BMW K1600GT | Doin' Time

Staffers’ Rides

Wrist: Jamie Elvidge
MSRP: $20,900
Miles: 8890
MPG: 38
Mods: Akrapovic slip-ons, BMW Motorrad saddle and tank bag, Michelin tires

Falling for a guy who lives 1000 miles away wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but having BMW’s K1600GT as my long-term test bike has made the relationship slightly more manageable. Not only do I get a swift and comfy commute between San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia, but my guy gets to brag about what a hot bike his girl is riding.

The trouble is, I'm enjoying this motorcycle so much that the riding is often more fun than the getting there part, so I tend to wander. Last time I went off course, I ended up in Texas. This was partially due to the fact that I put a different seat on the BMW. The standard two-piece low model was simply a pain where I sit. Replacing it with BMW's accessory one-piece high version ($599; made a crazy-good difference. It's much better padded and doesn't roll my hips forward the way the original did, which allows longer, squirm-free stints in the saddle.

And this bike will give you a long ride from every tank. A season of lust-fueled throttling up and down North American freeways has seen mileage suffer a bit, with my current average at 38 mpg, down from the 42 mpg I enjoyed during the first, backroad-heavy miles. The bike burned about a half-quart of oil every 1500 miles so far. One annoyance has been a varying discrepancy between electronic oil gauge and analog dipstick. The electronic indicator regularly reports low oil level, showing three out of four bars, then for no obvious reason, and regardless of engine or ambient air temperature, arbitrarily returns to OK status with a full four bars. Lesson: trust only the dipstick.

The stock Metzeler Roadtec Z8 Interacts tires were good, but the rear was wearing square at 6000-mile service (a.k.a. oil change) time, so I opted for an early change. I was looking for something juicy in the corners that wouldn't box off if I needed to burn some straight miles. Jeff Hanrahan, the General Manager of mega dealer A&S Cycles, based in Roseville, California, recommended Michelin's dual-compound Pilot Road 2 ($148.99 front, $215.99 rear; I couldn't be happier. My most recent miles have been cold, rainy ones on mountain roads, where the Michelins inspire nothing but confidence. On dry, twisty pavement, the Road 2s are a glorious match for the GT's heft/agility ratio. And thanks to the more durable center compound, I can rack up thousands of miles without that nasty squaring that usually plagues endurance riders on lesser rubber.

A few people have asked why I added the Akrapovic titanium/stainless silencers ($2615; when the 1600's stock exhaust is so supremely listenable and the horsepower gain is negligible. The short answer is they look fantastic, and though the stock note is great, these sound better. The 8.8 pounds shed doesn't make much difference on a nearly 800-lb. bike, and the slip-ons are very, very pricey for what you gain. You have to be really intent on styling up your GT, or just wealthy.

Another pricey-for-what-you-get accessory I added is BMW’s GT-specific tank bag ($273) with variable insert ($69). Mounts are semi-hard-mounted to the bike. The bag worked very well for toting my camera equipment, and was supremely easy to unclip for fuel cap access, but I ended up ditching the insert early on because the compartments only seemed to chop up the useable space in a tank bag that’s very small to begin with. Lastly, BMW sent a travel half-cover, ($45) which is perhaps the most cost-effective accessory I’ve added to date. It protects the bike from all that Pacific Northwestern rain, yet because it's a half cover, it ventilates well so moisture doesn’t build up underneath. Those fall nights in Vancouver can get pretty steamy, if you know what I mean.

It may not be sexy, but BMW’s one-piece seat is plush and neutral, unlike the stock two-piece seat, which was too firm and canted my hips uncomfortably.
Costly, yet seductive, the carbon fiber and titanium Akrapovic Sport Silencers make the inline-six sound even sweeter, but horsepower gain is negligible.