2012 BMW K 1600 GTL vs. Honda Gold Wing GL1800 ABS | Comparison Test Review

2012 BMW K 1600 GTL and 2012 Honda Gold Wing GL1800
2012 BMW K 1600 GTL and 2012 Honda Gold Wing GL1800 (Photos by Rich Cox)

When BMW unveiled the all-new 2012 K 1600 GTL, a high-tech, high-performance replacement for the long-running K 1200 LT, the company declared that it had built “a shark, not a whale,” a thinly veiled jab at the Honda Gold Wing GL1800. Around the same time we got our first ride on the GTL (and its sport-touring sibling, the K 1600 GT) in South Africa, Honda unveiled the 2012 Gold Wing, featuring new bodywork, more luggage capacity, better handling, a redesigned cockpit and updated audio and navigation—a significant refresh but well short of an overhaul. Since then we’ve logged thousands of miles on the K 1600 GTL and Gold Wing (read reports in our May, July and August 2011 issues or at ridermag.wpengine.com), and as enjoyable as it has been to ride them in places as disparate as Africa and Appalachia, one can’t help but wonder: Are they truly comparable?

Yes and no.

Both have big, powerful six-cylinder engines with shaft final drive. Both offer levels of comfort and lists of features found on few motorcycles. And both of our well-appointed test bikes—the Premium-equipped K 1600 GTL and the Audio Comfort Navi XM ABS Gold Wing—have as-tested sticker prices of more than 25 large. But one weighs 134 pounds more than the other. One offers superior wind protection, greater luggage capacity and more spacious seating, while the other offers superior engine performance, sharper handling and more sophistication. One has been steadily refined over its 38-year model history, setting and resetting standards for smoothness, comfort and reliability; the other is an all-new model with a few teething issues. One can easily accommodate a trailer and has a well-developed aftermarket; the other, not so much.

2012 BMW K 1600 GTL
The BMW K 1600 GTL has sportier handling, more cornering clearance, more power and less weight than the Gold Wing. The tradeoff is less wind protection, comfort and luggage capacity.

Rather than the snarky shark/whale comparison—both have fins and live in the sea but are entirely different critters—a more apt metaphor for the K 1600 GTL and Gold Wing would be a thoroughbred and a Clydesdale—two strong, impressive steeds bred for different purposes. The BMW places greater emphasis on performance than luxury, its rev-happy, in-line six trumping all else. The Honda places greater emphasis on luxury than performance, its cozy bubble of wind protection and plush seating taking center stage. You can rack up miles smoothly, swiftly and comfortably on both, but you’ll come away with different impressions. The K 1600 GTL will thrill you; the Gold Wing will pamper you.

Rather than end the story right there, we took the K 1600 GTL and Gold Wing on the road for a few days, traveled nearly 1,000 miles and came home with a more detailed comparison of two motorcycles near and dear to the hearts of touring riders. On the ride was yours truly, an impatient Generation-Xer with an iPhone surgically implanted in the palm of my hand, and veteran photographer Rich Cox, a laidback Baby Boomer who still misses shooting on film. From the coast we headed inland, crossing the Mojave Desert, turning north into the Owens River Valley, venturing into the White Mountains, Sierra Nevada and Alabama Hills, staying overnight in Lone Pine and Kernville, and subsisting on pie, pizza and post-ride pints.

2012 Honda Gold Wing
The Honda Gold Wing handles better than a 910-pound motorcycle has any right to while pampering the rider and passenger. For 2012 it got revised bodywork that offers better wind protection.

At our first gas stop and second bike swap, after more than 100 miles of highway cruising with a few scenic, serpentine roads in the middle, opinions had already begun to form. Both the GL1800 and K 1600 GTL are impeccably smooth, spinning their crankshafts well below 3,000 rpm at 60 mph in top gear and emitting barely a tingle of vibration. On either bike, raise the windscreen, dial in the audio system and set the cruise control; you’ll be in the next state before you know it. But when you give their throttles a serious workout, the fundamental schism between the BMW and the Honda—performance vs. luxury—becomes readily apparent. Not only does the K 1600 GTL weigh 134 pounds less than the GL1800, its smaller-displacement engine (1,649cc vs. 1,832cc) generates more output, resulting in a higher power-to-weight ratio. On Jett Tuning’s dyno, the K 1600 GTL (in Dynamic mode) cranked out 134.9 horsepower at 7,900 rpm and 114.3 lb-ft of torque at 5,300 rpm (redline is 8,500 rpm), whereas the Gold Wing cranked out 100.9 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 105.7 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm (redline is 6,000 rpm). The GTL generates over 100 lb-ft of torque between 3,000 and 7,000 rpm; the GL1800 generates over 90 lb-ft of torque between 2,000 and 6,000 rpm. Both pull strongly from low revs in almost any gear, but the BMW pulls harder, revs higher and growls more aggressively. But the K 1600 GTL’s performance advantage comes at a price. It suffers from too much driveline lash, it has long-throw shifting that feels clunky in lower gears and its throttle-by-wire system acts confused when revs fall below 3,000 rpm. The Gold Wing, on the other hand, is as smooth as Hugh Hefner, with buttery throttle response, satiny shifting and a taut driveline.

Despite similar 29-inch-plus seat heights, Rich and I both felt more cramped on the K 1600 GTL, with its smaller, harder seat and higher footpegs (a no-cost optional 30.7-inch seat is available for the GTL). In addition to its larger, more comfortable seat, additional leg room and more natural reach to the bars, the Gold Wing’s larger fairing and wider windscreen better protect the rider and passenger from wind, rain and other elements. At the end of the first day, Rich said, “BMW didn’t fully commit to building a luxury tourer; they built a fancy sport tourer.” But I disagree. From my point of view, the K 1600 GTL has plenty of wind protection (both it and the Gold Wing get my girlfriend’s seal of approval); I want to feel some wind, and I prefer less visual mass in the cockpit.

2012 Honda Gold Wing
The Gold Wing lights up the night with halogen headlights—two for low beam and two for high beam. Cut-outs in front of the cylinder heads accept accessory fog lights.

The next morning we awoke dark and early, slurped down coffee and headed into the Alabama Hills, a boulder-strewn area in the shadow of Mt. Whitney where many westerns were filmed, for some first-light photography. A snowflake symbol on the BMW’s full-color TFT display warned of near-freezing conditions. Rich and I cranked up the grip and seat heaters—controlled by two dials on the Gold Wing’s dash and via the Multi-Controller on the left handgrip of the K 1600 GTL, an easy-to-use wheel that controls suspension adjustments, traction control, audio functions, navigation (with the optional BMW Navigator IV unit) and more without having to take a hand off the bar. Rather than menus, the Gold Wing relies on a profusion of buttons and switches spread throughout the cockpit and on both handlebars. In such cold conditions, the Gold Wing’s better wind protection and foot-warming vents made it the preferred mount.

Obviously, windscreens are a big part of wind protection. Being taller than Rich, I could see over both bikes’ windscreens in their lowest positions but had to look through them when fully raised. Rich had to look through both screens in all positions, and he complained about distortion in the GTL’s irregularly shaped screen, especially when trying to read the terrain of technical corners. I felt back pressure when the GTL screen was fully raised, but could alleviate it by opening the clever fairing vents (a less attractive option when it’s cold outside). I struggled with helmet buffeting on the Gold Wing in all screen positions except the highest, but buffeting wasn’t an issue on the K 1600 GTL. Aftermarket windscreens offer different shapes or more coverage, as desired. That you must unlock two levers to manually raise or lower the Gold Wing’s screen is a hassle; the K 1600 GTL’s electrically adjustable screen is the way to go.

2012 BMW K 1600 GTL
The K 1600 GTL’s bright LED fog lights and innovative Adaptive Xenon headlight will illuminate the darkest of roads.

After our early morning photo shoot and a hearty breakfast at the Mt. Whitney Restaurant (elk patty and eggs!), Rich and I headed south, turning onto Nine Mile Canyon Road and climbing up into the Sierra toward Kennedy Meadows. Like a Clydesdale, the Gold Wing feels rock solid at any lean angle. Even though its new fork bushings and Bridgestone radials help it feel more nimble, steering the Gold Wing through technical corners requires more effort than the light-handling K 1600 GTL, which has a shorter wheelbase and sportier geometry. When the pace heats up, the Gold Wing’s extra weight, dated suspension and limited cornering clearance leave it gasping for air while the K 1600 GTL is just hitting its stride. The Gold Wing’s combination damping-rod/cartridge fork (the damping-rod in the left fork leg has an anti-dive system that uses brake-fluid pressure) chatters over rough pavement and isn’t quite up to the task of hustling 1,000-plus pounds of bike, rider and gear through tight corners. Its Pro-Link rear shock offers electronically adjustable rear preload with memory presets, but that’s it in terms of adjustment. Nonetheless, at typical touring speeds, the Gold Wing provides a plush ride, with or without a passenger and luggage. The K 1600 GTL’s Hossack-type Duolever front suspension also limits dive under braking, and its single front shock offers preload and damping adjustment, as does the single shock on the GTL’s Paralever rear suspension. Our Premium test bike has Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) II, allowing pushbutton adjustment of preload (rider, rider plus luggage, rider plus passenger) and damping (Sport, Normal, Comfort). ESA II is undeniably convenient and, as tested, the K 1600 GTL’s suspension compliance is better than the Gold Wing’s. Both have incredibly strong linked brakes with ABS (standard on the BMW, optional on the Honda), but the Gold Wing requires a firmer pull at the front lever, has less initial bite and offers less braking feel. ABS pulsing is all but nonexistent on both bikes, but the system engages early when you press on the GTL’s rear pedal.

More into marathons than sprints? Again, the Gold Wing’s higher curb weight and wider frontal area, not to mention its extra 183cc of engine displacement, cut into fuel economy, eroding the slight cost advantage it has running regular unleaded vs. the K 1600 GTL’s required midgrade. With Rich and I swapping bikes regularly over the same roads, the Honda averaged 37.6 mpg to the BMW’s 41.3 mpg. The Gold Wing’s 6.6-gallon tank is good for 248 miles while the K 1600 GTL’s 7-gallon tank is good for 289.

2012 Honda Gold Wing and 2012 BMW K 1600 GTL
These six-cylinder, shaft-driven luxury tourers will take you, a passenger and ample gear anywhere paved roads go. Here Lubken Canyon Road takes us to the foothills of 12,943-foot Lone Pine Peak in the Sierra.

Both the K 1600 GTL and the Gold Wing have pushbutton-lockable luggage, with saddlebags, a top trunk and smaller storage compartments. The Gold Wing has about 150 liters of storage capacity, including two front fairing compartments (on non-Airbag models; one is lockable) and two compartments on either side of the passenger seat. The K 1600 GTL has about 115 liters of storage, including two small lockable lower fairing compartments. The Gold Wing’s saddlebags and trunk hold more than those of the GTL, but their openings and cavities are awkwardly shaped (putting helmets inside requires some fiddling). Whereas the Gold Wing’s saddlebags and trunk are integrated into the bodywork, the GTL’s can be easily removed. Even though the K 1600 GTL offers less luggage capacity, its load capacity is 40 pounds higher than the Gold Wing’s (459 pounds vs. 419 pounds).

A detailed flow chart is required to list all of the standard and optional features on the K 1600 GTL and Gold Wing. The BMW comes in two configurations: Standard ($23,200) and Premium ($25,845). The Honda comes in four: Audio Comfort ($23,890), Audio Comfort Navi XM ($26,680), Audio Comfort Navi XM ABS ($27,900) and Airbag ($29,350). Our test bikes were fully kitted with every option short of an airbag on the Gold Wing. Both have ABS, full audio systems (AM/FM, iPod compatibility, XM satellite radio and USB connectors), grip/seat heaters, tire pressure monitors and cruise control. The Gold Wing offers a built-in satellite navigation system (weather and traffic can be added for a monthly fee), but you must pay an extra $899 for the BMW Navigator IV. The Gold Wing offers electrically adjustable rear preload only; the K 1600 GTL’s ESA II adjusts preload and damping. Furthermore, the BMW’s riding modes (Dynamic, Road and Rain) work in conjunction with the Dynamic Traction Control to adapt throttle response, engine power and DTC intervention to road conditions. And the K 1600 GTL has a unique and impressive safety feature, the Adaptive headlight, which offers dynamic leveling and casts the beam into turns using information from the bike’s bank angle sensors. The Gold Wing offers electric reverse, but the K 1600 GTL does not.

Our third day on the road began with another pre-dawn start, polishing and setting up the bikes on the edge of Lake Isabella, waiting for the sun rise over the Sierra. Later, as we warmed ourselves over breakfast at Cheryl’s Diner (biscuits and gravy!), Rich and I hashed out our final assessments of the K 1600 GTL and Gold Wing. When BMW designed the K 1600 GTL, it sought to break new ground, to shake off its long-standing reputation for building stodgy, quirky, overpriced motorcycles. Unlike our previous comparisons of the BMW K 1600 GT vs. Kawasaki Concours 14 (December 2011) and BMW R 1200 GS Adventure vs. Yamaha Super Ténéré (January 2012), praise for the K 1600 GTL doesn’t come with the caveat of a $5,000-$9,000 price premium. In this case, the BMW costs $2,055 less than the Honda. For the money, BMW offers a tremendous amount of performance and sophistication. When Honda updated the Gold Wing, it sought to make the improvements its loyal customers wanted most without reinventing the core platform, which Honda says most Gold Wing owners are happy with.

That the Gold Wing’s engine and chassis haven’t changed much in 11 years but it is still in the hunt against BMW’s latest and greatest speaks volumes about how good it is, how ahead of its time it was in 2001. The winner of this contest depends on your criteria, on what is most important to you. Luxury, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. For some, it’s a big, comfy seat, a large bubble of wind protection and built-in features like plug-in intercom capability, controls for an optional CB radio and reverse. For others, it’s cutting-edge engine performance, menu-driven controls and state-of-the-art technology such as traction control, riding modes and ESA II. These definitions of luxury are not necessarily an either-or proposition, but they resonate with different folks. If I were to buy a luxury tourer, I’d want it to do as many things as possible, to make few sacrifices. For better performance and handling, I’m willing to give up some comfort and luggage capacity. Rich feels the opposite. I’m a K 1600 GTL kind of guy; he leans toward the Gold Wing. But under the right set of circumstances, be they two-up touring, inclement weather or the type of roads on our route, we could easily flip-flop into the other camp.

2012 BMW K 1600 GTL
2012 BMW K 1600 GTL

2012 BMW K 1600 GTL Specs
Base Price: $23,200
Price as Tested: $25,845 (Premium package)
Warranty: 3 yrs., 36,000 miles
Website: bmwmotorcycles.com
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse in-line six
Displacement: 1,649cc
Bore x Stroke: 72.0 x 67.5mm
Compression Ratio: 12.2:1
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: Varies, computer monitored
Fuel Delivery: BMS-X EFI, 52mm throttle valvesLubrication System: Dry sump, 4.75-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Shaft, 2.75:1
Ignition: BMS-X computer controlled
Charging Output: 580 watts max.
Battery: 12V 19AH
Frame: Cast aluminum-alloy twin-spar main frame w/ engine as stressed member & aluminum subframe; Paralever single-sided swingarm
Wheelbase: 63.7 in.
Rake/Trail: 27.8 degrees/4.2 in.
Seat Height: 29.5 in.; optional high seat: 30.7 in.
Suspension, Front: BMW Duolever w/ ESA II (as tested), 4.5-in. travel
Rear: Single shock w/ ESA II (as tested), 5.3-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual discs w/ radial opposed 4-piston calipers & partial integral ABS
Rear: Single disc w/ 2-piston caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 17 in.
Rear: Cast, 6.00 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17
Rear: 190/55-ZR17
Wet Weight: 776 lbs. (as tested)
Load Capacity: 459 lbs. (as tested)
GVWR: 1,235 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 7.0 gals., last 1.0 gal. warning light on.
MPG: 89 PON min. (high/avg/low) 46.7/41.3/36.0
Estimated Range: 289 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 2,750

2012 Honda Gold Wing ABS
2012 Honda Gold Wing ABS

2012 Honda Gold Wing GL1800 ABS Specs
Base Price: $23,890
Price as Tested: $27,900 (Audio Comfort Navi XM ABS package)
Warranty: 3 yrs., unltd. miles
Website: powersports.honda.com
Type: Liquid-cooled, longitudinal opposed flat six
Displacement: 1,832cc
Bore x Stroke: 74.0 x 71.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.8:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 2 valves per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: 32,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI w/ automatic choke
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 4.9-qt. cap.
Transmission: 5-speed & electric reverse, hydraulically actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Shaft, 2.75:1
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital
Charging Output: 1,300 watts max.
Battery: 12V 20AH
Frame: Aluminum-alloy twin-spar perimeter w/ engine as stressed member; Pro-Arm single-sided swingarm
Wheelbase: 66.5 in.
Rake/Trail: 29.2 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 29.1 in.
Suspension, Front: 45mm stanchions w/ anti-dive, 4.8-in. travel
Rear: Pro-Link single shock, remotely adj. for spring preload, 4.1-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual discs w/ opposed 3-piston CBS calipers & ABS (as tested)
Rear: Single disc w/ opposed 3-piston CBS caliper & ABS (as tested)
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 18 in.
Rear: Cast, 5.00 x 16 in.
Tires, Front: 130/70-HR18
Rear: 180/60-HR16
Wet Weight: 910 lbs. (as tested)
Load Capacity: 419 lbs. (as tested)
GVWR: 1,329 lbs. (as tested)
Fuel Capacity: 6.6 gals., warning light on last 1.0 gal.
MPG: 87 PON min. (high/avg/low) 43.4/37.6/33.8
Estimated Range: 248 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 2,550


Honda’s Combined Braking System is stout and reassuring. ABS is optional.
Honda’s Combined Braking System is stout and reassuring. ABS is optional.
Honda's integrated, 42-liter saddlebags are large but awkwardly shaped.
Honda’s integrated, 42-liter saddlebags are large but awkwardly shaped.
Instrumentation on the Gold Wing has a traditional, automotive appearance. Navigation system is optional.
Instrumentation on the Gold Wing has a traditional, automotive appearance. Navigation system is optional.
BMW’s partially linked brakes are amazingly strong and ABS is standard.
BMW’s partially linked brakes are amazingly strong and ABS is standard.
BMW's removable, 33-liter saddlebags hold a full-face helmet and more.
BMW’s removable, 33-liter saddlebags hold a full-face helmet and more.
Sleek instruments on the K 1600 GTL use small fonts that can be difficult to read. Panel marked “6” is the GPS compartment.
Sleek instruments on the K 1600 GTL use small fonts that can be difficult to read. Panel marked “6” is the GPS compartment.


  1. I have owned older BMW and a Wing… Were I to get a new one,,, I would take the Wing… I currently ride a Burgman 650…

    • Burgman 650 is not a motorcycle, therefore your opinion is irrelevant. BMW makes the Goldwing look like a big pig. BMW ALL THE WAY!!!

      • as a combat wounded vet,,, I ride the best I can… If you ever rode a Burg 650,,, you would realize it is more motorcycle than scooter… BMW makes a great motorcycle,,, I just cannot get my leg over without a lot of pain…

        • bmwman, Just for your Info I ride a 990 Super Duke R a Ducati 1098 & Multistrada 1200. One fine day I was taking a ride up to Bear Mt in NY, my friend shows up on his Burg 650 definitely more motorcycle then scooter, over 100 MPH and was rt behind us all day.

      • Having owned several Goldwings, and currently in the market for a new tourer, I would suggest that “Maxi” scooters are a great alternative. A dealership I worked for had the Yamaha T-Max as a demo – it rocked! Please don’t be a “bike-snob”, frankly if it has two wheels I’m in! I also own an R1, YZ250f several road-race bikes, RD350, and have just sold a BWS scooter… My wife and I are currently leaning toward the GL mostly because of the passenger accommodations. I do wish that the ‘wing had better engine performance though – in this day and age 1800cc should supply more than 100hp. My 1981 KZ1000 made 102hp – aircooled… Hmm, while I’m at it, more ground clearance, and a more up to date cartridge fork, and maybe an adjustable shock. – Just saying. 🙂

        • I have owned VMax, Harleys, BMWs and Burgman 650 Exec. The Burgman was the smoothest of all going over 100 mph like a knife through butter. Surprisingly stable and quiet at speed.

        • Yes it is, he is an idiot, like so many other Americans these days. The comment was certainly un-called for. The BMW is a fine motorcycle for sure, but the Goldwing wins in all aspects. Yes I have owned both, current day I have 2 Goldwings.

      • Anyone who claims that the Burgman is not a motorcycle…just doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Ride one. Then give an educated opinion.

    • I’ve had a K1200LT for the past 4 years. I love the bike particularly the Hydraulic/electric center stand as I’m a little older and it makes getting on and off the bike much easier. I taken 4 longer trips each of the past 4 years (2,500 miles, 7,000 miles, 3,000 miles, 4,500 miles) and have had serious problems with the tranny on two of the four trips. While I absolutely love the ride of the BMW and the sporty look. I am seriously considering the Goldwing because of dependability concerns. Is anyone aware of problems the K1200 had ? Perhaps BMW moved to the K1600 GTL for a reason. I.E, the K1200 needed some improved design work? I will probably stick with BMW and go with the K1600 but I sure wish they’d bring back the Hydraulic/electric center stand!!

      • I have a2007 K1200TL, just completed the 60K service…this is the fourth clutch I’ve had to replace, this time it took out the drive train….4000.00 euros later I’m looking at riding a Wing again. I’ve watched the 1600 deployment and it has just as many problems as the 1200. BMW blamed me for the worn clutch each time saying I don’t know how to ride. I’ve been riding since I was 9yr old and I’m now 50…never have I burned a clutch on any bike including my wing. BMW gave up on the K1200 (in my opinion) because they couldn’t fix the problems (now out of production…thus enter the 1600). It’s a lot of money for a bike that requires so much maintenance to keep it upright. Sad because I really liked the bike. …btw, it’s for sale if someone wants it.

  2. A CLYDESDALE? Really? a CLYDESDALE? In my opinion, your tester knows even less about horses than he (apparently) does about touring motorcycles. A, possibly, more apt metaphor would have been to compare the two to a Thoroughbred and an American Saddlebred. Oh, and which is easier/safer; glance down and push a button or look down and scroll through a list? Seems to me the Beemer is full of un-tested technology (no doubt why it is so desirable to your techno-geek tester).


      • I am also an Vet of 24 years Canadian Air Borne special Forces Major (Ret). Am now 54 years old and have been riding since I was 10. Best bike I ever owned was a BMW K 1200 Lt by far.
        Soo sorry to see it go. Totalled last year by an idiot on her cell phone. Recovering well but the bike is a write off.
        Have to say though and sorry to say to those that disagree but scooters are not bikes.

        Wanta be maybe

        • Hey thanks for your service. I am considering moving from a 2012 kaw voyager to a new 2016 bmw k 1600 exclusive. What about all the maintenance t or f.

      • I have bikes and the Wing is the only bike for me. I rode the Dragon on both and both bikes have ups and downs, the Wing with its low stance will drag the floor boards and the BMW has a bit of balance issue thru the corners (at least for me). The Goldwing is simply Butter for the ride, comfort and get up and go. One riders opinion.

    • You are certainly spot on…..I have 2 wings and love them both. A vinage 1985 and a 2005 1800. The Goldwing hands down is the bike you want to be on in a short ride our the long hauls. Single or two up, cant beat a Wing.

  4. Maybe a better analogy would be that the K1600 is like a BMW 7 Series while the Goldwing is like a Buick Roadmaster wagon.

    I’m not a Goldwing basher by any means…I think if your main concern is getting you, a passenger, and every item you own a long distance down the road then there is no finer machine, Yes, its technology is dated, you need to fill up more often, and you can’t adjust the windscreen as you ride. But we all know that old folks have to stop every 45 minutes to pee anyway, so that really isn’t a big concern. And since it holds more stuff there is extra room for a package or two of Depends.

    As a K1600 rider (pilot feels more fitting), I feel that if I give up all that is thrilling about riding a motorcycle for pure cargo capacity I might as well be driving that Buick Roadmaster. I may never be able to take as much crap with me as Gramps can on his Wing, but he’s never going to know the pure, unadulterated aural sex that is that engine spinning along at 8000 rpm. Granny won’t be as comfy on the back of the BMW, but she will get a ride through the canyons that she’ll never forget!

    If it were all about transporting a bunch of crap down the ruler-straight highway at 55 miles per hour there’d be a Goldwing in my garage fit now. But for the young (at heart) who know that sharp turns and the chance to absolutely embarrass a new Corvette or two in an impromptu stoplight drag race makes sacrificing a bit of cargo room and a tiny bit of comfort worth it, there’s the BMW K1600.

    • You only forgot one …..really important thing: RELIABILITY. With the BMW…..that….is NON existent. The chances of a new generation BMW leaving way out away from civilization….stranded…..are excellent. Check out how many……RECALLS…..that all of them require. And….they can only be done…..at a BMW dealer. Service…as well…….at FULL BLAST, UNBELIEVABLE RETAIL +++. I bought a 2011 R1200GS ADVENTURE. My “dream bike” of all times. When I finally “justified” somewhat the ridiculous cost……I took the plunge. I LOVED the bike……until it hit….200 miles….when the FUEL PUMP…..completely died. BMW….paid to truck the bike 4 hours to the nearest dealer…..BUT…..BMW…and MY DEALER…..BOTH REFUSED to deliver the bike back to me! 200 MILES on the bike! It……had a list…of recalls. The bike….was junk. Sorry.
      I don’t own a Goldwing…but I have owned 3 of them in the past. In a word: BULLETPROOF. NEVER….EVER…..any issue. Enough said.

  5. I am 44 and I ride a Yamaha FJR and I want to transition to one of these bikes. The BMW seems like a natural choice given its sportier nature and I am not sure I am ready for the larger, slower Wing just yet. I would also take a serious razzing from my buddies. If I spent the majority of my time on slab then I might think differently. The other thing that I need is lots of technology since I also have my iPhone attached to my hand at all time and I think the BMW also has it over the Wing in that area as well.

    • The K1600 GT or GTL is a good choice for someone who wants to tour in more comfort but still not give up performance. This article focuses on the GTL but the GT would also be a good choice. It doesn’t come with a top case (though you can add one) but it does have pegs set farther back for a sportier riding position and a little more aggressive exhaust.

      A good place to do some research is http://www.k1600forum.com/
      Browse through the messages and learn the good and bad before you make a choice.

      For the record I love my GTL!

    • macmovieman, if you are that worried about connecting an iphone to your ride, perhaps you should invest in a nice sedan.

    • Mac, Don’t judge an 1800 Wing without riding one. I started riding mine at 45. 80,000 trouble free miles and 10yrs. later I still Love it. When I take a two week 3500 mile ride in the spring from Wyoming to Texas and back. The extra room for me and my gear is welcome. You will be able to keep pace with your Buddy’s at any reasonable speed. You can return any jazz you get on those cold days your out enjoying the ride with your I pod plugged in while your buddy’s are home waiting for warm weather. Most people that get a wing ride more. BMW makes a great bike. I’ve owned an 07 and 10 GSA. Just know you will have A HOLE LOT MORE in maintenance costs than any bike you own now. Dealers can be far and few between and rapid changes with lots of innovation lends itself to more problems. I rode one of the first GTL’s along the front range of Colorado for a couple hours. I Loved it to. BMW has their ESA dialed in to perfection. It would be a great three day weekend or day rider. It just can’t replace the Wing on a long trip for me. I love the look and the tech on the BMW. After going around and around with myself for me the answer is keep my Wing and get a 1600GT for sporty day or overnight rides. I can add a top case if needed later. MY advice is ride all the bikes your interested in for at least a couple of hours. You can’t make a poor choice with any of them. IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A RIDER!

  6. The quality control on the BMW GTL leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the tech does not work from the get-go. The starter dies after a thousand miles. The water pump leaks. Plus, BMW won’t give more than 16 firmware updates – you will require at least 5, on a new bike. It goes on and on.

    • The message boards are a great source of info, but you have to keep in mind you will hear about problems at a disproportionate rate. People with problems will be vocal about it, those of us who don’t have them are instead out riding.

      The article above states that they’ve logged thousands of miles on a GTL and I’ve done the same on mine. I have experienced no problems and I’m sure the writer of the article would have mentioned it if they had as well. Even if they skipped over minor gripes I am sure they’d have said “by the way, our starter stopped working at a thousand miles”. I have heard about a few leaky water pumps, but I challenge anyone to find a model of mass-produced water cooled motorcycle that has never had a few occurrences of a leaking water pump. And the firmware update limitation? I scratch my head at that, too. But then again, we are still trying to determine if that is fact or just what people have heard. Plus, I’d be shocked if anyone ever got anywhere near that many updates. I’ve owned my fair share of bikes and I don’t think adding them all up together I’d come up with 16 firmware updates.

    • I have owned both BMW K1200LT and Goldwing and I have owned the K1600GTL since August 19, 2011 and have a little over 6000 miles on it and everything has worked exactly right from mile number one. All of the “tech” items work exactly as advertised, the starter has never given a hint of a problem, and there are no leaks from anywhere. I have been very impressed with BMW in the past but this bike is everything I hoped it would be. The agility of the BMW is impressive everytime I ride and the ability to transfer from dynamic mode to rain mode with the tap of a button and the release of the clutch is outstanding. My local dealer, Lonestar BMW in Austin Texas was very helpful when I ordered the bike and BMW contacted me prior to delivery to keep me informed during the build process and contacted me shortly after delivery to see what I thought of the new bike. I can’t ask for a manufacturer and dealer to do much more than that. I am completely satisfied with the K1600GTL.

  7. Interesting article. I may be in the market for a new motorcycle in the next year or so and the Goldwing and BMW are on my list. From my perspective the article would have been more interesting if you had also tested a new Harley Ultra Classic or Road Glide Ultra to see how they compared overall to the Wing and BMW.

  8. Nicely done article.  However, I would suggest that you consider calling out just a bit more clearly, what might be one of the single most important differences, which you actually have a bit buried now.  That is, the BMW has traction control.  Sure, we can – generally- count upon Honda having the more bullet proof machine refined to a level of perfection few companies in any industry, can generally attain.  

    However, sometimes it is necessary to recognize that being a laggard in adopting ABS then also traction control, is going to likely start impacting business.  Sure we all know that much of this has likely been due a combination of the loudest bike forum frequenters for years always made clear they could control a bike better than any ABS, but that was about the earliest primitive systems and always also, about the most amazing riders, too; just ask them and they would tell you.  Oh wait, you didn’t even have to ask.  The other key factor?  Litigation liability which is always having Unintended consequences in even wiping out entire industries at times (like skiing and civil aviation and in entire states, the business of obstetricians but then, States stepped up with industry or discipline specific (can’t hurt our trial lawyer lobby buddies too much there, right Legislators?!) liability caps, allowing those industries to relaunch; this is no joke!).

    So back from that diverging rant, sorry…

    Bottom-line is I think it likely that, no one should be surprised to see Honda’s premier Flagship start appreciably losing market share as their targeted customers quietly (!)  buy other choices from bike makers who haven’t taken so long, offering the latest, no longer even remotely glitchy techno-marvels, in helping keep the rubber side down and the rider’s life better protected.  So those technologies are not just about performance on tracks, where Honda does seem to “get it” except for their toe in the water elsewhere with their newest VFR and Cross Tourer, with traction control.  And airbag on the Goldwing is a cool option for those who want to go there so big kudos to Honda on that.  So we clearly know they can do it with traction control, too; perhaps some “Moral High Ground-Taking” journalism, could help get them there sooner?!

    • To be clear, yes I know they did finally get ABS on board…but across their bike lineup they’ve remained impressively slow with it!

    • I think what many people are forgetting is the GoldWing owners are all about touring as comfortably and as reliably as possible. These people want to see the world and on the very rare occcassion that something breaks, everyone (including Harley dealerships) can work on a Honda.

      I am going to hear complaints, but the truth is, BMW bikes are not very reliable after reaching a certain age/miles and it cost A LOT of money to get them repaired and you cannot take them just anywhere to get repaired.

      I had BMWs for years, and frankly, I got tired of cleaning up oil spills in my garage. So I bought myself a Triumph…and guess what…OIL SPILLS! lol. I am going back to Honda’s so I can enjoy riding again.

      • So Bill, what year and model was or is, your new or used was it, Triumph?  The one with oil spills?  And,who is doing the oil changes?  Do they know it is recommended very clearly in Triumph’s more recent owner manuals, to always replace versus reuse the washer between the plug and the block, every single oil change?  It costs roughly 10 or 20 cents or less, if I recall the cost per in a package of a few, from any auto parts store.  If you are talking about a Triumph from before John Bloor took over and certainly, from prior his transformative changes taking hold, then your odds of such a problem were greater, but no more.  Not unlike many carmakers who managed to turn their quality around from near disaster for their brands, Triumph was ages ago much like most bikes, except for when the Japanese came on scene and introduced everyone to the quality concepts a certain famous American auto guy took there, when Detroit didn’t listen first and the rest is history.  Today and as you know, quality has leapt light years ahead all across automobile and motorcycle makers, brands and all around the globe.  Sure there remain some catching up, but overall the breakdown odds have dropped sharply with some about as bullet proof…generally but not always, as they get.  Even Honda has had issues if you check the forums but they are usually really darned quick jumping on them, as was Kawasaki somewhat famously, with their flagship Sport Tourer with some ergonomic misses and especially heat, with a substantial update the very next year after introduction; pretty much unheard of before, by anyone!  So the builders are listening and design to build technology has advanced light years enabling a collective learning previously unfathomable, even just a few short years ago.  Really amazing times to be alive and able to take advance of it, don’t you feel?

  9. I have taken the california super bike school on 650 ninjas flat out, and i feel that if you know how to ride, and have had training you will find that the Goldwing has no trouble in any twistis. I can turn so fast and sharp I can send sparks all the way around any turn if i want to. It will hang in there if you know how to ride. It is also the best bike i have ever had in the rain. I have been able to ride in heavy downpours when other bikes are under overpasses. I have never felt or had a movement in heavy rain, but I have had movement in heavy crosswinds. Which are real eye openers the first time you move a 1/4 to 1/2 a lane just like that.

    My only complaint is the side movement and the seat height, also when it comes to some repairs. It took me about two hours to change an air filter, but it was my first time and I was in no hurry as I did not want to make any mistakes.

    Also I rebuilt the whole front end with Traxxion suspending, and tapered bearing and races in the triple tree. I believe this made all the difference in the world with the handling of the bike.

    I am not afraid to go into any turn, but I do watch for leaves, sand, gravel, salt, anything that might effect the bike. Oh and on-coming traffic, deer etc, etc.

  10. I always wanted a Goldwing: I bought one in 2009 (Audio Comfort Navi XM ABS package). If I would have known what I know now then I would have been more careful:

    Cheap factory tires, Non adjustable rear shock: the hose between the compressor and the shock is substandard and will expand thus absorbing the pressure that should go in the shock ….it will, eventually, put more pressure in the shock but you’ll feel every pebble on the road!
    See Traxxion Dynamics.

    The CB IS an OPTION??? $1000 option to boot! And, at the time I bought mine, you could get a cd Changer for $600!!??? The XM radio sucks (only works on the slabs)

    I feel I am in the middle of the bull’s eye for the target market for this type of bike: I have the money, am younger than the average 1800 rider but a few things need to change IF they want me to keep buying a GL1800:

    It seems that they may have addressed the suspension issue??
    The CB should be included (1970’s tech but useful when you ride with a buddy). Or make the control pod for it removable.
    You should be able to fully control your ipod from the handle bar and see what’s playing and charge it too!
    The bike needs a 6th gear for when you HAVE to be on the highway.
    The windshield needs a motor.
    I even wrote to Honda America about all of this and they sent me a nice letter telling me essentially to buzz off!
    NICE customer service for someone buying their Flagship bike!!!!!!

    I think I am pushing the goldwing a lot more than the average rider: my pegs are “chewed up” on both sides and am on my third set of tires in 15k miles. I ride and seek out the back roads all the time. On my GPS the highways and toll roads are to be “avoided”.

    When the BMW came out I was tempted to trade the GL1800 BUT the nearest dealer is 30 to 40 miles away. I also realized that there are a lot more Honda dealers than BMW. Also the GTL seems to have some growing pains as already mentioned above.

    Just came back from a 2300 mile tour through Canada and the northeast: Changed the Elite 3 for the Bridgestones 709 and 704 (which I understand is what they use on the 2012 model). Leaving the dealer I immediately noticed the difference: the bike turned more willingly, had great performance on the back roads and in the rain.

    I still think the Goldwing is pretty amazing bike considering its size and weight but it could be an INCREDIBLE bike if Honda paid attention. Hopefully the GTL will spur them into action.

    I think I will keep the bike for a few more year. I will install the full Traxxion suspension set up soon, though.

    • L T, regarding the tire change on your Wing and the impact on the handling; I mention above in reply to Bob Satterling’s post, about Kawasaki doing a substantial update to their new sport Tourer, the next year after introduction. As I recall that included a tire change which, according to reviewers transformed the handling from really good to great, or thereabouts.

      I must also admit chuckling a bit about your avoiding the slab and eating up your pegs; not a common Wing Owner complaint. If I may be so very bold, perhaps you just might consider testing the new BMWs? After all, I’m told BMW tend to go above and beyond in encouraging test rides unlike the vast majority of other makers. As for the distance on the dealer, yes that’s a factor I can appreciate. But I know a lot of makers now offer extended service with picking you and the bike up, sometimes even as part of the “basic” warranty and especially, on their flagship bikes. Further and due the market just now, most are getting more competitive than ever, of necessity. So may be worth doing some research and asking! The great news? There will always be a solid secondary market for used Wings and BMWs so your risk should be fairly well limited. Given how much you clearly enjoy those curves where biking for many is where it is really at, sure seems worthwhile considering alternatives and some searching for “bridges” to help fill or cover, some of your concerns doing so? Regardless, Safe & Happy Riding to You!

  11. I have had 3 1800 wings. Been riding 54 years. Honda needs to wake up. I would buy a bmw r1200 rt .The rt is fast lite. The wing is out of date.

  12. trying to decide between a Wing and the GTL after I sell my 02 VTX and 05 FJR. Couldn’t wait to ride the GTL after all the hoopla and wanted to fall in love with it – but didn’t. Transmission was loud and clunky downshifting, felt I had to reach and push the rear brake to the pavement for it to engage, and my crotch went numb after about 20 minutes due to the seat angle (I’m 6’5″). Going to test drive the Wing, compare, and maybe give the GTL another shot but it seems to come up short on comfort for my build…

  13. i own a 2012 goldwing with ABS and NAV. The bike is great, but I would have like to see traction control, bluetooth and electric windshield on the bike. Also, a 6th gear would have made the bike ride just a little less stressed at highway speeds of 65 to 70. If goldwing doesnt make the much needed modifications for 2014, then the BMW 1600 GTL will be the logical way to go.

  14. I had a Goldwing 1800. Good bike, better on two-lane blacktops than most uninitiated would believe. I rode it to Idaho from Virginia and back and loved the way it gobbled up the miles. I now have a Multistrada, and yes it handles better and runs like the proverbial ape, but the Goldwing was also fun in the curves, although not as fast, but a challenge can be fun too. If you ride a Goldwing with a bunch of Harley guys you’ll look like Valentino Rossi. And the Goldwing will be kinder to your backside than almost anything. Having said all this, my next one will probably be a 1600 GTL. Ain’t no bad motorcycles, just bad choices.

  15. Traded a HD elect glide on a 2012 gold wing… Never knew it could be this great… Handles better than Harley at slow speed.. My one and only surprise was cross wind . You must be aware . It is simply the ultimate way to ride..Honda has forced all manufactures to be better and not only on automobiles.

  16. Hello, I have had 45 motorcycles, to name a few, Honda Goldwind 1.800 , Walkirie, Vtx…Yamaha VMAX 1.700 , Warrior, Royal Star.
    Triumph Tiger 1050 and 800..
    Suzuki B king, Burgmang 650 ExcecutiveKawasaki Councours 1.400.
    BMW Rt 1.150 and recently the new BMW GTL 1.600
    All are different to drive and its depends of Where you drive them.
    In my country…Costa Rica, the roads are joy the best in the world, there are twists, bumps, and holes everywhere you go, so every bike is different .

    For example the VMAX , has more torque than the rest , and is pure adrenaline is you accelerate it full, it feels like heaven, almost the same with the BKing.

    The Burgman is more than an scooter, for me is like a mini Goldwind, you have comfort , baggage capacity, Abs, electric windshield and mirrors , hand breake, a secuencial shift drive, comfort and many other things .

    The BMW GTL, is kool…. Six in line, smooth, it feels like a heavy sport bike, nice acceleration, brakes, stability , a cargo space, and many other and exclusive features like the lights that turns when you turn.

    I love motorcycles, any kind, but they are all different, and it depends if you cand handle to have one one or more, I wish I could have them all, but I thanks GOD to have the ones I have right now in my Garage….Yamaha VMAX 1.700, Suzuki Burgman 650 Excecutive and my new BMW GTL 1.600.
    Oh yes and fell good and happy!

  17. Having owned a 2010 ‘Wing for one year (OK a year is 6 months for bikes in Alberta, Canada…) I can certainley say I’d buy another. My biggest issue is that at nearly $30,000 it should by now be the ultimate touring bike. Yes, it should have 6th gear, should have a motorized windshield, should have a shorter antenna, CB control should be removable too. I won’t nag it to death but the cost should cover those key issues. My biking dollars don’t come easy so I have to choose wisely, this year may be a 2013 FJR at nearly half cost of the ‘Wing. I like what BMW is doing, but dread the new model ‘bugs’, maintenance costs, and less storage space. Never felt the need for traction control as all bikes are one wheel drive…Is your right hand connected to your brain and butt not traction control?? ABS a different story and nice to have. I will take the bulletproof reliability and extra storage if I had to choose between these two. After all, why skimp if you are planning to be away from home for days/weeks? Then again, I just turned 50 lol……
    Regardless, enjoy the freedom of biking whatever you choose to ride, and always always drive defensively 😉

  18. All of you have overlooked one important fact about the Gold Wing- you are required to take that big wide bark-o-lounger around with you all the time !!!!!!! Ever pay for a rear tire change !!!!!!!! This is a poor design when any other brand, flip a couple of levers and presto they come off !!!!! If you choose this pig – fine ride it, but the BMW and new Triumph are way better designed.

  19. Woo, those verbal wars between the BMW K1600GTL and the Honda GL1800 Gold Wing owners are like the Republicans and Democrats when it comes to Race Horses and Buick Road-Masters. I believe I just might be able solve this problem reasonably for the Senior Generation. I’m a Grand Parent also, so here goes. No question the Gold Wing wins the seat contest for Granny hands down.
    We’re also a K1600GTL BMW owner. My Grand Father got his Harley davidson dealership in 1917, my Dad shut it down in 1949 and moved to Calif and raced Triumphs up and the the West Coast and was in the AMA magazines monthly till about 1961. I was born in 1954 in Riverside Calif, probably on a Triumph. My racing started when I was 11-12 on a 1958 650 TR6 Triumph, I had to get permission at the Events to have my Dad on the line with me because I couldn’t start it or touch the ground. There were always pro-testers on both sides of me, for fear this little guy would clumbsly kill one of them, but they always let me race. They soon learned my plate number, because 98% of the time the concern found themselves in the back of the pack. Since those days of Triumph’s, Norton’s, Harley’s to name a few, Granny’s finally got me down to one Motorcycle, “The K1600GTL BMW”. Granny still likes that feel of the Gold Wing seat, so I tell her to strap on the depends, (which is now a Gell-Pad,) makes the seat softer and away we go !!! When the GL1800 Gold Wings drive by looking at us wondering “What the F***’s that smell?” I point to the Cows and Horses next to the fences. Well, it seems to work for us….
    Just not sure who’ll want to buy this trade-in, that could be a unforseen problem.

    Keep riding my friends!!!
    Wild Bill

  20. I have had 6 BMW GS’s, a Honda Valkyrie that I traded in on the Gold Wing and then regretted it. After I drove the Honda 70 miles on Friday night I took it back to the dealer to see if I could get my Valkyrie back. Of course they said they had already sold my Valkyrie in less than 24 hours. I think if you do a lot of two up riding the Gold Wing would be more comforable and, of course, you are not going to be doing as much sporty riding with a passenger. As most of my riding is now down A1A (beach) with a BMW R1200CL Cruiser I do not demand a lot other than great stereo, heated seat and grips when needed and lots of storage. But now looking for new and I would look at the Honda, maybe even the new FB6 that looks a bit sportier. But I must say every time a hear a new 1600 go by the whirl of the engine gets me going, even though I have never had an inline BMW, only Boxer motors. I am now waiting to see when BMW announces the new water-cooled R1200RT (125hp) before I decide.

  21. If BMW is a 7 Series then Goldwing is a Rolls Royce Phantom. If you put Wilbers suspension on the Goldwing the power to weight remain the same but the handling gap is significantly reduced. So my question is if you spend the same money on the BMW 3k will you catch up with the extra comfort of the GW. Also the power plant on the GW is designed and proven to cover hundreds of thousands of kms. My view is I will keep my GW as I’m sure my ZX12R can take care of most BMWs.

  22. It is too bad that I read this article after buying a BMW k1600GTL. I had been contemplating buying a Honda Goldwing. However the motorcycle magazines have been partial to the BMW ostensibly because of its higher technology. However, let me tell you it is the most uncomfortable bike I owned. the dealer did not let me test ride it till after I bought the bike. It is no tourers. It is a super sport bike that has been recast as a tourer. You sit scrunched up and your knees and thigh will hurt after a couple of hours on the saddle. There is also horrible drivetrain lash like that in a cheap bike. To fix the ride height and comfort issues I have now to spend another 600USD on a seat and 400USD on lowered pedals. This bike is now officially a money sucking pit.

    On the other hand the Honda dealer let me take the bike out on a long spin. The bike was beautifully balanced withe the controls in the right place as much less wind noise. The BMW windshield may be adjustable but the wind noise is much higher so I prefer the Honda since what matters is the noise.

    Before you buy make sure you test drive both for long periods of time. Don’t buy into the hype. I am sure these manufacturers are contaminating what you read.

  23. I have owned many bikes over the decades, from RZ350 and dirtbikes both 2strokes and 4strokes, the sport bikes were a fun part of my life which all had a common denominator of speed and power, hence the FZR1000 / 03 Hayabusa modded / 06 GSXR1000 also modded ( gift from the wifey) it was nice have this bike and then acquiring the 06 GoldWing which I ordered exactly the color and options I wanted, Titanium with everything but the airbag, I was amazed at how fun this was to ride and how well it handled even being such a heavy bike which goes way as soon as your rolling, it’s not slow either, yet it’s not suppose to be a sport bike and never claims to, yet it’s a very capable bike in the proper hands, always delivers and rock solid stability and protection no matter the weather. Sure would il like more power or another gear, you betcha and they need to make that happen if they want to keep winning the class, which is not a fair comparison with the GTL since its basically a GT bike with huge power and different seats, foot placement and quieter exhaust, and cutting edge techno stuff, seriously with so many bent rims and leaks not to mention oil consumption from the BMW camp ill be much satisfied knowing that my GW will provide hundreds of thousands of trouble free miles with proper oil changes and filter replacements, I’m sure the BMW is a fine machine and I’d enjoy riding one, but the acceleration above that of a goldwing is mostly for the solo rider and I’m sure 2 up riding the wing can hold its own especially on the twisted, now as for straight acceleration, the Beemer has the edge but I think that rider gets wetter in the rain than the Wing rider, plus the stereo on the wing is not as fancy nut Rocks much louder and you can hear it as highway speeds too with speakers both front and rear and larger too, may seem silly but music makes the ride that much more enjoyable, to me at least. Changing the tires on the wing are not as easy but it’s definitely doable by a DIYer and there are many more Wing wheels available, yet I’ve never bent or heard of a wing wheel being bent by any bump or pothole, built tougher, not lighter for a reason. Not convinced the 6cylinder engine of the Beemer will have longevity and dependability, where as there are many 1800 with over 500k miles and even 1million with no problems or failures, never had any engine work done other than oil changes and filters. No other bike can claim that, that gets ridden hard as many wings hav been. I have a BMW car as does my wife, yet the motor bike just has to prove its self and stop trying to be a luxury motor bike when it’s not even close to a Wing. It’s a great machine, but it’s No GoldWing.

  24. I own currently 5 bikes: 1800 Goldwing, BMW R1200RT, BMW R1200 C, BMW K1220S, and a Victory 92SC. They are all great bikes. Some people ask me why I have more then one bike. The answer is that each bike has its own personality and purpose and no one bike is pefect for every type of riding. I gave up my Hayabusa last year at age 63 only because I could no longer ride it with out discomort for more then a couple hours, but it was a great bike! I don’t understand the nit-picking of one bike over another just get what fits your style of riding and that is affordable to your budget. It’s about the ride, not the bike!

    M.R. in Wisconsin

  25. Some of the comments are by people who must consider stupidity a virtue. A comparison of the two is valid because both are the ultimate in what they provide. My opinion: the BMW 1600 is the best bike in the world! But if I was going cross country with Cindy Crawford in back I’d take the Wing.

  26. BMW bikes, regardless of how hard they try or the amount of silly hype they put out, will NEVER, in any way, rival Honda Goldwings for comfort, value, reliability, durability, long distance touring, warranty and dealer network.

    You wanna pretty much only ride back & fourth to your local Starbucks? Then the Beemer is definitely the bike for you. It’ll probably get you there and back just fine.

    Otherwise, get a Goldwing!

  27. I recently had sport bikes a Hayabusa and went to the bmw k1300s for more comfort.
    I am 56, ride mostly in town but still wanted to go for longer rides 300-400 per day.
    I am 6’4″ and needed a bike I was comfortable on and yet easy to maneuver in day-to-day traffic.
    I looked at the Harley and Goldwing. I guess I’m just not a Harley person.
    The Goldwing looked like it was not a bike to redline day-to-day in traffic and still have fun.
    So far, I really enjoy riding the BMW K1600. I’ll let you know in a year if I still fell the same way

  28. I have a Gold Wing and aK1600gtl also a HD Electra Glide Ultra. As the autor said they are diferente machines and offer diferente feelings. The BMW feels sportier felling but the Honda is more confortable for long rides. I mi e in P.R. We have a lot of curves so the Bemmer is excelent for that. Agree with the writer .

  29. Boy what a wake up. I really am looking at a new ride but with all the bad news about the bmw and future costs i think i will not go that way. Yes the wing would be my choice, i have driven both and with my age of 63 and health issues both physically and others i want comforth and low mainteance. Currently my 2012 kawasaki 1700 voyager is great. Could have heated seats and grips but being a canadian vet of 23 yrs infantry i am use to bad weather. Pro patria and patricia

  30. Honda guys are more easy going, more sociable, bmw guys are more narsistic, more vain, but this is not 100%truth just in general, bmw guys are more apt to put you down for what you ride, honda guys are more about putting in miles at meeting new friends, we all know this is generaly true, why not admit it… my wife has the say so on a new bike, but her ass has never had a complaint about the goldwing, can’t say that about the others. I will ride with any one that can keep up with my gw, even snooty bmw riders.

  31. Certainly a lot of sweeping generalizations being asserted in these posts as “facts.” Sounds like some of these guys are dealing with personal issues more than attributes of motorcycles – in my opinion. I ride a 2013 BMW GTL and just returned from a four week, 6000 plus mile cross-country ride. The bike performed beautifully, without a hitch, the entire time. Was it as comfortable or composed as a Wing? I have no idea. And I don’t really care. I had a great time! It’s as silly to say one kind of bike is categorically better than another as it is to say one kind of wife is always better than another. It depends on what you like, what you need and what you’re comfortable with. All this ‘my bike is better than your bike’ is a bunch of juvenile crap. Honda makes good bikes. BMW did great work on my bike. Would I like to ride cross country on a Gold Wing? Hell yes. Why not? If it has two wheels, I’m interested. And yes, I have preferences – but what have they got to do with what you like to ride? Less than zero –

  32. age 69, been riding foe 52 years. 5 wings,a ST100, Valk. FZ1. 2001 wing w 68k. Did Dragon Tail last summer.18minutes. Record on wing 11 minutes. Great bike no real costs for maintain economic. Tires oil changes. Rode new bmw 1600. Not as much protection, but lighter and sport bike fast. Upkeep, real expensive. You can flog a wing and still have great reliability. The wing can do 135mph all day long. Buy what you like!!!

  33. It seems that at 75, I am the oldest to leave a comment. I have been riding for 55 years, my first large bike was a BMW R-69s.

    I bought a used 2006 GW with only 30k miles four years ago and have never regretted it. I am even happier now that I have read about the drive slop etc on the BMW 1600. It took me a while to get used to the GW, but now I use it mostly on local in-town rides. It is very easy for me to handle. I also have a Zero-S which I bought on a whim. Certainly, it is more zippy, but I hardly ever ride it. At about 350 lb, it is light, but the ease of handling is certainly not 3 times that of the GW. Anyone want to buy a nice Zero with only about 1000 miles?


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