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2011 Luxury Touring Motorcycle Shootout Conclusion

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Adam Waheed – 6’0”, 175 pounds – Honda Gold Wing
For a 900-plus pound bike the Honda Gold Wing delivers a high-level of road performance. But it is easy to drag hard parts around corners during faced paced maneuvers.
Motorcycle-USA tests three top luxury touring mounts on the way to Laguna Seca for the Red Bull USGP at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The BMWs Inline-Six engine is simply amazing. Its smooth  powerful and has a ton of character. Well done BMW!
Despite the BMW K1600 GTL winning this year’s Luxury Motorcycle Touring Shootout, two out of three of our test riders said they would buy the Honda Gold Wing.

As Brian mentioned in the Spyder RT video there is a definite niche for the Can-Am. It has the ability to bring a person with no experience into the world of motorcycling. Although it doesn’t really handle like a bike it is a stepping stone and a great way for someone to get a taste of what it’s like to ride on the open road. Personally, the Can-Am isn’t my cup of tea but I would recommend it to older folks or someone with limited mobility. The BMW on the other hand is just a marvelous bike. Just when you thought the world was going to be ruled by silent electric cars and bikes, BMW builds the mother of all bikes/engines. The Inline-Six engine in that bike is unbelievable and is one of the finest engines I’ve ever experienced in a car or motorcycle. And while it is an excellent touring bike it is a little too performance oriented (I can’t believe I’m even saying that). For me luxury touring is all about just that and the Honda Gold Wing is the most comfortable motorcycle I’ve ever ridden. Sure it’s not as fast as the Beemer or nearly as fun to ride but it is more comfortable plus the audio system and GPS are fantastic and those are really important features when I’m on a destination ride.
Ray Gauger – 6,5”, 180 pounds – Honda Gold Wing
If my money was on the line I’d buy the Gold Wing. It’s the most logical choice as it is the most comfortable for both rider and passenger and has the best creature comforts. I sure had fun riding the BMW but it is a little too sporty for me and the performance kind of goes to waste. The Spyder is a cool idea for sure but it just isn’t for me. It’s too big and heavy and it just feels awkward on the road.
Brian Steeves – 5’9” – 165 pounds – BMW K1600 GTL
There’s no doubt in my mind that if I had the cash I would buy the BMW. This bike just plain rips and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a touring bike. I really like how light it is and how well it handles in turns. The sound system isn’t nearly as good as the Honda but the character of the engine and how much ass it hauls makes up for it.

Touring Motorcycle Dealer Locator
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout 1/4 Mile
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout 1/4 Mile
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout Braking
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout Braking
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout MPG
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout MPG

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Ricks   April 18, 2013 06:53 PM
I'm looking to trade bikes so I just now red this review. So I thought. As I was reading I realized I read this review right after it was published, as I was in anticipation of the new K1600 BMW. I ride a 2006 K1200LT BMW and was waiting to try out the new 1600. I finally got a chance to ride one and I was never so disappointed in my life. It's easy to see why one of the test riders said if you blindfolded him and had him ride the 1600 he would think he was on a sport bike because that's exactly what it is. A big ol' crotch rocket with saddle bags bolted on. Don't get me wrong, it's a super bike for it's class, but it's class is deffinetly NOT the luxury touring class. I guess BMW thinks all bike riders are skinny little tikes with asses made of steel, I'll have to opt for the Wing.
WingNut2009   May 30, 2012 07:56 AM
I had an opportunity to test ride the BMW and loved it. If I was going to ride one up I would pick the BMW for the performace aspects. But since I am fortunate to have a partner that shares my enthusiasm for touring, our typical days ride is 10 hours on the bike, the Honda is still the Best In Class two up tourer. Somthing not mentioned is that with the length of time the GL has been out there the plethora of accesories available allow you to make it even more comfortable.
Motoman32   September 12, 2011 01:25 PM
The BMW K1600 is a leap forward in performance for this class. Took my wife on a 430 mile day on the GTL that included many Southern California backroads and coastal routes. She was extremely comfortable. Having logged many miles on GL15's and 18's, I really appreciate having over 100 lbs less weight. The bikes agility and superior braking are confidence inspiring. The BMW should expand the demographic of the Touring Community.
WingRunner   September 10, 2011 07:27 AM
OK..first off, I'm a little biased because I currently own three different Wings. That said, I have owned and ridden a wide variety of other makes too. Overall, this IS a luxury touring shootout. Get'em two-up (as Piglet2010 says) and leg'em out on a five-state weeks ride. At highway speeds that stereo system on the Wing isn't going to be used, you're going to on the headsets because of the wind roar. Same goes for the Beemer and Spyder. GPS is great if you're going places you've never been before, but come on, has everyone forgotten how to read a map? Horsepower is a wonderful thing, but is this a sport-tour shootout (in which case the Beemer would be up against the Kawi Concours, the Yammie FJ and Big Red's ST, and don't forget about the Triumph and Guzzi), or a luxury tour one. You don't compare the SL600 Mercedes to a Bentley Continental GT, so why try to do the same thing here? And how hard were you guys riding those bikes? My '09GL gets 35MPG going around town and back and forth to work everyday (it's my daily driver "car") and just over 40 at legal highway speeds. Let's get real folks.
Piglet2010   September 8, 2011 01:25 AM
Should have done the test two-up, and let the pillion position testers have a separate vote for best bike/trike. MNKid is correct - the best rider's bike is not necessarily the best touring bike. Waheed and Gauger get it, but Steeves misses the point, as he picks the best sport-tourer, not the best tourer.
nakedfreak   September 7, 2011 03:24 PM
Nice article and videos but it was interesting to note that you were able to run the 1/4 mile faster on the BMW than on the Honda. I mention this because the most recent Motorcyclist magazine just had this same comparo and was able to post lower numbers on the Goldwing because they said the BMW's traction control prevented them from doing full throttle launches in the 1/4 mile. Are they just rattled on this? Also, for all the talk about how amazing the BMW's engine is and how much road performance it has, a 12.65 second 1/4 mile time doesn't really seem that impressive at all. The bike I learned to ride on, a Suzuki sv650, also had a mid 12 second 1/4 mile time and that bike isn't exactly considered fast. . . .
RENDELL   September 7, 2011 08:38 AM
Light weight BMW? I'm confused, Curb Weight is a whopping 767 lbs for the BMW. It must be relative to this class of bikes that it feels light. For touring bikes I'd probably take the Gold Wing. If I wanted a sport bike I'd get a sport bike instead of the BMW which blends both. If you're going to do it, do it right - no compromise! Just my opinion...
MNKid   September 7, 2011 05:47 AM
Ray Gauger is the only one that gets it. People that buy the luxury tourers want the comfort, good radio (sorry BMW) and they won't be corner carving. Most luxury tourers are also going two up and if mama ain't happy, nobody's happy. If you people understood the people buying these bikes the obvious choice would still be the Wing.
dawson2630   September 6, 2011 06:57 PM
It really is a shame that the Cam-Am gets such poor mileage. The engine is obviously too small and lacks torgue to move the 3-wheel trike. I like the concept a lot but my AWD Hemi Charger gets better mileage. The stability of a car is a nice feature, but hat's off to BMW, the K1600GTL Rocks and is my choice!
Glen   September 6, 2011 04:46 PM
I believe the "performance results" would have been different if you guys did a top-gear pull starting at 45mph. But still these two mammoth iconic touring cruise ships sure make me forget about the RV. Like the tricycle too.