2011 BMW K1600 GTL

By Marissa Baecker

Peter Naumienko

“That’s not riding, that’s sailing . . . smooth sailing,” were my first comments after riding the new 2011 BMW K1600 GTL (L for luxury).

The models trump the BMW tour favourite the K1300 GT – boasted as the leader of technology among BMW riders. The buzz of the bike show, the K1600 GT and K1600GTL, drew the crowds at the BMW booth. These bikes represent everything you could possibly want in a tour bike without sacrificing comfort, power or performance.

What’s the difference between the two models? The best distinction would be the GT is the sportier of the two models. The GTL – you sit ‘in’ the motorcycle as opposed to the GT where you are sitting ‘on’ it. The handlebars come back toward the rider with the GTL where the rider leans a bit more forward with the GT, the rest is pretty much the same other than optional features of the GT are standard on the GTL.

Just to give you an idea of the luxury you can experience, the bikes come with heated hand grips, independently heated seats, bluetooth, satellite radio, ABS brakes, traction control, electronic suspension, electric windshield, am/fm radio/cd player, nine separate riding modes at the touch of a button with the computer management system and the list goes on.

When I test rode the bike, I hijacked the demo ride coordinator, Peter Naumienko. I met Peter over a year ago and admired his riding ability. No one spends as much time on all the BMW models than Peter so he would be the perfect riding companion for this BMW adventure. Peter explained that the K1600 GTL was quite a bit heavier than some of the other BMW models so I braced for some muscling as opposed to riding.

Pleasantly surprised, the weight distribution of the bike is just about 50/50 and the sensation of heaviness is only noticed riding at lower speeds. Once the bike gets moving, the weight is virtually unnoticeable.

Once on the highway, I maintained a certain level of respect for the bike considering it wasn’t mine but Peter quickly pulled up alongside and began speaking in sign language that could only be deciphered once we hit the next stop light.

“Don’t be so tame, really ride it,” he shouted from his helmet.

I literally got the green light at the green light to open up the throttle. This is where the bike truly performs. With utmost control the bike easily and nimbly navigates road lanes, changes in highway grades, maintains lane position on windy roads with little to no rider exertion, is extremely agile and provide that ‘one with bike’ feeling usually reserved for super sport models.

The BMW brand was made famous for its six cylinder engines in cars and now with the introduction of these models, they have introduced that celebrity to the motorcycle world.

“The entire platform is new for 2011, stated Chris Duff, manager, Motorrad marketing for BMW Motorrad Canada. “It comes to market with a 160 HP, almost 130 ft lbs of torque and an inline six-cyclinder engine – the most compact six-cylinder engine that you can buy on a motorcycle in history.”

The inline six is transverse-mounted, cast in lightweight aluminum and offers up 1649cc with 160 HP at 7,500 rpm and 130 lb/ft torque at 5,529 rpm (‘70% of which is available from 1,500 rpm’). In the over 1000cc engine category currently in production, this is the lightest (‘102.6kg – including clutch, gearbox and alternator’) and narrowest at 55 mm engine available.

For technical readers, the GT goes from 0-100 km/h in 3.2 seconds compared to 3.4 seconds for the GTL with 4.5 l/100 km fuel economy for the GT and 4.6 l/100 km for the GTL.

Aside from the bullet train like looking aerodynamics of the motorcycle, another eye-catching feature is the optional adaptive headlight centered between two standard Xenon headlights. This is the newest technology in motorcycle safety in low light and darkness.

“This is the world’s first adaptive headlight with this motorcycle. As you turn and lean into a corner, the headlight actually turns and swivels with you,” continued Duff. “The light actually looks around the corner as opposed to pointing off in the ditch.”

BMW refers to the dial display at the ‘cockpit’ which is synonymous to the feeling you get when you get in to the driver’s seat of a BMW vehicle. The ‘cockpit’ on the K1600 GT and GTL houses the instrument cluster of speedometer, tachometer and a digital high resolution colour display monitor that adjusts its own brightness depending on the ambient light. As part of the fairing, an option GPS can be installed and when the motorcycle shuts off, the windshield lowers hiding the GPS unit and protecting it from theft.

Riders will maintain style with removable rear side pannier bags. The panniers have a handle on the top so when removed become a carry in suitcase. You can also get top load panniers. Each bag offers plenty of cargo space for two riders.

Colour options with the GT are Vermillion Red Metallic and Light Grey Metallic while the GTL offers Mineral Silver Metallic (shown in the photo) and Royal Blue Metallic.

MSRP – K1600GT – $24,100; K1600GTL – $29,225


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