2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS [Video]

Sport-Touring taken to the next level

story by Troy Siahaan, Photograph by Alfonse Palaima , Created Aug. 11, 2011
Sport-touring riders don’t carry city maps in their bags. They’re the type that pulls out a state — or even country — map and places pins at the start and end points. In between, they search for the longest squiggly lines they can find, preferably in succession. They’re a discerning type, too. In order to ride long distances, the chosen motorcycle has to be plenty comfy yet have provisions to carry everything needed for the journey. Not only that, but sometimes their steed serves as the only companion on the trip, so it also needs to inspire, motivate and thrill.
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BMW and Kawasaki have long battled in this category, stretching way back on these pages to 1996 when we compared an R1100RT to the 1000cc Connie in our Lightweight Tourers Comparison. This pair and the Honda ST1100 that won the shootout were forefathers of the sport-touring genre. Fifteen years later, the sport-touring category and the bikes in it have grown.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

Today, BMW and Kawi come in with the K1600GT and Concours 14, respectively.

Kawasaki’s Concours brand was reborn in 2007, debuting as a 2008 model powered by a ZX-14-based, 1352cc motor. Its powerful engine, composed shaft-drive and performance per dollar solidified its place in the S-T category.

For BMW, a brand that’s no stranger to building comfortable machines made to go the distance, the K16 stands out, even among other Beemers, as one of the most important models the company has ever produced. Its new inline six-cylinder engine is sensational and makes it unique in the motorcycle world.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

It’s only natural, then, to compare these two goliaths of the sport-touring category against each other. The Concours represents the old guard, bringing to battle a proven platform at a relatively easy price. Meanwhile, BMW’s all-new K1600, with its lovely six-cylinder engine and boatload of impressive features, is quickly carving a name for itself as a force to be reckoned with.

To put these comfy, road-inhalers to the test, we needed to put a significant amount of miles on each machine. Fortunately for us, our trip coincided with MO’s annual voyage to Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California, for the first of two visits from the MotoGP circus this year on U.S. soil. Editor Duke and I rode these two machines from our SoCal digs up to Monterey and back — the long way — and our findings were rather comprehensive. All told, we covered some of California’s most scenic roads in order to see which of these mile-munching machines would sport-tour the best.

We loosely retraced the route from our 2009 Sport-Touring Shootout in which BMW’s powerful and nimble four-cylinder K1300GT took the overall honors ahead of the C-14, Yamaha FJR1300 and Honda ST1300. The GT model of the K1300 platform is now dead, leaving the K16GT to fight for its place in sport-touring pantheon.

Next Page...2012 BMW K1600GT

2012 BMW K1600GT
$20,900 ($24,540 as tested)

When talking about the K1600GT, all discussions naturally center around its inline six-cylinder engine, and rightly so. By now, you may have read the countless accolades given to this powerplant from the international press, including from our own Editor Duke in his K16-GT review. After flogging the K16 myself, I’m inclined to believe every single one of them is true. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the company that has made a name out of its high-performance six-cylinder four-wheelers has found a way to make that joy available to two-wheelers as well.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

With a 72 x 67.5mm bore and stroke, the 1649cc mill is relatively undersquare for a motorcycle engine (though still technically oversquare), though this helps keep overall dimensions narrow. Still, that didn’t stop our test bike from churning out 123.4 horsepower and 107.7 ft.-lb. of torque on the dyno at Gene Thomason Racing. Yes, only 123.4 horsepower. Dyno chart junkies might scoff at that number (especially compared to the Kawasaki’s 131.8 peak horsepower), but from the saddle the abundant amount of torque makes it easy to forget any horsepower disadvantage. What we didn’t expect, and what may be even more surprising, is just how smooth and well balanced the K16 engine really is. Propped up on the center stand and with the engine running, full-throttle blips produced no visual movement from the bike whatsoever. None.

That smoothness isn’t lost when the GT is in motion, either. In fact, the Beemer’s E-Gas ride-by-wire throttle is so deceptively smooth and vibration-free at low rpm that I stalled the bike the first time I tried to ride away on it. After adapting to the light clutch, two things become readily apparent. First is that the K16GT flat out hauls ass right from the moment you think about accelerating. Second is the induction noise from that six-cylinder under load is sheer music to the ears.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

“The inline-Six blats out a sound that is nothing less than rapturous,” Duke gushes. “The GT’s exhaust has less baffling than the GTL, making its note even more delicious. I was constantly running the GT at least one gear low so my ears could inhale what is perhaps the most appealing engine sound in motorcycledom. And the perfect primary and secondary balance of an I-6 motor allows a rider to keep the revs up without undue vibration.”

But back to that first point. BMW claims the K16 (in both GT and GTL form) makes 70% of its available torque at just 1500 rpm. That’s quite a lot of power with the engine barely spinning. What that means in the real world is that no matter if you’re just leaving a stop or cruising on the highway in sixth gear at 80 mph, when the throttle is twisted, the Beemer moves. The virtual absence of vibration from this smooth-running engine is a genuine benefit to the rider. But the combination of this excellent vibration isolation and the slick ride-by-wire system had me wondering whether we were riding a motorcycle or playing a live video game, since at times I felt disconnected from the throttle. Duke, however, had no such impressions.

Compared to the Kawasaki Concours 14, the K16 simply blows the doors off its Japanese counterpart from the word “go.” It’s astounding to say that the ZX-14 engine is weak by any means, but when stacked against this competition, the Kawasaki simply feels, well, slow. One area the BMW lagged behind the Connie is in the transmission department. Shifts on the K16 felt clunky (especially clutchless upshifts), and unfortunately didn’t get better with miles, as some motorcycles do. The Kawasaki, meanwhile, was the exact opposite, shifting with buttery-smooth accuracy with each flick of the toe.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

Handling from the big Beemer belies its hefty appearance. Only at ultra-low speeds does steering feel awkward, with Duke noting that it feels a bit unnatural. Once above 5 mph, the GT changes direction with absolute fluidity and grace, though the K16 won’t be mistaken for an S1000RR in the weight department. That said, its linear steering and sporty chassis were a hit among both our testers, especially compared to the heavy-steering Kawasaki. Our only complaint about the K’s handling is a lack of feedback from its Duolever front suspension that has regularly delivered muted front-end feel.

While some would argue Duolever technology is superior, ultimately, “with the limited feedback, a rider is forced to put faith in the good grip its tires have,” notes Duke. “However, that oddball front suspension also provides anti-dive geometry, which helps keep the GT nicely balanced even during hard braking.” The front Metzeler Z8 tire never gave us cause for concern, but because we’ve become accustomed to the feedback from a conventional telescopic fork, those same sensations are what we look for, especially while riding aggressively.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

Our fully kitted test mule came equipped with BMW’s Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA II) feature, part of the Standard Package trim level ($23,045). At the push of a button and twist of the ingenious Multi-Controller wheel (which we’ll get to in a bit) on the left bar, the rider commands ESA to electronically adjust suspension damping via three available settings: Comfort, Normal and Sport. From there, preload settings are also electronically adjustable to suit a solo rider, a solo rider with full saddlebags, a two-up ride with no luggage, or two riders with the bags loaded.

ESA II, which Duke calls “fantastically convenient and useful,” isn’t just a gimmick, either. When cruising along the highway, Comfort mode dampens the ride to a nice, plush setting that practically absorbs all but the nastiest of road imperfections. As one would expect, when the road starts to twist, the looser damping settings of Comfort mode are insufficient. Switching to Normal mode provides noticeably tighter damping, while full Sport mode substantially stiffened the ride, making it more suitable for the abundance of turns on our way to Laguna Seca. A huge difference in suspension action is accomplished with the simple prod of a button, a real boon for the hugely varied conditions confronting a sport-tourer.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

Stopping the K16GT from the massive speeds it’s able to attain (140-plus mph) are dual 320mm discs with fixed, four-piston calipers. BMW’s integral ABS – standard on all trim levels – is the linked variety, with application of the front brake inducing activation of the twin-piston rear caliper on a single 320mm disc (though it should be noted that the rear brake does not activate the front). The Connie 14 is also equipped with linked brakes and ABS, and in a straight line both vehicles come to a halt in a hurry as each system offers firm pressure at the lever and good feel. ABS intervention from the BMW felt much less intrusive than the Kawi, to the point where you almost forget it’s working. It’s truly a step above where ABS technology was just a few years ago. Where the BMW and Kawasaki systems start to show their differences is when the road bends but the brakes are still needed.

Simply put, BMW has nailed the ABS on the K16. By now it’s rather simple to engineer a linked-braking system that works well in a straight line, but the GT’s system also does a fine job of keeping the bike settled even while trailbraking. Contrarily, the Connie’s rear brake feels linked too much to the front, even in its least-linked two-position mode choice. When riding the GT, as long as inputs are delivered in a smooth manner (and even sometimes when they aren’t), it will stay settled and composed.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

Our bike came in the Premium Package trim level ($24,540), which includes everything from the Base Package (ABS, Multi-Controller, cruise control, heated grips and seat) and Standard Package (ESA II, traction control, adaptive headlight, tire-pressure monitor) and adds an audio system with Bluetooth capabilities to transmit direct to a rider’s headset. The Premium Package also includes a central locking system and alarm. And they work in typical Teutonic fashion.

Much like the seamless ABS, BMW’s traction control (DTC) hardly interrupts the riding experience. While it isn’t as complex or adjustable as that seen on the S1000RR, the K16’s system politely and gently tames the power to the rear wheel upon detection of wheel slippage. When full traction is available again, power comes on equally as gentle. Which is more than what could be said for the Connie. Both can be switched off if desired.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

Pete and Tom were giddy about BMW’s adaptive headlight in our recent battle between the K16GTL and Gold Wing, and our experience with it in the GT only added to the praise of this clever new feature.

“I was amazed at the active headlight during a night ride on a twisty road, as it magically peered into corners with a mind of its own,” Duke raves, even though he did discover the headlight’s weak spot: “Closely spaced corners reveal the system’s limitations, as the lamp’s mirror points to the corner exit instead of into the next turn.” A flaw some may think, but it’s tiny one in a system that genuinely enhances safety when riding at night.

Being familiar with BMW’s iDrive feature in its road cars will help you understand the Multi-Controller wheel on the K16s. Instead of pressing a myriad of buttons to reach a desired menu screen, the Multi-Controller lets you toggle through a host of different options by simply spinning the wheel with your left hand. Pushing or pulling the wheel inwards or outwards selects an option. The system does take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it really is an innovative device. Our one minor complaint is that in order to adjust the stereo volume with the wheel it must be in the audio menu.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

There’s so much technology encompassing the K1600GT that it took nearly the entire ride to come to grips with its many features, whereas the Concours was relatively straightforward. Thankfully the C14 is a supremely comfortable machine. The rider triangle is more sport-oriented compared to the K16GTL, but when stacked against the Concours, both Duke and I commented on how similar the two felt in regards to seating position; the most notable difference being the wider handlebars on the BMW, which we preferred as it provided more leverage for turning all of its 751-plus pounds.

Despite the BMW seat being slightly narrower than the Concours, it was the saddle of choice for Duke, whereas I gave the nod, albeit slightly, to the Kawasaki. Seat padding density on both machines gives good support, but Duke felt the Connie’s seat gave up sooner. Despite the K16GT’s inline-Six, a rider’s legs aren’t splayed any more than a typical four-banger. The 1649cc mill is rather narrow for its size, and its 55-degree forward tilt prevents the widest portion of the engine from interfering with the GT’s ergonomic package. BMW also claims better air intake as well from this design. That said, this large machine is still slightly intimidating at a standstill, if for no other reason than its sheer size and weight.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

A nice feature of the BMW is its adjustable seat height. At 5’8” and with average inseams, both Duke and I had no problems touching the ground with the K16 seat at its lowest setting of 32 inches, which is coincidentally the same as the Concours. Taller riders may appreciate the higher setting that raises seat height an entire inch. For you shorter sport-touring riders, a lower seat is an available option, dropping the saddle to a 30.0-inch height. The Kawasaki, meanwhile, doesn’t have the luxury of adjustable (or optional) seats.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

The more we rode the K1600GT the more we were impressed by the fit, finish, and attention to detail that went into this motorcycle. For instance, its electric windscreen is efficient and was preferred by our testers. “The GT’s windscreen has a much greater range than the Connie’s, making it more adaptable to riders of varying heights.” Indeed, with the screen at its lowest setting I experienced some buffeting at higher speeds. Yet, after raising it just a smidge it felt like riding in a cocoon of still air. The memory function is a nice feature as well, as each time the GT starts the screen goes back to its previous position.

Another detail we really like is the pop-out wind deflectors just below the headlight – again, another shared feature on the GTL that ol’ T-Rod and Peteski raved about in their uber-tourer duel. Our journey to Laguna Seca took us through varying terrain and weather conditions, and when the heat picked up, simply flipping the deflectors outward channeled a significant amount of air directly towards the rider. Sometimes the drawback to having a raised windscreen to prevent helmet buffeting is a lack of airflow to the rest of the body. With the deflectors, even with the screen at its highest setting, plenty of air made its way in and around our testers, which was especially useful with our ventilated jackets. Before the K1600GT, this wasn’t a feature we even remotely considered. Now it’s something we can’t live without.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

Of course, a sport-touring motorcycle is nothing without storage capacity, and the K16GT doesn’t lack here either. While it does without the top case seen on the GTL version, the two saddlebags had plenty of storage room for our voyage to and from Laguna Seca, augmented by a tail pack bungeed to its useful luggage rack behind the pillion seat. The hard bags are also easily removable, making it easy to transport items once at our hotel. There are also smaller storage compartments on the lower front fairing, with the right unit on our test bike pre-wired to accept an iPod. And should the safety of the items on the GT be of concern, all the bags and compartments are lockable by simply pressing a button on the key fob. Very car-like...

We’ll just say it right now: we’re in love with the K1600GT as it does everything a sport-touring motorcycle should do, and it does it incredibly well. The inline-Six has turned all four MO staffers into believers, and its aluminum chassis is more than capable of navigating tight bends with ease. Duke summed it up best in his notes, “The GT handles so well, and its engine is so fantastic, it made me think about taking it to a racetrack – it would be a blast to go howling past a poorly ridden sportbike on this grand-tourer.”

But at almost $25,000 for our fully-kitted test bike, that’s almost $10,000 more than a top-spec Concours 14. For that price we expect the BMW to cook us breakfast in the morning. Even the base model K1600GT is significantly more expensive than the Connie and would likely fare just as well. To be honest, we didn’t travel very far on our journey before we realized this wasn’t a fair fight. The question now, then, is simple...

Is the K1600GT $5,000-plus better than the Concours 14? You might be surprised what we think.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

Next Page...2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS
$14,599 ($15,599 as tested)

It’s hard to call any motorcycle with a 1352cc inline-Four slow, especially one that borrows its engine from the ZX-14, but in this comparison it’s simply outclassed by the BMW. Then again, with a two cylinder and 297cc disadvantage, the Kawasaki Concours 14 faced an uphill battle from the start. Both Kevin and I have spent some time on the Concours in the past, but our trip to Laguna aboard the revised-in-2010 edition would be our first time putting significant mileage on the new and improved Super-Sport Tourer from Kawi.

In case you missed it, Pete rode the new edition at its launch last year and came away reasonably impressed. New additions like heated grips, linked ABS (K-ACT) and traction control (KTRC) were notable steps forward when compared to the previous model.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

Take the BMW out of the picture and the Connie’s power output is sure to put a grin on anyone’s face. Our unit pumped out 131.8 horsepower and 88.1 ft.-lbs. of torque, though you have to get the engine spinning pretty fast before it reaches those numbers. When comparing the overlay of the BMW and Kawasaki’s graphs, it’s clear that the latter struggles at low rpm, which is to be expected considering its size disadvantage, but is still strange considering its use of variable valve timing. “I was unimpressed with the Connie’s lower-rev power output, making top-gear highway roll-ons underwhelming, especially for a bike with almost 132 hp,” says Duke. Relatively speaking, the Kawi feels gutless at low rpm.

To give a better visual of each bike’s performance, Kevin’s notes plainly spell out the power difference between the two machines: “Next to the K16, the C-14 is clearly beaten in a 70-mph roll-on contest. Then we did a fourth-gear roll-on in which the Kawi edged away from the GT. However, it wasn’t until later that I found out Troy didn’t get the fourth-gear directive and kept the Beemer’s tranny in sixth!”

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

Despite the fact that the Connie likes to be higher in the rpm range before it really moves, the smooth-shifting transmission makes accommodating that request very simple. Click down a few gears and the C-14 rips forward and blasts down a road like a sportbike. From the saddle, triple-digit speeds seem uneventful. Besides seeing terra firma pass by quickly in your peripheral, the only indication of increased speed is the vibration that comes through from the bars. “Even with dual counterbalancers, a fair amount of vibration is transmitted to its rider through the bars and pegs,” notes Kevin. “It’s not bad, but it stands out next to the BMW’s ultra-smooth inline-Six.”

More than 800 miles up and down and around the California coast proved rather comfy on both bikes, really. The Concours’ seat is slightly broader than the BMW’s, with decent padding in the cushion for the long haul. The electric windscreen, while decent, doesn’t go as high as the GT’s. Neither Kevin nor I had major complaints about the screen, but taller riders might fare differently. The Kawi’s bars are a touch further away than the BMW’s, but the big difference between the two bikes is how much closer together the bars are on the Connie compared to the span between the K16’s bar ends.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

The C-14’s narrowly spaced grips aren’t necessarily a significant drawback, but, we would have preferred the leverage from wider bars when dealing with the chief complaint of the Concours 14: it’s extremely heavy steering. It’s a problem Kawasaki has tried to address with the updates last year, but when steering the Concours 14, constant pressure on the inside bar is required to maintain a consistent arc through a corner. And in case you’re wondering about the condition of our tires, we received our test bike with brand new Bridgestone BT021s and the problem was noticed simply leaving Kawasaki’s parking lot.

“It’s by far the worst aspect of the C-14,” notes a perplexed Duke. “It turns a twisty road into a high-effort chore, and wrestling it down Highway 58 gave my palm a blister.” Indeed, a long set of switchbacks isn’t something you look forward to on the Concours. It’s an interesting and puzzling issue as to why the Concours acts like this. While its 26.1-degree rake and 4.4 inches of trail aren’t sportbike-like numbers, it’s still relatively sporty, even more so than the BMW, with its 27.8-degree rake and an almost identical 4.3 inches of trail.

Wider bars for the Kawi would have been nice to have, but even more desirable is a 190/55 rear tire (which the BMW has) instead of the 190/50 that comes standard.

After our testing for this comparo, we were able to sample our Connie with a 190/55-17 Bridgestone BT016, and the difference in steering response is significant. Ridden back to back with a stock-tired C-14, the 55-series tire offers slightly quicker turn-in response, but more importantly is the vastly improved linearity of its roll rate. The bike with the 50-series tire requires continual inside bar pressure while in a corner, making the bike feel clumsy and high-effort. The 55 turns in smartly to whatever angle is required, then just remains leaned over at that angle without further minding. The riding experience is much smoother and more relaxed while riding more confidently and faster. We’d strongly advise Concours owners to get a 190/55 when new rubber is required.

Heavy steering aside, we did notice the suspension to have the right level of firmness. No, it doesn’t have fancy electronic suspension like the BMW, but rear preload is adjustable via an easy-to-reach hand dial and front rebound damping is also adjustable without tools.

Stopping power from both bikes is very impressive. Our test unit is the up-spec ABS model with full floating 310mm discs and four-piston calipers up front linked to a single 270mm disc in the back via Kawasaki’s K-ACT anti-lock braking system. This system allows the rider to choose between two levels of linked braking. We found that the more aggressive level stops the Concours from a straight line in a remarkably short amount of time, but we disliked the unnatural feel at both levers. Initial reaction is similar to a non-linked system, but once the computer takes over, both levers feel as though they’re nearly stuck in position.

The feeling is strange while in a straight line, but it’s downright scary when trailbraking for a turn. Using only the front brake while turning feels normal, with no ill side effects. Trailing only the rear brake, however, activates a front caliper, causing the nose of the motorcycle to dive suddenly and abruptly midcorner. We only felt a marginal difference with the less-intrusive second setting, and it can’t be switched off. “If Kawi can give us two steps of linked, braking,” says Duke, “it should also be able to give us a way to shut it off.”

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS 2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

There is, however, an off button for the KTRC traction control system. The system, which operates strictly based on wheel speed sensors, is rather basic when compared to that on the 2011 ZX-10R, but it’s adequate for a sport-touring application. We saw many two-wheelers without traction control try to exit the sandy motorcycle parking area at Laguna Seca, and upon release of the clutch just spun the rear wheel and kick up dirt. With KTRC, the system gently feeds just enough power so that both wheels are spinning at the same rate. Apart from feeling the retardation of power, the dash lights flash wildly and a notification pops up on the LCD screen to remind you the system is working.

While the system works well, we would prefer a softer reapplication of power once traction is regained. As it is, the KTRC cuts power abruptly upon slippage, and delivers it back in a burst, unlike the BMW system which is much more linear and seamless in its application. In the end, “we’re glad it is able to be switched off for when a wheelie is called for!” exclaims Duke’s inner stunter.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

The Connie’s dual, white-on-black analog gauges for the speedo and tach look boring but reliably deliver info. They’re augmented by a central LCD panel that can display ambient temps, tire pressures, fuel economy and charging system info. Conspicuous by its absence is cruise-control switchgear, as that convenient feature isn’t available from Kawi.

Like the BMW, the Concours features plenty of storage space. The two hard saddlebags are solidly mounted and are able to fit a full-face helmet. A small luggage rack also graces the rear of the Connie, perfect for strapping down larger items or accessory luggage. A compartment just under the left handlebar is great for keeping small items. Interestingly, on the opposite side of the front fairing lies a 12-volt outlet that works well for powering GPS devices mounted to the screen, but it would have been nice to have the outlet on the left side of the fairing to charge devices like cell phones which could then be placed in the adjacent cubby hole.

We saw a close race between the two machines when measuring fuel economy, with the BMW narrowly coming out ahead. We averaged 34.4 mpg on the Beemer compared to 33.3 mpg on the Kawi, and the GT also boasts a 0.5-gallon-larger fuel capacity than than its 5.8-gallon Japanese rival.

Next Page...Conclusion


While it sounds like we’ve been bashing the Concours 14, it really is a fine sport-touring motorcycle, at least until you encounter its unusual heavy-steering handling issue. The Kawasaki is powerful, comfortable, and now with the addition of traction control, a rather high-tech motorcycle. When you consider other machines in its price range, its significance is then better understood. And it’s hard to ignore the cost savings between the Bavarian marque and the Kawasaki.

At the end of the day it would be easy to name the BMW the winner and call it a day — there’s no hiding the fact that it outguns the Kawasaki in many respects, and it’s our favorite sporty tourer by a long shot. But to say that is to overlook the point we’ve repeated in this test: even the base K1600GT is more than $5000 more expensive than a fully kitted Concours 14 ABS, yet the latter is a sufficiently adept sport-tourer.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

While at Laguna, we had a number of race fans come up to us wanting to get a closer look at the K1600GT, which was parked next to the Concours. Among those were two riders proudly wearing their Iron Butt Association pins and associated paraphernalia. As we talked to them and answered their questions, they seemed interested... until they heard the price tag. Then their eyes wandered toward the Concours.

And that basically sums it up. If money is no object, then the BMW is the hands-down winner and should be in your garage. Its six-cylinder engine, competent handling package and array of desirable amenities make it the preferred sport-touring package.

Then again, if you’re considering the K16 in the first place, the Concours might not even be on your radar, and vice versa for Connie shoppers due to the price discrepancy.

“The Concours 14 delivers 90% of the BMW’s qualities at a 25% discount, which makes it a worthy choice for a supersport-tourer,” Kevin notes. “But its less-impressive engine and clumsy handling relegate it to runner-up status in this comparo, all things but price considered.”

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

That said, BMW has delivered a winner in its first attempt with the K1600GT. Now it’s up to Japan to respond.

By the Numbers
BMW K1600GT Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS
Engine Type Inline-Six Inline-Four
Displacement 1649cc 1352cc
Bore & Stroke 72 x 67.5mm 84 x 61mm
Compression 12.2:1 10.7:1
HP (BHP or Rear Wheel) 123.4 (rear wheel) 131.8 (rear wheel)
Torque 107.7 (rear wheel) 88.1 (rear wheel)
Frame Bridge-type cast aluminum Cast aluminum
Wheelbase 66.1 in 59.8 in
Rake/Trail 27.8 degrees/4.26 inches 26.1 degrees/4.4 inches
Front Suspension Duolever 43mm inverted, telescopic fork with adjustable rebound damping and spring preload / 4.4 in.
Rear Suspension Paralever Tetra-Lever with stepless rebound damping adjustment and remote spring preload adjuster / 5.4 in.
Front/Rear Wheels Cast aluminum (3.5 x 17 in. front; 6.0 x 17 in. rear) Cast aluminum (17 in. front and rear)
Front/Rear Tires 120/70 x 17, 190/55 x 17 120/70 x 17, 190/50 x 17
Front Brakes Dual 4-piston w/320mm rotors, partial integral, ABS Dual floating 310mm petal discs with four-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brakes Single caliper dual-piston w/single 320mm rotor, partial integral, ABS Single 270mm petal disc, ABS
Seat Height 31.8/32.6 in. standard adjustable, 30.7/31.4 in. optional low adjustable 32.1 in.
Curb Weight 751 lbs 688 lbs

Related Reading
2012 BMW K1600GTL vs. 2012 Honda Gold Wing Shootout
2012 BMW K1600GT Review
2012 BMW K1600GTL Review
2010 Kawasaki Concours 14 Review
2009 Sport-Touring Shootout: BMW K1300GT vs. Honda ST1300 vs. Kawasaki Concours 14 vs. Yamaha FJR1300A
1996 Lightweight Touring Comparison

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