[ARTICLE]By Nicky Zarras - Feature Editor/NV
[idroitex=200]http://www.sporttouring.us/attachment.php?attachmentid=102&d=1334351853[/idroitex]In a time when other manufacturers are cutting back on research and development BMW is pressing forward. Their new technologies and models resulted in a 12% increase in production during 2010. The BMW K 1600 GTL/GT was created to be a revolutionary upgrade to the K 1300 GT and K 1200 LT motorcycles. With this new development they’ve created a whole new class of motorcycle that can go from long distance touring to sport touring at the turn of a digitally linked wheel.
I enjoyed the K 1300 GT. It provided excellent power and handling but fell a bit short on long distance seat comfort. The K 1200 LT excelled in long distance comfort but fell short of competitors on power and spirited handling. The K 1600GT/GTL has dramatically solved both deficiencies and has commanded the sport touring and touring arena.
The bike comes with side and center stands. It’s the easiest of the BMW’s to put up on the center stand. The foot pegs are large and easy to position prior to mounting the bike. The first thing you notice is the upright, feet flat seating position. The seat is a vast improvement over the prior models with good side and rear support. Adjustable seat starts at 29.5 inches.
The GTL has three hard case bags which are electronically lockable, and the top case features two gas-filled dampers and interior lighting. A rear back rest is on the top case. The GTL can also have rear passenger armrests. One very nice feature is the remote control for the bag locks.
When I first tested the K 1600 GTL, I spent 10 minutes familiarizing myself with the electronics displayed on the 5.7 inch TFT color monitor and menu guidance system. I tested a loaded GLT model with full radio controls on the left kick panel. The left grip area has a menu select and a unique digital storage point for a favorite selection. This is mated to a dedicated Multi-Controller thumb wheel for easy access to all media and ride controls. Also in the same area are the cruise control, a high beam flash/select button, electric windshield control, LED auxiliary lamps, and four way flashers. On the right grip is the start/kill switch, hard case bag automatic lock/unlock, and engine power control.
The audio system integrates the Motorrad Navigator IV with zoom or voice command from the handlebars using the multi-controller. It will automatically provide guidance to the nearest gas station at the residual range setting. Traffic congestion rerouting is also a feature. All interfaces are Bluetooth capable. The audio system is new and interfaces MP3, IPod, USB stick or CD and is displayed on the TFT. There is a waterproof storage bin for these devices. The alternator puts out 580 watts of power for your electronic needs. At start up you can select your “spring” tension for single or dual rider, or dual with bags. Load capacity is 467 pounds. You can set your ride level to Comfort, Normal, or Sport. Then you can setup your engine power levels to Rain, Road, or Dynamic. Dynamic is the highest power setting. I had mine set for sport and dynamic when I started out. The first thing you notice is how easy the bike turns; like a 750cc bike or as if it had power steering. Moving to Normal or Comfort slows down the transitional speed of the motorcycle.
The K 1600 GTL engine is a Oil/Water cooled, 1649cc, 12.2:1 CR, 4-stroke inline, 6 cylinder. Two overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder net 160hp at 7,750 rpm and 129 lb-ft at 5350 rpm. 70% of maximum torque is available from 1500 rpms. Rain mode is the lowest power setting but still provides plenty of power for daily driving. In Dynamic mode you could wheelie the bike. The feel of the engine changes with the mode selection. Rain is very tranquil and smooth and Dynamic is more aggressive. With each mode, the power delivery was very linear and controllable due to the single 52mm throttle body and six smooth tuned length intake runners.
On the highway you immediately recognize a new windshield design. With the windshield full up the K 1600 GTL provided full buffeting protection for my six foot frame without the vacuum pocket feel, a vast improvement over previous models. There are also side wings that manually come out to provide added cooling.
[igauchex=200]http://www.sporttouring.us/attachment.php?attachmentid=101&d=1334351853[/igauchex]On the highway, I was able to test the ride and control response in each mode. In the K 1300 GT the comfort mode made the bike float on the highway, in sport mode the ride was harsh but in the K 1600 GTL you have stability, control and a desirable ride in each mode. After the highway, I took the bike through Lake Mead’s scenic, long sweeping roads. During some spirited riding, I tested the ABS and DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) which measures front and rear wheel spin and bank angle. I found it very intelligent in limiting torque on additional power in the curves. With the front Duolever suspension and a Paralever rear suspension with ESA II (Electronic Suspension Adjustment), 52% of weight on the front wheel and plenty of ground clearance, the K 1600 GTL is set for very spirited sport touring. The bikes front brakes are dual 320 mm disk 4-piston caliper and the rear are single 320 mm double–piston caliper with the EVO brake system and BMW Motorad Integral ( part-integral) ABS. The tires are Bridgestone Battlax. The front tires are 120/70 ZR17 BT022F and the rear, 190/55 ZR17 BT021R. The braking and adhesion were linear and confidence inspiring. The shifting pressure is very light due to the clutch having a down shift smoothing slipper and drive torque individual mechanism. While stopping for pictures in rest stops, I was amazed at how well this 767-pound bike turns at low speeds. No matter what you ask of it, it is very composed and precise in what it does.
The second test day was in 105 degree weather. It was both a day run through Red Rock Canyon (our Deals Gap) and a night run along the unlit West Charleston road. I was surprised that I did not feel any appreciable heat coming off the engine area onto my legs. The heat management system pushes the engine heat under the bike. The ringed headlights are a carryover from the BMW cars. One of the unique aspects of the K 1600 GTL is a self leveling low beam which keeps the beam level in a turning environment. The headlight uses the gyro from the DTC (dynamic traction control) to vary its degree of intervention based on how much the motorcycle is leaned. Even in the sharpest turn the low beam did not flicker off axis. The K 1600GTL also was equipped with fixed LED Auxiliary Headlights.
The test bike was in Royal Blue Metallic, but it also comes in Mineral Silver Metallic. The BMW does not disappoint in passenger comfort. It has two side grab bars, and a rear pad on the top case that cradles the passenger’s back and head for added safety.
My recorded mileage was 38 mpg of unleaded super for a new 1649cc bike which I consider excellent. Other publications in the US and in Europe have shown mileage figures up to 45 mpg. BMW reports 51 mpg at 60 mph. The 7 gallon gas tank (one gallon reserve) gives you a 280-338 mile range.
The new BMW K 1600 GTL brings a level of comfort, convenience and performance not seen in a touring/sport-tourer before. In this arena it is price competitive and you get state of the art features and performance not available in other manufacturer’s models. After a long ride you will not be tired or ready to call it a day. You’ll be chatting with your Bluetooth equipped GPS for another road to follow.
My thanks to Kurt Asplindh (kurt@bmwoflasvegas, 702-454-6269, www.bmwoflasvegas.com), of BMW of Las Vegas Motorcycles, for being my chase vehicle and helping me with the photography on this road test.[/ARTICLE]
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