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13 July 2018
Paul Browne offers a European take on the new BMW K1600B, the German manufacturer’s US-inspired ‘Bagger’.
On first impressions the bike is simply huge. The K1600 engine and platform has been put to work in another model and the ‘Bagger’ looks just that. Huge.
Whilst the chassis is no bigger than the original GT, with a low screen and no top box married to the tapered panniers, it appears wider and longer than it actually is.
The K1600B, to give it its official badged title, has all we have come to expect from BMW when it comes to distance tourers.
There are a wide variety of shades of black involved in this bike. Blackstorm metallic gets a mention as well as flat black, gloss black and gunmetal black.
It’s safe to say, then, that the bike is, indeed, black. The great thing is that it looks really cool for it.
The original bagger was a term used to describe a bike, usually American, that had been modified to carry only the rider and their possessions.
It was inevitably stripped down to the bare essentials and was ready to be ridden out of town at short notice and evoked all sorts of road warrior mythological nonsense.
The BMW K1600B Bagger has no truck with such gibberish.
It features everything that one would expect from the German manufacturer.
The six cylinder engine is still as fantastic as it ever was and it produces tonnes of power in both the brake horsepower and torque stakes.
It is indeed a very fast motorcycle. The styling is very different to anything that we’ve seen since the company’s (shudder) Montauk contraption.
The tubular handlebars are taller and curve back to the rider where they offer a much more comfortable riding position than anything that the rider would presume at first glance.
Details such as the integrated indicators and the cooler-than-cool stop and tail lights perfect the bike’s future retro look.
It’s powered by that straight six that produces 175 Nm of torque as well as 160 ponies. This is no ordinary bagger in the traditional sense in either the power it produces or the standard trim.
The bike has a full selection of BMW electronics including mode settings for fuel and suspension as well as a stereo system. The latter can be married to a phone or simply play the radio.
The ignition is keyless, you simply need the fob on your person to fire the bike up. Heated grips and the heated seats are controllable from the ‘wheel’ on the left bar.
The pillion seat has its own independent heating switch and the rider has the option of using a set of forward mounted footboards. We found the latter worked particularly well when used on the motorway with the cruise control activated. My pillion particularly liked the cruise setting, which made for a very comfortable travelling experience.
The reverse assistant ensures effortless manoeuvring into the perfect parking spot every single time.
I didn’t quite get the hill start option, but then again I can understand how it would work for some riders particularly with two up and a fully loaded bike. It basically allows the bike to sit in neutral and activates the brake if it starts to roll back without the rider having to press or pull either of the levers.
As darkness descended I was grateful for the auxiliary spot lights which did a very good job of making the bike look a lot bigger than it is. Meanwhile the adaptive headlight does a great job of following the bike’s lean.
The main stand makes loading the ample panniers a study in ease and simplicity and once closed up the bike can be locked with the application of the central locking button from the remote control.
Once underway the BMW 1600B feels lighter than it looks and the rider aids make a lot of sense. This especially true for the Pro Shift system. This allows the rider to use the gearbox without the clutch, as seen on the S1000XR a number of years ago.