BMW K 1600 GT Review

BMW K 1600 GT Review

…the best summary is “the drivable supercar”.

Picture this, the Alpine Way, a winding road, a good mate and a great bike.

A quick 1,554km lap of the Australian Alps on a BMW K 1600 GT with my good friend Tony, on a MY19 BMW R 1250 RT, who plotted the course and managed our pace perfectly.

Actually planned as a reconnaissance trip for our Australian Alpine RoadTrip meant for Autumn 2019 which unfortunately didn’t happen due to being horizontal for 3 months after a scrap with a BMW F850GS at a BMW launch event!

Back to the story, the K 1600 GT. This big 6 is so versatile and I have to say, often misconceived as an oldies big tourer. Yes it’s a tourer but damn does it also love getting into the tight stuff with gusto and ease. Grand Tourer is exactly what it delivers as the packaging says and the best way to describe it for both bike and non-bike aficionados is it is the equivalent of the “the drivable supercar”. Designed for high speed and long-distance driving, due to a combination of performance and luxury attributes. Still happy to roam around town in a high gear smoothly pulling the revs and speed up with a sweet induction noise and exhaust note from any speed. Then super comfortably ballistic on the open road.

BMW say, apart from experiencing a level of unprecedented touring comfort…

The 6-cylinder in-line engine in the BMW K 1600 GT is iconic due to its serious power delivery and renowned running smoothness. The K 1600 GT combines this iconic engine with long-distance weather durability and a range of advanced equipment that sets you up perfectly for your next tour.

And touring on this bike is sensational! So for this trip we left Melbourne on a clear and roadtrip-perfect day, setting off at a wise (street legal) pace destined for Cooma NSW. 642 kilometres of mostly well maintained 2 – 4 lane highway with moderate light traffic which was easy to navigate and even filter at congestion which is legal in Victoria, Australia. The filtering is also relatively easy given the bike feels big. At 2.3m in length, 1.4m tall and nice 1.6m wheelbase it’s exactly 1m wide so, can nicely be slotted between traffic with a little confidence. The miles, while unfortunately not at autobahn speeds, are soaked up smoothly and easily.

At a realistic average of 6 litres per 100km and a tank holding 26.5 litres we only need to stop once for fuel but stopped several times to stretch the legs and appreciate the machinery. Practical stuff like the 4 usable compartments in the fairing and console, the adjustable vents to change the airflow onto or away from the rider. The standard cruise control and electrically adjustable screen which I found myself fine tuning several times for both the novelty and real-world pleasure.

Ended the first day relaxed getting off the bike feeling like it had been a 1 hour ride not 7. We we’re welcomed and well looked after at the Altair Motel
Address: 192 Sharp Street, Cooma, NSW, Australia with bike friendly parking, clean and comfortable. The optional matching inner bags for the K1600GT’s touring cases are perfect as the brochure says; “Getting your luggage organised and facilitating loading and unloading”. So easy.

Day 2 starts with a visor clean of the BMW Street X helmet while letting the silky smooth 6 cylinder idle to warm. Even at idle you can hear the mechanical finesse that is everything I love about the brand and bike. That’s another story in itself.

Bags slipped back into the touring cases, map checked and we set off for 439km of twists and turns which would bring a smile to the face of any bike rider.

439km of twists and turns.

Getting into the ride and momentarily testing the high speed dynamics (no I was not cruising at 2.2 times the legal speed limit), the bike’s size and weight of 334kg a plus at this cruising speed. A small adjustment of the screen and a chin tuck, I took some pleasure in taking a call and informing the caller it might be wise if I call them back! Awesome.

A left turn just out of Jindabyne and the real pleasure started. Even at legal (or just above) speed limits, every single corner a delight to size up, approach with care and hammer out of. The Traction control and Dynamic ESA cool to feel in action and providing even more confidence that the bike was way more capable than the rider.

Someone did bother to work out and tell us the number of corners between Cooma and Omeo but whatever it was… it wasn’t enough.

Corner after corner each time leaving the braking a little later into the next apex feeding and feeling the 320 mm double disc brake front end with four-piston fixed callipers doing a superb job. That was until, in the heat of the midday sun… a whole lot of understeer started to creep in. The bike still held on and the tele-lever front end confident and concise. What wasn’t obvious at first was that the gravel on the road surface had started to move as the tar was softening underneath. That put an end to testing any limits and a very leisurely remainder of the day’s ride ensued.

Day 3. 473kms a little more tame and we took a more direct than planned route back to Melbourne as the forecast in our regional inland location was for another day of temperatures in the mid 40’s. A test for any machinery and rider. Screens down and the adjustable vents on the GT fully open as were the much appreciated BMW AirShell jacket and Street X helmet vents.

The only hiccup on the last few hours of 47.5°C / 117°F on heat soaked black tar was to see a flash and flutter of something bright from the corner of my eye before realising I’d lost a mirror. The heat had melted the glue and the glass simply couldn’t hold on any longer. I think the BMW product guys can be forgiven for this… and on returning home, the mirror was happily replaced under the 3 year warranty.

There are so many positives about this bike that if there are indeed any negatives, they’re fleetingly noticed for but a minute before being washed away with praise and awe.

The 118KW inline 6 cylinder engine is sublime singing a sensational note at any speed. The quick shift is addictive, the ergonomics and switch gear peerless. The hill start and reverse assist useful and easy. The 120/70 ZR 17 and 190/55 ZR 17 at rear wheel and tyre combination perfectly matched to the style and attitude of the bike. Heated grips, keyless ignition, central locking. The detail, the quality of engineering, the fit and finish all make this worth every cent of the premium price tag.

As the owner of some 40 bikes in the same number of years, I sing nothing but praise for this machine and the people at BMW Motorrad. Make life a ride.

The BMW K 1600 GT will always be a favourite and I recommend it highly.

Likes: Style, function and fun-factor.

Dislikes: […scratching head] “I’m sure there must be something?”