BMW K1600 GTL Review

Since I didn’t get invited to South Africa for the launch of BMW’s new Inline-6 touring bikes–and couldn’t afford to go if I did–I have to wait for another 2 months or so before I can even get a chance to look at one, much less ride one. Motorcycle.Com, on the other hand, suffers from no such limitation, so they have a review of the the big K1600GTL touring model.

I don't think you're supposed to do this. Or be able to do this, for that matter.

They seem impressed. Indeed, judging by the picture, too much so.

They rave on and on about its Gold-Wing-ass-kicking power, the cool electronics, and just about everything else they can think of to indicate how much better it is than the Gold Wing.

Things they loved:

  • Handling
  • Power
  • Brakes
  • Suspension
  • Chassis
  • Rider comfort
  • Air management]
  • Ergos

Things they hated:

  • Smaller passenger accommodations than the Gold Wing

Other than that, though, they think it’s a home run.

Its six-cylinder engine is sex on wheels with power to spare. Its agility and athleticism is positively shocking for such a big girl, and its suspension and brakes are best in class. What’s more, its array of standard and optional equipment put it in a league of its own.

Brit motorcycle journolist Kevin Ash has come up with another little niggle about the GT version, however, which is that, despite the higher torque of the I-6 powerplant, it actually doesn’t pull as hard in lower RPM ranges as the bike it replaces, the K1300GT, with its I-4.

For me, the 703 lb wet weight already made it a far less desirable bike, so I doubt if the new BMW is anywhere in my future.  Great concept though.  Shave 200 lbs off it, and call it the K1600S, though, and I might be willing to take a second look.

Liquid-Cooled Boxer for BMW?

Asphalt & Rubber has an image of what appears to be a new BMW RXX00GS in the wild.  Sure it looks like a R1200GS, but the thing is…the shaft drive is on the wrong side.

BMW liquid-cooled boxer?
BMW liquid-cooled boxer?

BMW’s boxer engines are air/oil-cooled, but the end of the road is surely in sight for air-cooled engines, due to both emissions compliance issues and the consumer demand for a bit more power. So, the best guess here is that this is a GS testing a new liquid-cooled boxer engine.  we don’t know the displacement, or anything else.  We don’t even know if this engine is liquid-cooled, based on the picture.

Still, the rumor is the BMW is water-cooling the boxer, and if this GS with what is obviously a different motor is already testing on the road, the chances are pretty good that it is the water-cooled boxer, and if its in this advanced stage of testing, i.e., running around on a bike in the wild, then we can look forward to a brand new RXX00GS for 2012.

We might know more, but this picture appears to have been taken by a 1930s Kodak box camera, using film that’s over its expiration date.

BMW: They don’t exist yet, but you can buy them

2011 BMW K1600GT
2011 BMW K1600GT

Since BMW announced the new straight-6 K1600GT and K1600GTL models, they’ve become one of the most hotly-anticipated motorcycles of 2011.  So much so, that BMW has announced that they will take pre-sale orders for them, starting today.  All you have to do is go to the BMW web site and fill out this pre-sale form. Just so we’re clear, you’re entering the pre-sales program for a motorcycle that isn’t actually in production yet. They also have another form to fill out if you just want to receive updates about the bikes from BMW.

It takes quite a lot of confidence to start taking pre-sale orders for a bike you haven’t actually built yet, but it seems that BMW’s confidence is warranted. BMW Motorrad USA announced their 2010 sales results today.  Somehow, in a year of economic recession, plunging motorcycle sales, and despite making about the highest-priced motorcycles one can buy, BMW did…good.

BMW Motorrad reported a 12.3% increase in motorcycle sales in 2010.

The German manufacturer shipped 98,047 units in 2010 compared to 87,306 motorcycles in 2009. BMW reported growth in almost every market including a 4% increase in the U.S. despite a double-digit downturn for the industry.

Leading the sales charge for BMW was the S1000RR, their new–and conventional–literbike, which sold 10209 units to become BMW’s highest-selling model.

BMW F800R Review

2011 BMW F800R
2011 BMW F800R

While many motorcycle companies have been struggling since the worldwide economic recession started in 2008, BMW has been fairing pretty well.  Part of BMW’s success has been coming out with bikes that don’t fit the mold of  “stodgy tourers for fantastically wealthy oldsters”, and appeal to younger, less affluent riders.  One of those bikes is the S1000RR sportbike that pretty much everybody has fallen in love with.

BMW seems to be getting it, marketing-wise. As Pieter De Waal, VP of BMW Motorrad USA, says, “When selling something nobody needs, you’d better give them a very good reason to buy.”

Following along in that vein, BMW has dropped the F800S from the 2011 lineup, replacing it with the urban, naked, standard F800R.  That bike has been available to Europeans for 18 months, but is now becoming available in North America.

Motorcycle.com has a full test report on the F800S, and they seem to like it a lot.

The new 2011 6-cylinder BMWs

BMW has unveiled their new 6-cylinder touring motorcycles at INTERMOT, and also came up with a dedicated micro-site.  The site is chock full of details on the new bikes, as well as the first official photographs, shown in the thumbnails below.

The BMW K1600GT will replace the current K1300GT, while the K1600GTL will replace the current K1200LT.  The new model seems like a huge step up for both bikes.  Interestingly, the GT model now integrates a stereo system, something which was only available on the R1200RT and K1200LT, but was not available for the GT model at all.

The rather irritating flash site presents lots of information about the bikes, in frustratingly tiny pieces.  Among the available information is the following:

Engine output 160 HP  at approx. 7500 rpm and a maximum torque of approx 129 ft-lbs at approx. 5000 rpm. Over 70% of maximum torque available from 1500 rpm.

Three drive modes to choose from (“Rain”, “Road”, “Dynamic”).

Traction control DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) for maximum safety when accelerating (optional extra).

Electronic Suspension Adjustment ESA II for optimum adaptation to all uses and load states (optional extra).

World premiere for a motorcycle: Adaptive Headlight (optional extra) in conjunction with standard xenon headlamp and lighting rings for increased safety at night.

Integrated operating concept for the first time with Multi-Controller, TFT color screen and menu guidance.

The instrument panel based on digital technology comprises a speedometer and tachometer as well as an information display which takes the form of a powerfully lit 5.7-inch colour monitor. This display enables user-friendly presentation of text and graphics over several lines.The information unit is operated using the Multi-Controller. As a component of the integrated operating concept it is placed ergonomically favourably on the left handlebar grip. Unlike individual operating keys, this set-up means that the rider does not have to take his eyes off the road.

Audio system with preparation for navigation device and controllable interface for iPod, MP3, USB, Bluetooth and satellite radio (only USA and Canada) (standard in the K 1600 GTL). BMW Motorrad Navigator IV available as a special accessory is also integrated in the vehicle electrical system directly ex works. This means that the most important functions such as zoom or voice command repetition can be operated conveniently from the handlebars using the Multi-Controller.

Innovative design with outstanding wind and weather protection.

K 1600 GTL with very comfortable, relaxed ergonomics set-up for long trips with pillion passenger as well as luxury touring features.

With a total width of just 22″, the engine is only slightly wider than a current large-volume 4-cylinder in-line engine. In order to keep the width as low as possible, the electrical ancillary units and their drive units were moved behind the crankshaft into the free space above the gearbox. The ideal concentration of masses at the center of the vehicle makes for an optimum center of gravity and outstanding handling. The engine of the K 1600 models is about 3.9″ narrower than all 6-cylinder in-line engines previously used in serial motorcycle production. This makes the engine not only the most compact but also the lightest 6-cylinder in-line engine for a serial production motorcycle, weighing just 226 lbs.

When the rider activates the free-moving clutch lever, torque is transmitted from the crankshaft to a self-energising 10-disc wet clutch with anti-hopping function via a straight-toothed primary drive – so as to ensure that the high level of force is delivered gently.

Obviously, there’s much more there, but you get the idea.  If you’re like me, your only question now is, “When can I ride it?”

2011 BMW K1600GTL first look

The first–grainy, low-res images of the 2011 BMW K1600GTL have been leaked.

2011 BMW K1600GTL
2011 BMW K1600GTL
2011 BMW K1600GTL - Front View
2011 BMW K1600GTL - Front View

Being the flagship BMW tourers, it will have all sorts of goodies on it.  Over and above the I-6 engine with 160HP and 129 ft-lbs of torque.  One thing it will have is adaptive headlights that sense when the bike is leaning into a turn, and pints the headlights into the turn. Another fancy bit is the motorcycle version of the iDrive system in BMW cars: a full-color screen that incorporates the integrated GPS, audio display, and probably the setup screen, showing what you’ve set the suspension settings to, tire pressure, etc.

No real specs on the bike as to dimensions and whatnot are available yet.

But really, what I’m waiting to see are the specs for is the sister GT model, which is replacing the K1300GT.  It should be a lot lighter than the GTL, and a lot faster than the current GT.

129 ft-lbs of torque.  I bet it’ll have arm-wrenching acceleration. I can’t wait to test ride it.

UPDATE: More info and official pics can be found at this entry that offers a rundown from the official unveiling at INTERMOT.

Adventure-Tourer Shootout

Motorcycle USA runs a head-to-head adventurer tourer test between the BMX R1200GS, the new Ducati Multistrada 1200S, and the Triumph Tiger 1050, a bike that looks to be making an exit from the Triumph line-up this next year, with the advent of two brand new Triumph adventure bikes.  Read the full review for the details, but the Triumph, as always, gives you full value for the money you spend on it.  Does it beat the Panzerkampfwagen that is the GS or the hyperdrive-powered MTS?  Tough question.  It beats the GS on the street, and the Multistrada off-road, so it’s probably a better all-rounder.

But, though I’ve never ridden the Tiger 1050, I’d throw my personal lot with the MTS1200.  It’s an unbeatable streetbike in this category.  Occasional forays on well-maintained dirt or gravel roads won’t rouble it, but I’m not really likely to do much of that.

I’d pick the MTS, for the lighter weight and amazing quickness and maneuverability on the street.

But, I have to say, for the price, Triumph is about the hardest brand of bike to beat.  They really do make value-priced bikes that do what they’re advertised to do.  And, with the money you save, you can always farkle them up.

iBike?

BMW iPhone App
BMW iPhone App

BMW always touts their 200,ooo-mile reliability (final drive issues notwithstanding).  But sometimes, even the most reliable bike has a problem.  And if you’re in a small town in the middle of nowhere–especially on a bike where dealers who can service it are few and far between–getting stranded can be a problem.

But, BMW has just released an iPhone app to help out. And it apparently it’s just chock full of cool stuff:

Compatibility with any registered BMW Motorrad model in the United States (models from 1981 onward).

Expedited handling of BMW Motorrad USA Roadside Assistance requests.

Automatic sharing of GPS location and motorcycle details (color, model, etc.) between the BMW Motorrad USA Roadside Assistance call center and the Motorcycle rider.

Direct telephone access to BMW contact information, including authorized BMW Motorrad Dealers, BMW Motorrad Customer Relations, and of course BMW Motorrad USA Roadside Assistance

You can add up to four different motorcycles to the app–each with it’s own picture–storing the colors, VIN, etc, in the app.  So, if you need help, you can just go to your iPhone, and get roadside assistance whenever you need it.

As long as you can get a signal, of course.

Now, they just need to get cracking on an app for Android.

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WANT!

BMW has announced two new motorcycles built on a brand new Inline-6 powerplant.  The K1600GT will presumably replace the K1300GT, while the K1600GTL will replace the K1200LT.

The powerplant is definitely the atttraction on these bikes. Weighing in at only 226 lbs, the motor puts out 160HP at 7,500 RPM and…wait for it…129 lb/ft of torque at 5,000 RPM.  BMW also indicates that over 70% of maximum torque will be available from 1,500 rpm.  So, right from a standing start, we’re talking 90 lb/ft of torque. That’s arm-wrenching acceleration worthy of a literbike.  Indeed, compare and contrast to the 193 HP S1000RR, whose maximum torque is 83 lb/ft at 9,750 RPM.

Alas, there are no pictures of the bikes from BMW yet, except for a couple of crappy concept drawings that I’m uninterested in showing, as they are probably more misleading than accurate.

But from the specs, it looks like a monster power-tourer, with about 5 more horsepower hitting the ground at the rear wheel, and 27 lb/ft more torque than the current power king of sport-tourers, the Kawasaki Concours14.

The only remaining question will be how much it’ll set back your wallet to acquire the Beemer.

BMW R1200GS First Ride Reports

Motorcycle Daily reports on their first ride of the new BMW R1200GS.  They really liked it, especially the new engine’s astonishingly wide power band.

Meanwhile, Motorcycle USA was along for that trip, too, and they note:

Whether
or not you opt for the Special Edition or an upgraded package on either model, both machines are phenomenal in their performance. They’re the same old lovable Adventure Touring bikes we’ve come to expect from the propeller gang. We wish we could say the new motor is a vast improvement over the old version, but the circumstances and the time gap in our memory make that difficult. While we couldn’t readily detect a difference in engine performance (that’ll have to wait for dyno testing or a dry back-to-back evaluation) the German crew certainly hasn’t taken a step back.

Motorcycle.Com was also an hand, concluding:

The good news is the GS is still very much what the previous bike was, and that’s, well, good.

All in all, despite being unable to compare the older and new models side by side, everyone seems happy with it.

BMW: Getting it done

While most motorcycle manufactures are mired in the sales doldrums due to the worldwide economic recession, BMW is bucking the trend.

The BMW Motorcycle segment clearly exceeded last year’s sales in the first three months of this year: Sales were 20.9% higher at 20,840 units (17,232). In March 2010, 11,541 motorcycles – an increase of 26.8% – were delivered to customers (prev. yr . 9,100).

And in some countries, such as the UK, sales are setting records, with 1,539 motorcycles sold in March, up 50% over the same month in 2009.

2010 BMW K1300S vs Honda VFR1200F Shootout – Motorcycle.com

Motorcycle.Com has the results of their shootout between the BMW K1300S and the Honda VFR1200F.  On paper the bikes are a really close match with the Beemer putting out 146.8HP and the Honda throwing out 146.4 HP.  BMW has the edge in torque, though, with higher torque all along the rev line, except at the tippy top, and maxing out at 89.6 ft-lb compared to the VFR’s 82 ft-lb.  The BMW hit max torque 700RPM shorter, too.

On the other hand, they write that the Honda is easier to ride, more maneuverable, more comfortable, and carries its weight better than the BMW.  Both bikes sport about 5-gallon tanks, so neither one is all that impressive when it comes to touring range.

So, what’s the bottom line?

“Although the BMW may not have the utter refinement of the Honda, I wouldn’t be ashamed or regretful of having a K1300S in my garage if I’d purchased one and then later had the chance to ride a VFR1200F,” says Pete. “Furthermore, the practical techy options like anti-spin control, ESA II, etc, that have real-world application raise the K13’s’s price by only $1,800 more than the Honda’s, making a case for the BMW being the better value. Frankly, the BMW’s Premium Package option is simply worth the added cost over base MSRP, especially so if you amortize that $1,800 across the term of a loan.”

The price on the Honda is the kicker.  For what you get for the money, I’d agree that the BMW is probably a better deal.  You really do have to ride a BMW to really get how good the ESA is.  And the BMW cruise control really is excellent.

I really wanted to like the new VFR a lot, but this 1st-gen model doesn’t seem to quite have “it” at the price Honda’s asking you to shell out.