BMW K1600GT (2017 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Luxurious tourer to take on the Honda Gold Wing
  • 1649cc inline six engine has plenty of torque and power
  • Updated for 2017 with option of reverse gear and SOS function

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Annual servicing cost: £350
Power: 160 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.9 in / 810 mm)
Weight: High (759 lbs / 344 kg)

Prices

New £20,045
Used £11,800 - £18,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The BMW K1600GT is pure luxury. There’s no smoother, more refined way to tour on two wheels. Honda’s Gold Wing had previously ruled this category but it doesn’t have the versatility or handling of the K1600.

When the six-cylinder BMW was launched in 2010 it set a new performance benchmark and left every other big tourer in its considerable wake. Now, for 2017, BMW have upped the stakes even further, adding more luxury and innovative ideas while making the sublime 1649cc Euro4-compliant without losing any power, torque or character.

This is the engine, remember, that makes 70% of its torque at just 1500rpm. And which, when you open the throttle hard, makes a silky 160bhp.

However, there’s no getting away from the fact the 1600 is big. At 334kg (90% fuelled up) that equates to 52.5 stone in old money, which is a lot of weight to shuffle backwards.  But BMW have made life easier with an optional reverse gear for the first time on the 1600, using the starter motor to move the bike backwards.

Once you’ve selected reverse, you press the starter button to slowly move backwards. Speed is limited to 1.2kph, but the 1600 will reverse up gradients of up to 7%.

There is no smoother or arguably safer way to travel than the K1600GT. It consumes miles and is now more comfortable than ever. If you tick all the accessory boxes it becomes the limousine of the bike world - but at a price.

2017 BMW K1600GT static side profile

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Like BMW’s GS range, the 1600  comes with the ‘next generation ESA’, which means damping is automatically adjusted on the move. Current K1600GT owners have to adjust the damping manually to either soft, medium or hard – but now it’s all automated. This is done via numerous sensors, including one for lean angle for the first time.

Pro shift assistant is an optional extra now, too, although the K1600 doesn’t really need too many gear changes - just stick it in top and let that immense torque do the work.

BMW have also increased the size of the bodywork, screen and the two fairing compartments, which can be locked and linked to the central locking. New for 2017 are fairing winglets, which can be opened to increase the wind over the rider for a cooling gentle breeze on summer days. 

What are the best tyres for the BMW K1600GT? 

When BMW developed the bike they will have worked with Bridgestone and Metzeler to put the rubber through as general type approval for the whole bike.

So you have a choice of Bridgestone 021 and 022s and also Metzeler Roadtec Z8 Interact C (the C refers to the construction, which is stiffer than normal to take account of the bike’s weight andperformance).

BMW K1600GT in red riding around a bend

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The BMW K1600GT engine is a water-cooled 1649cc, in-line six-cylinder motor that remains unchanged from the previous generation's, but now meets tight Euro4 emissions regulations.

This means peak power of 160bhp and peak torque of 129lb-ft are the same as the previous model. The engine is as smooth as it is powerful.

The K1600 engine is one of the smoothest around with a throttle feel that has to be experienced to be believed. What's more, with all that power available it can really dhift if you want it to - even fully loaded with a passenger and luggage.

BMW K1600GT wide crop cornering in red

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Re-sale values are high because BMW’s reliability and service are top level. The new K1600GT continues this high level of quality, feels robust and secure. There are very few bikes on the market which have the level of sophistication and quality of the K1600GT. 

We don't currently have any 2017 BMW K1600GT owners' reviews on the site. 

BMW K1600GT static side profile in blue

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

There’s no getting away from the fact the big K1600 is expesnive, however its build quality is not in doubt.

Other models to consider include the long-time - and for some, still - class-leading Honda Gold Wing. The now discontinued Yamaha FJR1300 could be an option on the used market.

Or, if you fancy something a little different, the Harley-Davidson Road Glide does a similar job but with a dollop of Americana thrown in.

BMW K1600GT wide crop cornering in red

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

The K1600GT comes fully loaded with adapative headlights, Dynamic ESA, daytime running lights, ABS Pro, Audio system with GPS preparation, reverse gear (for the first time), Dynamic traction control, hill start control and tyre pressure control. The optional gear shift pro is an extra £375.

For 2017, BMW made an optional Intelligent Emergency e-Call available. In the event of an emergency situation or an accident, the system will call a BMW call centre giving the positon of the bike and alerting the emergency services after being triggered either manually or automatically.

After a ‘low speed’ crash the system will wait 25 seconds before alerting the emergency services, allowing time to override the system manually. The GT has to be moving and running for the system to activate, therefore it won’t react if the bike is knocked over, nor will the system record your speed in the event of the crash. It’s an interesting system and was a two-wheeled first at the time of its launch. 

From August 2020, all the K1600 models (that’s GT, GTL and Bagger) come with reverse, cornering lights, tyre pressure monitors and DRLs as standard, which is a very healthy saving for your wallet. There’s new colours all over the shop but the GT is now only available with a black frame and engine, while the ‘Safety’ pack has been ditched for the entire range. 

BMW K1600GT dash

Specs

Engine size 1649cc
Engine type In-line six
Frame type Cast front frame with aluminium extruded sections, engine as a stressed member
Fuel capacity 24 litres
Seat height 810mm
Bike weight 344kg
Front suspension Duolever central spring ESA
Rear suspension Paralever single shock, ESA
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs, 4-piston calipers, ABS
Rear brake 320mm disc, twin piston caliper, ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 19
Rear tyre size 190/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 45 mpg
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost £350
New price £20,045
Used price £11,800 - £18,500
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 160 bhp
Max torque 129 ft-lb
Top speed 155 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 220 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

Other versions

  • K1600GTL: Comes with topbox, lower and further back handlebars, lower footrests, lower pillion footrests and a more luxurious pillion seat.

Owners' reviews for the BMW K1600GT (2017 - on)

7 owners have reviewed their BMW K1600GT (2017 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your BMW K1600GT (2017 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 (4.1/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.1 out of 5 (4.1/5)
Equipment: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Annual servicing cost: £350
4 out of 5 K1600 is a top machine but has a couple of gremlins
12 September 2021 by Andy

Year: 2017

Annual servicing cost: £250

Fantastic engine and brakes, lots of toys, tyre monitors beneficial - shame about the radiator and wheel bearings.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

A lot of bikes have required replacement wheel bearings under10k miles

Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Radiator not fit for purpose - easily gets clogged, costs a lot (circa £800) to replace and warranty does not cover blocked radiator - needs regular cleaning. Good fuel consumption.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Buying experience: Dealer preferred as warranty essential

4 out of 5 K1600GT short term ownership review
31 July 2021 by Spencer

Year: 2020

Its big, heavy, reasonably well balanced, has a high quality finish, its well equiped, smooth, quick when you want it to be and a great tourer but not the most confidence inspiring on fast twisty roads. This is when really you begin to notice the weight. The front end feedback isnt great so you have to trust front tyre grip. I have only ridden my bike 1,500 miles and its already going to be exchanged for a lighter RT1250LE. Whilst no doubt the GT a great long distance 2 up motorway tourer, even at my tender age of 69 it is not involving enough for me. I like my bikes to have a bit more character

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Ride quality is very good on most roads. Soaks up bumps very well. Fairly easy to turn into corners but it does require a bit of a nudge sometimes to avoid understeer. The feeling of weight is always there. The linked brakes are good but not great. The "funny" front end stops a lot of the initial suspension dive you get on most bikes at the expense of front tyre feedback. Seat height allows feet flat to the ground when stationary which is just as well. You would not want to get this bike too far off vertical. Seat comfort is excellent but the knee angle for a bit tight for my 6ft 1 inch frame, although 200 miles without stopping is bearable. I have problems with past shoulder tendon injuries and the handlebar position is perfect for me on long rides.

Engine 5 out of 5

The inline 6 is a gem. Its no sports bike but it will pickup its heals when needs be, helped by the quickshifter which works best when you are giving it some beans through the gears. I seldom used the quickshifter going down the box as it can be a tad harsh if you dont get the judgement perfect. I am mechanically sympathetic so I avoid snatching the cogs. Overall this is a bike that has effortless speed and acceleration without having to work the engine hard. Fuel economy on a mixture of roads returns in the region of 42mpg which I think is quite good.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Quality of finish is as good as it gets. My bike hasnt done enough miles to really know how reliable it will be over time but so far nothing has gone wrong. The hill start can be intrusive at sometimes, I would turn it off if I knew how.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Not had the bike long enough to know what servicing will cost.

Equipment 4 out of 5

This bike is very well equipped with everything you really need in the comfort stakes for touring. Accessing all the equipmeny settings is a bit fiddly and requires you to take your eyes off the road too long for my liking. Not to have a simple switch for heated grips is plain nuts. There are 2 small cubby holes up front, one for your phone ( my Samsung didnt fit) and another which just about holds a small bottle of visor cleaner and a cloth. Both are pretty useless which necessitates a screen bag if you require quick access for cards etc at tolls. My bike has the optional 52 litre topbox which helps create enough storage space for long trips. The panniers are a good size and shape so your stuff doesn't fall out everytime you open them. Overall the BMW luggage seems robust and well made. The centre stand requires a huge effort to get this heavyweight on stand. I fitted pannier crash bars that help provide a better leverage but its still a ball busting effort. The OEM Bridgestone T31 tyres grip well in any conditions which is just as well as its not easy to feel whats going on down below. You learn to trust them after a few miles. What I did find on this bike was, in the recent hot weather, the big screen and wrap around front end bodywork denies you most of the available cooling wind blast. Even with the "bat wings" fully out

Buying experience: BMW franchise showrooms are first class and the buying experience was really good. I chopped in my 15 month old Triumph Rocket 2500GT for this 6 month old 600 mile 70 plate K1600GT as I was looking for a better tourer. The dealership gave me a good deal alround so the cash difference to exchange was minimal. Equally on my next purchase the trade against a new RT was pretty good. I can see why BMW retain such a strong brand loyalty. One of my biking buddies is on his 6th BMW in succession.

5 out of 5 Old school still delivers
19 June 2021 by Colin Simpson

Version: K1600GT

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £300

This is the Bentley GT of motorbikes, old school quality and tech, but still cuts it with the very latest bikes. Will it survive Euro 5, a great loss if it goes, a unique world beating 6 cylinder engine, as smooth as anything out there. No other motorcycle experience can compare.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Ride quality is excellent as you would hope. Pegs are higher than you might expect but I have found them more comfortable than my previous GS over long motorway way miles. Seat is level so even distribution of weight. Wind protection is better with the Wunderlich marathon screen. Standard screen bisected my vision when set to high. On board music can be listened to with open face helmet at high way speeds . Brakes good in the dry, have noticed a need for increased force for wet weather, still better than my GS 1250 despite the increased weight.

Engine 5 out of 5

This is what this bike is about, an exceptional engine, in sport mode sounds like a formulae 1 engine, even on standard pipes. An incredibly smooth throttle, powered through the Hardknott Pass with ease, still 50 MPG.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

A recall for the SOS system, a software update, otherwise has the feel and experience of bullet proof reliability. Quality exceptional, even compared to other BMW bikes.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

No more expensive than most modern motorbikes. There is a high price in the 16000 mile service for valves due to complexity and number of cylinders. The price you pay for 6 cylinders.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Old school dash with integrated TFT, works well and very clear. Enough gadgets to keep you entertained for hours. Standard tyres Bridgestones have been good in the dry but less confident in the wet, maybe due to the BMW suspension, will change for Michelin pilot 4 GT.

Buying experience: Bought new with BMW discounts and low finance, a good experience from the BMW dealer, better than any car dealer.

4 out of 5 Great six cylinder grand tourer
16 April 2021 by Andy Spur

Version: SE

Year: 2017

Annual servicing cost: £300

Engine is key player along with big boy looks, proper looking grand tourer with all the toys

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Rides brilliantly, can ride everywhere in higher gears

Engine 5 out of 5

Fantastic 6 cylinder

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Been around for ten years but early days had lots of issues Recent recall sorted Bikes great when new but once a few years old quality depends on how well bike has been looked after Still long term problems with radiator and potential rust

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Big service cost at 18,000 miles

Equipment 5 out of 5

Has everything you could possibly want

Buying experience: Through Motorrad dealer - resale value not good but dealer warranty reassuring

4 out of 5 Great(est) touring motorcycle around
05 February 2021 by Andy Spurrell

Version: SE

Year: 2017

Fabulous engine, great load of menu options/toys - ongoing maintenance high risk/pricey

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5

Hard to beat

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

6000 annual and 18000 big service (valve clearances and change of spark plugs)

Equipment 5 out of 5

Buying experience: Dealer provides warranty

4 out of 5 The best GT there is
16 January 2021 by Andy S

Year: 2017

It’s expensive so is a waste if not used for touring. It’s great for two up and can carry a lot of luggage. It’s great riding solo, just change the engine and suspension modes at a click of a switch and you are in biking nirvana. It’s a very heavy bike so you need to be fit and strong.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Made for touring, you can ride for hours - tank about 225-250 miles depending on how you ride but it’s good to have a break every hundred miles. Engine performance perfect and excellent brakes.

Engine 5 out of 5

Sublime performance. 2017 onwards slightly negatively effected by introduction of Euro4 but if you are willing to spend you can get ecu tweaked.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Other riders have reported rust on the centre stand. If you get into the habit of using a rust inhibitor after winter washing and garage your bike you should be ok. Radiators can get blocked so look after it and wash out from behind or you will soon need it replaced.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Annual service interval is 6,000 miles and a big one at 18,000 to check valve clearances and change spark plugs.

Equipment 5 out of 5

There are lots of worthwhile features e.g. electronic screen, heated seats and bars, engine modes, suspension modes, tyre pressure monitoring, oil check, radio/music and power sockets etc etc. Worth adding engine and pannier protection bars as it would be expensive repairs if you dropped it. Always a good idea to add a front mudguard extender to help protect the radiator.

Buying experience: I have always bought from a dealer so you get at least a couple of years warranty. If you buy privately you could get £1500-£2000 cheaper.

4 out of 5 Good but not great
14 May 2020 by bob thomson

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £550

A perfect motorcycle. Almost amd certainly a 4.5 but. there are problems. Weight ..its so bloody heavy - the reverse gear is nice and once your on the move the weight disappears but low speed and simply moving around gravel its a challenge. Radio is garbage, instrumentation very very dated. It also looks really really ordinary ... no one will bother you on this bike no one will ask for their picture next too it ..very anonymous. Apart from that is brilliant. But is it a technological dead end ... no upgrades in sight ..will it be quietly dropped by BMW and go the way of most 6 cyl bikes (bar teh GW)

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5

brilliant smooth linear and bloody quick

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Generally good but dropping it off the side stand is not recommended and bloody expensive - seems daft a £20k bike doesnt have better standard protection

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

all teh best bells and whistles

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