Best Cruiser / Bagger of 2022
Best Cruiser / Bagger Motorcycle of 2022: BMW K1600B
Man, it’s been a while since we managed to get seven baggers together for a real-live comparison, but last time we did, in 2018, this BMW won it against the usual suspects from Harley-Davidson, Indian, et al. They’ve all received upgrades in the ensuing years, but nothing earth shattering to upend the pecking order. And nothing to upset our earlier, semi-collective conclusion that a bagger does not have to be built in America or powered by a big V-Twin.
For 2022, BMW made it even easier for us to continue our six-cylinder love by festooning the new K1600B with some nice upgrades (along with all the other K-bikes). It begins with a great big new TFT display, continues through some nice electronics upgrades, and concludes in a motorcycle that’s more dynamic than ever. In fact, the display is always telling you you’re a Dynamic Pro, which is nice reinforcement.
Cruise mode is nice for cruising sedately along in the time-honored, discover America way. The seat’s quite comfy and only 29.5 inches from the ground. Footpegs instead of floorboards make it a bit easier to transition from sportier machinery, but there’s an optional floorboard, er, option, that tall people like, too (along with a million other options). Trim levels, really.
None of it can mask the essential goodness of BMW’s sublime six-cylinder, which can be as sedate, or as wild as you want to be, depending on the angle of your right wrist; 136 rear-wheel horses is nice, at just 6500 rpm, but 117 lb-ft of twist 1300 rpm sooner, is even nicer. Granted, the big V-twins do make their monster torque even lower in the rev band, but they’re all climbing into bed with a warm glass of milk at just about the time the BMW’s getting rolling.
Also for 2022, a new auto-leveling Dynamic ESA suspension system takes its cues from a new 6-axis IMU to constantly monitor and adjust the damping forces on the rear suspension strut and the Duolever front suspension, via electrically operated control valves, within milliseconds. Flip it into Road mode, and you’re a really big sport bike.
Really big, but not ponderously, overwhelmingly big: At 784 pounds on the MO scales (including 7 gal. of fuel @ 6 lbs each), the BMW isn’t that much lighter than its American-built competition, but something about it makes it feel considerably sprightlier, and encourages you to use the Bavarian bagger as an everyday motorcycle instead of one to only be broken out for special occasions; it feels lighter and more controllable at lower speeds, too.
At the end of the day, as much of the boomer contingent which fuelled the mighty motorcycle boom of yore continues to segue, not all that gracefully, into baggerhood, the K1600B makes for a more seamless transition; it’s really a sportsbagger.
Best Cruiser / Bagger Motorcycle of 2022 Runner-Up: Indian Pursuit
Then again, there is no substitute for cubic inches or road-hugging weight. If you’re more the traditionalist kind of rider who feels like size matters, and can’t get enough, Indian’s latest riff on its liquid-cooled PowerPlus-engined Challenger brings it all to the buffet line.
Nine-hundred and 33 pounds is a lot of motorcycle, but the faster you go on the Pursuit, the lighter it feels. And it’s easy to go fast with that 108-cubic inch (1768 cc) oversquare V-Twin pumping out 105 rear-wheel horsepower (5600 rpm) and 116 lb-ft at 3500 rpm. The hydroformed aluminum frame seems completely unbending, and the Limited Premium version comes with a new electronically preload adjustable Fox shock out back (available as an option on other Pursuits), that lets you plug in your weight (and your passenger’s if you have one) into the bike’s computer, along with how much luggage you’re carrying. The rear spring gets preloaded accordingly, which sharpens the bike’s handling and steering considerably, especially when set to Sport mode.
The faster and more flowing the road, the lighter the Pursuit grows. And unlike motorcycles that looked like this 20 years ago, there’s plenty of cornering clearance, too. You’re motoring seriously along before the floorboards begin to graze the pavement. Along with the Fox shock, the Indian’s Premium package gets you the Bosch IMU-controlled Smart Lean Technology for ABS and traction control, along with integrated driving lights, and a heated touring comfort seat (the cool seat 2.0 is supposed to be new and improved, and should be available now).
That’s in addition to all the prime traveling amenities you expect on a $33,000 motorcycle like this one, including an electric-adjustable windshield, 35 gallons of remote locking storage, a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple Carplay, GPS with turn-by-turn navigation, a free year of RIDE COMMAND+ with live traffic and weather overlays, vehicle locator, yada yada yada. Nothing proceeds like excess on the great American highway, and we mean that in the nicest way.
Motorcycle.com Best of 2022 Categories
- 2022 Motorcycle of the Year
- Best Adventure Motorcycle of 2022
- Best Sportbike of 2022
- Best Naked Motorcycle of 2022
- Best Sport-Touring Motorcycle of 2022
- Best Value Motorcycle of 2022
- Best Standard Motorcycle of 2022
- Best Cruiser / Bagger of 2022
- Best Lightweight / Entry-Level Motorcycle of 2022
- Best Electric Motorcycle of 2022
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More by John Burns