The BMW K1600B is a two-wheeled road couch with exhaust pipes off a big rig and the luxuries of a business class airline seat. The battle for the mid-life crisis motorcycle market is on all over again.
For those of you with an appreciation for cruisers that goes deeper than clichés, here are the important specs revealed so far:
The bike farts 160 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque out of an inline six-cylinder engine. The bike is based on to the K1600GT– a slightly more bolt-upright touring bike in a similar aesthetic vein of BMW’s GS adventure bikes, which BMW Motorrad boss Stefan Schaller described as “the backbone of our brand” at a press conference unveiling the K1600B today.
The B takes the GT’s frame a little lower, and adds a little more “slope” with a passenger seat dropped about three inches.
Front fairings blocking wind like a Spartan shield are stretched back to give the bike a sleeker profile than the GT, and the windshield is adjustable.
Suspension is electronically controlled, with “road” and “cruise” modes. What do you think the difference is? I’ll give you a hint– “road” is soft and “cruise” is super-soft, for “very gentle damping” at low speed according to BMW’s press release.
And since at that point you might as well have an automatic motorcycle, BMW will offer “Shift Assistant Pro” which means you no longer need the clutch if you don’t want to deal with it. There’s reverse too.
The K1600B was introduced today as the first BMW made specifically for the American market at is unveiling ceremony. It will be sold in other countries as well, but BMW’s angling to double their U.S. market share by 2020 (from 4 percent to 8 percent, according to their presentation) and this baby is how they’re going to take a big bite out of Harley-Davidson’s lunch.
That latter part wasn’t said explicitly, but come on. This bagger is exactly what BMW needed to build to drive a jackboot into the American cruiser market. Having seen it in person, I have to say the company did a great job creating something that’s unmistakably a bagger-style cruiser but uniquely BMW. And I didn’t even pull that line off the brochure.
No price has been printed yet but based on the GT’s MSRP in the low $20,000's I’m going to go ahead and say this will be an expensive motorcycle.
But cruisers are expensive, and the people who buy them new off-the-lot have money to burn. (You saw Wild Hogs didn’t you?)
I think this BMW is going to absolutely crush it with this thing. It’s the perfect combination of rider-coddling luxury with a vaguely classic look that’s going to get a lot of mid-life crisis money out of Harley-Davidson’s pocket. Put another way– It’s pretty much the Honda Goldwing experience with enough of a Harley-Davidson look and a brand name people will still feel justified paying a lot for.
As for how it actually rides, I guess we’ll see but I can tell you the K1600GT is like a rocket-powered Aeron chair so I wouldn’t expect much less from this except in ground clearance.