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“But suddenly, a new contender has emerged…” (Seinfeld, The Apartment)

The new revealed BMW K 1600 is obviously aimed to withdrew the Gold Wing as the undisputed touring champion. It’s not just a big motorcycle with luggage, these we have a lot, like the Yamaha FJR 1300 or Big twins like Harley and Victory tourers.

This BMW is all business. It’s full of electronics and comfort, it’s big and spacious, and most importantly has an in-line SIX engine, that pumps 70% of it’s torque, already at a super low 1500 rpms. With 1,649 cc, it puts out 118 kW (160 bhp) at  7,500 rpm with a maximum torque of approx. 175 Nm at 5000 rpm, that’s 17 kgm of mountain moving torque.
BMW claims that the engine is no wider than an inline four. “…Compact construction and reduced width was achieved in particular by means of a just slightly undersquare stroke-bore ratio of 67.5 to 72 m”m (0.938) with a relatively long stroke and very small cylinder center distance spacings of 77 m”m.” – meaning, wall thickness between the cylinders is 5 m”m only. Engine alone weighs 102.6 kg. Yes, an inline six was not necessary for power, as a four cylinder 1600 engine would also do the job, but choosing a 6 cylinders is both manufacturing strategy and a fashion statement. In practicality, the more cylinders you have in a given engine, the more smooth its power delivery will be, so here is another bonus for choosing a six.

The K1600 is also equipped with lots of electronics for comfort, and safety as well. The head light is equipped with a servomotor in its reflector mirror which ensures that the road is illuminated to optimum effect on every bend. The servomotor automatically compensates for the banking angle of the motorcycle while cornering, directing the light cone onto the road at an optimum angle.
Electronics and features also include:

  • Warmed seats and grips
  • Tire pressure reading
  • Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA)
  • Audio system
  • Navigation system
  • Electric operated front wind shield
  • Electric locking system for luggage and docked gadgets
  • 3 mode selector to chose preferred engine power delivery (“Rain”, “Road”, “Dynamic”)
  • Dynamic traction control (DTC)

From looking at the spec chart and some photos, the K1600 is more sportier than the Gold Wing, in terms of sport-touring performance. It also seem to have a better leaning ability. It is considerably lighter and shorter in wheelbase. How will it handle the iconic GL1800 in terms of sales? only time and price tag will tell.

4/2011 UPDATE: Base pricing for the K1600GTL model is $23,000, while the K1600GT will sell for $20,900. Premium packages will raise price to $25,845 and $24,540 respectively.

Here is a little comparison spec chart I’ve made, of the BMW K1600 VS the Honda Gold Wing GL1800:

BMW K1600
HONDA GL1800
Engine type:Inline six (side by side)Boxer six (opposed pistons)
Displacement:1649cc1832cc
Bore × stroke:72 mm × 67.5 mm74.0 x 71.0 mm
Power:160.44 HP (118 kW) @ 7750 rpm (crankshaft measure) 118.00 HP (86.1 kW) @ 5500 RPM (?)
Torque:175 Nm (17.84 kgf-m) @ 5250 rpm (crankshaft measure) 167.00 Nm (17.0 kgf-m or 123.2 ft.lbs) @ 4000 RPM
Compression:12:2:19.8:1
Valve train:DOHC; four valves per cylinderSOHC; two valves per cylinder
Gear box:6 speed5 speed
Overall Length:2489 mm (97.99 inches)2635 mm (103.7 inches)
Wheelbase:1618 mm (63.7 inches)1,689 mm (66.5 inches)
Curb Weight (ready to ride weight):319 kg (K1600 GT without panniers)
& 348 kg (K1600 GTL with panniers+topcase)
401 -420 kg (886-926 pounds) depending on option packages selected.
Front Brakes:Dual full-floating 320mm discs, 2-piston calipersDual full-floating 296mm discs, 3-piston calipers
Fuel:26.5 L24.98 L (6.60 gallons)
Price:20,900$ to 25,845$ depending on model and package22,899$ base msrp

The K1600 unveiled at the “Jay Leno’s Garage” show:

BMW’s new Adaptive Headlight demonstration:

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