K 1600 GTL and K 1600 GT. The Joy of Six

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thumb INTERMOT 2010.

We had all seen the spy shots and taken in the pre-show info that had been freely distributed by BMW Motorrad


The Joy of Six. We had all seen the spy shots and taken in the pre-show info that had been freely distributed by BMW Motorrad but it was still a stunning moment when, earlier this month at INTERMOT in Cologne, head of BMW Motorrad design, David Robb, and BMW Motorrad boss, Hendrik von Kuenheim, removed the covers on the pair of Sixes.


Last year in Milan the Concept 6 ushered in the new six cylinder motor but now two distinct models, joined in a common design concept, were revealed; two dynamic motorcycles aimed at the luxury end of the touring market.

Both the K 1600 GT and K 1600 GTL share the same basic architecture but differ in the detail. The GTL is fully loaded with all the touring bling, while the GT is pared down slightly and, with a different seat and handlebar configuration, it has a more sporting (relatively speaking) stance. The open face headlight and surfaces highlighting the floating panels provide a distinctive look that instantly says ‘Touring’ but in a design that conveys a more dynamic and sporting ability than that of its immediate predecessor, the K 1200 LT.

The floating panels, which are now an integral part of BMW Motorrad design language, will give full protection from the elements but also the feeling of lightness and space. The electrically adjustable windshield and slipstream deflectors add to the functionally of the design and, on the GTL, a touch of chrome brings a feeling of understated elegance. Holding the bodywork in place is a magnesium alloy frame that weighs just less than 2 kg. The panniers and top box, an essential for the ultimate long distance tourer, flow with the design cues of the upper surfaces of the bike but not as car-like integrated units.

The lower design of the bike highlights the 6 cylinder power plant. It is not hidden from view but is subtly given place in the visual presence of the bike and, in case anyone is unsure, ‘6’ is stamped on the casing. The surrounding lower bodywork, that features a split front, is coloured to create lightness and this flows on to the frame and the twin mufflers; on the GTL in chrome, and the GT brushed stainless steel. The GT units also give a slightly more aggressive note.

Under the skin, the GT and GTL bristle with technology designed for rider comfort, convenience and to optimise the potential of the smooth, 6 cylinder motor. Throttle is controlled by E-gas, as BMW Motorrad dubs its fly-by-wire system, through the new BMS-X engine management system. The system adapts to individual riding patterns and changes in road conditions, and is designed to optimise fuel delivery for both power and fuel economy. At the push of a button on the right handlebar, the rider can redefine engine power characteristics to best suit conditions and riding style. ‘Rain’, ‘Road’ and ‘Dynamic’ options put the rider in control. This combines with the DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) (which can be deactivated) adapts to match the chosen program for increased riding pleasure and safety. Unlike other systems, lean angle is also worked into the program. ABS is a further addition to this modern motorcycle.

The GT and GTL are the first models to use the new 2010 CAN-bus electrical system Based on the previous generation, the latest version uses even less wire and features modified partitioning functions. There are now 16 control units, and each has a second control unit for all functions, giving greater flexibility and the ability to be adapted for future extensions. With all the extra functions on these flagship models, it is important that they perform reliably and without interfering with each other.

The dash has two classic dials, for speedo and tacho, and a 5.7 inch colour screen to display all the available functions: on-board computer, sound system, warning lights, ESA settings, hand grip and seat heating settings and the navigation system. These functions, which are easily accessed via the Multi Control wheel on the left-hand switch block, can be customised for individual preferences, making it simple and quick to use.

The audio system which is fully compatible with MP3 Players, iPods and USB sticks, has its play lists displayed and managed via the colour screen. Of course, Bluetooth compatibility for all audio and phone systems is standard. Sound comes from the speakers mounted in the fairing and top box or can be channelled into helmet earphones.

The clear faced headlight gives the bike, not only a striking face but, the added technology of Adaptive Headlight. The central, xenon projector module is controlled by front axel mounted sensors that keep the light beam level at all times. When cornering, a servo motor receives signals from a bank-angle sensor, and the beam is aimed into the bend to illuminate the road ahead. On either side of the central projector are two circular, high beam headlamps which have fibre optic illumination rings which add to the overall style. To further contribute to lighting, there are optional, additional, LED headlamps mounted down the leading edge of the fairing and, when the optional remote-control, central locking and alarm is fitted, LEDs light up the ground around the bike. Of course LEDs also take care of both the indicators and taillight.

Seating is differs between the two models. The GT has a two section seat that is height adjustable (810/830) in the rider area and is flatter in style, while the GTL has several seat options with the pillion seat offering maximum comfort. A single 750 or optional 780 are available or an adjustable 810/830. To match the seating, the foot peg position is more relaxed on the GTL. At the touch of a button, both rider and passenger can have their bottoms warmed.

At the front end, the Duolever looks after the front wheel and, at the back, a newly designed Paralever, with cast aluminium swing arm, comes equipped with ESA II to take the guess work out of suspension settings. The Cardan shaft and final drive are also newly developed to take account of the increase in power and torque available from the silky smooth 6. Connecting all the elements of the bike is a lightweight alloy bridge-type frame.

At the very heart of both bikes is the elegant 6 cylinder motor. Chosen for its inherent balance and smoothness, the engine has been developed to complement these two touring machines. The compact design has a low centre of gravity and many features that come directly from BMW’s long history of 6 cylinder car production and F1 racing. Developing a more than useful 118 kW (160 hp) at 7,750 rpm and 175 Nm of torque at 5,250 rpm, 70% of which is available from 1,500 rpm! Mated to a three shaft, 6 speed gearbox, the power and flexibility will be on hand in all conditions, either riding solo or two-up with gear packed for the big trip. It is the first 6 cylinder BMW motorcycle motor and it is a format that has been used sparingly throughout history and sets the GT and GTL apart from, not only the other BMW models but, the market in general.

Two models with an emphasis on comfort and dynamic, elongated design come in colours that match the distinct differences in their character. The GT in Light Grey metallic and Vermillion Red metallic with contrast frame and wheels in Ostra Grey with the engine in Platinum metallic. The GTL, with all the chrome trim, comes in Mineral Silver metallic or Royal Blue metallic to match the Magnesium metallic matt for frame and wheels highlighting the Platinum metallic engine cases. A further difference is their weight. The GT with its 24 L tank comes in at 319 kg (without panniers) and the GTL at 348 kg with 26.5 L of PULP in the tank.

David Robb and his team have created a stunning motorcycle that took centre stage at INTERMOT, the first of the year’s big shows. BMW Motorrad has produced a motorcycle with cutting edge technology in a package that is designed for riding. BMW Motorrad continues to build upon the success of recent years by grabbing market share at a time of downturn in the industry. New models into new market areas and, as we see with the K 1600 GT and K 1600 GTL, different interpretations of what luxury touring is all about.