The K 1600 has been around for a while now, and its most noted feature is the inline six-cylinder engine that powers it. BMW has a well-deserved reputation when it comes to brilliant inline six-cylinder engines, particularly in its automotive division.
The big straight-six powering our test bike has been revised for this new model year to comply with Euro 5 emissions standards. In the process, the motor makes the same claimed 160 hp, now at a lower RPM, and torque has been bumped up to 132 foot/pounds.
Other changes to the 2022 model include an automatic suspension sag adjustment feature that keeps the bike balanced front-to-rear, regardless of loads, with a single rider, rider with passenger, etc. This is a feature that allows the rider to trust the bike will fully compensate for any weight added to the machine.
Another relatively striking new feature is the huge 10.25″ TFT display. As motorcycles have moved away from the old, low contrast, black-and-white displays of yesteryear, the high contrast, colorful TFT displays are now relatively commonplace, but this new BMW display has to be at the top when it comes to the amount of information and the legibility. Quite impressive.
Listing all of the bells and whistles is a difficult task with this bike. Three rider modes are available, including Dynamic, Road and Rain. In addition to adjusting throttle response, with Dynamic being the most … well, dynamic, these different modes also provide unique suspension damping from the semi-active system. Of course, ABS is standard, and an IMU allows it to adjust in real time for cornering and other loads.
Of course, as a top shelf, German luxury tourer, there is cruise control, heated seats, heated grips, integrated, lockable, luggage, electrically-adjustable windshield height, and the ability to integrate your cell phone to provide all sorts of navigation information and music through the dash and speakers.
About the only thing missing is adaptive cruise control, which is now available on some of the competition, and even some of BMW’s other models. Undoubtedly, this feature will show up on the K 1600 models eventually.
The ergonomics are, as you might expect, designed to keep the rider comfortable, and out of the wind. The comfort is superb, and the adjustable windscreen allows riders of different heights to dial in wind protection without buffeting. Adjustable heat at the grips and the seat just make things all the nicer.
But what is it like to ride? As you might expect, this is an extremely heavy motorcycle … a claimed 756 pounds. It has a reverse gear, which is more than helpful when needed. At low speeds, the rider has to be careful with balance, but once moving above 10 mph, or so, the big bike belies its weight.
The self-leveling suspension, whether in the softer Road setting or the stiffer Dynamic setting, provides good feedback and control. The bike changes direction easily, and holds a line predictably while cornering. The only negative we found was associated with the condition of the rear tire on our test unit, which was decidedly squared off and led to a “falling in“ sensation at times when turning.
Most riders of a bike in this category will be happy with the semi-active suspension, but this is not a sport bike. The suspension, even in the stiffer Dynamic setting, is not designed to hustle on tight twisty roads. Admittedly, it handles very well for a large, heavy luxury tourer, but don’t expect it to keep up with lighter, more nimble machinery in the canyons.
The bike’s main mission is eating highway miles, and at that task it is superb. Just about any size rider can find a comfortable position, and adjust the windshield to properly manage airflow. Riders with longer inseams might find the pegs a tad high, but that was not an issue for our 5’11” tester. The big inline six-cylinder engine is, once again, the real highlight.
The engine is silky smooth and powerful. Forward thrust is effortless, and the sound and feel from the engine is addictive. Smooth as silk, but packing a punch from the mid-range on up. Together with the comfortable ergonomics, it is hard to imagine a better two-wheeled machine for inhaling long stretches of highway. The seven gallon fuel tank is a perfect complement.
The only criticisms we have might not be important to you. The case beneath the windshield that holds your smart phone is cramped and difficult to use. The low speed handling, as we pointed out earlier, can catch a rider out if he/she isn’t careful. The bike is top-heavy.
It is also expensive. The base price is $23,895, but our test unit had some options, including the premium package at $3,000, mineral white metallic paint at $1,900 and a saddle brown seat at $250. This puts the total price close to $30,000. The premium package includes a quick shifter (in both directions), upgraded audio and keyless ignition with central locking and alarm system.
Nevertheless, a loaded Honda Gold Wing is in the same ballpark pricewise, and if covering long distances in luxury and comfort is your deal, you need to look closely at BMW’s K 1600 line of motorcycles.