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BMW’s brand-new K 1600 B is indeed


close to the ground, 2.8 inches closer to the ground than its sister, the K 1600 GT. It is long, sleek and shiny. There are hard cases on either side that complement the lines of the bike and a pair of fat exhaust pipes. There are a few chromebits—especially obvious are the mufflers on either side, tucked in tight below the hard cases—and more are available for aftermarket custom- izing. In place of forward controls are floor- boards that cover crash protection bars and which can be replaced with storage com- partments if you don’t want them. The tubular handlebar looks like a drag-style bar, wide and flat, and connects to the triple clamp with an oval loop. Despite the frame getting


nearly three inches closer to the ground, the K 16 B has just ten millimeters less ground clearance than the K16GT, so you needn’t worry about bot- toming out on rough roads, potholes or speedbumps. With ESA and all the suspension modes available—Road or Cruise for rider, rider + lug- gage or two-up—the Bagger’s suspension is as refined as anything BMW Motorrad has offered. As a matter of fact, the whole motorcycle


is packed


with the kind of technology that modern BMW motorcycle riders have come to expect. Dynamic traction control (DTC) keeps the driveline tamed in slip- pery conditions.


If the technology intimidates riders of Fuel injection mapping


provides throttle response ranging from slightly soft (Rain mode), to crisp (Road) and even immediate (Dynamic). ABS Pro means the rider has access to anti-lock braking even when the bike is leaned over. Shift Assist Pro means never having to use the clutch unless you want to. Even the radio is high tech, with Bluetooth connec- tivity (for helmets) and a USB jack (for your phone or MP3 player) tucked into one of the side cases. It’s this technological wow factor that has


some asking hard questions about the appeal of this motorcycle. Baggers do not traditionally have this refined level of elec- tronic wizardry, and riders looking to cross over from other brands may find them- selves intimidated by all the menus and


50 BMW OWNERS NEWS October 2017


other brands of baggers and the looks intimidate people who already own BMW motorcycles, who is the target market for this motorcycle? All of those people and more. The rider who loves his V-twin bag- ger for an evening dinner meet-up with his chrome-polishing buddies will benefit from having a K 16 B in his garage for when he wants to go on a longer trip for the weekend or more. He can load up the side cases (which have the same capacity as the ones on the GT/GTL, 37 liters), strap down a bag behind him, and ride to meet his friends on the other side of the country. Similarly, the rider who has an F 700 GS already for gen- eral all-around riding may find himself or herself desiring something a little bigger, a little smoother for those longer trips that don’t involve any dirt or gravel roads. He or she can set off on the Bagger and put in a 500-mile day, arriving ready for whatever


settings available. Reading the owner’s manual should be a critical step in the own- ership of a BMW motorcycle, something riders who have never owned one may not grasp immediately. When it comes to the looks of the Bagger,


so far BMW riders seem to be polarized, with a love it or hate it division emerging. The Big B is deep within the acceptable styl- ing of the target model, the bagger. The only thing about it that doesn’t look tradi- tionally bagger-styled is the inline six-cyl- inder engine and aluminum frame spar coming down from the tank. It may not have a traditional batwing-type fairing, but the lines of the front are solidly within the realm of baggerdom.


the evening presents. From a drive train standpoint, the Bagger


is all K 1600. The smoothness of the inline- six engine is there; there is simply no vibra- tion that makes it through to the hand grips or foot pegs (or boards). Proper clutch tech- nique and appropriate use of Shift Assist Pro results in no driveline lash, though downshifting with SAP can be a bit abrupt and even jolting, depending on your speed and how fast you’re trying to stomp down through the gears. That same K 1600 engine that powers the GT and GTL is powering the B, and it’s everything you expect. The major difference, then, is in the ergo-


nomics of the motorcycle. The K 16 B is unlike any other motorcycle BMW has ever made. BMW’s oft (and unfairly, if you ask me) maligned R 1200 C and CL motorcycles had forward controls. Rather, they had controls as far forward as you might be able to get the con- trols with a boxer engine. Without protruding cylin- ders, there’s nothing here preventing the existence of forward controls, but BMW avoided them, perhaps understanding that having two places to put your feet is better than locking them into one location on a motor- cycle of this style. The floor-


boards are placed well from an ergonomic standpoint, and switching from the pegs to the boards shifts where the rider’s weight sits on the seat, trading one set of pressure points for another. The seat on the K16B is my only real beef


with the bike. I opted for the factory tall seat for the two-day press event, and I’m glad that I did, as the hip and knee angles when my feet were on the pegs were a little sharp. Not uncomfortably so, but I am only about 6’ 3” with my riding shoes on. Anybody taller than I am may find themselves a little cramped. That feeling will go away by mov- ing the feet out to the floorboards, but then, of course, there are no controls out there, which forces the rider to abandon the boards to shift or use the rear brake. It is not a difficult motion to get used to, as every- thing is intelligently placed, but it is some- thing that some riders may not be comfortable with. Between the two


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