This month, BMW announced the final production forms of their new 1600 6-cylinder, mega-mileage eating motorcycles. The BMW K1600GT and GTL will be displayed at the upcoming Intermot show in Cologne, and will soon be available to the public.
I know, I know…a big, touring 6 is not that new. But we’re not talking a Gold Wing or Valkyrie flat, opposing configuration here. What fascinates and excites me about the new Beemer power plant is that it’s an inline 6, reminiscent of such classics as the Kawasaki KZ1300 and the Honda CBX. If you have ever ridden (or even heard) an inline 6, you know why I am excited.
The new BMW engine is both significantly narrower (it’s comparable to an inline 4) and lighter than any previous incarnation of the big inline 6-cylinder form. It will pump out a reported 160 HP and 130 foot pounds of torque. Amazingly, 70% of that torque is available at 1,500 rpm. It will certainly deliver that power in the smooth, linear, and visceral fashion that makes the 6-cylinder configuration legendary.
Okay, as much as I an intrigued by that big motor, there is more to the bike than cylinders. The 6-banger is cradled in an extremely light alloy bridge-type frame, and will feature Duolever and Paralever suspension for front and rear wheel control. Speaking of suspension, the bikes will incorporate Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA II), which will allow the rider to adjust an amazing range of suspension settings with the push of a button. The placement of the engine in this frame configuration makes for a remarkably low center of gravity. The total package should make for a slick handling, extremely adjustable touring mount.
In true BMW style, amazing attention was paid to ergonomic design features on the GT and GTL. Controls and gauges are extremely user-friendly. Additionally, BMW’s designers made wind and weather protection a top priority on the new 1600s. Both the wind-tunnel tested bodywork and the fully adjustable windshield contribute to an effective “cockpit” ride.
The first of these bikes was shown in the US in Jay Leno's garage. But it will not be long until you can get your hands on one, too. The price is yet to be announced, but both the K1600GT and GTL will be available in late Spring of 2011 as 2012 models. With that great engine, unrivaled technology, and legendary BMW refinement, they are sure to be big sellers.