BMW’s New Full Dresser In The American Tour Market

Touring bikes are big in the U.S., both literally and figuratively, and the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG looks to take our enthusiasm for touring to the bank, also literally. Beemer paid close attention to the custom culture surrounding such bikes as well as the popular factory features from the competition to come up with the K 1600 Grand America. Not only does the bike provide the look and functionality we tend to expect from our touring machines, but it pushes well into the power-tourer bracket with 160 ponies on tap. The factory wraps up the package with an enviable electronics suite that can be further improved upon with a whole host of factory options. Make no mistake; this is one high-caliber weapon of mass seduction, and it’s aimed straight at the Heartland, so let’s see if we can gauge how true Beemer’s aim is with its latest effort to score a slice of the American tour-bike market.

Continue reading for my look at the BMW K 1600 Grand America.

  • 2018 BMW K 1600 Grand America
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-6
  • Displacement:
    1649 cc
  • Top Speed:
    101 mph
  • Price:
    23195

Design

2018 BMW K 1600 Grand America
- image 750481
Ample storage along with rider and passenger amenities meet the American definition of a touring bike.

It is a well-established fact that “touring” means something different on our side of the pond than it does in Europe and Asia. Unlike riding around some of the postage-stamp countries in those areas where you might have to do laps in order to get a substantial trip in, most Americans could ride for days without needing a passport/visa/whatever. For that reason, we like our bikes to have plenty of secure cargo space for dry storage along with creature comforts to ease the pain of long stints in the saddle.

To that end, Beemer graced the America with a set of rather large panniers that comes buttressed by a voluminous top case. The case supports a wrap-around passenger backrest with a generous splash of lights at the trailing edges of all of the above that spread the LED love around for what is hopefully an impossible-to-ignore arrangement for the taillight and turn signals.

Equally as attention getting are the headlights that use xenon and halogen bulbs to light the way from their recesses in the visage of the large front fairing. As for the fairing itself; it still carries a rather typical, sport-tourer panache not unlike Honda’s Gold Wing rather than veering into more of an American style similar to Harley-Davidson’s batwing or sharknose fairings, or Indian Motorcycle’s somewhat dome-shaped barn door. The fixed-height windshield comes extra-tall to punch a substantial hole in the weather to protect the rider, and because it’s vented, there is less head-buffet effect to fatigue the rider, good stuff if you plan on staying in the saddle for long periods of time.

Like riding in winter? Well, Beemer has you covered with heated grips and seats as part of the stock package to keep your hamburger shovels and fourth point-of-contact warm. Forward foot controls and tiller steering places the rider in a comfortable upright position with plenty of room to sag or slouch to find that sometimes-elusive perfect riding position. The saddle cups and supports the rider’s derrière with a minimal rise to the pillion pad, just enough to help a vertically-challenged passenger get a look at what’s ahead, and the concave backrest should provide plenty of support and allow your human cargo to relax, lean back and take it all in.

As you might expect, the accessories catalog lets you take it far beyond the not-inconsiderable comforts that come with the stock package, so you can mix and match to get just what you need for your epic road adventures. Speaking of mixes, an audio system lets you share your tunes with the rest of the class, and it comes ready to accept the optional navigation system Beemer has on offer.

Chassis

2018 BMW K 1600 Grand America
- image 743672
Not quite sportbike-like, but definitely in the same neighborhood as the Gold Wing that is known for its agreeable behavior in the twisties.

The bones of the beast are comprised of aluminum members that form a bridge-type frame to keep the structure relatively light, even though the factory wasn’t necessarily trying to build a “light” bike. Toward that end, the engine replaced a section of the downtube/cradle area as a stressed member to further lighten things up.

It’s a tour bike, and as such, it needs to track well and be stable in cross winds and resistant to the effects of the pressure wave created by the larger vehicles, so Beemer set the front end up with 27.8 degrees of rake and 4.1 inches of trail for a compromise between stability and agility. Not quite sportbike-like, but definitely in the same neighborhood as the Gold Wing that is known for its agreeable behavior in the twisties.

Beemer supports the Grand America with its Duolever front end that gives up 4.5 inches of travel and the Paralever system out back that turns in 4.9 inches of travel. Additionally, the factory blessed the bike with its Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment feature that boasts two modes; “Road” for overall comfort over a variety of road types and “Cruise” that minimizes damping for a pillow-like ride. I would say that the latter is probably more suitable for use on higher-quality roads, highways and interstates, so suitability may vary from state to state, you folks in some of the more rural areas know what I’m talking about.

Moving on to the brakes I found that the Werke didn’t hold back one little bit. A pair of 320 mm discs and four-pot anchors slow the front wheel, and in a rare instance the rear disc is the same size as the front with a twin-piston caliper to bind it with Beemer’s proprietary switchable ABS on board. While the last isn’t exactly a comfort-related item in the primary sense of the word, I think we can all agree that being able to use your brakes with confidence is very comforting indeed.

Frame: Bridge-type frame, cast aluminum, load-bearing engine
Front wheel location / suspension: BMW Motorrad Duolever; central spring strut
Rear wheel location / suspension: BMW Motorrad Paralever
Suspension travel front / rear: 4.5 inches / 4.9 inches
Castor: 4.1 inches
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 disc brake, diameter 320 mm, 4-piston fixed calipers
Brake, rear: Single disc brake, diameter 320 mm, double-piston caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral)

Drivetrain

2018 BMW K 1600 Grand America
- image 750482
More than ample of torque mean the Grand America can get out of its own way quite handily in spite of its 802-pound curb weight.

BMW pushes the Grand America with a six-banger mill and six-speed transmission with a shaft final drive. Slightly oversquare, the 72 mm bore and 67.5 mm stroke make for a 1,649 cc overall displacement with a sizzling 12.2-to-1 compression ratio, so just go ahead and disabuse yourself of the notion that you’ll be able to get away with burning anything less than premium road champagne. The good news is that high compression ratio contributes heavily toward the 160-horsepower rating the factory claims. Almost as impressive is the 129 pound-feet o’ grunt the engineers squirreled away in the plant, so the GA can get out of its own way quite handily in spite of its 802-pound curb weight.

In a continuation of its “America’s way of riding” initiative, Beemer governed the engine to top out at 101 mph, because after all, we don’t have any Autobahn-type roads here and there are limits to how fast we can safely ride without getting the folks down at the Highway Patrol all wound up. Cruise control comes standard, so at least you can prevent falling prey to bouts of throttle creep, you know, when you keep going faster and faster because you’re so comfortable that the sensation of speed is lessened; pretty sure we’ve all been there, yeah?

We’ve also probably all found ourselves in a situation where we may have chosen our parking spot unwisely, and had a good old-fashioned wrestling match with the bike to get her out of the slot, and Beemer has a solution for that lack of foresight; an electric reverse feature. Punch a button on the left side of the handlebar and it locks out the forward gears and uses the starter motor to roll the bike backwards, so park with abandon, the GA has your back.

Engine: Oil-/watercooled 4-stroke in-line 6-cylinder engine, two overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder
Bore x stroke: 72 mm x 67.5 mm
Capacity: 1,649 cc
Rated output: 160 hp at 7,750 rpm
Max. torque: 129 lb-ft at 5,250 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.2:1
Mixture control / engine management: Electronic intake pipe injection
Emission standard: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-4

Pricing

2018 BMW K 1600 Grand America
- image 750486
Out of BMW's K1600 full dresser stable, the Grand America is priced rather attractively.

MSRP on the Grand America is $23,195, which is a couple grand less expensive that the K 1600 GTL. If you want the gold colorway, you’ll have to add the Style1 option package for an additional $995. The package also adds some chrome bling on the front fender.

Colors: Black Storm Metallic, Austin Yellow Metallic/Black Storm Metallic (requires Style1 option package)
Price: $23,195 (w/ Style1 Package: $24,190)

Competitors

2018 BMW K 1600 Grand America
- image 750501
2018 Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour
- image 742345
It's a battle of the newest heavy-hitters in the tourbike arena.

Though there are plenty of genuine American tourbikes from which to choose, I decided that given the overall panache of the GA, nothing but Honda’s Gold Wing Tour – also new for 2018 – would suffice, so here we go.

Looks-wise, the two have much in common. Both clearly have sportier looks than the typical U.S. dresser, especially in the front fairing. The Red Riders mounted a windshield that is on-par with Beemer’s screen as far as size/protection goes, and the front fairing is even beefier for a slightly larger leg pocket. Plus, Honda chucks on an electric adjuster that can change windshield height up to 4.9 inches.

One thing I don’t like about the ’Wing is the engine arrangement that has the heads/rocker covers exposed where they stick out both sides of the bike. It’s not just about aesthetics, it’s about vulnerability, but I realize I’m a distinct minority in that.

Moving aft on the ’Wing the hard-side panniers and top case finish out the cargo capacity. I gotta’ say I prefer Honda’s passenger backrest because there is passenger security and safety to be found in concave backrests complete with armrests.

Honda almost matches Beemer’s brakes all around but falls just 4 mm short in back with a 316 mm disc. Still, close enough for government work. Honda’s front end marks a sharp departure from the GA; the new double-wishbone suspension uses a single coil-over shock to control the front end, and needless to say, it lacks the Dynamic ESA feature Beemer brings to the table. Honda’s powerplant, as well-respected as it is, falls woefully short in performance with only 125 ponies and pound-feet on tap. Is it still good enough? You betcha, but folks looking for true top-shelf power are going to zero in on that difference and probably not take a second glance at the ’Wing.

The $27,000 sticker on the 2018 Gold Wing Tour is a bit higher than the $24k price on the GA. Is $3,000 enough to sway the buyer one way or the other when you’re talking full dresser?

He Said

“Much was made by the factory about how this bike is meant to conform to the American style of touring, and I’d say the engineers did their homework. Quite well, in fact. They accounted for the fact that we like our cargo space, and tend to cover vast distances when we tour, if for no other reason than because we have plenty of room to do so. Will it compete against the likes of H-D and the resurgent Indian products? Probably not, but I believe it will put some real pressure on Honda’s new Gold Wing Tour since the looks will appeal to the same sort of buyer.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “After the release of the K 1600 B, it doesn’t surprise me at all that BMW put a top case on it. I’m not clear on whether the Grand America is going to replace the GTL. All the dust hasn’t settled yet.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:  
Type: Oil-/watercooled 4-stroke in-line 6-cylinder engine, two overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder
Bore x stroke: 72 mm x 67.5 mm
Capacity: 1,649 cc
Rated output: 160 hp at 7,750 rpm
Max. torque: 129 lb-ft at 5,250 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.2:1
Mixture control / engine management: Electronic intake pipe injection
Emission standard: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-4
Performance / fuel consumption:  
Maximum speed: 100.7 mph
Fuel type: Unleaded super, octane number 95 (RON)
Electrical system:  
Alternator: 700 W
Battery: 12 V / 19 Ah, maintenance-free
Power transmission:  
Clutch: Multiple-disc clutch in oil bath
Gearbox: 6-speed, helical, gearbox
Drive: shaft drive
Chassis / brakes:  
Frame: Bridge-type frame, cast aluminum, load-bearing engine
Front wheel location / suspension: BMW Motorrad Duolever; central spring strut
Rear wheel location / suspension: BMW Motorrad Paralever
Suspension travel front / rear: 4.5 inches / 4.9 inches
Wheelbase: 63.7 inches
Castor: 4.1 inches
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 disc brake, diameter 320 mm, 4-piston fixed calipers
Brake, rear: Single disc brake, diameter 320 mm, double-piston caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral)
Dimensions & Capacities:  
Length: 100.8 inches
Wheelbase: 63.7 inches
Width (incl. mirrors): 39.4 inches
Height (excl. mirrors): 56.7 inches
Seat height, unladen weight: 30.7 inches (low seat*: 29.5 inches) *OE
Inner leg curve, unladen weight: 69.7 inches (low seat*: 67.7 inches) *OE
Unladen weight, road ready, fully fueled: 802.5 pounds
Permitted total weight: 1,234.6 pounds
Payload (with standard equipment): pounds
Usable tank volume: 7 gallons
Reserve: 1 gallon
Details:
Colors: Black Storm Metallic, Austin Yellow Metallic/Black Storm Metallic (requires Style1 option package)
Price: $23,195 (w/ Style1 Package: $24,190)

References

2018 Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour
- image 742336

See our review of the Honda Gold Wing.

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

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