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The BMW K 1600 B is an amazing machine. The first time I rode one of the motorcycles from BMW’s inline-6 platform was the full-fledged BMW K 1600 GTL. I rode it from Los Angeles to New York in 2011. The engine of the current-gen remains more or less the same apart from some tweaks to the powerband. And that is not a bad thing. Why fix something that ain’t broken? And BMW’s inline-6 is a marvel of engineering. Simply put, it is a stupendous engine.
So this particular platform from BMW is timeless. If you have not ridden an inline-6 before, it is difficult to fathom how smooth and vibration-free this engine is. Despite its smooth manners, it is quite powerful too and as a result, the motorcycles on this platform can really shift. In that sense, it personifies the adage- smooth as a hot knife through butter. And this might seem like an exaggeration but if not for the smooth rumble that emanates from the exhausts, it’d feel like an electric motorcycle.
Talking about Europe, I have ridden one here too; a K 1600 GTL Exclusive Edition in 2017. But this time, I picked up the K 1600 B where the B stands for Bagger. Personally, speaking, this is the best-looking model in the lineup. I have always had a thing for futuristic machines such as the Rocket 3 R and the Ninja H2. The K 1600 B fits that bill too.
I had a choice between the K 1600 B and the M 1000 RR for my Iron Butt (Saddlesore 1600 covered elsewhere in this issue). I ended up going with the latter. While the K 1600 B is a mile-muncher, it is limited to 200 km/h, probably due to reasons alluding to aero. Some say that they have intentionally limited the speed because most people who ride this motorcycle come from Harley-Davidson who has not seen speeds like that for a while, who knows, the jury is still out. But for the Autobahn, 200 km/h is slow and so, I went with the M 1000 RR.
But this was the perfect bike to explore a couple of bends in the European Alps. And I chose to head out from Munich to the beautiful Austrian town of Innsbruck by crossing over the Timmelsjoch mountain pass (8,117 feet), bordering Austria and Italy. Aside from the beautiful scenery, the pass itself has a motorcycle museum which is the highest-located motorcycle museum in Europe’.
I was blown away by the 200-plus motorcycles from over 100 manufacturers displayed in absolutely beautiful fashion over 3000 square meters. There were many motorcycles I had only seen scale models of and some I didn’t even know about. But it was a shock as to why a museum like this was not situated in a more accessible place such as Munich or Innsbruck. Regardless, riding to this museum was an experience too.
Coming back to the bike, the highlight is the engine and the tech. The 1,649cc inline-6 generates 160 bhp of power and 180 Nm of torque. More than enough for most things, except the Autobahn that is. In terms of tech, this motorcycle is loaded, really loaded. A brilliant music system, adaptive LED headlights, an integrated smartphone charging and storage compartment, configurable favourite buttons, ample rider aids, and a brilliant new 10.25-inch full-colour TFT console complete the spaceship look. Ideally, the BMW K 1600 B has everything you need for long distances, including boatloads of storage and floorboards. The latter albeit limits the top speed to around 180 km/h.
Dynamically, I quite liked the BMW K 1600 B. Despite the massive kerb weight (344 kg), it was easy to manoeuvre. When things get bendy, the K 1600 B still retains its composure but side-to-side transitions are predictably hefty. The long wheelbase and the weight make it greatly stable at highway speeds on the Autobahn it felt a little fluttery. Close to its advertised top speed of over 200 kays an hour, it felt like it was a little airy. Regardless, you are not going to find a road like that in a lot of places and for all else, it is more than enough.
In the end, how is the BMW K 1600 B? Brilliant. Would I buy it? Yes and no. Yes, for all that it is and no for the fact that despite being the fastest bagger on the planet, it cannot keep up with the Autobahn. To me, that is German engineering vs German engineering. Thinking about all that, now I need some Italian coffee. Time to ride elsewhere.