2011 BMW K1600GT | First Ride

Game changer

By Jamie Elvidge, Photography by Daniel Kraus

Luxury, Redefined

Despite the fact that the “L” in the new K1600GTL’s moniker stands for “luxury,” BMW engineers flinch if you mention the Honda Gold Wing while discussing their new tourer. Why? Well, they are a little snobbish about the capabilities of their new K1600s, perhaps rightfully so. In fact, if it weren’t for the American market pining for a K1200LT replacement, there wouldn’t even be a GTL version.

But boy-oh-boy is the GTL grand! It’s far sportier and lighter than its LT predecessor, and despite what the BMW folks say, GL1800 types are going to be drawn like moths to the flame. And why not? It’s very, very comfortable, laden with gadgetry, and it’s lighter and easier to ride than any of the current luxury-tourers on the market. Add in a base price of $23,200 (the same as the new Gold Wing) that includes everything from ABS to heated grips, and it’s a decent deal, too.

On the performance side, the biggest difference between the GT and GTL is chassis setup. The sliding scale of suspension settings departs from a different basis, slanting the GTL’s range toward comfort. Extra amenities on this luxury-tourer include a standard Bluetooth audio system with Sirius satellite radio and iPod connectivity, sculpted touring saddle, locking top case and a taller, wider windscreen. Aesthetically, the GTL comes with more chrome doo-dads and is available in Royal Blue Metallic and Mineral Silver Metallic.

By Jamie Elvidge
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