K1600GTL Test Ride - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old May 3rd, 2011, 2:17 pm Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Stoughton, MA, USA
Posts: 71
K1600GTL Test Ride

Took a new K1600GTL for a test ride on this past weekend - here are a few impressions.

(1) The motor is incredibly smooth and vibration free. I could detect no resonances or buzzy spots anywhere in the useful rev range or cruising to well over 80 mph. Finally, this is a motor that is really as smooth as the "legendary" BMW reputation would have us believe. Plenty of torque. No clutch issues. Wonderful exhaust sound. And, unlike the flying bricks, you can't hear the clutch or alternator at idle!

(2) The throttle-by-wire is pretty well sorted out w/ the exception that the FI shut-off is a little too abrupt at low revs. At anything above 2000 RPM there's no issue.

(3) The bike handles like one that weighs 300 pounds less. It responds instantly to "body" steering and you can easily guide the machine with just subtle pressure on the pegs. Of course, it responds perfectly to countersteering.

(4) The instrumentation is pretty comprehensive - but maybe too distracting for a bike? Also, the relatively large flat plastic windows to make for some annoying reflective glare. And if this bike has self-cancelling turn indicators, they didn't work for me.

(5) Wind protection/quietness is maybe not quite as good as you'd expect. With the screen in the lowest position you get some buffeting and lots of noise. Raise it up and the buffeting will stop (at least for the rider - don't know about the passenger), but wind noise is still there. In full high position, you're looking through the screen all the time. Overall, good for a euro bike, but nowhere near GoldWing quietness in the cockpit.

(6) Seating position - comfortable for touring, but you're pretty well pinned in one position on the driver's saddle - no wiggle room. I expect those long of leg will find the seat a little too low or your knees bent too much. (I didn't explore adjustment ranges).

(7) Brakes are smooth and linear w/ nice feel and feedback. Thank goodness BMW has done away with servo assistance.

Overall - very impressive. Made my '03 K1200GT feel a little like a garden tractor on the ride home. I think BMW has a winner here - so long as the reliability of the electronics doesn't let them down - and they keep service costs in check.

Thanks to Tom Fornier at Dunbar Eurosports in Brockton, MA for making the bike available for test rides!


'03 BMW K1200GT (Orient Blue)
'00 BMW R1100SA (Mandarin/Silver)
'56 BMW R50 (for sale)
'74 R90S (Daytona Orange)
'06 Ducati Paul Smart Replica (for sale)
'81 Honda CBX SuperSport
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old May 5th, 2011, 1:46 pm
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: New Rochelle , NY, USA
Posts: 1,407
Smile Also got a test ride on the 1600GT

Stopped in at Max's at Danbury, CT.for a change of fluids on my bike. Sitting in the parking lot was a Maroon 1600GT. Max was just getting off the bike after a 10 mile ride. He was grinning. Said I could be the first demo person on this bike.

12 miles on the clock. I took it for 25 miles twisities and super slab for a bit over a half hour( there was a list of more demo prospects waiting after me)

Now for my impressions:

Looks good and is around the same size as my 1300GT. Getting on it, I felt like I was getting on my current ride, a 1300GT with Rich Mayer saddle.
Very intuitive console and the controls are similar to the current BMW's. One major extra control, is a knobby ring on the left handlebar at the inside of the grip. This controls the various adjustments after the menu controls have been chosen. I played with the sport and comfort settings while riding on the different types of road. They are definitively different rides.

The engine and transmission is very smooth with almost no clunkiness in shifting ,especially into 1st gear and upwards.There is no chain tensioner making the sound of tumbling bricks in a washing machine, while idling.

This bike had no Nav or radio, but the spot for the Nav just below the windshield seems perfectly in line with road vision. I had no issue with the windscreen. I did not like when the windscreen is all the way up, it is almost vertical. I did not go fast enough ( maybe 85 on the freeway) to check out how much buffeting there is.

It is so nimble that I hardly noticed that it weighs a hundred pounds more than the 1300 GT. As a matter of fact, when I slipped in my first few turns at speed, I really thought I could drop the bike. By the 3rd turn, I felt that the bike knows exactly when to slip into turning mode. I started seeing just how nice this bike handles, and it is good!

My only possible negative is the engine braking. when i was coming off the freewa and slowing down, in gear ( 3rd & 2nd), I felt the bike pulsing a little. Maybe, this bike needs some more mileage, and gwet the rings seated nicely. Of course, our friends in Germany installed aa anemic horn that wouldn't scare a fly. Needs a Stebel

Alas, I had to return the bike too soon. Ifthere is time later today, when I go to pick up my bike, I am slated for another more extensive test ride.By then the bike will have probably been broken in.

Thumbs up to BMW. Hopefully there will not be too many 1st year glitches.

Deep Blue 2009 K1300GT
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old May 6th, 2011, 9:45 am
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Simsbury, CT, United States
Posts: 54
Sweet Ride

I was also the first to demo the maroon bike at Max BMW near Danbury.

Overall comments:
- The engine and transmission were extremely smooth. Below about 4500 rpm, it was literally like an electric motor. Above that, there were slight ripples of subdued vibration, certainly much less than my 1300GT. The sound is more musical than the four-banger & makes a nice little growl whenever you pull away in first or give it gas. Throttle response was really good in both Dynamic and Road settings. I mostly stayed in Road, and didn't think the difference was dramatic. The throttle return spring is very light, which takes a minute or two to adjust to, but it's probably a plus on a long ride.

- Power really does go down well below 2000 rpm, so much so that I imagine that after a while it would become normal to ride at least 1000 rpm lower than I'm used on the 1300. I suspect this is why some reviewers have commented about a lack of grunt - they're riding around just off idle. At similar rpm's to the 1300, the bike has similar grunt, I thought.

- Shifting required much less attention to do well than the 1300, and the clunk going into 1st from neutral was small enough to easily live with. Pulling away in 1st likewise is perfectly smooth and can be done unconsciously once you get used to the engagement point (or adjust it to your liking).

- The riding position is the most comfortable of any bike I've ridden. The seat is really comfortable, giving very even support and good leg room. For something like an Iron Butt, this thing would be great. It does moves the sport/touring needle a meaningful bit toward touring compared to the 1300GT.

- This was a very gusty day. For me, the wind protection was more full-coverage than on the 1300, and the range of adjustment of the windshield was bigger as well. With the windshield fully raised, I was just able to see over it in the middle (the top is a shallow V shape), and there was almost complete silence. (6'0", 30" inseam). As Larry pointed out, it was almost vertical, but it seemed to work well. I mostly rode with it all the way down, which is also how I ride the 1300 unless it's raining.

- The bike was deceptively fast in a way the 1300GT is not, probably due to the smooth/quiet drivetrain, upright riding position and isolation from the wind. It would be very easy to do 70 in a 35 without realizing it.

- This bike did not have ESA, so no feedback along those lines. The ride was cushier than the 1300GT in comfort mode, but was better damped than comfort mode, if that makes sense.

- I didn't have time to learn the controls. I looked for the grip/seat heater buttons & didn't see them (they had already been turned on anyway). I hope they're not buried somewhere in a menu somewhere

- The bike must have a low center of gravity, because it felt no heavier than the K1300GT. It was easy to maneuver in the parking lot & do U-turns. The handling was different than the 1300's, very light and precise, but I think that like the seating it is is little more relaxed/touring oriented.

- The side stand was easy to operate, and for a change has an adequate footprint & leans the bike at an appropriate angle. No farkles needed. It didn't feel particularly stout, though I doubt we'll be hearing about side stand failures.

- My overall impression is that this bike is exceptionally well executed and will sell very well. However, it's a slightly different animal compared to the K1300GT, in the sense that it moves the bar a significant bit away from sport and toward touring. I suspect I would ride it differently, and maybe gravitate toward different roads and longer trips than my current bike.

Would I get more satisfaction out of it long term? Hard to say. For now, I'm keeping the old one, if for no other reason that it's only two years old, and I want to recover at least another year of depreciation. If I was more into long-distance riding, I would probably find it hard to wait. As it is, I hardy ever put more than 300 miles on it in a day.

2009 K1300GT (Red) :
2002 R1150R (Sold)
1997 Honda VFR 750 (Sold)
1997 Honda Valkyrie Tourer (Totalled)
1995 Honda ST1100 (Sold)
1980 Honda GL1100 (Sold)
1983 Yamaha XV920 (Sold)
1979 Honda CX500 (Sold)
1980 Yamaha XS400 Special II (Sold)
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old May 6th, 2011, 6:20 pm
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Location: New Rochelle , NY, USA
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Neil, I got the chance later in the day to take another look at the bike. I figured out the controls. Another imnpression was, the 1600 did not seem to have the "punch" that the 1300 has. it seems a tad slower in the rush of acceleration. I do like the accessory outlet high up near where your electric vest plug should be. I am not thrilled on my bike as you are , about the dangling cord near the footpegs.

Max did a great job on getting my bike ready for my trip next week.
See you on the road.

Deep Blue 2009 K1300GT
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old May 7th, 2011, 9:13 am
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Location: Near Omaha, NE, Western IA, USA
Posts: 66
Talking Demo Ride - Omaha, NE

BMW Motorcycles of Omaha got their GTL Demo Thursday. They had an "unveil" (no, the Teutul's were not there) yesterday evening for the pre-order customers...

Before getting into the Pizza and beer/wine, I took the bike out for a quick spin. I can generally confirm what others have said about he bike before. A couple of personal observations... [Note: My history is completely in Sport Touring motorbikes, I am currently riding an 08 K1200GT, so that is the primary comparison bike for me!]
  • Throttle is VERY sensitive - almost like the original (pre-ECU reflash) K1200GT. It's not a huge issue, one just needs to be aware of it, especially in DYNAMIC mode.
  • The bike handles easier at slow speeds than my 1200GT. I believe the balance of the bike is better, overall.
  • The slipper clutch is GREAT, and the transmission has almost no cluncking. Nice.
  • I did not care for the windshield on the GTL - In oder to eliminate the buffeting, I had to raise it so far I was looking through it... I hope this will be better on the GT I have coming.
  • The low seat on the GTL gets me "flat footing" the bike - I am 5-10 with a 31.5 inseam...

Also was able to pair my Schuberth SRC to the bike's bluetooth - easy set up! Will go back for a more extensive 1+h test ride next week; will be able to test the SRC/bike combination in greater detail then.

Overall, I do not regret my decision to 'upgrade.' Can't wait to get my new GT!

His: 2012 K1600GT
Hers: 2008 Buell Blast (for sale) & 2009 Ducati Monster 696

Last edited by amzarinelli; May 7th, 2011 at 9:15 am. Reason: fatfingeritis
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old May 7th, 2011, 2:22 pm
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Louisville, KY, USA
Posts: 48
I was able to test ride a GTL today. I agree my all the above reviews.
especially noteworthy:
smooth shifting 0 clunkiness - clutch actually grabs very close to the grip
nice smooth, even acceleration - would have to agree though the the GT just feels more powerful though
superb handling - leans almost instinctively into the turns and holds the line very well.
very well balanced - barely noticed the weight
low seat height meant I was able to flat foot (29 inch inseam) and was able to back it up in the parking space with no problem.
this one had the gps integrated into the dash which is extremely nice.
comfortable seating position but the was like a brick to me.

Overall I think they got this one right.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old May 7th, 2011, 6:06 pm
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Saw one for the first time today at the dealer. It was their 'demo only' bike and since they haven't had one pre-order sale for them, they won't get one to sell until October or until they get the pre-orders sorted out.

Sales guy took it for a test ride and noticed the twitchiness of the throttle grip when you back off it slightly. He said it has a surging effect as the throttle is very touchy added in with some drive-train slop. He wants the shop to check it over on the twitchiness part. The extra 100 pounds seemed low to him and said it handled well at slow speed. They have a taller seat as well (optional) since it does sit one lower than normal on a BMW. A lot of short people, maybe 5' 6" could flat-foot it the way it was setup. Quite low.

The Bluetooth may require their $800 each Schuberth helmet to integrate well, or some other Bluetooth helmet. No aux. plug-in for helmet speakers was seen. They included the jack and plug for the iPod/phone in the right faring lower lockable pocket. It even has wedgie foam in it to hold the devices in place. Dunno how an iPhone's reception would work that close by the engine's right side.

The right brake peddle is very close to the water pump and the hinged foot-peg. If it falls, I could see it taking out the water pump. No crash protection for the engine at all other than the aux. running lights. I'll await someone to do a through left-and-right crash or tip-over for that report. This is something BMW seems to ignore compared to other brands. Maybe plan is to sell parts -- or maybe engines?

Nice dash display though and in color. Very easy to navigate through with the wheel and mode button. Radio reception wasn't the best I've heard from the bike's speakers compared to a Harley or Gold Wing, but that hasn't been BMW's strong point either. No GPS in the bike either as it is on order.

They need to put 2,500 miles on it before they can sell their demo too. Might be a while unless they allow for some out of town junkets which it sounds like the employees may do.

Turn signals and lighting seem very nice. You cannot miss the long yellow LEDs blinking in the front fairings or the blue horse-shoes around the outer headlights. Much nicer feeling from the case latches too. Trunk mount lock to the rack is under the little carpet in the trunk.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old May 10th, 2011, 11:30 am
Cruisin the MidAtlantic joyfully
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Potomac, MD, USA
Posts: 67
I also tested the GTL yesterday at Bob's BMW in Maryland. It is a terrific bike, surprisingly fast and agile, even compared to my '08 K1200GT. The extremely pulled back bar took me some adjustment, coming from a more leaned position, but it's fine. The U-shaped saddle is initially very comfortable, but you can't change position, so I'm not a real fan of that. Your only option is to stand up periodically to relieve pressure points.

One reminder to test riders: make sure you put the bike in Dynamic mode before you assess the acceleration, because if you are sent out on the bike in Rain mode by the salesman to maximize the safety of the dealer's demonstrator, you will be disappointed in the performance. You change the mode by coming to a stop, and pressing the mode switch on the R hand grip until Dynamic shows on the left upper portion of the LCD screen. This setting gives full power and minimal intrusion of the stability and traction control. Don't use it on a wet day test ride, I'd suggest.

In Dynamic mode, the bike is a rocket, with a fantastic engine sound and smoothness, and breathtakingly quick steering for a bike of this mass. It is, however, also very stable at speed. I cornered it moderately aggressively, and could not ground a peg.

The seat height on the GTL is quite low, and this takes some getting used to for those who are used to taller bikes.
I put a deposit on a GT for the fall, and will trade my K1200GT for it. Looking forward to it.

'08 BMW K1200GT
'10 Ducati 1198 S Corse
'10 Ducati Streetfighter S
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old May 10th, 2011, 10:44 pm
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Was at the dealer again looking at "the thing." We never could figure out where the rear accessory socket is at on it. Even the dealer didn't know. It is a K1600GTL with the trunk so it should have one someplace back there. Anyone know where it's hidden?

Price OTD would be over $30K with tax and license with the BMW GPS option they are adding to it in California. Add on would be the engine guard for another $350. The black Fog Lights on it say LED on the invoice. Must be bright suckers. Wonder why they didn't integrate them into the fairing a bit better as on the Gold Wing?

There was some question as to how bright the color display would be in the sunlight too. The air swivels seemed sort of loose for me (upper chrome pieces on the top fairing.). We did spot the Sirus Satellite Radio unit under the seat in our "Dismantle this sucker" look-see.

Someone was joking their house depreciated to what the bike costs in this wunnerful recession. We told him "BMW sells a trunk-mounted pop-out tent for $3,000." Didn't think he appreciated it.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old May 15th, 2011, 12:36 am
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That's not a proper test ride. This is a proper test ride.

Pacific NorthWet
'13 Dark Graphite Metallic K16GTLD, 24K miles and counting...
'09 Magnesium Beige Metallic K13GT, 60K miles miles and counting...
'02 Mauve Metallic K12LTC, 106K miles and sold
BMWLT#145, IBA# 366, MOA# 111996, SCMA# 24032

All lower 48 states plus Alaska on the K13GT in two weeks . . .

Some people see the gas tank as half empty. Some see it as half full. All I care is that I know where the next tankful is coming from...
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