BMW K1600GTL vs. Honda GL1800 Gold Wing | MC Comparo

Multiple Choice

By Jamie Elvidge, Photography by Kevin Wing

2011 BMW K1600GTL | PRICE: $23,200 (AS TESTED)

The BMW's dyno graph looks sloppy, but from the saddle all you feel is smooth acceleration. An extra 30 horsepower, a few more lb.-ft. of torque and a higher redline make the K1600GTL feel sportier, but its Dynamic Traction Control interfered with full-throttle dragstrip launches, hence its slower quarter-mile time.

Tech Spec
Engine type: l-c inline-six
Valve train: DOHC, 24v
Displacement: 1649cc
Bore x stroke: 72.0 x 67.5mm
Compression: 12.2:1
Fuel system: EFI
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Transmission: 6-speed
Frame: Aluminum twin-spar with single-sided swingarm
Front suspension: Duolever with ESA II
Rear suspension: Paralever with ESA II
Front brake: Dual Brembo four-piston calipers, 230mm discs with linked ABS
Rear brake: Brembo two-piston caliper, 320mm disc with linked ABS
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Bridgestone BT022F
Rear tire: 190/55ZR-17 Bridgestone BT021R
Rake/trail: 27.8˚/4.2 in.
Seat height: 31.9/32.7 in.
Wheelbase: 63.7 in.
Fuel capacity: 6.3 gal.
Weight (tank full/empty): 782/744 lbs.
Measured horsepower: 126.8 bhp @ 6800 rpm
Measured torque: 109.6 lb.-ft. @ 5100 rpm
Corrected 1/4-mile: 12.45 sec. @ 105.88 mph
Top-gear roll-on, 60-80 mph: 3.95 sec.
Fuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 47/35/43 mpg
Colors: Royal Blue Metallic, Mineral Silver Metallic
Availability: Now
Warranty: 36 mo., 36,000 mi.
Contact: BMW of North America
P.O. Box 1227
Westwood, NJ 07575

You sit deep within the BMW, with a fairly long reach to the handlebars and a little less legroom than is comfortable for taller riders. Simpler controls make the GTL easier to interact with, while the electrically adjustable windshield gives it a leg up on the Gold Wing in terms of adaptability.


Its numbers are lower, but the Gold Wing puts down power in an impressively linear fashion. Over 80 lb.-ft. of torque are on tap across most of the rev range and horsepower builds steadily, but the big 12-valve engine signs off beyond 5000 rpm. Short-shifting is the best way to keep the Honda riding the crest of its power curve.

Engine type: l-c opposed-six
Valve train: SOHC, 12v
Displacement: 1832cc
Bore x stroke: 74.0 x 71.0mm
Compression: 9.8:1
Fuel system: EFI
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Transmission: 5-speed with electric reverse
Frame: Aluminum twin-spar with single-sided swingarm
Front suspension: Showa 45mm fork
Rear suspension: Showa shock with electronically adjustable spring preload
Front brake: Dual Nissin three-piston calipers, 296mm discs with linked ABS
Rear brake: Nissin three-piston caliper, 316mm disc with linked ABS
Front tire: 130/70R-18 Bridgestone G709
Rear tire: 180/60R-16 Bridgestone G704
Rake/trail: 29.2˚/4.3 in.
Seat height: 29.1 in.
Wheelbase: 66.5 in.
Fuel capacity: 6.6 gal.
Weight (tank full/empty): 938/898 lbs.
Measured horsepower: 95.6 bhp @ 5300 rpm
Measured torque: 104.2 lb.-ft. @ 4100 rpm
Corrected 1/4-mile: 12.12 sec. @ 120.23 mph
Top-gear roll-on, 60-80 mph: 5.42 sec.
Fuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 43/32/37 mpg
Colors: Black, blue, red, white
Availability: Now
Warranty: 36 mo., unlimited mi.
Contact: American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
P.O. Box 2200
Torrance, CA 90509

Both bikes are as comfy as your living-room recliner, but the Gold Wing's saddle is plusher and offers more back support. Some 3 inches greater legroom and a more relaxed reach to the bars add up to a nearly ideal riding position, but the bike still has a manually adjustable windshield.

By Jamie Elvidge
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