It’s A Fast And Nimble Sporty Tourer

BMW Motorrad embraces the American style for its full-dress tourbikes, and the K 1600 GTL represents the pinnacle of that genre. Built for luxe comfort with an eye toward safety, the “GTL” brings all the top-shelf gadgets to the table along with over a liter-and-a-half of flat-six performance placing it well into the power-tourer bracket. The factory also blessed it with the “Spezial” treatment that brings factory-custom touches to lend the line an extra element of exclusivity.

  • 2011 - 2019 BMW K 1600 GTL
  • Year:
    2011- 2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-6
  • Displacement:
    1649 cc
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph
  • Price:
    25995
  • Price:

BMW K 1600 GTL Design

2011 - 2019 BMW K 1600 GTL
- image 847363
The GTL presents a rather tour-tastic face to the world that exudes an air of comfort and stability.

Since comfort was a front-burner design consideration, the K 1600 GTL leads off with a broad fairing and vented windshield that combats road fatigue by minimizing the head-buffet effect where the wind pocket and slipstream meet. A xenon headlight recessed in the face rocks Beemer’s self-leveling tech so it puts more light where you need it and less where you don’t. In addition, there’s a pair of driving lights to help split the night. The front blinkers are cleanly mounted at the inboard edges of the cowl scoop and a set of DRL rings finish out the forward lighting.

A pair of round analog gauges for the speedo and tach sit behind the glass, along with an LCD multi-function display to wrap up the instrumentation. The handlebar has quite a bit of pullback in the riser area to deliver tiller-style steering, and the grips come heated for those intrepid cold-weather riders out there.

A voluminous, seven-gallon fuel tank defines the flyline with an almost sportbike-like hump that drops off to the heated saddle, and the seat height itself can be adjusted to suit a range of body types. The stock seat adjusts between 32 and 32.6 inches with an optional low seat that measures in at 30-to-31.5 inches off the ground. No matter which you choose, the p-pad is heated too, so you can share the fun with a friend, year ’round.

There’s a bit of a hop up to the pillion that acts to cup and support your derriere while lofting your passenger, and of course, the top case acts as a full backrest with wide, fold-up footpegs and generous J.C. handles for the remaining points of contact. Hard-side, color-matched saddlebags wrap up the dry storage and give the GTL a capacity for long-distance touring right out of the box.

An LED taillight/turn-signal assembly finishes out the rearward lighting and the plateholder dominates the rear fender below the emitters. Overall, the GTL presents a rather tour-tastic face to the world that exudes an air of comfort and stability.

BMW K 1600 GTL Chassis

2011 - 2019 BMW K 1600 GTL
- image 837241
The K 1600 GTL has an agility that belies its mass and puts it on similar turf as the corner-loving Honda Gold Wing.

The main structure for the K 1600 GTL is an aluminum bridge-type frame that uses the engine as a stressed member to keep the overall weight down, although it still remains rather weighty at 772 pounds soaking wet. Beemer’s Paralever rear suspension floats the rear end with its peculiar Duolever arrangement up front that sports a central coil-over strut for support and damping rather than the usual hydraulic fork setup.

As for ride-quality tweaks, the GTL doesn’t come with anything as quaint as a manually adjustable system, oh no. It rocks the factory’s Dynamic ESA system that electronically monitors vehicle attitude and riding conditions so it can automatically dial its damping values in for the ultimate in comfort and convenience. That’s right, no need for tools and dirty knees, the machine takes care of everything all by itself.

Symmetrical, cast-aluminum, 17-inch wheels round out the rolling chassis with a 120/70 hoop up front opposite a 190/55, and the rubber comes with a ZR rating just like the top-end crotch rockets so it will handle anything you can throw at it.

BMW Motorrad’s own proprietary ABS Pro adds to the electronics suite so you get the most out of the anchors. Dual, 320 mm discs and four-pot calipers slow the front wheel with another 320 mm disc and twin-pot caliper out back to complete the brakeage.

It’s a big bike, no doubt about it, but the 27.8-degree steering head and 4.2 inches of trail lend the GTL an agility that belies its mass and puts it on similar turf as the corner-loving Honda Gold Wing.

Frame: Aluminum bridge-type frame with load-bearing engine
Front wheel/Suspension Travel: BMW Duolever; central spring strut/ 4.5 inches
Rear wheel/Suspension Travel: BMW Paralever/ 5.3 inches
Castor: 4.2” (106.4 mm)
Steering head angle: 62.2°
Wheels: Cast aluminum wheels
Rim, front: 3.50 x 17"
Rim, rear: 6.00 x 17"
Tire, front: 120/70 ZR 17
Tire, rear: 190/55 ZR 17
Brake, front: Dual 320 mm floating disc brakes, 4-piston fixed calipers
Brake, rear: Single 320 mm disc brake, dual-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral)

BMW K 1600 GTL Drivetrain

2011 - 2019 BMW K 1600 GTL
- image 837243
It's a big, heavy bike but that weight falls away when you get on the throttle; acceleration is crisp.

Power comes from a liquid-cooled inline-six plant that delivers an impressive 160 ponies at 7,750 rpm backed up by 129 pound-feet of torque at 5,250 rpm for top speeds somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 mph (individual results may vary). The electronic engine controls take their cue from a ride-by-wire throttle system with a Dynamic Traction Control feature to protect the rear contact patch from your overeager right wrist.

In addition to the DTC, a trio of Riding Modes come with the stock equipment package that allows you to dial in the appropriate power delivery for the prevalent conditions. This and the DTC are integrated for an operational synergy that makes for easy attitude adjustments on the fly. Power from the six-banger flows through a six-speed gearbox that rocks helical-cut gears for strength and quiet operation then heads to the rear wheel via shaft drive.

Dual over-head cams actuate a quartet of poppets per cylinder. Each bore mikes out at 72 mm with a 67.5 mm stroke to give the mill its 1,649 cc displacement and 12.2-to-1 compression ratio. In the exhaust system you’ll find a three-way catalytic converter that burns off any remaining free hydrocarbons in the exhaust stream to work with the precise electronic fuel injection in order to help the engine meets its target EU-4 emissions standard.

Engine: Liquid cooled, 4-stroke in-line 6-cylinder engine, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication
Bore x stroke: 72 mm x 67.5 mm
Displacement: 1,649 cc
Rated output: 160 hp (118 kW) at 7,750 rpm
Max. torque: 129 lb-ft (175 Nm) at 5,250 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.2:1
Mixture control / engine management: Electronic fuel injection with ride-by-wire throttle system
Emission control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-4
Clutch: Multi-plate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
Gearbox: Constant-mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical cut gears
Drive: Shaft drive 2.75:1

BMW K 1600 GTL Pricing

2011 - 2019 BMW K 1600 GTL
- image 847367
MSRP starts at $26k with Option 719 choices available.

The base model K 1600 GTL rolls for $25,995 in Light White or select the “Style Pkg. Elegance” option and go for the Pollux Metallic (green) finish. Chip in another $1,800 and you can choose from the Option 719 palette that offers Blue Planet Metallic or Sparkling Storm Metallic. The factory offers a range of luxe items under its Option 719 program to include forged wheels and a diamond-pattern Spezial (sic) Brown seat to name a few.

PackageFeaturesAdditional Price
Comfort Keyless Ride, Gear Shift Assist Pro, Central Locking System, LED Auxiliary Lights, Anti Theft Alarm System + $0
Style pkg. Elegance Pollux Metallic + $750
Select Adaptive Headlight, Keyless Ride, Gear Shift Assist Pro, Central Locking System, Tire Pressure Monitor, LED Auxiliary Lights, Anti Theft Alarm System, Engine Protection Bar + $2,550

BMW K 1600 GTL Competitors

2018 Indian Motorcycle Roadmaster Elite - How Does It Stack Up To The Competition?
- image 724898
2011 - 2019 BMW K 1600 GTL
- image 847361
Price is a point of contention since the Roadmaster Elite fetches around 10 grand more, and that offset is liable to make the K 1600 GTL quite attractive in spite of its less-than-domestic looks.

No doubt about it, the K 1600 GTL is built to compete in the U.S. tourbike market, but rather than grabbing the Honda Gold Wing or the usual Harley-Davidson product, I want to give the other American manufacturer a shot. With that in mind, I grabbed the Roadmaster Elite from Indian Motorcycle, and here we go.

The “Elite” carries itself with more of a traditional American panache, which is unsurprising given the marque’s history. I don’t mind saying that the difference in looks are going to draw slightly different buyers though I expect there to be a healthy overlap at the end of the day. To sweeten the deal, Indian threw in plenty of Easter Eggs that those familiar with the brand will recognize from years past. I’m talking about little gems such as the full, valenced front fender complete with the iconic war bonnet ornament, the enclosed rear end and rear fender, and the faux-flathead powerplant.

Indian’s Ride Command feature brings infotainment to the table along with Ride Modes and ABS similar to the Beemer, but TC is conspicuously absent to give BMW an edge in safety electronics. The engine is a massive, 1,811 cc (111 cubic-inch) V-twin that mimics the lumps of old with parallel pushrod tubes and a cooling-fin look to the rocker-box covers to finish off the dated impression.

Indian’s torque figures are impressive at 119 pound-feet at a low three grand, but it still falls short of the grunt that the GTL’s flat-six mill brings to the table. To make matters worse for the American marque, price is a point of contention since the 2019 Roadmaster Elite fetches a $36,999 price, and at around 10 grand less, that offset is liable to make the K 1600 GTL quite attractive in spite of its less-than-domestic looks.

He Said

“Holy cow sports fans, that’s a lot of power for a tourbike, even one as heavy as the Beemer. Methinks the German engineers have been misled, ’cause over here, we have nothing to compare to the Autobahn, and you’ll never do that inline-six plant justice on our public roads; not without upsetting the folks anyway. Oh yeah, and the price difference is a perfect example of what’s wrong with using union labor to build your bikes. Just sayin’.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “You know, it really all depends on what you want out of a bike whether you will go for the K 1600 GTL or the Gold Wing. Yeah, I know it’s very popular to compare this to the Honda, but it’s hard not to make that comparison. My take is that the Gold Wing has a better sound system, but the K 1600 GTL is a sportier ride. I mean, c’mon; a tourbike with a quick shifter, up and down? And it’s surprisingly nimble for a big ol’ bike. I think it thinks it’s a sportbike with bags and a top case. As far as touring goes, the K 1600 GTL has a big fuel tank and the seat is very comfortable so it scores points there. Honestly, though, it’s due for an update. The Gold Wing was updated last year — it’s first update in like a decade — and the K 1600 GTL looks rather dated in comparison.”

BMW K 1600 GTL Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid cooled, 4-stroke in-line 6-cylinder engine, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication
Bore x stroke: 72 mm x 67.5 mm
Displacement: 1,649 cc
Rated output: 160 hp (118 kW) at 7,750 rpm
Max. torque: 129 lb-ft (175 Nm) at 5,250 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.2:1
Mixture control / engine management: Electronic fuel injection with ride-by-wire throttle system
Emission control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-4
Clutch: Multi-plate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
Gearbox: Constant-mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical cut gears
Drive: Shaft drive 2.75:1
Chassis:
Frame: Aluminum bridge-type frame with load-bearing engine
Front wheel/Suspension Travel: BMW Duolever; central spring strut/ 4.5 inches
Rear wheel/Suspension Travel: BMW Paralever/ 5.3 inches
Castor: 4.2” (106.4 mm)
Steering head angle: 62.2°
Wheels: Cast aluminum wheels
Rim, front: 3.50 x 17"
Rim, rear: 6.00 x 17"
Tire, front: 120/70 ZR 17
Tire, rear: 190/55 ZR 17
Brake, front: Dual 320 mm floating disc brakes, 4-piston fixed calipers
Brake, rear: Single 320 mm disc brake, dual-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral)
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 98” (2,489 mm)
Width (incl. Mirrors): 39.4” (1,000 mm)
Height (excl. mirrors): 58.1” (1,475 mm)
Wheelbase: 63.7” (1,618 mm)
Seat height, unladen weight: High Front Seat (two-piece): 31.9"/32.7", Extra High Seat: 31.9", Low Front Seat (two-piece): 30.7"/31.5", High Seat (one-piece): 30.7", Standard Seat: 29.5"
Inner leg curve, unladen weight: High Front Seat (two-piece): 72"/73.6", Extra High Seat: 72", Low Front Seat (two-piece): 69.9"/71.3", High Seat (one-piece): 69.7", Standard Seat: 67.7"
Unladen weight, road ready, fully fueled: 772 lbs (350 kg)
Permitted total weight: 1,235 lbs (560 kg)
Payload (with standard equipment): 463 lbs (210 kg)
Usable tank volume: 7.0 gal (26.5 l)
Reserve: Approx. 1 gal (4.0 l)
Maximum speed: Over 125 mph
Fuel consumption: 41 mpg (WMTC)
Electricals:
Alternator: Three-phase 700 W alternator
Battery: 12 V / 19 Ah, maintenance free
Details:
Fuel type: Premium Unleaded
Standard Features: ABS Pro, DTC (Dynamic Traction Control), Xenon Headlight with Dynamic Leveling, Heated Seats (Rider & Passenger), Cruise Control, Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment), Heated Grips, Stepless Power Adjustable Windshield, Multifunction Display, Center Stand, Saddle Bags in Body Color, 3 Ride Modes (Rain/Road/Dynamic), LED Tail Light, Audio System (with Bluetooth, Radio, GPS Prep, and Sirius), Bluetooth Interface Control, Chrome Body Kit, Comfort Foot Rests, GPS Preparation, Hill Start Control Pro, On-Board Computer, One Piece Bench Seat, Power Socket, Reverse Assist, Top Case with Comfort Backrest
Colors: Opt 719 Blue Planet Metallic, Opt 719 Sparkling Storm Metallic, Pollux Metallic, Light White
Price: $25,995

Further Reading

Indian Roadmaster Elite

2018 - 2019 Indian Motorcycle Roadmaster Elite
- image 838731

See our review of the Indian Roadmaster Elite.

Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour

2018 - 2019 Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour
- image 742336

See our review of the Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour.

BMW K 1600 B

2018 - 2019 BMW K 1600 B
- image 811326

See our review of the BMW K 1600 B.

BMW K 1600 Grand America

2018 - 2019 BMW K 1600 Grand America
- image 821663

See our review of the BMW K 1600 Grand America.

BMW K 1600 GT

2017 - 2019 BMW K 1600 GT
- image 786232

See our review of the BMW K 1600 GT.

BMW Motorrad

ALLYN IMAGES - DO NOT DELETE
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Read more BMW news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: bmwmotorcycles.com, honda.com, indianmotorcycle.com

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