2022 BMW K1600 GTL
by Brian Robinson
When it comes to comfortable, luxury-minded, high-tech conveyance with a performance twist; it’s hard to beat the BMW 7-series. Now, only if they had a two-wheelin’ counterpart… well, it turns out they do, it’s the BMW K1600 GTL, and here’s Brian Robinson with the speedy detail.
BRIAN ROBINSON: So, if you’re in the market for a big touring bike and you’re not sure if you want to go the comfort/luxury direction, or something more high-performance and high-tech; well, BMW just made the decision a whole lot easier for you.
While BMW always seems to be at the forefront of automotive technology, vehicle lifecycles tend to run a little longer on the motorcycle side of things, making it much more difficult for them to consistently deliver both the latest and the greatest.
When we first rode this K1600 GTL 11-years ago, it set a new standard for luxury long-distance touring motorcycles with its amazing adaptable suspension, active headlight that aimed into corners as you leaned in, and a brilliant iDrive-like multi-controller eliminating the switch overload on all touring bikes up to that point. Though the real star of the show was their first ever inline-6 engine in a motorcycle. But, over the last decade most competitors have upped their game dramatically; so, for 2022, the K1600 GTL gets a comprehensive update.
It may not look that much different if you see one riding by, but from the rider’s perch, you’ll quickly notice the big 10-inch TFT display which looks like it came right out of a 7-series. It’s not a touchscreen however, still controlled by the multi-controller on the left handgrip. Joining it, is a row of programmable “favorites” buttons on the lower left side fairing.
And while there is obviously lots of that fairing to go around, BMW still lets you see plenty of the amazing 6-cylinder engine. No additional horsepower for ’22, still 160; but new software and emissions controls deliver a slight increase of torque to 133 lb-ft., and allow max power to be delivered 1,000-RPM sooner than before. And you can immediately feel that it’s both more responsive and little more eager to get going than before. You would think a tech-heavy motorcycle such as this might have some kind of automated transmission, but still 6-speed manual, and we’re fine with that.
Still not a lightweight machine, but that engine and BMW’s unique suspension setup continues to have a way of making a large portion of that weight magically disappear once you’re underway. As before, settings for Dynamic, Road, and Rain deliver the corresponding experience quite well, but now automatically adjusts for the amount of weight onboard. No matter what type of road surface you’re travelling on, or the speeds you’re doing it, the GTL remains smooth and surprisingly eager to get through corners.
Most long-distance touring essentials are standard, plush seating for 2, huge power adjusting windscreen to protect you from the elements, ways to divert cooling air onto the rider, and lots of storage of course. An available comfort package adds keyless ride, central locking, and additional lighting.
Starting price is $26,895, and with every available option, you’ll be just over 30,000.
I agree, that is a lot of money for a motorcycle, but if you look at the 2022 BMW K1600 GTL not just as a motorcycle, but as the perfect getaway machine that will keep both you and your passenger comfortable and engaged as you see large chunks of this beautiful country… well, it doesn’t seem that bad at all.