This is a new BMW K1600 bagger spied testing at a top-secret test track last week and signals a new direction for the straight-six engine first seen in the K1600GT and GTL, launched in 2011.
While baggers make only the smallest impact on UK or European sales charts they are huge news in the American market and BMW is the latest manufacturer (after Honda with the Gold Wing-based F6B) to enter this lucrative niche.
The new K1600 bagger was spotted at long range while undergoing braking tests at a private test track in Germany, alongside a new water-cooled version of the R1200R roadster, which suggests the bike could make an appearance as early as this October at the Cologne motorcycle show in Germany.
The bagger recipe is simple enough; strip away as much of the fairing as is practical, design some hard and low-slung panniers that give the bike a low stance and try to keep as much as the rest of the bike as stock as possible. The fairing and topbox we can see in these images are unlikely to make it to production unchanged – the top box almost certainly contains electronic test equipment and the fairing is almost certainly just disguise.
At the heart of the new bagger is the mighty 1649cc across-the-frame straight six, which is unlikely to be retuned from the 160bhp it produces in the GT and GTL super-tourer models. The powerful, smooth and torquey engine is housed in a twin spar cast aluminium frame and will almost certainly share much of the same running gear.
MCN understands that this bagger version has been commissioned by BMW’s American arm, as it needs this bike to compete with rivals domestically. While all markets will get the option to include this model in their range, it’s unlikely to be a big success outside of America when it’s launched in late 2014 as a 2015 model. No-one at BMW Motorrad would give any official comment on the bike’s existence.
Opinion: Phil West, MCN Executive Editor
"While naked and adventure bikes remain the 'on trend' machines of choice in Europe, globally, driven primarily by the USA, it's the rise of the baggers which is making manufacturers sit up most. 'Baggers', or, bluntly, cruisers with bags and screens, have risen in recent years to be the biggest market sector by far in the States with not just magazines, websites, and TV shows dedicated to the cause, there's also a whole scene involving customising, events and more. Of the manufacturers, Harley-Davidson, perhaps unsurprisingly, are the ones to beat. What is a surprise, though, is the scale. Harley's Street Glide bagger, is not only H-D's best seller, according to Harley it outsells all imported bikes put together.
No wonder, then, that the likes of BM, Honda (with its recent F6B and CTX1300) and Triumph (with its 2014 Thunderbird LT) all want a slice of that pie. If they can tempt even a small percentage of those bagger buyers they'll be laughing all the way to the bank…"