables us to make better decisions and gives them the knowledge to improve their products. Bias and discrimination without the foundation of truth is a bad business model no doubt. MO, uses truth and fairness as well or better than the majority of it’s contemporaries. Keep up the good work.

          • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

            I would agree that you do. The recent review of the Royal-Enfield Continental GT is a good example of that. I’ve read one or two reviews elsewhere in which the author was clearly trying to write around the bike’s flaws.

          • http://www.BrocksPerformance.com/ Brock Davidson

            Funny, I shot this video for some friends at a mag in 2010 and one OEM hasn’t returned my calls or e-mails since… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3YxubLbINI

            Of course, I’m not The Duke ;)

        • TonyCarlos

          Well let’s see. Here’s a press intro of a Yamaha held in Barcelona.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNM4XFsgvDE

          Here’s a Honda press intro in Spain:

          http://www.motorcyclenews.com/mcn/news/newsresults/videos/2013/may/may2013-video-honda-nss300-first-ride/

          And here’s a Kawasaki which was debuted to the press in Italy:

          http://www.ashonbikes.com/content/kawasaki-zzr1400-zx-14-review-0

          Want more?

          • DeadArmadillo

            Get real. Apples and oranges?

          • TonyCarlos

            Once again I can’t understand your issue. Apples and oranges what?

            You complained: “When is the last time you saw an article on Suzuki coming from Spain, Africa etc.?”
            I posted links to three of press intros in Europe for “mainstream” Japanese bikes. How does that not address your complaint?
            And your “out of touch” issues seems equally off base. The BMW RTW has been out for a while now, and was tested when released. The K16 GTL-E is new, and deserves a check. The fact that the moto-scribes rode it and reported in does not take anything away from the RT, or any other bike.
            I sense there is another factor at play here.

        • Kevin Duke

          One thing to keep in mind is that it’s the higher-end motorcycles that are selling quite well in this economic climate. And while the Japanese brands have mostly curtailed new-model announcements, the Euro brands have kept a steady stream flowing. New bikes make news, and can’t ignore that. Record sales for BMW, MV, Ducati and Triumph.

          • DeadArmadillo

            As I said in an earlier post, show us the numbers. Doesn’t make much sense to talk about record sales unless you’re compairing yourself to the sales of others. If I sold two of something this year and only one last year I’ve doubled my sales. Doesn’t mean I’m a big player. If it wasn’t for the GS BMW would be an also ran like Ducati.

          • Kevin Duke

            I’ve never mentioned numbers. Be my guest and show me the numbers you believe in. All I’m saying is that it’s our job to cover motorcycle news, and new motorcycles are undoubtedly motorcycle news. Or should we turn down press introductions for bikes that won’t make a list of top 10 sellers?

          • denchung

            Considering BMW has been selling bicycles for 90 years, the company setting a new all-time sales record (115,215 motorcycles in 2013 and three consecutive years of sales increases despite a crappy economy in its main market, Europe) is a big deal and much more significant than relatively newer small-volume making similar claims, and much more than your “hey, I doubled my sales to two!” example.

            But going back to your earlier argument, I’m not sure what the issue is. If your point is the K1600GTL Exclusive is overrated compared to the higher-selling R1200RT, well then we agree. In our review of the new RT (http://www.motorcycle.com/manufacturer/bmw/2014-bmw-r1200rt-review-first-ride.html/attachment/2014_bmw_r1200rt_seat_height) it outscored the GTL-E in every category except engine and ergonomics/comfort, which the GTL-E should be expected to win considering the larger engine and passenger accommodations.

          • DeadArmadillo

            I guess I’m really sorry that I started this discussion. It seems as if I raised the hackles of every squid and moto-journalist around.
            In a nutshell, here is what drives me nuts. Barrells of ink are spilled over inconsequential mototcycles. All bikes should be covered and tested. Some are going to be better, some are going to be worse. When silly statements are made such as how Soichiro Honda would rather have a K bike than the Gold Wing, I have to wonder who in the hell is writing this article. There is only one motorcycle magazine who’s opinion I value and that is Motorcycle Consumer News. The rest seem to have testers that simply give points for power and speed. No mention whether anyone really buys the bike. Maybe every article should be prefaced with the motorcycles that the writer owns. And again, I think it would be valuable to see sales data for the Motorcycle industry. Seems to be a dark secret.
            Answering your letter though, I don’t think the K1600 E is overrated. I don’t know. And I sure don’t know after reading this test. Also, in rides that I go on that involve BMW’s ther are none or very few of these K models. Cost? Beemer guys mostly give me the impression that cost doesn’t matter much.

          • Kevin Duke

            Ah, the irony. You didn’t seem to mind MCN’s ratings when I was Road Test Editor there. :)

          • denchung

            We are one of the few motorcycle publications that publish company’s annual and quarterly sales figures (eg: http://blog.motorcycle.com/2014/04/25/manufacturers/honda/honda-reports-2013-2014-sales-results/).

            The problem is, most companies don’t go into very fine detail about breaking down sales by model. Harley-Davidson for example, separates them by model families (eg. touring, sportster, etc…) while Honda only highlights specific models in each region that either did much better or worse than expected without specific figures. The other problem is only publicly traded companies divulge information at all. Private companies usually only talk about their sales numbers when they’ve achieved something worth bragging about.

            And FYI: it’s really poor form to insult people, calling them squids just for the sin of not agreeing with you.

          • DeadArmadillo

            Thanks. I tried the website but it came up with an error. However, I did peruse some other info I found there.

            I didn’t mean to insult anyone but I think if you have looked at the whole thread you might have to agree with me after reading some of the responses. With that said, there were many good well thought out comments. Believe it or not I’m not the only one who questions the ethics and fairness of journalists, motorcycle or otherwise.

      • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

        The question is, better at what? FWIW, the new RTW is flying out of showrooms and seems to be a home run in functionality. Sounds like a winner. What’s hurt the K bike is reliability. I am sure the 2014s will have it worked out, but it should have been that way from the get go. The GSW had no serious issues, so I expect the RTW to be the same. Couldn’t say that about the K1600s and it’s not something journalists report on because they don’t have the bikes long enough to find out.

    • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

      Not only that, but once they are out of warranty, the price of used ones drop big time. I saw a 2012 K1600GT going for 16999 at a dealer and a few others under 20K. Having out of warranty repairs on them could be heart stopping. The boxer bikes are more reliable, period and they are cheaper new. I think thats the impetus for the boxer outselling the K. The R bikes are a lot lighter too and handle better. That said, I thought long and hard about trading my 2009 RT for a used GT. The problem was out of warranty, my insurance would go up 50% and so would the registration. The RT will have to do for a while.

    • Bruce Allen

      Other than the occasional protective order or libel suit, the guys who cover MotoGP don’t get squat from the OEMs. I should start working Kevin’s side of the street, and I would, were it not for the fact that the last bike I owned was a 1965 Yamaha YG1.

  • darthatect

    I rode a Harley Dyna for over 6-years and 45,000 mostly city miles. I loved it, but it cooked my right leg, and wasn’t comfy for longer the 90 minutes. I desired a long-distance cruiser. I tested everything…everything. And while not perfect, I chose the 2013 GTL. It handled, it was more comfortable (though I have a few issues with the seat and lack of handlebar adjust-ability), and, as I’ve discovered, it’s rare to see another one on the roads. Yes, the water pump was replaced. Yes, the front-end pulls a bit left. Yes, it’s a bitch to jack up on the center stand. But overall, it’s a remarkable bike and my girlfriend is comfortable. Even though I’m 63, I could not go for the Goldwing…to me, it’s an old man’s bike, massive, wide, and for weekend jaunts to lunch, then home. I ride every day, mostly city traffic. If the GTL has a ‘flaw’, it’s the previously mentioned low speed instability, and a bitch to back up trying to park. It’s doesn’t help that I’m short-legged either. I love the bike. I’m waiting to retire so I can ride for weeks at a time. In the meantime, I consider it the best overall bike on the road. Yes, I would like a couple of the Exclusive fixtures, but I wouldn’t trade up for it…besides, I hate the silver color and silver seats. I considered the RT, especially for the bullet proof boxer engine…but it was too small…and by the time you add the trunk and other options, it costs as much as the GTL. I get thumbs up everywhere I go, even from the reluctant Harley owners, who hate everything that isn’t leather, low and loud. No bike is perfect…all bikes should be customized in some fashion…but this one is pretty close. And the fact that it doesn’t sell in the thousands makes it even better.

  • Barry Bin Inhalin

    I want one. My Softail might be on the block….