Common Tread

2017 BMW K 1600 B first look

Oct 11, 2016

Now you can get feet-forward riding position and low-slung bagger silhouette many American riders want along with the kind of smooth power and technical sophistication you'd expect from a high-speed German train. Yes, BMW followed through on the Concept 101 bike and built a bagger.

Or, as the press materials put it, this is the "BMW Motorrad interpretation of motorcycling on endless highways, the dream of freedom and independence and the embodiment of ‘Grand American Touring’" and "is synonymous with elegance, power and luxury on two wheels." It even has a "masculine colour [sic]" with its "Blackstorm metal" paint.

BMW K 1600 B
BMW has not yet released the price of its K 1600 B. BMW photo.

The K 1600 B is clearly not a model made for easy parking on the sidewalk in the tight confines of Amsterdam or Barcelona. More like powering from Albuquerque to Boston and projecting the right image while doing it.

BMW K 1600 B
LED taillights are built into the saddlebags. BMW K 1600 B. BMW photo.

So what did BMW do to turn its K 1600 platform into an American "bagger" — of sorts?

The six-cylinder, 1,649 cc engine still provides the smooth power, and while the fairing was reshaped and provides a bit more wind protection, the real changes start further back. Lose the top box and tall stance. The K 1600 B got a new rear frame to lower the back half of the bike and create that bagger look, with the lines of the bike swooping down from the fairing for a long and low appearance. 

BMW K 1600 B
BMW prepares to unveil the K 1600 B at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles yesterday. Photo by Abhi Eswarappa.
BMW cites an unladen seat height of 30.7 inches for the rider, which is as low as the lowest seat option on the K 1600 GT. At a claimed 740 pounds with the seven-gallon gas tank full, the B is a little heavier than the GT, but what's a five percent weight gain when you're built for the open road?

BMW K 1600 B
Swoopy styling with inline-six power. BMW K 1600 B. BMW photo.

Unlike the concept bike, the K 1600 B rolls on 17-inch wheels in typical sport and sport-touring sizes (120/70ZR17 front tire and 190/55ZR17 rear), which gives you the widest selection of performance tires ranging from maximum grip to long life. ABS is standard and there are three 320 mm discs on board for stopping power.

Mixing traditional and high-tech, the instruments include round speedometer and tachometer with a 5.7-inch color TFT display for other information. BMW isn't skimping on standard features, either. The K 1600 B comes with heated grips and seats and cruise control for comfort, and BMW's electronic suspension adjustment system, Dynamic ESA, that lets riders choose between "Road" and "Cruise" damping modes for a smooth ride or a smoother one. Riders can also adjust preload with the push of a button. From there, ESA takes over and makes adjustments on the fly, based on what the motorcycle is doing in that particular fraction of a second.

Beyond the standard features, BMW offers its usual dizzying array of options in various combinations, such as Shift Assistant Pro, which allows clutchless upshifts and downshifts, BMW's Hill Start Control, reverse assist, a keyless option, additional lighting, audio and navigation systems, an alarm system and more.

BMW K 1600 B
The 2017 BMW K 1600 B takes aim at the Honda F6B. BMW photo.

The BMW takes a more direct aim at its six-cylinder competition, the Honda Gold Wing F6B, than it does at traditional V-twin American baggers. Traditionalists who must have a finned V-twin won't give it a chance, but just as the K 1600 GT has been powerful competition to the touring Gold Wing, the B makes a strong case for anyone considering an F6B.

BMW hasn't announced a firm price yet but a BMW official at the unveiling told our correspondent Abhi Eswarappa that the base price would be in the low $20,000 range and fully loaded models would probably come in around $25,000.