2011 BMW K1600GT, K1600GTL: the ultimate touring machines

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Ensuring maximum impact, BMW has released details of the previously-spied 2011 BMW K1600GT and 2011 BMW K1600GTL the day before July 4 weekend. The former is a powerful sports tourer, while the latter is an equally powerful full-dress, turn the cruise control on, crank the stereo, lean on your back rest, Goldwing rival. Both are powered by the same 160bhp, 129lb/ft, 1,600cc straight-six and are jam-packed with technology. >

That six-cylinder engine is a doozy and forms the unique selling point for each of these bikes. Straight-sixes are fucking awesome and are what BMWs reputation for the ultimate driving machines was based on until they decided to throw that away in the pursuit of the ultimate SUVs. BMW’s straight-sixes have always been smooth, torquey engines with a feel that’s best described as “creamy.” This 1,600cc example shouldn’t be any different, developing 70 percent of its torque at just 1,500rpm. Maximum power of 160bhp arrives at 7,500rpm while max torque of 129lb/ft peaks at 5,000rpm. There’s no word on fuel economy. As you can see in the pictures, the whole shebang is controlled by a central throttle-valve; no CBX-style individual adjustments for each cylinder!

BMW also claims that at just 102.6kg (226lbs) and 566mm (22 inches) wide it’s also the lightest and most compact six-cylinder engine currently in serial motorcycle production. That claim seems a bit odd, as far as we know this is the only six-cylinder engine in a production motorcycle right now other than the 1,800cc flat-six in the Goldwing, but even so, the six in the upcoming Horex VR6 is only 429mm (17 inches) wide.

That engine is equipped with a ride-by-wire that BMW, in eternal earnesty is calling “E-Gas.” It comes with three modes: rain, road and dynamic. Each tailors power output and delivery to make the big, heavy bikes easy to control or fast, depending on your mood and how loudly your wife is bitching over the on-board intercom from the backseat. Dynamic Traction Control is also an optional extra and ABS is standard.

Suspension is K1300-style Duolever at the front and paralever shaft-drive at the rear, while BMW’s amazing ESA II adjustable suspension with world-first adjustable spring rate is also an option.

Adaptive headlights change the shape of the main beam to help illuminate corners.

First-on-a-motorcycle multi-function, multi-color TFT display incorporates luxury car-like features. we’ll bring you a separate article on this.

Let’s get into the differences between the two models. The GT is the sportier of the two, coming with a more upright riding position and without a standard top box. The rider’s seat on that model is height adjustable. The GTL has a lower, more laid-back seat with handlebars that stretch back to meet the rider and footrests that move forward a bit. It looks like the rest of the bikes is largely identical.

So what have we got here? Well, two of the largest, heaviest touring bikes BMW’s ever made, that’s for sure. No official weight is yet quoted but huge engines, huge seats, huge chassis and oodles of features don’t point to weight-watching. You can also be assured that they’ll be very expensive. The outgoing K1200LT is priced at $21,520, we’d expect both of the 1600s to meet, if not surpass that figure. What does this mean for the K1300GT? We’re not sure, but it’ll likely be retained as a more affordable option to Bimmer’s new flagships. So what’s the point of sticking enormous engines in bikes in which performance takes a back seat to comfort? It’s not for top speed and not really for out-right acceleration, but more for easy acceleration. All that torque is going to mean both these bikes are capable of passing or merging into highway traffic with only the merest whiff of throttle.

  • Glenn

    There were rumors of a GT only and no LT a few weeks ago – nice to see the LT lives on as the GTL.

    I’m guessing we saw a GT with the top case fitted.

  • Patrick from Astoria

    I have zero interest in the bike, but that engine and transmission would probably make for a phenomenal homebuilt midengined sports car.

    • Milk and Juice

      Great idea. A BMW K1600GT powered MINI could also be a winning LeMons combo in fifteen years time.

  • http://twowheelsplus.blogspot.com/ Anders

    Now if only they can make it look attractive..

  • Zach

    The existing K12LT looks a bit long in the tooth these days, having not been redesigned in years. It’s great to see BM developing new models at the high end.

  • DF

    Milk and Juice… I had the exact same idea. must be sick in the head…

    I have a hard time seeing how luxo-liner bikes are better than a small convertible…especially when there’s a trailer in tow… but to each his own.

  • Banzai

    I hope they have fixed the final drive issues which was a problem with the K 1200LT design… All that weight on a single side-arm drive which creates heavy loading when it come to bearings. But, I just gotta have a new one anyway.. 1600GTL is one Badazz looking machine! Thanks for the Tech update.

  • mfire1

    I hope that they design a seat so you don’t
    ride it 500 miles and go buy a aftermarket
    designed seat. Love the engineering in the
    machine but don’t love the engineering in
    the seat…… Hope BMW reads this.

  • Trav

    Center stand on GTL? Electric windshields?

  • PorscheBob

    July 15, 2010

    I hope BMW is smart enough to include a digital
    speedometer instead of the outdated analog one.
    Digital speedometers are so much more efficient
    because they give the operator speed information
    much, much faster and accurate than analog.
    As a retired Human Factors Engineer I must state
    that, EVERY motorcycle should have a digital
    speedometer. Also they are easy to convert from
    MPH to KPH.
    Also hope BMW makes the ABS optional, not mandatory.
    Ergonomically, it would be really nice to have
    adjustability in the triangle of foot pegs, seat
    and handlebars.
    Are you listening BMW?