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2014 BMW K1600GTL Exclusive Review – First Ride

2014 bmw k1600gtl exclusive

Grand-Touring Luxury just got grander

By Kevin Duke May 21, 2014 2
Photos by: BMW and Mary Buch
2014 BMW K1600GTL Exclusive

I was on the glorious Pacific Coast Highway aboard the new K1600GTL Exclusive when I had a thought that might be controversial. I imagined that Soichiro Honda, if given the choice, would prefer to be riding BMW’s new flagship rather than his eponymously named company’s iconic Gold Wing.

Let’s not forget that Mr. Honda’s company had a rich history with inline six-cylinder engines long before the Gold Wing’s flat-Six debuted in 1988. It was under Soichiro’s guidance the RC165 was shown to the Grand Prix paddock in 1965, a six-cylinder moonshot to battle two-stroke machines in the 250cc class. The shrieking 250/6 blew eardrums and minds but, unfortunately, handled poorly and was unreliable. Then, with input from the legendary Mike Hailwood, the RC166 earned 10 victories in 10 races and the 1966 world championship. And the 1967 title, too.

Eleven years later, the CBX streetbike was unleashed, a 1047cc six-cylinder machine that made indelible impressions in the minds of every gearhead. Six cylinders laying in a row across the frame had been seen in a production motorcycle only once before (the Benelli Sei, produced in limited quantities beginning in 1972), and the CBX’s cylinders spilling out the sides and 24 valves sitting under its massively wide twin-cam cover screamed motorcycle like nothing else. Then, in 1981, Honda transformed the CBX into a sport-touring machine, complete with a relatively large fairing and hard-shell luggage.

And it’s that same formula for BMW’s K1600 platform, of which the GTL Exclusive is the latest iteration. Except the K16’s 1649cc inline-Six benefits from an undersquare bore/stroke ratio and packaging innovation that significantly narrows the engine (21.9 inches, just 2 inches wider than the old K1300’s four-cylinder motor) relative to the CBX’s, allowing cornering clearance despite 63% extra displacement the Honda could only dream of.

052014-2012-BMW-K1600GTL-exclusive-engineSo, while riding the BMW Exclusive on twisty heaven in the Big Sur area, leaning it over further than any Gold Wing (Honda’s contemporary luxo-tourer and a legend in its own right), I was guessing Soichiro would prefer the sportier dynamics and heavenly exhaust song more than the dowdier Honda.

The K1600 platform has impressed us from the moment we first threw a leg over the luxurious GTL and sportier GT – both large but definitely in charge. Its tuneful exhaust note and incredibly agile handling redefined what’s possible with a plus-1600cc motorcycle. In our testing, the GT first knocked down Kawasaki’s much cheaper Concours 14, then the GTL dethroned the venerable Gold Wing. Either K16 is pricey, but their riding experiences are supreme.

2012 BMW K1600GT Review

Diagram of 2014 BMW K1600GTL

While the GTL Exclusive will be sold in other markets, it’s built primarily for chrome-loving Americans. The Exclusive package also includes a unique color scheme based around four coats of Mineral White Metallic paint, the most expensive stuff from BMW’s car side. The luggage gets accents in Magnesium Metallic Matte, while the seat is a new Magnesium Silver color. The fuel tank is capped with a classy brushed-aluminum cover.

Now comes the Exclusive version of the GTL, slathered with every option previously available for the GTL (including ESA II, adaptive headlight, passenger armrests, heated seats and grips, driving lights, crash bars, luggage liners and more) plus a few new ones. “Industry Firsts,” says BMW, are Hill Start Control, backlit-illuminated indicator dials, and a radio film antenna embedded in the topcase lid. “There is no ugly stick,” notes BMW Motorrad USA’s product manager, Sergio Carvajal.

2012 BMW K1600GTL Review

Also, exclusive to the Exclusive is a new seat that is wider and longer in the passenger section, as well as a heated upper backrest and additional padding in the lumbar area. A navigation unit is the only option, although the bike is prepped for the seamlessly integrated and fully featured unit ($800 approx.).

Keyless Ride is another innovation on the GTL-E, using a proximity sensor in the key fob to operate/activate the ignition, fuel-filler cap, steering lock, alarm and luggage locks. The central locking system automatically deactivates when the ignition is switched on, so the fob never needs to be removed from your pocket.

2012 BMW K1600GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

BMW says the GTL-E has the most comprehensive level of equipment and technology available in any motorcycle, although it has not yet received BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control as seen on the company’s HP4 sportbike. Regardless, its ESA II suspension system is quite advanced and performs flawlessly. Rear preload is electrically adjustable for various loads, while damping can be switched from the handlebar between Comfort, Normal and Sport settings that make a real difference in the levels of control. Its Normal setting would be fine on its own, but it’s satisfying to have the option to tailor the ride to road conditions: loosen it up while super-slabbing or firm it when sport riding.

Sport riding is encouraged by the GTL-E, despite its 793-pound curb weight. Keep in mind that mass is 100-150 pounds less than a Gold Wing or Harley-Davidson touring rigs. The biggest BMW snaps into corners with shocking alacrity for a giant luxo-tourer, and its cornering clearance is far greater than anything in its class. The GTL’s only dynamic flaw is an awkwardness at speeds below 10 mph, forcing a rider to be extra attentive when riding at a crawl.

Check out the significant spec-chart advantages of the GTL-E over its class rivals. It boasts significantly more horsepower, more torque despite the smallest displacement, a much greater top speed (about 140 mph), the most rear-wheel suspension travel by far, the biggest fuel tank, and the lightest weight. The Gold Wing still rules in luggage space, while the H-D Electra Glide Ultra Limited has more load capacity.
Check out the significant spec-chart advantages of the GTL-E over its class rivals. It boasts significantly more horsepower, more torque despite the smallest displacement, a much greater top speed (about 140 mph), the most rear-wheel suspension travel by far, the biggest fuel tank, and the lightest weight. The Gold Wing still rules in luggage space, while the H-D Electra Glide Ultra Limited has more load capacity.
When piloting a large motorcycle, one of the most precarious situations is stopping it on an incline. Helping the big Beemer feel more manageable in this situation is its new Hill Start Control, seen also on BMW’s new R1200RT. Firmly pulling pulling the front brake lever when at a stop activates the rear-brake caliper to prevent the bike from moving until you’re ready to roll again. It automatically disengages when fed power through the clutch, greatly reducing what BMW terms “launch anxiety.” It’s a much-appreciated innovation.

2012 BMW K1600GTL vs. 2012 Honda Gold Wing Shootout

Braking performance from the partially integrated ABS system is exemplary, with firm lever feel and astounding braking power for such a heavy motorcycle. While the rear brake is partially linked to the front lever, the rear brake pedal operates independently, which is our preference.

Passenger comfort was one of the only areas the GTL came up short to its competitors, but the GTL-E appreciably closes that gap. I brought my wife, Carolyn, for our ride from the Los Angeles basin to Monterey and back, and she was transported in regal comfort.

I’ve never had a better experience on a seat, even on the Gold Wing,” she raved, although it must be said she hasn’t yet sampled the pillion accommodations on Harley’s touring bikes. Wifey praised the extra security and comfort provided by the armrests and lauded the generous amount of legroom. “I didn’t have a problem with stiff knees like on some other bikes.” She also liked how the armrests could be flipped up to access the bike’s grabrails when I was riding more aggressively, although she noted the narrow apertures could be a tight squeeze for large hands.

2014 BMW R1200RT Review – First Ride

2014 BMW K1600 GTL

The K1600 GTL Exclusive’s passenger accommodations gets two thumbs up from Duke’s wife, Carolyn. “It’s a luxurious motorcycle ride,” she says. “And the heated seats; total bonus!” With the windshield in its uppermost position as seen here, airflow over both rider and passenger is smooth, with no annoying backpressure.

Despite the plethora of comfort and technology features, any K1600 experience is highlighted by one of the most impressive engines in motorcycling history. The wonderful inline-Six is dichotomous, stoutly delivering 70% of maximum torque at just 1500 rpm but also screaming to a glorious top-end howl reminiscent of a 1960s Jaguar or Aston Martin Le Mans racer. It entices a rider to rev it out just to hear it sing, becoming especially tuneful above 6000 rpm to its 8500-rpm redline, even though spinning it up isn’t required for a swift pace.

The first twist of a K16’s throttle reveals negligible flywheel effect, the engine gathering revs rapidly. Turns out the flywheel effect is low mostly because the K16 doesn’t use a flywheel, instead relying on the smoothness inherent of six cylinders located inline. The lack of crankshaft inertia initially made getting moving from a stop a delicate balancing act until I learned to feel the light-effort clutch bite before I added revs, dramatically simplifying smooth take-offs. Additionally, the GTL’s transmission, while not as seamless as a sportbike, is probably the best gearbox on any plus-1600cc engine.

The engine’s ride-by-wire throttle can be set to three modes: Rain, Road and Dynamic. I enjoyed the snappier responses of Dynamic, especially when riding at a sporting pace. But Road mode is better for two-up riding, as adding or subtracting throttle is less abrupt. Dynamic Traction Control adds a security blanket to throttle application, with settings applicable to each ride mode.

The GTL-E’s audio system features both satellite and AM/FM radio, plus iPhone/iPod and music player integration. Audio quality through the four cockpit speakers drops significantly above 65 mph, and the lack of rear speakers leaves passengers with only whiffs of music at highway speeds. Music fans would be wise to pipe tunes to a Bluetooth headset.

Props must be given to BMW’s Multi Controller wheel located inboard of the left handgrip. Most functions can be set or toggled through with simple turns or pushes on the disc. It’s a huge advancement in controlling many electronic gizmos.

I averaged mpg numbers in the high 30s during our trip. Those with less of a hooligan bent should be able to get at least 40 mpg, yielding 280 miles or more between fills of the 7.0-gallon tank.

Conclusion

There is no other bike that can offer the GTL-E’s opulent comfort cruising at 80 mph (with standard cruise control) on the highway while also being able to scream up PCH at a pace faster than some sportbikers. And, in case you were wondering, a slipper clutch on a luxo-tourer can be beneficial. A Gold Wing or H-D tourer is better coordinated at low speeds, but the GTL-E is dynamically tops in every other environment. Harley’s FL line falls short in every performance metric.

Interestingly, BMW says the GTL has converted many Harley owners, more than Gold Wing riders. The theory behind it supposes the K16 doesn’t contradict what Harley-Davidson does well.

While the K1600GTL Exclusive’s MSRP of $29,950 might frighten away the proletariat, it could seem like a bargain to a bar-and-shield devotee who just shelled out $38,999 for a CVO Limited. And I’ll bet Soichiro-san would like it, too.

2014 K1600 GTL Exclusive overall scores

Sidecar Family

Custom Side car rigLongtime customer Lou Hartzell and girlfriend Diane Wood head off on a short 2,500 mile road trip to visit friends and family following the delivery of his new BMW K1600GTL with a high performance EZS Summit sidecar conversion built at Bob’s. Upon their return Bob’s will go over the entire rig one more time before they head home and start planning another season of road trips.

This is the second high performance sidecar rig Lou has acquired from Bob’s over the past fifteen years. The first was a 1999 K1200RS with ARMEC Tremola II sidecar also built by Bob’s on which he logged well over 110,000 miles. That rig regularly returned to Bob’s for scheduled service even though he does not live within 1,000 miles of Bob’s. It returned about a year ago to be thoroughly refurbished before being presented to his daughter in anticipation of his new rigs arrival and delivery. That’s what you call a sidecar family!

National Rally News: Showcase Your Motorcycle Alongside the BMW Powered GG Taurus

image0091After 30 plus years of participating as a vendor at the MOA International Rally, Bob’s BMW knows it is necessary to annually change up its display to keep it new and fresh so the rally continues to be fun and exciting for all those attending. So for Bob’s 2014 MOA rally display we have two BIG announcements. First, Bob’s is excited to announce the first and ONLY GG Taurus in the U.S. will be on display at Bob’s BMW booth, Main Vendor Building, Spaces 179-184! Rally-goers will have the opportunity to be one of the first to see this 3-wheeled, BMW powered machine. But wait there is more…

Your bike could be on display alongside this limited edition, incredible machine! If you are planning to attend this year’s rally July 24-27, “Rolling By The River” in St. Paul, Minnesota, and your bike was modified, customized, refurbished, or restored (partly or completely) at Bob’s or it was ‘thanks’ to Bob’s great inventory of parts and accessories that your bike is what it is today please contact us as soon as possible to join in on the fun we are planning.

The plan is to rotate the display of bikes at Bob’s booth multiple times each day so that we are not holding any one bike hostage too long—we want you to enjoy the rally to its fullest and we know that includes having your bike available to go out and enjoy some great riding! Our goal is to share with the new rally-goers the endless possibilities there are with BMW’s and the ability to bring any model back to life.

If you would like to feel like a celebrity at the rally, simply provide hanna.creekmore@bobsbmw.com with 2 good pictures of your bike (right and left), details of the work Bob’s has helped you with, your contact information including full name, phone number, email, and address, along with a short blurb on why your bike should be showcased in our display at this year’s MOA rally!

Bob’s BMW Extends Its Apparel Line

Fieldsheer JacketsBob’s Parts, Accessory, and Apparel department is always closely watching the industry to stay on top of the latest and greatest products made available by motorcycle apparel manufacturers, and we are excited to announce, both FieldSheer and Speed and Strength apparel is now available at Bob’s BMW. We have chosen select products from both manufacturers that offer safety and comfort along with style! Stop by today to check out Fieldsheer’s Adventure Touring Jacket and Pants in a variety of colors including hi-vis and Speed and Strength’s Speed Strong Jacket.

2014 R Nine T On Display at Bob’s for an Extended Period Of Time

R Nine TFor anyone who has not seen the stock 2014 BMW R Nine T, Bob’s is pleased to announce we will have one on the showroom floor for an extended period of time. These models are coming and going as soon as they come out of the crates across the world, but thanks to a very generous customer at Bob’s, he has agreed to display his at Bob’s until he returns from his travels in a couple weeks at which time he will take delivery of this hard to get model. Odds are you will not have a chance like this again, so if you want to be one of the few that can say they have seen the R Nine T in person and to snap some pictures (she is very photogenic!), stop by Bob’s before its gone.

In other R Nine T news, iconic fashion brand, GANT Rugger recently unveiled the completely customized and modified version of the 2014 BMW R Nine T, known as the “Brooklyn Scrambler.” Only 6 are being produced and will be sold in dealerships throughout France. Read More>>

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Motorcycle SafetyEvery year, May is dedicated to reminding motorists to share the road with motorcyclists. Bobs has always planed the safety of its customers and all who ride ahead of all else. As more bikes put rubber to the road motorists need to be more alert and motorcyclists need to be reminded how to ride smart and ride safe. Do your part as a motorcyclist and take a few minutes to read through General Guidelines For Riding A Motorcycle Safety provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

For many years, Bob’s BMW has helped spread the “Share The Road Message” via its 2 trailers and a 5′ x 40′ hillside banner visible from Route 32. This image will soon be converted to magnets and bumper stickers! Stay tuned.

To help other riders pass along the message, through the end of May, visitors to Bob’s BMW will receive a complimentary “Watch For Motorcycles” sticker. Ask any of our parts staff behind the counter.

Perfect Weather for a Perfect Open House

Open House at Bob's BMW
Bob's BM Open HouseThe sky was the perfect shade of blue and the temperatures hovered around low-mid 70’s at Bob’s BMW on April 26…another successful Open House in the books; some even suggest the best yet! Watch Video>>

Scott Keimig, BMWBMW President said, “In my 20 years of attending Bobs Spring Open Houses, I thought your April open house was the best that I recall. Perfect weather, nice selection of vendors (my favorites: visiting Ayres Adventures, Tex from Gerbing, Sarah from Schuberth, the Parks’ from Road Runner magazine, and Lou.) Very tasty food, and most of all your placing the club table in a primo position to collect foot traffic. Speaking on behalf of BMWBMW, we really do appreciate your continual support over the years, make that decades.”

Thanks to all the riders and passengers and even the passerbyers that joined us, thanks to all of the vendors that participated, and a special thanks to Rider Insurance for sponsoring the event for the second year in a row!

We received rave reviews about the Gourmet Food Truck, Wolo (“We Only Live Once.”) we had on-site. Long time friends and Bob’s Ambassadors, Bob and Donna Torche contacted us the next week stating, “We wanted to let you know that the Food Truck at the Open House this past Saturday was off the hook AWESOME!!  We split the Brisket sandwich with fries…yummy!  Best food truck cuisine we’ve had in a very long time — or maybe ever…???”

Door prizes this year included a BMW GS Dry Women’s Jacket won by Lynne Moore (Laytonsville, MD); BMW GS Dry Men’s Jacket won by Jim Kay (Columbia, MD); Scala Rider Q3 MultiSet won by Karey Lesche (Millville, NJ); KLIM folding spectator chair won by Dan Kenney (Mechanicsville, MD); $50 Bob’s BMW gift cards won by Dave Larrabee (Annapolis, MD), Jerry Donovan (Beltsville, MD), and Gregory Petchel (Alexandria, VA); Road Runner Subscription packages won by Leif Taylor (Hanover, MD), Brent Firestone (Long Beach CA), and Glenn Miller (Virginia Beach, VA); Gift Certificate to Cassies Cookies won by Jerry Larner (Ellicott City, MD); Alpine Star Rolling Bag won by Steve Donald (Columbia, MD); One-of-a-kind t-shirt created by Artist Renee Tantillo, won by Todd Berry (Arlington, VA); and Free Admission to The 5th Annual Charm City Mods Vs. Rockers Show won by Richard Hayes (Alexandria, VA). Congrats to all!

We did experience one hi-cup which we were sorry to announce to the crowd, particularly the dozens of sport bike riders in line but around 1pm the DYNO began experiencing technical difficulties and had to shut down…it seems it couldn’t handle all of the power coming from the BMW S1000RR’s ;)

The good news is the DYNO will be returning to Bob’s BMW so anyone who was unable to run their bikes at Open House can come back by Saturday, June 21; same price $15 each or 2 for $25. Arrive early to get tickets and reserve your place in line, plus at 11am a Sport Bike Maintenance and Customization Tech Session will begin. The session will include tips and suggestions from our experts on ways to modify and enhance your high performance bike, and some great accessory options that will simply make it look good!

Thanks again to all and be sure to check the online calendar for more exciting events coming this year at Bob’s BMW!

Watch Open House Video>>
View Open House Photos>>

NHTSA Announces Fuel Pump Recalls On Select Model and Year BMW Motorcycles

BMW Motorcycle Recall

On April 14, 2014 NHTSA announced BMW North America is recalling model variants of 2005-2011 R1200 models; 2005-2012 K1200, K1300, and K1600 models; 2010-2011S1000RR models; and 2006-2010 HP2 models. Affected models could develop cracks in the flange resulting in a fuel leak and will either need the fuel pump flange reinforced, or the entire pump replaced. The service will take up to 2 hours to complete (at Bob’s BMW) and will of course be covered under warranty.

BMW North America will be notifying owners directly and/or you can call Bob’s Service Department for a VIN check. Personally, Bob’s BMW has sold over 900 affected units so you are encouraged to contact us immediately if your bike fits the above mentioned years and models for a VIN check. Please note where you purchased your bike does not matter. If you are on the road reading this and near Bob’s BMW, Bob’s Service Department is able and willing to help. To date we have serviced and corrected approximately 100 (give or take) affected bikes and we are continuing to schedule appointments.

Finally, if by chance you own one of the affected bikes and had work done to your fuel pump previous to this recall being announced, you are encouraged to contact us to review your work order as some parts may be eligible for reimbursement.

Read the official NHTSA recall notice>> http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchResults?searchType=ID&targetCategory=R&searchCriteria.nhtsa_ids=13V617000

Small-Displacement BMW Motorcycles Debuting in 2015

tvs-draken-conceptI had to check the date on when we last talked about BMW and TVS partnering up to build small-displacement motorcycles together, and it looks like it was almost exactly a year ago. In that timeframe, the two companies have been quietly working, but rumors have started to heat-up as to when we could see a sub-500cc BMW motorcycle.

A cynic’s response might be that BMW doesn’t want to be perceived as late to the small-displacement party, especially since its sub-500cc machines won’t be ready until Q3/Q4 of 2015.

With Honda, Kawasaki, and KTM already debuting their 250cc & 300cc models, and Yamaha & Triumph set to debut 250cc machines shortly, it seems the only manufacturer without a small-displacement offering either available or in the works is Ducati.

Focusing our attention back on BMW though, it seems the first BMW machine could be a rebadged TVS, with the Indian company recently showing its Draken concept (shown above), which features a 250cc single-cylinder engine that makes just under 40hp.

“I know we have been silent on the TVS (Motor Company) and BMW since we had the tie-up. (the first product) It is going to be ready by the second half of next calendar year. All the work is under progress,” said TVS Motor Company Chairman Venu Srinivasan.

BMW and TVS are expected to brand their co-built machines separately, and for different markets. The BMW-branded machines will come to Europe and North America, while the TVS machines will go to India, Asia, and other emerging markets.

With KTM’s partnership with Bajaj helping the Austrian company surpass BMW Motorrad as the largest European motorcycle manufacturer, the German company’s new line with TVS should reverse that trend.

Increasingly the future of the motorcycle industry is happening in India and Southeast Asia, and it seems like just about every manufacturer has some sort of strategy in place for that reality.

International Female Ride

female-ride

helmets-2014-inclStart your shopping list right NOW by browsing our online inventory. If you don’t see it online, it does NOT mean we don’t have it in-store! We do our best to keep online inventory up-to date but with new products arriving daily, it’s not always easy. Perfect example, JUST-IN, Speed and Strength AND Field Sheer apparel is now available at Bob’s! It’s not online yet but it’s on the showroom floor!

Stop by Bob’s BMW TODAY and TOMORROW (May 2 and 3) and get 15% OFF all women’s apparel, including helmets and sale items. Gentlemen, open your wallets, you too can buy gear for the women in your life! While you’re here be sure to fill out a registration form at the coffee station for a chance to WIN a Bob’s BMW gift card!

15% discount valid May 2 and 3. Discount cannot be combined with any other discounts except as noted in promotion. Includes in-stock merchandise and select special orders. Winner of door prize will be contacted directly. You do NOT have to be present to win but you must visit Bob’s to register.

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Bob's BMW Motorcycles is one of the largest, most respected BMW dealerships in North America, and the winner of numerous awards for overall excellence, merchandising, customer satisfaction, and community service. Bob’s is well known throughout the world for the passion and professionalism they bring to this business and sport. Bob's impressive brick and mortar Retail store, Dealership and Vintage Museum, serving the bustling Washington DC — Baltimore — Northern Virginia – Suburban Maryland area as well as surrounding mid-Atlantic region is the destination of choice for BMW enthusiasts everywhere for over 30 years. Bob's is a National leader in sales and service of new and used BMW motorcycles along with clean used offerings from most all brands and Bob’s offers complete refurbishing and restorations on any year BMW built since 1950. Since the beginnings in 1981 Bob’s has won praise for their huge inventory of genuine BMW parts, Accessories, and Riding Gear for all riders plus casual Apparel. Their ability to deliver what customers need when they need it is unparalleled. Bob's also specializes in high quality Used BMW motorcycle parts and hard-to-find Vintage BMW parts and accessories. One visit, one phone call or a few mouse clicks opens up the whole world of BMW Motorcycles.

Bob’s BMW Motorcycles - 10720 Guilford Road - Jessup, MD - Phone: 301-497-8949