The BMW K 1600 family is Bavaria’s no-holds-barred answer to the touring question. Lavish amenities and opulent technologies are hallmarks of the modern K series, as is the hulking 1649cc inline-six engine, whisking what BMW Motorrad believes to be a rolling Shangri-La across the hinterlands. The lineup includes the GT, GTL, Grand America, and B (Bagger), each staking claim to a particular flavor of touring.The most athletic of the bunch is the 2022 BMW K 1600 GT, showing up to the new model-year soiree with a host of updates to its engine, semi-active rear suspension, electronics, new features, and infotainment system—all of which are shared between its siblings.
We took to the mountain roads and congested Southern Californian freeways aboard the decked-out 2022 BMW K 1600 GT, sampling a bit of everything the West Coast has to offer any budding rider to hit you with the Fast Facts.
Options are aplenty for the 2022 BMW K 1600 GT, and our test unit flexed quite a few. A box-stock K 1600 GT will set you back $23,895. However, keen-eyed observers will note that we added the functional Premium Package ($3000), along with Option 719 Mineral White Metallic paint ($1900), Option 719 Saddle Brown seat ($250), and floor lighting ($100), resulting in a lofty as-tested price of $29,145. Many of those options are self-explanatory, but here is what the Premium Package unlocks—up/down quickshifter, upgraded audio, keyless ignition, central locking, auxiliary LED lighting, an alarm system, and engine protection bars. If you only want one of those features in the Premium Package, you’ll have to get the whole kit-and-caboodle—quite cheeky, BMW.
The K 1600’s inline-6 that’s the poster child for balance and serenity. The 160 ponies on tap hit their peak 100 rpm sooner these days, and torque is nudged up to 132 ft-lbs thanks to updated ECU tuning, says BMW. But, the numbers don’t tell the half of it, as this six-cylinder mill propels with an elegance that can only be described as a divine momentum, spooling up without ever breaking a sweat. Torque is ever-present at curiously low rpm, making revving beyond the midrange almost unnecessary unless you want to hear that calming whirr build to a fierce shriek. The quickshifter is sublime, and the transmission has long gear ratios, helping riders settle into a grove nicely.
Euro 5 compliance cometh. The retuning takes care of our performance desires, yet there are important updates, such as dual knock sensors, to help compensate for less-than-ideal octane values. Additional catalytic converters raise the emissions bar, with extra sensors for even finer calibration.
Three riding modes transform the K 1600 GT nose to tail. Dynamic, Road, and Rain adjust everything from the throttle maps to rider aid intervention and semi-active suspension damping—we’ll examine those aspects shortly. For now, we’ll focus on how that impacts the engine response. Dynamic mode reveals the GT’s sportier personality with a robust response at your wrist that never takes things outside the sport-touring realm. Road mode is measured and mature, suitable for nearly any locale, while Rain is what you’d want in unsavory weather.
A massive 10.25-inch TFT display is one of the significant updates for 2022. The dash is all-new this year, and that begins with the honking dash, larger than most airline infotainment systems. BMW has always used encyclopedic user interfaces, explored via the wünder-wheel, and to help your search through the menus, four programmable Favorites buttons reside on the left fairing. It’s all clean and clear with picture-in-picture functions that allow riders to divide the screen into two panels—two-thirds displays speed, mph, and more, while the remaining third is dedicated to navigation, music, and phone calls. The functionality is impressive; the only thing left out is a webcam for conference calls.
BMW Motorrad Connected App is needed to access the full functionality. With the new display, readers will notice that our smartphones have replaced BMW’s Navigator GPS. An air-conditioned smartphone charging compartment is crucial because the app requires the screens to remain open with GPS running—that’s a recipe for heat and drained batteries. This is where issues start to crop up. Larger phones, or those with chunky cases, won’t fit in the cubby, and the windshield lowers when the bike is off to prevent theft. Meanwhile, pairing your phone and headset is a task, downloading regional maps, confirming WiFi links to the dash, getting the phone plugged in, and maneuvering it in said cubby. Eventually, things worked. And while the navigation or audio overlays are impressive, there are far too many hurdles to improve on the simplicity of a smartphone and headset pairing.
Audio system 2.0 kicks out the jams at a reasonable level. The latest audio system is undeniably clear, though BMW should take a page out of the V-twin world and live a little in terms of outright volume. Cruising speeds allow easy listening of your tunes, but anything above 50 mph is lost to wind noise.
A bit of a nip-tuck is in order this year, with adaptive headlights coming to the K 1600 family. The IMU enables cornering headlights, covering a 35-degree arc that illuminates the curve’s apex, which is quite handy after dark.
IMU-informed rider aids keep us secure — though one feature is missing. BMW puts its best foot forward with rider safety, providing the usual fare of cornering-aware traction control and ABS, engine drag torque control, hill start assist, and cruise control—all of which pass with flying colors. Yet, for a brand that prides itself on delivering class-leading technology, the lack of adaptive cruise control is a called strike, mainly since it’s present on the R 18 Transcontinental and R 1250 RT. Murky reasoning stands behind the decision, and all seem to orbit around pricing concerns.
Next-generation Dynamic ESA semi-active suspension is now standard. Semi-active suspension is a lovely tool in a touring application. The latest iteration features automatic load leveling, compensating for rider and luggage weight, as well as the usual damping adjustments. Road and Dynamic are your two settings, offering no adjustment beyond those preset parameters. Road is versatile and my preferred setting, offering enough support at each end to keep the 2022 BMW K 1600 GT’s 756 pounds aimed in the proper direction while maintaining comfort. At the opposite end is Dynamic, which turns the screws offering far more road feel. Dynamic mode is excellent on smooth, curvy sections of road, but taxing elsewhere.
Balanced handling is a hallmark of the K 1600 GT. The GT leans on its lengthy wheelbase and imposing curb weight for stability, yet we can always count on it to flow through sections of road coaxing from the pilot. Planted as it is, there are moments of vagueness when at lean and adding throttle. I’d wager it is a byproduct of the unique Duolever and Paralever suspension pairing, but rest assured, it isn’t going anywhere. The only time its heft is noticeable is when lifting it off the side stand or parking on a hill. Thankfully, we have reverse!
Braking is done right. Nothing has changed on the 320mm rotors and four-piston stoppers up front, offering a pleasurable bite and immense stopping power. In the rear, a single two-piston caliper and 320mm rotor are excellent when correcting lines or trawling at parking lot speeds.
Comfort and storage built for the long haul. The GT’s cockpit places everything within a leisurely reach. The grips and foot controls are placed just so, while ample wind protection offers a reprieve from the elements. Signature louvers redirect air towards the rider, which is particularly handy on scorching days. Meanwhile, the removable panniers are some of the finest in the business, with locking mechanisms that aren’t fiddly. The cases will consume a full-face helmet.
New features don’t spoil the sportier touring 2022 BMW K 1600 GT recipe. At its core, the GT is what we’ve known it to be—a multifaceted touring motorcycle, willing to rack up the miles or handle daily donkey work. In that respect, it’s still a winner with new standard features and options sweetening the pot, though refining the connectivity process would add value to some of those techy additions. As it stands, the inline-6 goes like stink and has unmatched smoothness, and it is paired with a chassis that begs the odometer to spin like a Vegas slot machine.
Hello everyone and welcome to Motos and Friends, a weekly Podcast brought to you by the editorial team at Ultimate Motorcycling. My name is Arthur Coldwells.
Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 is an excellent foray into the middleweight ADV world. Associate Editor Neil Wyenn owns a 2021 model, and has spent the last year adding and improving various aspects of his bike. Some add-ons are more vital others, and he lets us into his secrets for getting the most out of the Yamaha Ténéré. His total enthusiasm for ADV riding and the Yamaha Ténéré in particular were pretty obvious to me—I’m sure you’ll feel the same. Links to all the items he mentions are below.