First Ride: BMW K 1600
Many people respond with astonishment when they hear of a production motorcycle with a six-cylinder engine bolstered to its frame. Honestly, I was in awe and disbelief too on my first encounter with the BMW K 1600 some years back, and more so after hearing its one-of-a-kind six-pot engine note. BMW Motorrad has now introduced the new K 1600 range, and this time I managed to secure a more intimate experience with the motorcycle.
BMW K 1600 Model range
It's a sizeable piece of equipment, built to munch up the miles in luxury and comfort. So that part hasn't changed. With its large stature, it may intimidate the inexperienced rider, but you can rest easy knowing that the BMW K 1600 is a gentle giant. The new range caters to a variety of styles and requirements, with a K 1600 B, GT, GTL and Grand America on offer.
As mentioned, it all comes down to what you prefer, and each K 1600 is built to customer specifications. There are three foundations available for you to build your bike on – the bagger (K 1600 B) which stole my heart, has a lower seat ensuring firm and confident footing on the ground beneath, while giving you a cruiser-like riding position.
Built-in floorboards allow you to extend your legs should you feel the need during a long-haul trip through the garden route. In GT format, you get a sporty seating position and feel, automatically shifting your brain into race mode. The GTL and Grand America are both versions of the B and GT with an added rear backrest and a top box.
Tech and features on offer
Improvements have been made to the K 1600 range, now available with a full-adaptive LED headlight as standard. A new digital cluster has been included and works through a 10.25” TFT colour display. Here you can toggle through different features and settings, view your consumption and range, and flick through your music playlist through your paired smartphone device. They have included a smartphone compartment with a USB charging port as standard, although fitting both your USB cable and device into the compartment is a different story altogether. An average audio system is part of the factory set-up, while the one that will bang your tunes through the helmet at any speed is available as an optional extra.
BMW Motorrad has also fitted its K 1600 with a new electronic suspension that has automatic load compensation as standard, and the engine has been upgraded to meet EU-5 regulations.
Do not fret, it's still the same crisp humming six-cylinder you've come to know and love – with some minor tweaks. As a result of these tweaks, the 1,600 cc inline-six now offers improved emission values and a slight bump in torque from 175 Nm to 180 Nm. Power remains unchanged at 118 kW, although it's available much quicker at 1000 r/min sooner than before. Listening to that motor humming away harmoniously is a treat to the aural senses, I tell you, and brisk acceleration is customary on the K 1600.
Should you fancy the cruiser style and setup and appearance as your next long-haul steed, you may want to look at the updated R18 range that now includes a bagger style version and a Transcontinental. Both are fully kitted with the latest tech through the impressive TFT colour display and have an impressive audio system to match.
Words: Gugu Masuku