It’s a fast and nimble sporty tourer

LISTEN 01:25

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.

  • 2017 - 2021 BMW K 1600 GTL
  • Year:
    2017- 2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-6
  • Displacement:
    1649 cc
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph
  • Price:
    26995
  • Price:

BMW K 1600 GTL Design

  • Xenon lighting
  • Redesigned styling
  • Heated seat
  • LCD multi-function display
2017 - 2021 BMW K 1600 GTL
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2017 - 2021 BMW K 1600 GTL
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2017 - 2021 BMW K 1600 GTL
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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 heated grips 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

  • Straight-line stability with eagerness in the corners
  • Dynamic electronic suspension
  • ABS Pro
  • Adjustable seat height
2017 - 2021 BMW K 1600 GTL
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2017 - 2021 BMW K 1600 GTL
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2017 - 2021 BMW K 1600 GTL
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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

  • Liquid-cooled 1,649 cc in-line six engine
  • 160 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque
  • Cruise control and dynamic traction control
  • Hill start control and reverse assist
2017 - 2021 BMW K 1600 GTL
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2017 - 2021 BMW K 1600 GTL
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2017 - 2021 BMW K 1600 GTL
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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. That works with the precise electronic fuel injection in order to help the engine meets its target EU-4 emissions standard.

Engine: Oil-/water-cooled 4-stroke in-line 6-cylinder engine, two overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder
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

2017 - 2021 BMW K 1600 GTL
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The base model 2021 K 1600 GTL rolls for $26,995 in Black Storm Metallic or select the “Style Elegance” option for $750 and go for the Manhattan Metallic finish. Chip in another $1,750 and you can choose the Option 719 in Mineral White Metallic.

Standard Features: ABS Pro, Audio system with Bluetooth, Cruise control, DTC (Dynamic Traction Control), Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment), HSC Pro, Multi-function controller, Reverse Assist, Seat heating, Xenon headlight
Colors: Manhattan metallic, Black Storm Metallic, Mineral white metallic
Price: $26,995

BMW K 1600 GTL Competitors

2020 Indian Roadmaster Elite
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2017 - 2021 BMW K 1600 GTL
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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.

Indian Roadmaster Elite

2018 - 2019 Indian Motorcycle Roadmaster Elite
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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, 1,890 cc (116 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 126 pound-feet at a low 3,100 rpm, but it still falls a tad short of the 129 pounds o’ 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 2021 Roadmaster Elite fetches two grand more than before with a $38,999 pricetag, and at over 10 grand less, that offset is liable to make the K 1600 GTL quite attractive with its $26,995 sticker in spite of its less-than-domestic looks.

Read our full review of the Indian Roadmaster Elite.

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 recently — 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: Oil-/water-cooled 4-stroke in-line 6-cylinder engine, two overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder
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: 40 mpg (WMTC)
Electric:
Alternator: Three-phase 700 W alternator
Battery: 12 V / 19 Ah, maintenance free
Details:
Fuel type: Premium Unleaded
Standard Features: ABS Pro, Audio system with Bluetooth, Cruise control, DTC (Dynamic Traction Control), Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment), HSC Pro, Multi-function controller, Reverse Assist, Seat heating, Xenon headlight
Colors: Manhattan metallic, Black Storm Metallic, Mineral white metallic
Price: $26,995

Further Reading

BMW Motorrad

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TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
About the author

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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