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Best of the Best 2011: Motorcycles: Touring: BMW K 1600 GT/GTL

The adage that good things come in small packages applies well to the silky-smooth in-line 6-cylinder engine that powers the new $23,200 BMW K 1600 GTL and its sportier, slightly less accommodating sibling, the $20,900 K 1600 GT (pictured). The transversely mounted 1649 cc engine weighs just 226 pounds, and it is only 21.9 inches wide. These dimensions enabled BMW Motorrad to make the K 1600 as narrow as most 4-cylinder bikes. However diminutive, the powerplant produces 160 hp at 7,750 rpm and 129 ft lbs of torque at 5,250 rpm. Most of that torque—100 ft lbs of it—arrives at 1,500 rpm. This is enough muscle to push the 703-pound GT from zero to 62 mph in 3.2 seconds (3.4 seconds for the 767-pound GTL).

The engine also is efficient. BMW claims that at a steady speed of 55 mph, the GT achieves 52 mpg and the GTL 51 mpg, giving each model a range of more than 300 miles—on paper at least.

In addition to its engine, the K 1600’s notable features include a xenon headlight that, when equipped with the Adaptive Headlight system, automatically adjusts to the pitch and lean angles of the bike so that the light continues to illuminate the road ahead. The K 1600 also offers three riding modes that determine power output, throttle response, and traction control: Dynamic for sport riding, Road for everyday riding, and Rain for wet conditions.

The optional Electronic Suspension Adjustment allows the rider to choose from nine damping settings, including Sport, Normal, or Comfort mode. The system also has settings for luggage and for a passenger.

The GT and GTL each come with a pair of 8.9-gallon saddlebags, and the GTL, which is better suited to two-up riding, also has a 12.9-gallon top case and a passenger backrest.

 

BMW Motorrad, www.bmwmotorcycles.com

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