Nobody's paying attention to us. We gotta get louder....
In the living room??? Yes you have issues
Arch.... ride that bike to the worst neighborhood in your area,, leave it there......…………..u can even throw the bmw cover on it.... come back a week later... let nature run its course.... maybe ull be unburdened. On a side note..... what does your wife think about allll the extra money ure spending on this gem of engineering? Doesn't it suck having to justify and explain the reason for spending thousands MORE on something that was supposed to be a dream machine? think about it arch.... u are never gonna love this bike the way u should.... greatness is greatness.... and when u experience or witness greatness.... it doesn't need to be explained... u know that.Well, this is going to take some explaining so it’s a long post. But for those of you with ADD, I’ll start with a summary: After an expensive struggle with the BMW, a neighbor got sick of my complaining and made me an offer for it, which I decided to except. His offer was only $6K off what I paid a short 8 months ago. Forgetting the $2K or so in various unsuccessful efforts to make the bike usable for my sensibilities, I was willing to cut my loses.
After thinking about it (for you unmarried guys that means a talk with his wife), He backed out of the deal. Dealers are offering to buy the bike back at a $12-$15K loss, depending on whether or not I was buying another bike! I’m just not willing to lose that kind of money, so I suppose I’m going to have to learn to live with the BMW.
So here is the rest of the story:
The BMW K1600 line is without doubt the premier sport touring line available. Since it came out in 2011, it’s 6-cylinder motor has owned the class. Obviously, BMW’s skill with gadgets and its automotive based design horsepower all add up to extraordinary motorcycle craftsmanship. Fit and finish as well as attention to details are impeccable. All that design and engineering is expensive, so BMW amortized the development cost over several models based on the same basic engine and chassis. For me, that’s where things went wrong.
BMW tried to beat the laws of physics and make the 750 lb. K16 bikes feel light and frisky. To accomplish this dexterity, BMW followed the fighter airplane industry and designed some instability into the frame’s geometry. At speed this translates into a bike that feels hundreds of pounds lighter than it is. Unfortunately, at slow speeds even an experienced rider is never above an embarrassing tip over. Alas, even German engineers could not fool mother nature. They were successful in making a big, heavy motorcycle quick, unfortunately a good touring bike can’t be unstable.
My hypothesis is a lot of the K16 bike’s dynamic issues start with its basic, designed-in instability. About 50-percent of the K-bikes exhibit a left pull (including mine). There is a reason for this in how the bike is assembled apparently (BMW is quiet on a recall or fix), but the fact that the bike is inherently so willing to drift off line in the first place can’t help in managing the pull. There is also an instability at high speeds/winds and in fast traffic, all probably traceable in part to the top-heavy weight bias. Any bike with this large a frontal/side area is going to be more susceptible to wind buffeting, but it can be quite unsettling on the K16 and passing a truck at highway speed is always a two-handed nail-biter.
Looking a bit deeper the top-heavy bias of the weight distribution of this bike could be a function of the basic packaging. The Duolever front suspension is said to be lighter than traditional forks. Still, the BMW system clearly wears what weight it has high on the frame. The engine’s long intake runners and single throttle-body (yes, exactly like the car) necessitated reclining cylinders nearly horizontal to get everything under the front suspension system. However, this puts the crankshaft higher in the frame and the clutch and transmission appear to be raising the center of gravity too. Now that I have gotten to know this bike, I wonder if the high center of mass was the purpose of the packaging or the result of it. Of course, I could be completely wrong. Maybe the German techs tested the K16 on a twisty Bavarian mountain pass and pronounced it worthy without ever slowing down?
As trick as the K16 is, it feels dated. The bike exploded on the scene in 2011, and there was nothing quite like it. Since then, the changes have been so imperceptible not even the aftermarket parts makers know their parts don’t fit the new model. Even the cubby in the fairing that holds your phone that has a USB port and a nifty foam pad that keeps the phone snug. Problem is a full-size phone won’t fit in the pocket.
The dash display is a tired LCD white on black display and the layout has the styling ques of days gone by. Certainly, the wonder-wheel is an inspired control (easily the best on 2 wheels), but it still demands a sequential access to functions a large, color TFT touch screen would not.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the audio system. All K1600’s delivered to the USA have the premium package which includes the $1,400 audio system. I don’t listen to the radio I use earbuds – so I didn’t even turn the radio on while testing the bike. When I did turn the radio on, I was shocked. It literally sounds cheaper than the $30 shop radio I bought at Home Depot! Couple this with BMW’s Garmin made $900 GPS option and you have a useless mess that works best when you turn it all off and just admit to yourself you got suckered.
Last, but not least is the ergonomics of the bike. Obviously, this is a personal thing and one man’s easy chair is another man’s torture rack. But the K1600 GT has a riding position that feels like you are in the down position doing pushups because the bars are so close to your chest. Your feet are tight beneath you, so it feels like you are in a catcher’s squat, and it quickly becomes uncomfortable.
The throttle is an interesting issue. Close the throttle completely and you get pretty firm engine braking. Open it a little and you get coasting. Continue around the throttle’s rotation and you finally get to the power. Useful at times but like so much on this bike it approaches a simple task in a complex way and falls short of improving the operation. Rumor has it that early K16s had a very quick throttle that generated a lot of complaints. It appears BMW heard these complaints and slowed the control down. The result is separating the pilot from the best engine in touring bikes.
The K1600 GT isn’t a complete flop. There are some features on the bike that are genius. The engine does pull once you get things rolling, and the 6 cylinders are remarkably smooth. Ride for a few hours at night and the headlight that adjusts to the lean angle of the bike will redefine your opinion of good lights; It’s a stunning revelation. The TC, ABS, ESA and Pro-Shift all work as advertised and with little attention or fumbling with settings. Not that big a deal these days, sort of expected actually. The K16 brakes are truly amazing and utterly confidence inspiring. This is a combination of a very strong basic system, good ABS, linking that works and the Duolever front end that works its magic to separate turning and braking forces.
Saying the K16 isn’t a good bike is probably not fair. However, despite being arguably one of the best engineered bikes around, they aren’t necessarily the best bike around. As much as I was fascinated by the complexity of this machine I was never impressed by its performance as a total package.
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