QUIKSPIN: BMW 1600GT & 1600GTL - Das Technocrat

08 June 2012

I was lucky enough to attend the recent Australian media launch of BMW’s brand-new six-cylinder tourers, the GT and GTL. It was held, surprisingly, on the back roads of the far north coast of NSW.

A rather daring bunch of roads to be banging massive touring bikes on, I figured. The Mt Lindsay Road and the Nerang to Murwillumbah run are devilishly twisty scratcher’s haunts; surely these large German ladies would be out of sorts in that environment, I thought.

I reformulated my thinking that evening.  Shieldsy addressed the travelling Bavarians at the world launch in Vol 60 No 19, and was  impressed. Me? I was gobsmacked. The GT and the GTL did nothing but astonish me, mile after mile, bend after bend. The engine is a masterpiece. I have not ridden a smoother bike. A six-cylinder motorcycle will redefine the way you understand smoothness and power.

I am still scratching myself in awe, like an ape that’s seen a torch for the first time.

Which brings me to the lights. BMW is quite rightly proud of its Adaptive Headlight set-up. A world-first and, put simply, the best headlight system on any motorcycle today, by an order of magnitude. Essentially a collaboration of gyroscope, mirror and lean-angle sensors, the moving Xenon middle light is flanked by two stationary ‘ringed’ outer lights, and is the new benchmark for motorcycle lighting.

Certainly, it was more impressive in the presentation video than in real life – I was expecting rather more of the promised around-the-corner lighting at low beam than I was actually getting as I came off the range that night, but it was still far and away better than anything else.

But high-beam… well, high beam is a true and blazing revelation. Bravo, BMW.

Night-into-day aside, this is the most technologically empowered motorcycle on the market today. It’s smarter than many of the people I work with. It’s certainly smarter than I am.

Behold this acronym-loaded wonder…

Below the removable Navigator GPS is the instrument cluster – a Thin-Film Transistor (TFT) colour monitor sits between the analogue speedo and tacho. It is the bike’s command centre. Sorcery causes its display to adjust automatically to the ambient light and you could read it with cataracts.

Mounted on the left handlebar is a magical ring. Like the one Bilbo had, it binds all the other things. It’s a multi-controller unit (essentially a cross between a computer mouse and a big dial) that lets you run through a range of menus that deal with everything from five heated seat and handlebar settings, to issuing orders to your Bluetooth device, iPod, or MP3, to programming your top-end stereo. And so much more.

Like the second-generation Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA II), letting you adjust both damping and spring settings on the go, while the ABS and the Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) make sure you’re looking at the scenery and not becoming one with it. And it’s all standard equipment.

I feel like a cargo cult savage kneeling before a new god.

In exactly the same way it conquered the sportsbike market with its S1000RR, BMW’s all-new six-cylinder 1600GT and GTL will come to dominate the luxury touring and sports touring market.

That’s not a prediction. That’s a simple fact.

Configuration In-line six-cylinder
Cylinder head DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Capacity 1649cc
Bore/stroke 72mm x 67.5mm
Compression ratio 12.2:1
Cooling Liquid
Fueling EFI, 52mm throttle body,
ride-by-wire throttle
Power 118kW @ 7500rpm (claimed)
Torque 175Nm @ 5250rpm (claimed)
Type Six-speed
Clutch Wet
Final drive Shaft
Frame material Aluminium alloy
Frame layout Twin spar
Rake 27.8?
Trail 106.4mm
Front: Duolever, single shock, 115mm travel
Rear: Paralever, single shock, 135mm travel
ESA II (Electronic Suspension Adjustment)
Wheels 10-spoke, cast aluminium
Front: 17 x 3.5
Rear: 17 x 6.0
Tyres Bridgestone Battlax BT 021F/BT022R
Front: 120/70ZR17 (58W)
Rear: 190/55ZR17 (75W)
Front: Twin 320mm discs, four-piston calipers
Rear: 320mm disc, two-piston caliper
Control: ABS
Weight 319kg (GT); 348kg (GTL)
Seat height 810-830mm (GT); 750mm (GTL)
Max width 1000mm
Max height 2324mm (GT); 2489mm (GTL)
Wheelbase 1618mm
Fuel capacity 24L (GT); 26.5L (GTL)
Fuel consumption 4.5L/100km
Top speed More than 260km/h
Six cylinders
Superb comfort
Stylistically geeky
Tech can overwhelm
My own Ludditeness