I have a confession: the first time I rode the BMW K 1600 Bagger style, in 2017, I didn’t really enjoy the experience, although it has nothing to do the motorcycle itself and was really about me.
It was still in my early days of riding (about a year of consistent time spent in the saddle) and BMW Motorrad flew a couple of us out to Nelspruit, where we got to try out 10 motorcycles in the fleet, swapping bikes every 30km or so.
Riding with people, a couple of whom had 30-years plus of riding experience, was both intimidating and stressful. I honestly spent most of the time with my shoulders tense, hands gripping the handles and mind racing with all the things I was taught at riding school, simply trying to keep up.
And so, when I received the media invite to experience the new K 1600 range, I was not going to pass up on the opportunity. We met up at the BMW xDrive Park in Midrand heading out amid the morning traffic past Alberton and towards to Vereeniging.
I started on the K 1600 B which, despite its “The Spirit of the Open Road” ethos, handled the traffic with aplomb and then came truly into its own as we made our way towards Deneysville. It is made for the open road and forces you to really sit back and enjoy the ride.
The six-cylinder in-line engine, which all the models have, with 180Nm torque (up from 175 Nm in the previous models) and engine drag torque control (MSR) makes for a stable, yet powerful ride, and had me accelerating for no reason beyond the thrill of the ride and the beautiful guttural hum of the exhaust. BMW Motorrad describes the engine as ‘luxurious’ and there is no better word for it.
Truth be told, I can’t see any other way of touring than the K 1600 B. The seat is comfortable, the floorboards are just the right height and distance, and the bagger aesthetic is visually pleasing.
The K 1600 GT, which feels a bit more dynamic, sportier and nimbler does, however, sit comfortably in the sweet spot between touring and city cruising. One can’t help but be calm and laid back regardless of the riding conditions.
In terms of standard equipment for the K 1600 B, the K 1600 GT, the K1600 GTL and the K 1600 Grand America, Motorrad left no stone unturned. At the heart of everything is the 10.25-inch Colour-TFT display that connects to your smartphone and has integrated map-navigation via the BMW Motorrad Connected App.
There’s also a nifty smartphone charging (USB-C) storage space behind the windscreen and above the display. On the inside of the fairing, there are four configurable buttons that are easy to access while riding. There is also both seat and grip heating which were great on the typical Joburg winter ride.
You will have to take my word for it until you have the chance to go into a dealership to check it out
They also all come with three riding modes, namely Road, Rain and Dynamic, dynamic traction control (DTC), dynamic electronic suspension adjustment (ESA) which makes for the comfortable ride, hill start control (HSC Pro) and a fully LED Headlight and adaptive cornering light.
In terms of optional equipment, both the Bagger and the GT have a Comfort-Package, which include Keyless Ride, central locking system, Shift Assist Pro and anti-theft alarm; and a Tour-Package with audio system 2.0 with e.g. SAT-radio and sound profiles, LED auxiliary head lamp, engine protection bar/guard and, on the Bagger package, floorboards or storage compartments.
There’s also the option of ground-level lighting and Option 719 forged wheels on both and forged handlebars, a centre stand and low tinted windscreen on the Bagger.
From an aesthetics perspective, the K 1600 B and K 1600 Grand America have Option 719 “Midnight” paint job which is hard to describe but exquisite on the motorcycle.
The paintwork is “in Meteoric Dust II metallic with ‘Galaxy’ theme” applied using an innovative, and time-consuming water transfer printing method. You will have to take my word for it until you have the chance to go into a dealership to check it out. It truly is beautiful and, whenever we stopped on the ride, I couldn’t help but spend time gazing at it.
By the time we pulled back into the Four Seasons in Johannesburg, where we spent the night, having stopped for lunch in Parys, my K 1600 itch had truly been scratched.