Motorcycle Review of the 2012 BMW K1600 GTL

roadtest

Dave Hatch | Host 

david-hatch-whistle

 

2012 BMW K1600 GTL Motorcycle Review

2012-bmw-k1600gtle

This is definitely one luxury touring motorcycle that has certainly raised the bar when it comes to technology and safety. In fact recently the international press picked it as their bike of the year. At the heart of this beauty is brand new, from the ground up, totally advanced, fuel injected in line 6 cylinder engine mounted across the frame. And that’s just for starters because once you get past the big touring bits such as the fully integrated luggage system and power adjustable windscreen you also notice high tech advancements such as the adaptive xenon headlight that swivels and tilts with the motion of the bike and the new multi controller on the left hand grip for the bike’s on board computer that functions much like the I Drive controller found in BMW’s high end autos. That controller will allow you to customize your GTL’s power delivery by selecting one of three programmable engine maps : rain, road, and dynamic. As well, you can tweak or “dial in” the front and rear suspension damping rates from sport to normal to comfort – you can even fine tune the ride for 1 up or 2 up touring .. with or without luggage – very nice indeed. Certainly the K1600GTL looks the business, but how does she handle the tough job of eating up the tarmac at speed? Well to answer that question this week we’ve engaged the services of a Canada safety council instructor and lifetime Gold Wing owner Ken Edick.

David Hatch
So Ken, I was curious just to get your fist impression, I mean you’ve had so many Goldwings and you’re a diehard Goldwing rider. I know that. What was your first impression when you walked up to the motorcycle this morning?

Ken Edick
It’s just the BMW line, the flow if it uh it’s much more flowing than The Wing and I just love that look that BMW’s had over a number of their bikes.

David Hatch

Right. So you threw a leg over, you fired it up, what did you think of the motor?

 

Ken Edick

The engine, I mean, as much as it’s a six cylinder like the wing this is a six cylinder that surpasses the smoothness and the quietness. I had to do a double look at the tachometer to make sure it was running.

 

David Hatch

Yeah I know when I fired it up I thought, did I start this? So, okay, it’s smooth, but as you rode it, give me some of the impressions you get form the engine.

 

Ken Edick

I guess the number one was the throatiness is heard by others but not by the rider which in a long tour that’s what you want, quiet but you know that the power is there. And you can feel it right from the start. The transmission is faultless and the power of the way it just builds is incredible all through all gears.

 

David Hatch

Lots of torque?

 

Ken Edick

Yeah. Way more torque than I was expecting.

 

David Hatch

So it runs and it runs smoothly, quietly…what about stopping power?

 

Ken Edick

Typical. Some awesome braking and it’s linked braking, uh, more and more bikes are getting into that certainly in the touring aspect and it hauls down real quick without significant nose dive. Yeah, really really secure brake. And I guess just ergonomically, the seating position, uh there was really good support for the driver back in here and it was a natural reach to the handle bars. It was not too far out, not tucked in but yet it still gave you that sport feeling.

 

David Hatch

Saddle was comfortable? How did you find that?

 

Ken Edick

I was very impressed with it, yeah, and it was it allowed me enough range to move back and forth, but when I really lit it, that’s when you could feel the power come on. Nice butt stop right there that you weren’t going any further because it really comes alive when you give it the power.

 

David Hatch

Now how did you find the cockpit and the hand controls. There’s obviously a lot going nowadays up here in terms of being able to use the computer and everything else. How did you find the controls?

 

Ken Edick

Uh, they were rather intuitive without a lot of thought to it. Uh they naturally feel that you don’t have to take your hands off the handle bar to accommodate a lot of the information that it’s trying to tell you. A lot of the electronic circuitry is about how the ride changes. How you want the power delivered versus dry roads, a little bit of loose roads, rain, can all be done with out taking your hands off the handle bar and that’s really big because focus has to be out there on the open road.

 

David Hatch

Right. So did you like the thumb wheel as far as it being able to sort of adjust things and select things?

 

Ken Edick

It’s kind of different, like you say, it’s very very handy to have it there without having to take your eye off it, it’s a natural reach to it. The only it does make is your standard control mount to the turn it to get over the horn is just that much farther along. But it again, it’s still in the base position. And a big thing as far as the BMWs that I’ve ridden of late, they’ve now standardized the one button for the turn indicator left and right. So I found that really easy to adapt to.

 

David Hatch

Did you adjust the wind screen at all?

 

Ken Edick

Yeah, it travels quite the range and I’m a six foot rider um when I had it in the full position I was looking five a six good inches down into the visor screen. So a lot of deflection that I would typically only use on a very windy day and the optics were very very clear. I didn’t find any distortion that would bother me. However once I got into the backwoods where you really want to have fun with this machine, where it really starts to prove itself I wanted to put the windshield down and it gave me a full open view with a nice cockpit of still air.

 

David Hatch

It’s designed for touring, you need the luggage. Did you have a poke around in the luggage? What did you think?

 

Ken Edick

Yeah there’s good luggage capacity, uh they’re a little convoluted first time around on how to work the latches and uh, one of the big things that I know about this bike, that the Goldwing doesn’t have is all the luggage is detachable by key uh which allows you to take it off and into your motel at night. Uh a lot of people still want that kind of security. It also allows you to strip down the unnecessary parts if you really do want to go sport riding in the back roads without this additional luggage on there at all.

 

David Hatch

So uh, two thumbs up, two thumbs down, what would you think?

 

Ken Edick

Oh definitely two thumbs up uh for a straight, new approach to the touring market, I think BMW’s really done their homework. I think really they’ve opened up a whole new category. I don’t know what the word actually means but Uber Sport Luxury Touring. I think they’ve nailed it.

 

David Hatch

Nice job Ken.

 

Ken Edick

Thank you Dave.

 

David Hatch

Hope you enjoy the ride home.

 

Ken Edick

You bet.

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