Is it unique in the universe of people who love motorcycles that a movie star of any variety would be unceremoniously elbowed out of the way if he or she was blocking the view of a cool bike? Such would surely have been the case with the Red River Riders who had gathered to ogle the new BMW 1600 GTL.
|Charles ogles the new BMW K1600GTL|
The bike, the newest in the BMW stable, is and isn't the replacement of the venerable BMW K1300 LT, aka "Luxury Touring", "Light Truck", Large Transit," or "Up, Simba!" It isn't the replacement because the 1600 GT has very little in common with the LT. It is the replacement because BMW has ended production on both the LT and the 1300GT, so the 1600 GT is the closest thing going. Confused? Just wait, it will get worse.
There are some among you who may say, "BMW 1600GT? New? What? I'm confused again!" You would have a right to be. The Bavarians, while wildly efficient in many ways, could use a little help in say, the creativity and naming departments. This is, in fact, the orignal BMW 1600GT, circa 1960s.
|The (old) BMW 1600GT|
The 1600GTL is considered a Sport Touring Bike and despite it's 766-lb heft, it is amazingly nimble. The peppy inline-6 engine is responsible for just a small percentage of that weight and BMW has reconfigured the powerplant to make it the narrowest inline-6 ever mounted on a motorcycle. Because of that, The K1600GT/GTL manages a much sportier look than the LT and seemlessly displays its Bavarian racing lineage.
So, let's recap, shall we? Heavy? Yes. New? Yes. Looks better than an LT? Yes. Fun to drive? Well, let's see. SMS offered Shreveport bike builder Steve Culp and me a chance to take the GTL out for a spin and we obliged. I'll start with my observations and then turn it over to Steve, because the girl should always go first.
Let me start by telling you something very important. I am not a Luxury Touring/Big Cruiser kind of gal. This is not the type of riding that I do and this segment of motorcycles has never, ever appealed to me.I believed my husband had suffered some type of mental collapse when he bought a Harley Big Wonker and I have made so many rude comments about the alleged ages of my Gold Wing-riding friends that I am banned from talking to them or about them. At Bike Week once when Steve and I test-rode a Gold Wing just to see what the big deal was, I covered my face for the entire ride and felt physically repulsed. So you can see that it was with great joy that I prepared for my ride on the GTL.
|Liz sitting very flat-footed.|
|I had enough time to ride to Arizona and do this wheelie!|
Since there are enough buttons, nodules and nodes on the panel to distract any driver, the ABS brakes are important, and they do the trick, easily bringing the heavy motorbike to smooth stops. Though I am not the market audience for this bike, I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is looking for a luxury sport touring machine. BMW should have a hit on their hands.
Now let's hear from Steve.
I was cramped on the bike, too, so I would definitely choose the higher seat option that is available. The cornering and manuevering ability really belies the size and weight of this bike. It's smooth, nothing is twitchy, even when Liz jumped on to try out the back seat. Even when she was moving around to try to get the bike to behave badly, it never once wanted to turn in with the passenger. The acceleration was excellent, what I would expect from BMW. (Steve wasn't as worried about a ticket, and got the GTL up to 120 mph - in 5th gear-somewhere in Caddo Parish.) I kept the bike in 6th gear and slowed to 30 mph, and the engine didn't lug.
Lest you think we were all drools after our rides, we compared notes and did find that we had some issues. Neither Steve nor I could find a windshield setting that prevented buffeting or the vaccuum-effect at highway speeds. It was uncomfortable to me, Steve was more stoic about that than I. I sat in place for about 5 minutes fooling with some buttons and the bike started throwing off a lot more heat than I am used to with other BMW models. Steve discovered when we were riding 2-up that the cruise control causes a pronounced lurch when disconnected. He tried several ways of turning it off and could not smooth it out. I believe most new owners will throw the factory seat away asap, but Steve found it comfortable. These were small annoyances on an otherwise great bike.
|Overall, we liked it THIS much.|
SMS will be getting 3 GTLs and 1 GT soon, they hope. If you're interested, put some money down. These Tourers could be shooting out the door at speeds normally reserved for sport bikes.
A Few Other Interesting GT/GTL Bits:
- The GT/GTL doesn't have the LT's hydraulic center stand or reverse. It's still a heavy bike, so the jury is out on this decision.
- Base price for the GT is $20,900, for the GT- $23,200. Expect to add $3,000-$4,000 more for the stuff you want.
- Bluetooth is standard on the GTL, but BMW suggests Schuberth C3 helmets if you want your wireless to work. Those helmets run about $700.
- Since BMW expects most riders to listen to music wirelessly, there are no rear speakers for the back rider.
- BMW is already offering a load of accessories such as Akrapovic exhausts, LED ground lighting, windshields, seats and bag liners. These accessories can be seen in BMW's new "Why We Love Bob Critcher" Catalog.