What if BMW Motorrad made Quantums? What if the “K” in the new BMW K1600 stood for “Khwan-tham” as we have come to associate in Toyota’s people movers that crowd any taxi rank in Mzansi? That could be an interesting conversation amongst people in such circles. Whilst that idea is unlikely for the German motorcycle company, it is an idea that comes to mind considering their sales figures and presence on our roads.

Recently BMW launched their new BMW K1600 GT, GTL and Bagger tourer range. It is aimed at the more mature rider who has probably been through all the bikes throughout the range, from super bike right through to adventure, who now is in his/her age, but still thirsts riding to luxurious, far away destinations with the partner.

This is the same motorcycle brand that manufactures the R1250 RT (a smaller tourer sibling with their latest ShiftCam legendary boxer engine) that is also synonymous with police and law enforcement agencies, but which is much lighter and has its own riding character and identity. The RT is a beautiful and versatile bike in its own right and no opposition to the big six-cylinder inline luxury older sibling.        

Appearance and styling

If we are to go by looks only, the new range of BMW K1600 is nothing but stunning. Whether you opt for the GT, GTL or the Baggar, either one is class leading on its own. The new full LED headlight with LED lens technology and iconic daytime running lights is miles ahead of its competition. Add to that, is another standard component of the headlight, the swiveling “adaptive headlight” function. BMW Motorrad has used the water transfer printing method to paint the panels on these touring beasts, meaning that no two bikes will ever have the same paint pattern, thus adding to their exclusivity.

The design lines flow to the rear, incorporating luggage boxes on either side before culminating harmoniously with rear LED lights. From the rear, and below the boxes, two exhausts pipes protrude, almost trying to hide away from the glamour.

Taking centre stage of the cockpit is the new 26cm TFT colour display with integrated map navigation, easy-to-use route planning and connectivity as standard. The Bluetooth connection is really user-friendly, even with the ability to connect rider helmet and/or pillion helmet. On either side of the TFT screen are two radio speakers, efficient at highway speeds and with the wind blowing mildly. But, at such speeds, I found myself listening to the music from the beautifully tuned updated engine.  


The new BMW K1600 GT, GTL and Bagger are powered by an updated six-cylinder, in-line engine that respects EU-5 emission standards. The engine employs a BMS-O engine control system which has two knock sensors and an additional two lambda probes (making them four, compared to just two of the previous K1600 range).

The power output demanded from the K1600 remains unchanged at 118kW, though it is now available much sooner at 6 750rpm (previously 7 750rpm). On launch I found myself excited like a kid in a toy shop as I was engaging this power band. I now know what it feels like to be a symphony conductor. There are very few sounds any man would love to hear screaming in his ear; the synchronised band that is capable of 180Nm (5Nm more than the predecessor) of torque at 5 250rpm, must be added to that list.           

And, if that is not enough fun that can be had on a bike, next generation Dynamic ESA electronic suspension with fully automatic load compensation is put to use, offering elevated levels of safety, performance and comfort to supplement the entire range package.

For a seemingly bulky tourer, I found myself having way too much fun on the K1600 GT. The Bagger though not so much. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but it is not my kind of bike, especially those foot platforms that made me feel like a glorified pizza delivery boy. The GT is agile, light to command and control, and way too athletic for a tourer, I thought. I am definitely not complaining.

Final comments

I can foresee a few problems with the new K1600 GT, GTL and Bagger range. Firstly, there will not be enough time to ride them across the country and possibly across the continent. And even if there was enough time, you would spend most of it fighting off potential wannabe and impatient pillions. And last, but not least, you may end up divorced, having ignored the wife for buying yet another bike. But this is not just another bike.

While these are not the popular people movers, we have come to know in taxi ranks, BMW Motorrad have figured out the recipe to move souls in luxury, while still growing their market dominance.

Key highlights

  • Engine drag torque control (MSR) as standard
  • New full LED adaptive headlight as standard
  • Smartphone compartment with USB-C charging option as standard (with cooling fan)
  • New audio system 2.0 as optional equipment
  • Option 719 “Midnight” for K1600 B and K1600 Grand Americana: Paintwork in Meteoric Dust II metallic with “Galaxy” theme applied by water transfer printing

BMW K1600 Prices

GT – from R353 300

GTL – from R361 950

B – from R400 400

Grand Americana – from R463 500

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