2011 BMW K1600GT First Look

July 2, 2010
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

BMW got rider’s tongues wagging with the release of its Inline Six-powered Concept 6 at the 2009 EICMA Milan Bike Show. Now the Propeller brand has made good on its promise to extend the K series with the six-cylinder powerplant by announcing its K1600GT and K1600GTL touring motorcycles.

2011 BMW K1600GT
BMW is yet to release proper photos of their new K1600GT (top) and K1600GTL (bottom) touring bikes.
2011 BMW K1600GTL

The Inline Six configuration has been used extensively throughout the Bavarian marque’s automobiles, but is now showcased on the two-wheeled side. The new engine features a 1649cc displacement via the undersquare 67.5mm bore x 72mm stroke. The Inline Six layout keeps the same 55-degree forward tilt of the four-cylinder K series engine and despite tacking on the extra two cylinders the new Six measures only 22-inches wide. With its narrow dimensions and 226-lb weight, BMW hails its new mill the “lightest and most compact six-cylinder engine in serial motorcycle production.”

Peak power claims are 160 horsepower at 7500 rpm and 129 lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm. And that ample torque will churn out quick, with BMW promising 70% of peak at 1500 rpm. The information released on the K1600 models doesn’t list a specific redline, but the previous Concept 6 described the new mill as revving “almost to 9000 rpm.”

Chain-driven cams actuate the four-valve heads of the, let’s do the math, 24-valve design. BMW touts the cams are compression-molded on the tubular shafts in a process that, compared to “conventional clear-chill cast or steel camshafts,” shaves off an extra 2.2-lbs. The magnesium valve and clutch covers also aim to trim the pounds – though we’re betting these new Beemers aren’t exactly going to be featherweights when we toss them on the scales as the claimed curb weight is conspicuously absent in the PR material.

Ride-by-wire, which BMW dubs E-Gas, controls a central 52mm throttle valve. Riders will choose from three engine modes – Rain, Road and Dynamic – which are selected via button at the right-side handlebar.

2011 BMW K1600GT2011 BMW K1600GT First Look2011 BMW K1600GT First Look
The BMW Inline Six for the K1600GT models is only 22-inches wide, with BMW claiming it’s the “lightest and most compact six-cylinder engine in serial motorcycle production.”

The chassis sources an alloy bridge frame that weighs 35 lbs. The frame utilizes the engine as a stressed member, bolting to the six-cylinder unit at eight points. BMW’s proprietary Duolever front end and Paralever swingarm take care of the suspension duties – the Paralever and rear shaft drive redesigned to accommodate the Six’s higher performance output. As befits a BMW touring mount, the ESA II electronic suspension adjustment comes available as an option. The ABS braking system comes standard, with BMW’s Dynamic Traction Control system an optional upgrade on the new K bikes (the DTC system developed first for the BMW S1000RR).

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See how the K1600GT’s new optional headlamp tech works on the Adaptive Headlight video courtesy of the BMW.

One new development showcased on the K1600GT is what BMW describes as “the first ever ‘Adaptive Headlight’ for motorcycles.” The standard issue Xenon light works via a movable projector that shines onto a mirror. Sensors at the front and rear axles detect the pitch of the bike, with the projector moving to compensate and provide a permanently level headlight. The “Adaptive Headlight” goes one step further, with the mirror itself turning on an axis via stepper motor. A sensor box (used in the S1000RR) relays banking angle, which is then fed through the electronics and adjusts the mirror to keep a level projection beam no matter the lean of the bike.

GT stands for Gran Turismo, so both are tapped out as purpose-built tourers, but there are differences. The GTL is pegged as the heavy-duty luxo-tourer, with a standard top-case and more pronounced pillion amenities. Rider ergos are also different, with the regular GT sourcing an “active seating postion,” which we interpret as a little sportier than the “relaxed, upright seating position” of the GTL. Elaborating on the ergo difference, BMW notes the GTL’s handlebars are positioned further back with the footrests further forward and lower.

BMWs EICMA Milan Show Concept 6 first debuted the Inline Six powering the marques new K series bikes.
We know the K1600GT models are coming, but will the Inline Six that first appeared on the Concept 6 be relegated to just touring applications?

Both rides come with standard heated grips and seat, as well as cruise control and on-board computer, with a new color monitor on the instrument console. The GTL also delivers an audio system featuring Bluetooth and satellite radio as well as USB inputs for MP3 players and iPods. The audio system, which is available on the GT as an option, also has a CD player. For you young kids out there reading this in 2012, CDs were these things people used to use to listen to music.

No release date or price has been listed yet. BMW promises further details on the new models at a future date. Hopefully those future details include some decent pictures! We also wouldn’t mind word that the original Concept 6 is more than just a styling exercise…