BMW K1600GT and K160GTL

With the introduction of the 2012 BMW K1600GT and BMW K1600GTL, BMW is poised to snatch best touring honors from the long-time, luxury-touring champ, the Honda Gold Wing.

The star feature of the BMW K1600 is its inline six-cylinder engine. It’s not the first transversely-mounted inline six-cylinder engine to power a motorcycle, Honda’s CBX, Benelli’s Sei and Kawasaki’s KZ1300 all came and went decades ago, but the BMW engine is the most impressive. Measuring less than 22” in width, the liquid-cooled, 1649cc inline-six is incredibly narrow, weighs only 126 lbs. but produces a claimed 160 hp at 7,750 rpm and 129 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,250 rpm.

The fully-loaded BMW K1600GTL weighs 767 lbs., which is substantially less than the Honda Gold Wing’s 900-plus wet weight. The relatively light weight of the BMW K1600 allows the touring bike to handle like a much smaller, sportier motorcycle. Slowing the BMW K1600 down is a triple-disc set-up utilizing BMW’s ABS as standard equipment. The K1600’s braking system also includes linked brakes (where both front and rear brakes are employed when applying pressure to either hand or foot levers and controlled by the bike’s ECU).

2012 BMW K1600GTL

Innovative features on both the K1600GT and K1600GTL include ride-by-wire throttle control, traction control, electronically adjustable suspension, an electrically controlled windshield and an adaptive headlight. The adaptive headlight adjusts in relation to both the up and down pitch of the motorcycle but also the banking angle of the motorcycle when navigating a corner. This adaptability provides unmatched illumination during night riding and is a first on any motorcycle.

Available as part of the optional Premium Package ($2,645) on the GTL is BMW’s ESA II electronic suspension. With the press of a button a rider can change the damping properties of both the front and rear suspension components. There are three settings, Comfort, Normal and Sport, but in addition to these a rider can also independently adjust the suspension depending on carrying loads such as having a passenger or carrying luggage.

Standard equipment on the BMW K1600GTL includes heated seats and handgrips, cruise control and ABS. The saddlebags and top box, unlike the Honda Gold Wing, are all detachable. The GTL has an available payload capacity of nearly 470 lbs.

The BMW K1600’s audio and communications system includes an MP3 player and satellite radio which is controlled via the color-screen Multi-Controller introduced on the BMW R1200RT in 2009. The audio system can be linked to a rider’s helmet via Bluetooth connectivity or directed to play through the bike’s four cockpit-mounted speakers.

An $850 option on the BMW K1600GTL is the Garmin-built Navigator IV. The BMW K1600 comes prewired for the accessory so it can easily slip into a cradle specifically built for carrying the unit. Once installed, the Navigator IV integrates with the bike’s Multi-Controller system, including its Bluetooth connectivity.

Initial pricing for the BMW K1600GT and BMW K1600GTL is $24,540 and $25,845, respectively.

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