K1600 GT and GTL @ 2011 Street Vibrations - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old Oct 3rd, 2011, 2:42 am Thread Starter
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K1600 GT and GTL @ 2011 Street Vibrations

That's all the posts for the K1600 GT and GTL? Alright, let's spice it up a bit.

So... I rode the K1600GT... and the GTL afterward. Sheep among the wolves? It felt that way that weekend.

I was at the Street Vibrations (Reno, Nevada), working for the BMW's Demo Tent. For those who are not familiar with this event, it's an annual gathering for the cruisers crowd (Harleys, Victories, customs, etc.) - http://www.road-shows.com/street_vibrations.php

And among them, 10 K1600GTL and 6 K1600GT (more or less... plus 2 RT-P lead bikes). It was quite interesting and funny to see many of those cruiser riders stopped by and trying out the BMWs cruising flavors.

Demo rides ran from Thursday to Saturday. We got busy on Friday and Saturday... and I ended up playing sweep for the second group. This gave me 4-5 riding sessions with both bikes.

Initial impressions:

Both are heavy bikes to begin with. Slow-speed maneuvers take some getting used to. It's true what some reviews said, both seem to shred weight as you get on the throttle. The balance is phenomenal for a 'big' bike. Eventually I also learnt that it behaves well when ridden like how one would ride an RT. This is something I didn't feel as much when riding the K1300GT. I'm guessing the K1300GT's more lean forward position has something to do with this.

The engine is a gem. What else can I say? It pulls like a locomotive. It's so smooth throughout the RPM range just with an added buzz at the higher range. Clutch pull is light, gears are easy too engage. The throttle has a different feel than what we are used to, but it's so precise, so yes, it takes a bit of a learning curve and getting used to. But after that it's so predictable and light to operate. One thing I found later on... the gears prefer to shift around mid-range. It takes a little more effort to shift at the higher RPM, close to redline. Possibly something I had to get used to as well.

I did several low RPM tests and had the bike go as low as 30 MPH on 6th gear and did a roll on. No hiccups, it just went on and accelerated smoothly. By the way, 65 MPH on 6th gear is right just below 3000 RPM.

One thing that I had to get used to as well... listening to the engine sound. It sounds awesome from behind, but you can't quite hear it from the front seat. And with barely any vibrations, I had to pay attention to the RPM in the beginning.

Riding dynamic: ESA II works great with noticeable differences between each setting. Comfort is for cruising and eating miles on smooth freeways. Normal is for the rest. Sport, maybe if one takes it closer to the extreme... which I'm not skilled enough to do. But just like the previous ESA on the K1200/1300s... Sport raises the rear a bit. I was carving through the twisties in Normal.

One other thing that impresses me from the engine is how economical it is. Unlike some other sport-touring bikes that need an ECO mode to go frugal, the K1600GT/GTL would just do it as you go. A couple of the sweep rides I did, I reset the consumption and saw as high as 50.6 MPG. This included mixed main street traffic, freeways, twisties, a short stop and go, and occasional chasing the bikes and kept them in line (passed the speed limit a few times).

"Today's cars are the most complex, sophisticated machines ever to be places in the hands of inexpert operators.", Richard Parry-Jones on what's really holding back the automobile
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old Oct 3rd, 2011, 2:49 am Thread Starter
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The balance feels a bit better than the K1300 GT, but I feel it's more because the position seems to be a bit more upright than the K1300 GT. It feels like if the K1300 GT's handlebar with an extra 5th 'more upright' setting. That makes it feel like you sit on an R1200 RT.

The Adaptive Headlight works even better than I thought.

It feels surreal at first. We are used to headlights that point ahead, subconsciously we refer to it as the front. Now suddenly, that bright pattern that is suppose to be at 12 o'clock, follows the road as it curve. It's quite an amazing thing. The one experience that caught my attention was going through an on-ramp and the bright spot just stayed on the road.

The GTL goes through the twisties like a smaller, sportier bike. It rails through them easy. There's that familiar linear feel, from the initial turn-in and the follow-through. The Duolever is confident inspiring as always.

I tried the different settings. I found that Normal damping is actually pretty good. The Sport setting is probably better felt on the GT. I did find that while carving through the corners, I ended up sitting more forward. That handlebar is just not designed for that, but it can be ridden hard and will keep up with the GT.

One thing I can emphasize is that the power delivery is never overwhelming. It is more of a linear delivery, more relaxed under 5000 RPM, with a more urgency as it approaches the 5000 RPM and builds up progressively going toward the redline. Although it never feels like one need to rev it to the redline. The bike is happy to shift around 7K and there's plenty pull to go from then on. Bringing it to the redline makes it a bit harder to shift.

A few times I found myself wishing for the Quick Shift.

The throttle engagement does need getting used to being a full ride-by-wire system. But it's such a precise system that it is predictable and getting used to it is not that difficult. Once you do, you're rewarding with the appropriate response whenever you're thinking it.

"Today's cars are the most complex, sophisticated machines ever to be places in the hands of inexpert operators.", Richard Parry-Jones on what's really holding back the automobile
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old Oct 3rd, 2011, 3:48 pm
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Nice review thanks iehawk.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old Oct 5th, 2011, 7:03 pm Thread Starter
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Video clips:

Passing a truck - http://contour.com/stories/street-vi...1600gtl-ride-4
Northeast of Lake Tahoe - http://contour.com/stories/street-vi...1600gtl-ride-5
Left turn and speed up - http://contour.com/stories/street-vi...1600gtl-ride-6

"Today's cars are the most complex, sophisticated machines ever to be places in the hands of inexpert operators.", Richard Parry-Jones on what's really holding back the automobile

Last edited by iehawk; Oct 7th, 2011 at 1:42 am.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old Oct 6th, 2011, 12:57 pm
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I heard that the Street Vibrations got shut down early in Reno due to some H-A shooting or something? May not go next year either as a result.

We had an annual motorcycle event here that started to grow, but the last time they held one the H-A showed up with a recruitment booth and that was the last event we had. Organizers were being forced to pay more for security and police overtime so they gave it up as too costly, as well as a steep insurance venue cost hike. Most of the bike customizers attending have dropped off the radar screen now too due to the economy.


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old Oct 6th, 2011, 7:28 pm Thread Starter
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The shootout happened in Sparks actually, the other Street Vibrations' location. They were there probably because the HD dealership is in Sparks.

That side of Street Vibrations was closed down that same Friday night.

Many people on the Reno side didn't know about it until the next day. And the site was kept open throughout Saturday. BMW demo truck was at the busiest that day all the way to the last ride at 3pm.

Police presence was really high, especially in the demo truck area. They were staging literally next to us. Play it by ear, next year is so far away. I'll post it here too as soon as I find out BMW is going again.

"Today's cars are the most complex, sophisticated machines ever to be places in the hands of inexpert operators.", Richard Parry-Jones on what's really holding back the automobile
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