Unmistakably "Bagger"

The bagger genre is a uniquely American phenomenon, and as such, it can be difficult to compete against the established domestic brands, but BMW does exactly that with its K 1600 B. At a glance, the “B” hits all the pertinent design high points, and under the hood, the thing is chock full of comfort and safety features to make the “B” capable of pulling double duty as a tour bike. If you’re into inches (no giggity), Beemer accommodates you with over a liter-and-a-half in its six-banger mill to make it capable of standing up to Honda’s Gold Wing — probably. So let’s dig into this Boulevard Bruiser and see how it actually compares to the hard data from Honda’s GW bagger.

  • 2018 - 2019 BMW K 1600 B
  • Year:
    2018- 2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-6
  • Displacement:
    1649 cc
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph
  • Price:
    20095
  • Price:

BMW K 1600 B Design

Low, wide and stable is what comes to mind when I look at this beast, and I'm sticking to that.

Yep, it’s a bagger alright. It has the requisite front fairing up front opposite a pair of hard bags with an otherwise clean rear end. In other words, a full dresser sans top case with a custom kick. It isn’t your typical American fare though; the way that the front fairing flares open below the Xenon headlight (with dynamic leveling) to form a sport-typical cowl, and that pushes it into sport-tour territory. This vibe is reinforced by the way the front wheel rides close to the scoop with quite a bit of visual heft above it, even though the panels quickly open up to give us a glimpse of the beating heart that lies beneath. In fact, the only concealment the forward body panels really offer is for the radiator and a handful of electronic components.

Up top, a cut-down windscreen swings the look back into custom territory, and it comes with stepless electrical adjustment so you can dial in for your height, even on the fly. Behind the glass is an instrument panel that comes complete with a pair of round analog clocks for speed and tach, plus two digital displays to cover all the bases and act as a rider-interface for the higher electronic functions. The handlebar is rather unusual with a yoke-style riser in the bar itself, rather than just on the tripletree, and that pushes the rider’s hands back for a relaxed riding posture and the kind of leverage you can only get from a tiller-type steering setup.

A voluminous seven-gallon fuel tank defines the flyline with a long slope down to the standard saddle that rides at 30.7 inches off the ground. If that’s too much of a stretch for ya’, you can opt for the accessory “low seat” that’ll sling your butt at a low 29.5 inches off the deck and give riders with shorter inseams a bit of a break.

A wide pillion pad provides your passenger with a nice cushy seat with a robust set of J.C. handles that double as cargo-net anchors, and like the pilot’s seat and handgrips, it’s heated to help expand your riding season into the shorter days. Stylized LED taillights follow the angles of the panniers and do the job of both the taillight and the blinkers to leave the rear end nice and clean. Low, wide and stable is what comes to mind when I look at this beast, and I’m sticking to that.

BMW K 1600 B Chassis

2018 - 2019 BMW K 1600 B
- image 811326
The Duolever suspension might seem unusual at first, unless you're a long-time fan of the brand, then it's just another day in the office.

An aluminum, bridge-type frame forms the bulk of the structure, and the engine is a stressed member that completes the assembly to increase rigidity without adding weight. Beemer’s signature Duolever suspension supports the front end with what looks like a standard telescopic fork, until you take a look into the nethers under the headlight and note the single, coil-over shock that does all the work. Yeah, it’s unusual, unless you’re a long-time fan of the brand, then it’s just another day in the office.

Out back, BMW’s Paralever system does its bit with 4.9 inches of travel to go with the 4.5 inches up front, and both ends benefit from the Dynamic ESA that electronically adjusts the suspension, in real time, to the riding conditions. Not only does this increase traction, but it also gives comfort a boost and relieves you of having to manually adjust your stems.

Cast-aluminum rims round out the rolling chassis with a ZR-rated 120/70 up front and 190/55 out back, both 17 inchers. The wide, 27.8-degree steering rake and 4.2-inch trail boosts stability and cross-wind tracking and the 63.7-inches long wheelbase helps with that as well. That’s good, ’cause this ride has definitely got some windage, even if it isn’t quite as severe as it would be with a tall screen and top case.

ABS Pro comes stock, and it helps manage the dual, four-pot calipers up front and a single-pot out back with 320 mm discs all around. That’s plenty of brakeage, but at 741 pounds wet, you’ve got plenty of energy to manage, and I imagine it will take every bit of it to haul this thing down once it has a full head of steam. As a final bit of lagniappe, a Hill Start Control Pro comes with the standard equipment package, and it holds the rear brake for you so you can deploy both training wheels for takeoffs on a grade.

Frame: Aluminum bridge-type frame with load-bearing engine
Front Suspension/Travel: BMW Duolever; central spring strut/4.5” (115 mm)
Rear Suspension/Travel: BMW Paralever/4.9” (125 mm)
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 floating disc brakes, 4-piston fixed calipers, diameter 320 mm
Brake, Rear: Single disc brake, diameter 320 mm, dual-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral)

BMW K 1600 B Drivetrain

2018 - 2019 BMW K 1600 B
- image 811333
It has ample power to deliver a ride that is as lively under way as its sporty front end suggests.

The beating heart is an inline six shoehorned transversely in the frame with a forward cant that both reduces the apparent height of the engine and shortens it for a more compact installation than you could otherwise achieve. Like most liquid-cooled mills, it doesn’t really add much to the overall aesthetic, and the factory shot it with black paint so as to minimize its visual impact.

Oversquare, it rocks a 72 mm bore and 67.5 mm stroke that gives it a sizzlin’ hot 12.2-to-1 compression ratio and a total cubeage of 1,649 cc. Dual over-head cams time the 24-valve head, and yeah, with four valves per bore, it really opens up the combustion chamber and lets it breathe for efficient induction and exhaust-gas scavenging. A Ride-by-Wire throttle control conveys the rider’s wishes to the engine control computer, but that signal is modified by a number of gadgets. It starts with a trio of ride modes — Rain, Road, and Dynamic — so you can dial in your engine’s personality to suit the conditions, or just your whims.

Next, the Dynamic Traction Control feature monitors wheel speeds and intervenes by reducing power when a speed differential is detected to limit/prevent wheel slip when an overzealous right wrist meets less-than-ideal conditions. Cruise control adds a final bit of convenience, and lemme’ tell ya’; it’s impossible to overstate the value of being able to give your throttle hand a break once in a while, I promise.

What does all this get you? Well, the “B” clocks in with a truckload of power. It claims a whopping 160 ponies at 7,750 rpm, and that’s backed up by 129 pounds of soul-crushing torque that comes on fully at 5,250 rpm. Even with its loaded weight that’ll be pushing half-a-ton or more, the power figures point to a ride that is as lively under way as its sporty front end suggests.

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: 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 B Pricing

2018 - 2019 BMW K 1600 B
- image 811335
MSRP starts at $20.1k, but between the top-shelf options and accessories, you'll not be left wanting for lack of ways to beef up the final ticket.

Pick between the black-on-black, Black Storm Metallic, or the blue-over-black Imperial Blue Metallic (my fave). The base model starts at $20,095, but between the top-shelf options and accessories, you’ll not be left wanting for lack of ways to beef up the final ticket.

PackageIncludesAdd’l Cost
Safety Plus: Adaptive Headlight, TPM +$800
Premium: Bluetooth Interface Control, Keyless Ride, Gear Shift Assist Pro, Audio System with Radio/Sirius/GPS Prep, Floorboards, Radio Software, Central Locking System, Windshield High, LED Auxiliary Lights, Reverse Assist, Anti-Theft Alarm System, Add’l Speakers, Engine Protection Bar, Topcase +$5,500
Select: Bluetooth Interface Control, Keyless Ride, Audio System with Radio/Sirius/GPS Prep, Floorboards, Radio Software, Central Locking System, LED Auxiliary Lights, Reverse Assist, Anti-Theft Alarm System, Engine Protection Bar +$3,900

BMW K 1600 B Competitors

2018 - 2019 Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour
- image 742329
2018 - 2019 BMW K 1600 B
- image 811329
BMW trounces Honda at the dyno and since they weigh fairly close on the scales, that's a power difference that'll make itself apparent to even the numbest heinie-dyno.

From the get-go, I knew that Honda’s new Gold Wing was going to be my Huckleberry, so let’s see how the 2019 stacks up. Right off the bat, you’ll notice that the “GW” has the right look, even if the body panels cover up even more of the innards. Of course, that flat-six, opposed-piston powerplant protrudes a skosh on each side, as always, so it’s every bit as wide as the Beemer’s six-pack.

Chopped-down, electrically adjustable glass (plastic, whatever) delivers some protection and gives the GW a custom-flavor much like the “B’s”, and of course, the clean rear end enforces the bagger-tastic vibe. As far as the subtleties go, I prefer the look of the Beemer, ’cause the GW still carries too much plastic for my taste. Is it just me?

Like BMW, Honda uses an atypical front end with a double-wishbone instead of telescopic/hydraulic forks to soak up the bumps, and an all-aluminum frame in an effort to keep weight down. Since the 2019 model weighs in a whopping 90 pounds lighter than the previous gen, I’d call those efforts a solid success. Not only that, but the flat-six puts the weight low in the frame for an overall lower center of gravity than our Bavarian friend. The suspension isn’t quite as slick as Beemer’s but it does come with an electronic suspension preload feature that’ll let you switch up according to passenger/cargo loads with the push of a button.

Honda’s mill runs a square layout with a 73 mm bore and stroke for an overall displacement of 1,833 cc. You’d think that greater cubeage would give the Honda the lion’s share of the power, but in this case, not so much. Honda claims 116 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque for a thorough trouncing by Beemer at the dyno, and since it weighs in at 787 pounds wet, that’s a power difference that’ll make itself apparent to even the numbest heinie-dyno.

He Said

“As loathe as I am to admit to being so shallow, the difference in looks is enough to make me prefer the Deutscher product. Add to that the power difference and suddenly the only thing Honda has going for it is the slick, seven-speed automatic transmission (that I don’t need), so in mine eyes, Beemer wins hands down. Ain’t even close.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “This is a cruiser-ized version of BMWs tourer. It’s surprisingly agile; I say ’surprisingly’ because it feels like a beast when you first climb aboard, but the weight is very balanced so even slow speed maneuvers are effortless. It’s very smooth and powerful and the seat is so very comfortable. Highway cruising is definitely what this bike likes.”

BMW K 1600 B 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: 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 Suspension/Travel: BMW Duolever; central spring strut/4.5” (115 mm)
Rear Suspension/Travel: BMW Paralever/4.9” (125 mm)
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 floating disc brakes, 4-piston fixed calipers, diameter 320 mm
Brake, Rear: Single disc brake, diameter 320 mm, dual-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral)
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 97.3” (2,470 mm)
Width (incl. mirrors): 39.4” (1,000 mm)
Height (excl. mirrors): 51.2” (1,300 mm)
Wheelbase: 63.7” (1,618 mm)
Seat height, unladen weight: Standard Seat: 30.7", Low Seat: 29.5"
Inner leg curve, unladen weight: Standard Seat: 69.7", Low Seat: 67.7"
Unladen weight, road ready, fully fueled: 741 lbs (336 kg)
Permitted total weight: 1,235 lbs (560 kg)
Payload (with standard equipment): 494 lbs (224 kg)
Usable tank volume: 7.0 gal (26.5 l)
Reserve: Approx. 1 gal (4 l)
Maximum speed: Over 125 mph
Fuel consumption (WMTC): 41 mpg
Fuel type: Premium Unleaded
Electrical System:
Alternator: Three-phase 700 W alternator
Battery: 12 V / 19 Ah, maintenance-free
Details:
Standard Features: 3 Ride Modes (Rain/Road/Dynamic), ABS Pro, Cruise Control, DTC (Dynamic Traction Control), Dynamic ESA, Heated Seats (Rider + Passenger), Hill Start Control Pro, LED Tail Light, Multifunction Display, On-Board Computer, Power Socket, Saddle Bags in Body Color, Stepless Power Adjustable Windshield, Toolkit, Xenon Headlight with Dynamic Leveling
Color: Black Storm Metallic, Imperial Blue Metallic
Price: $20,095

Further Reading

Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour

2018 - 2019 Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour
- image 742321

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

Honda’s Triple Threat Automatic Transmission Program

2018 - 2019 Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour
- image 742337

See our look at Honda’s automatic transmissions.

BMW Motorrad

no article
- image 789359

Read more BMW Motorrad news.

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

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