BMW K 1600

BMW K 1600 Feature

Has BMW perfected the formula for two-up travel with the new k 1600? James Oxley travels to the bike’s international launch in Spain to find out

LocationMapSpainMy wife and I have been together for 10 years and a very happy decade it has been. But I’ve noticed that the longer we’re together, the harder it is to come up with gift ideas for birthdays, Christmas, and anniversaries.

Sure, I could simply buy flowers, chocolates, and Champagne, but I used to pride myself on making her smile with a thoughtful surprise. And frustratingly, after celebrating so many special occasions, I’ve been drawing a mental blank in the present-buying stakes of late.

However, after attending the launch of BMW’s K 1600 in Malaga, Spain, I may have hit upon a solution. You see, my wife enjoys nothing more than exploring the world with me by motorcycle. So, what better gift to give a travel-loving pillion than one of the most luxurious two-wheeled passenger experiences money can buy.

From the expanse of quilted leather on the pillion seat of the Grand America model I mostly rode at the press launch, to its padded backrest, optional armrests, and built-in passenger speakers, this a motorcycle designed with cosseted two-up travel at its core. That luxurious comfort also extends to the rider as I revelled in a sumptuously padded seat while stretching my legs out on the forward-mounted footboards.

In fact, the whole experience felt rather cruiser-like as I motored along Spanish highways with my legs and arms high, and my backside low on the 750mm tall seat. Ok, so we’re not talking chopper ergonomics here, but what BMW has done with the K 1600 Grand America is to create a hybrid cruiser/sports tourer riding experience. And, I admit, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Take your pick

BMW has actually released four versions of the K 1600 for 2022. Next to the Grand America in the cruiser-styled line-up is its close cousin, the K 1600 B, or bagger. The main difference between the two being the B doesn’t come with a top box and pillion backrest, and it sports a smaller screen.

And then, across the room in the sports touring corner, we have the K 1600 GTL and GT (the GTL has a top box and backrest, the GT doesn’t). Despite all four versions of the bike sharing the same 1,649cc engine, 17” wheels, and cast aluminium frame, I was amazed at how different the GT and GTL felt to ride compared to the other two.

The GT, in particular, with its taller 810-830mm seat height, has a sportier riding position than the laidback Grand America or Bagger. This naturally positioned my bodyweight further forward and encouraged my legs to grip the tank, providing greater confidence to throw the bike into corners more aggressively than I had been on the laidback Grand America. The overall feeling was more of a traditional sports tourer, albeit a luxuriously comfortable one. And for a big bike, the handling was incredibly light.


No matter which model of K 1600 you choose, you’ll be riding one of the most technologically advanced touring bikes on the planet. Upfront is a mammoth electronically adjustable screen which did an exquisite job of keeping wind and rain off when I hit a storm on a motorway. Nestled below that screen is the only slightly less enormous 10.25” TFT display. It clearly shows all the information a rider could need in high-definition glory.

In fact, the TFT is so huge, I used half of it to display SatNav directions linked to a phone running the BMW app. Elsewhere, there was an adaptive headlight that turns as you ride into corners, an onboard entertainment system with built-in speakers, a reverse gear, heated seats and grips, keyless ride, the list goes on…

Silky smooth


Price: From £20,395 (Grand America: £24,410)
Engine: Oil/water-cooled, in-line six-cylinder
Final drive: Shaft
Capacity: 1,649cc
Power: 160bhp at 6,750rpm
Torque: 180Nm at 5,250rpm
Suspension: Front: BMW Motorrad duolever, central spring strut. Rear: BMW Motorrad Paralever, central spring strut
Brakes: Front; Dual 320mm discs, four-piston fixed callipers. Rear: Single 320mm disc, double-piston calliper
Wheels: 17” front and rear
Weight: 367kg wet
Tank capacity: 26.5 litres
Seat height: 750mm (Grand America) 810-830mm (GT)

Propelling you along is a six-cylinder 160bhp engine. As a rule, the more cylinders a motorcycle has, the smoother the engine is. It’s the reason single-cylinder bikes got the nickname thumpers.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are powerplants like the K 1600s that feel so smooth, you could serve tea to the Queen using your finest bone china. This combined with the bike’s electronic suspension, which automatically adjusts the road surface, results in a motorcycle that glides smoothly and effortlessly.

However, despite boasting 180Nm of torque and 160bhp, the acceleration isn’t rapid for an engine of this size, even in the sportiest of the three rider modes, Dynamic (the others are Road and Rain).

Rather than providing a burst of acceleration to propel all 367kg of the K 1600 forward, the bike built speed smoothly and progressively, but not particularly quickly. Indeed, I found myself planning overtakes further ahead than usual and I almost always knocked the bike down a gear.

Despite this, BMW’s big tourer provides one of the world’s most luxurious riding experiences for both rider and pillion. I guarantee, your better half will be overjoyed if you embark on your next two-up tour on a K 1600. In fact, I think I may have found the perfect wedding anniversary gift.

Although, with prices starting at £20,395, let’s hope my bank manager agrees.

You can read my full review of the BMW K 1600 in the May/June issue of ABR