2018 BMW K1600 B
by Brian Robinson
BMW has been making motorcycles for a long time. And if there’s one thing they know how to do, it’s create bikes that make anyone who rides them want to hit the back roads and never look back. At least that’s the excuse our resident two wheeler Brian Robinson had, after a recent disappearing act on one of BMW’s latest.
BRIAN ROBINSON: “At their essence, motorcycles are essentially an engine, with a frame and wheels attached to it, to get it and you down the road. But, if you want to get really far down that road, and minimalism is not your thing, BMW has got a bike for you.”
To create the K 1600 B, BMW essentially took their K 1600 GT sport-tourer and sprinkled some “cruiser dust” on it, to make it more appealing to American riders.
Now before you R1200C fans that are out there get all excited, this is not a cruiser clone; here, BMW is more looking to capitalize on the current custom bagger trend.
Basically, BMW has grafted a new back end onto the K 1600 that not only looks a lot more stylish, but brings the rear seat and passenger significantly lower; more like a traditional cruiser.
Exhaust pipes are rerouted, staying low to the ground; and expelling exhaust through a pair of huge mufflers.
Up front, the adjustable windscreen is also lower and there’s a traditional-appearing, though far from normal tubular handlebar.
The 1649cc inline-6 engine is beyond smooth, making 160-horsepower and 129 lb.-ft. of torque, as is the rest of the bike wrapped around it. Yet it’s also fast and solid feeling; all leading up to a riding experience that’s more sport-tourer than cruiser. Cracking open this 6-pack can indeed be exhilarating.
Most things will be familiar if you’ve spent any time on one of BMW’s other K bikes; including the generally intuitive multi-controller on the left handgrip that controls a multitude of functions including riding modes, adjustable suspension, heated grips and seat, as well as all of the usual trip meter displays.
With BMW’s optional keyless ride, no need to take the key out of your pocket, just hit the ignition button and thumb the starter; you’re good to go.
Side-opening saddlebags are longer and lower than the GT’s, yet hold a decent 37-liters worth of gear each. Big grab handles inboard, make strapping on a duffel a simple affair.
7.0-gallons in the tank, easily gives you more than 250-miles of ride time before a refuel, and the seat is just comfortable enough to make an easy chore of it.
The only time you really feel its 740-lbs. of weight is in really slow maneuvers; otherwise at speed, the K1600 B tends to shed weight as quickly as it eats up miles.
If you do find the weight too much to deal with, the GTL’s reverse assistant is available.
Mid-mounted pegs are standard for a relaxed riding position, with the left-side shifter working the 6-speed gearbox seamlessly. Front mounted floorboards are an option if you like to stretch your legs while still in the saddle.
Pricing starts right at 20-grand, and you can get closer to 25 with available Premium and Touring packages.
Now, as for who the 2018 BMW K 1600 B is most likely to appeal to; well unlike the R1200C, it’s not really meant to win over the V-Twin crowd. More realistically, it gives sport touring riders and particularly BMW buyers a highly stylish option to satisfy their wanderlust touring needs.