2018 BMW K 1600 GTL vs. Honda Gold Wing Tour | Comparison Review

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
Honda’s all-new Gold Wing Tour and the BMW K 1600 GTL are the fastest and arguably most refined luxury-touring bikes on the road. Both have 6-cylinder engines, aluminum frames, dual-wishbone front ends and single-sided swingarms, but their performance and personalities couldn’t be more different. (Photos by Kevin Wing)

My, how the luxury touring landscape has changed.

Since our last comparison test of these two high-performance, 6-cylinder luxos in 2012 (the year the BMW was introduced and the Honda was mildly updated), the ranks of V-twin full dressers like Harley-Davidson Ultras and the Kawasaki Voyager have swelled to include the Indian Roadmaster and Yamaha Star Venture. At the rate they’re selling, Americans clearly want traditional V-twin touring bikes. Is there still a place at the table for big six guns like the BMW K 1600 GTL and Honda Gold Wing?

Read our Luxo Touring Comparo: Harley vs. Indian vs. Yamaha.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
The new Gold Wing Tour has lost 85 pounds and looks and feels more compact overall, yet has gained some bottom-end power, ride quality and electronic sophistication, and hasn’t lost much in the way of comfort.

Mark’s Gear
Helmet: Nolan N87
Jacket: Tourmaster Transition Series 5
Pants: Rev’It
Boots: TCX Airtech Evo Gore-Tex

Honda must certainly think so, otherwise it would not have so thoroughly revamped the Gold Wing for 2018, knocking off 85 pounds, broadening the bike’s powerband and giving it a full suite of modern engine, suspension and chassis components like riding modes, an electric windscreen and a dual wishbone front end (Rider, January 2018 and here). BMW has kept the K 1600 GTL’s momentum going as well, with upgrades to its top-line touring bike for 2017 that include Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment (D-ESA), ABS Pro, Reverse Assist and optional Gear Shift Assist Pro for clutchless up- and downshifts. It also received numerous styling improvements like new mirrors, foot guards and redesigned lower storage compartments. With the new Gold Wing, Honda expects sales of its flagship motorcycle to climb back to 2006 levels. Could it be the harbinger of a renaissance for luxurious, fully dressed touring bikes that go vroom-vroom instead of potato-potato-potato?

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
BMW’s consummate touring machine was updated for 2017 with Reverse Assist, Dynamic ESA, ABS Pro that works in corners and optional Gear Shift Assist Pro. Launched in 2012 alongside a GT sibling without a top trunk, the GTL is about 44 pounds lighter than the Honda and has a sportier personality.

Greg’s Gear
Helmet: Vemar Zephir
Jacket: Spidi Globe Tracker
Pants: Fly Terra Trek
Boots: Sidi Gavia

Our Magic 8-Ball merely replied, “Ask again later,” so we decided it was best to put these two high-powered butt massagers back-to-back and let you decide if they outshine the spud shooters. I can say that after 850 miles and two long days of flogging the shiny six-bangers in the mountains and deserts of Southern California, in temperatures ranging from 26 to 80 degrees and the dark of night to the high sun of midday, we are reminded just how good it can get in the saddle of a motorcycle.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
One of the interesting features in the desolate desert landscape surrounding the Salton Sea in California is Salvation Mountain, a labor of love near Niland created by Leonard Knight with local adobe clay, hay bales and thousands of gallons of donated latex paint. Knight passed away in 2014 and the site has been maintained by volunteers ever since. It was pretty cold when we visited and we were quite happy to be riding the warm and cozy luxos.

For this comparison we pitted a $26,700 Gold Wing Tour model with top trunk and manual 6-speed transmission (rather than Honda’s 7-speed DCT automatic) against a BMW K 1600 GTL with the Premium package and optional Navigator GPS, which boosts its base price of $25,595 to $28,844. Equipped as such the bikes share numerous features like 6-cylinder engines in aluminum frames, single-sided swingarms with shaft final drive and individual interpretations of a Hossack-like dual-wishbone front end, which eliminates fork dive and bump steer, separates the steering from the suspension, reduces friction and allows better suspension and ABS tuning. The two bikes also have throttle-by-wire, riding modes, cruise control, hill start assist, reverse, electric windscreens, keyless ignition and central locking, Bluetooth-enabled audio systems, heated grips and seats, GPS navigation and centerstands. If that seems like a lot of similarities, well, it is. But they just make the differences between them really stand out.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
Gold Wing’s cockpit features a fully integrated, Bluetooth-enabled infotainment system with Apple CarPlay. Most vehicle and audio functions are controlled and displayed on the central 7-inch TFT display, but Honda wisely kept separate buttons for quick access to things like the heated grips and seats.
BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
The Honda’s top trunk will hold a pair of small full-face helmets, or you can use the exterior helmet lock (as long as your helmets have chin straps with D-rings).

As the all-new machine, the Honda benefits from the latest technology and thoughtful integration. Up front there’s a comprehensive infotainment system with a high-resolution 7-inch TFT display, built-in navigation and Apple CarPlay, so it automatically detects your iPhone and you can run Apple Music and Maps manually or with voice commands, make phone calls and send text messages using Siri and a Bluetooth helmet headset. Most of the buttons that cluttered up the previous model’s fairing are gone, replaced with an intuitive menu system. Audio from multiple sources pumps through two speakers in front and two in back and/or wireless headsets. Luggage capacity is significantly down from the previous GL1800, though the top trunk will hold two smaller full-face helmets and the styling and integration of the trunk and saddlebags is beautiful and seamless.

Gold Wing engine
The Honda’s opposed flat-six lowers CoG and produces prodigious torque from idle on up.

The Honda’s flat opposed 1,833cc 6-cylinder engine is all-new, lighter and more compact yet has an even broader powerband now, and still delivers smooth, stump-pulling torque from idle to a relatively low redline of 6,000 rpm with a much deeper voice than before. We’ve written about the available DCT automatic transmission in two previous reports—for this comparison we requested the new 6-speed manual transmission, which has been refined with a cam damper and assist-and-slipper functions that greatly quiet and smooth shifting. Engine rpm at 60 mph is reduced from 2,550 rpm to 2,000 for less noise as well, although the engine’s louder exhaust note makes for a noisier experience overall. Peak output remains about the same—on the Jett Tuning dyno the Honda made 101.4 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 106 lb-ft of torque at 4,500, but now the engine starts making more than 100 lb-ft about 800 rpm lower, at 2,300 rpm, and doesn’t fall below 100 until 5,100 rpm as before. There’s never a lack of grunt on tap, and even two-up the Gold Wing rarely requires a downshift to make a quick pass or zoom out of a corner.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
The BMW predates the trend toward large central TFT displays and divides up its navigation and audio/vehicle function control between a smaller TFT display and optional BMW Navigator touchscreen GPS unit. A Multi-Controller wheel on the left bar helps make changes quick and easy.
BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
The BMW predates the trend toward large central TFT displays and divides up its navigation and audio/vehicle function control between a smaller TFT display and optional BMW Navigator touchscreen GPS unit. A Multi-Controller wheel on the left bar helps make changes quick and easy.

By adding D-ESA, ABS Pro and Reverse Assist to the K 1600 GTL and updating the bike’s styling and wind protection for 2017, BMW has maintained the GTL’s feature-for-feature competiveness and the advantages of its more modular design. Up front there’s a smallish TFT display with a comprehensive menu system for most of the bike’s audio and riding functions, and it’s accessed with a slick Multi-Controller wheel on the left bar. Unlike the Honda, a separate BMW Navigator GPS touchscreen unit that pops and locks into its own compartment above the instrument panel provides navigation; it can be partially controlled with the Multi wheel. Four speakers up front—two woofers and two tweeters—belt out the tunes from all of the same sources as the Honda, although there are no rear speakers or Apple CarPlay, and connecting an iPhone requires a special BMW USB cable. Bluetooth headsets are easily connected. Claimed luggage capacities are 110 and 115 liters for the Honda and BMW respectively, including their fairing pockets, but in reality the BMW holds about a third more than the Honda among its larger top trunk and saddlebags, all of which are easily removed. The saddlebags in particular are much larger than the Honda’s—each will easily hold a full-face helmet and the trunk holds two.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
The BMW’s in-line six engine layout puts the emphasis on revs and mid-range horsepower.

The BMW’s transverse in-line 1,649cc six is also silky smooth, and has a racier sound and feel that endeared us to it immediately. While it needs more throttle to ride away from a stop and doesn’t pull quite as hard down low, as soon as the revs reach 4,500 rpm its horsepower advantage kicks in and it leaves the Wing behind and never looks back all the way to its higher 8,500 rpm redline. On the Jett Tuning dyno the BMW made 129.4 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 106.1 lb-ft of torque at 5,200—the same peak torque as the Honda—but it doesn’t crack the 100 lb-ft ceiling until 4,000 rpm and drops below it by 6,350.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California straddles the cactus-dotted Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert and has unique scenery to die for, though rising for photos at 5 a.m. when it’s 26 degrees is not the best time to enjoy it. Unless perhaps you’re on bikes like these, with heated grips and seats and tall electric windscreens. Both headlights work very well at night, especially the BMW’s Adaptive Xenon low beam that turns with the bike, though the Honda’s all-LED setup is more visible in the daytime.

When BMW introduced the K 1600 GTL, it boasted that it had built “a shark, not a whale,” taking an indirect swipe at the then much-heavier Gold Wing. Although the lighter new Honda has dropped the weight disparity to just 44 pounds with both bikes fully fueled, the two machines handle even more differently than before. The Honda is a model of—dare I say it—automotive-like stability now, with an ultra-low center of gravity and rock-solid feel on the highway and back roads regardless of the surface conditions that is confidence inspiring and relaxing, especially two-up. As such it steers slowly, drags its footpegs early and requires more effort than before to hustle around corners, though it holds a line through them like it’s on rails, even when it’s bumpy. This handling character is probably perfect for the bike’s intended riders, most of whom don’t associate large touring bikes with sportbike-like handling and just want the motorcycle to deliver a safe, predictable experience regardless of where it’s ridden.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
Seats and passenger backrest have been slimmed down and aren’t quite as plush as the BMW’s, but are still plenty comfortable.

If it’s a big shark you want, though, the BMW remains quite predatory. Its handling is the complete opposite of the Honda’s, with effortless, quick steering that helps the bike slice and dice corners like a big sportbike, and we never touched a footpeg to tarmac. Combined with its racy engine character and strong, immediate power output, a faster rider who also wants a lot of touring capability need look no further for a good time. The GTL’s luggage can be easily removed, too, further lightening the load and wind resistance for even more fun in the canyons. The tradeoff is on the highway and Interstates, where the BMW twitches and bobs in a straight line like an anxious thoroughbred and requires your full attention at all times, especially on irregular pavement surfaces. When it’s cold and dark and you’ve got many miles to go, this can get really annoying. Removing the luggage doesn’t really help, though we have heard that swapping out the stock tires for better ones can calm it down somewhat.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
Comfortable rider and passenger seats are heated like the Honda’s but the passenger backrest is not.

Both bikes offer different riding modes (Sport, Touring, Rain and Econ on the Honda; Dynamic, Road and Rain on the BMW) that alter throttle response, suspension damping, traction control and braking characteristics accordingly. On the BMW the two Dynamic and Road suspension settings can be adjusted independently of the engine riding mode, and the BMW’s Dynamic ESA also constantly adjusts the suspension damping on the fly within the set mode. Suspension preload is set electronically to one of four positions by the rider at a stop. Throttle response on both bikes in any mode is nicely dialed-in, and as you might expect of such premium machines the suspension on both works brilliantly, providing a silky smooth or controlled sporty ride as needed and seamlessly soaking up the bumps without a hiccup. The Honda does a slightly better job of subtracting small bumps, seams and cracks on the highway from the riding experience, and the BMW’s dynamic suspension response is better at softening sudden whacks.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
BMW’s Duolever (top) and Honda’s dual-wishbone (bottom) front ends are both similar in function to a design by Norman Hossack, which has several advantages over telescopic forks, namely separating the suspension from steering. They also reduce friction, front-end dive as needed and maintain wheelbase under compression.

Since their dual-wishbone front ends prevent fork dive and both bikes have linked triple-disc brakes with ABS that works in corners, slowing and stopping them from any velocity really is a non-event. Both have great feel at the lever and pedal and enormous braking strength, and when you hammer both brakes the ABS prevents wheel locking smoothly and seamlessly. We didn’t try braking hard enough in a turn to engage the cornering ABS on these big bikes…but do let us know how it turns out for you.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
After two days and 850 miles, the only thing we felt missing from our ride was more time to enjoy these pleasure perches. Their user-friendliness, comfort, convenience and fun factor will spoil you.

Our late winter ride took us from the California coast the long way out to Joshua Tree National Park and the Salton Sea and back, subjecting the bikes and our bodies to fierce crosswinds, cold temperatures and hours of Interstate droning in addition to plenty of twisting roads. Seated behind large fairings and electric windscreens on wide, thick heated seats and holding luxuriously warm heated grips, life on a motorcycle just doesn’t get any better. Differences in comfort amount to nitpicking in fact, since the rider’s seats are both comfortable and less than 30 inches high, and the heated grips and seats all excel. The BMW’s seating position is slightly more aggressive, with your feet positioned underneath instead of in front of you; BMW also offers no-cost high and extra-high seat options for taller riders. We found that our feet stayed warmer on the BMW, and our upper bodies were better protected on the Honda, since the windshield can be raised all the way without any buffeting. Overall it really comes down to how you prefer to sit when you’re riding, with feet below or out in front; either way you can easily stay in the saddle for a long time on either motorcycle.

Passengers also found both bikes supremely comfortable, though the rear-seat nod goes to the BMW for its superior wind protection with the windscreen raised, more comfortable seat and easy-to-reach grab rails. But its rider and passenger footpegs are close together, so passengers need to avoid toeing the rider in the calves, and while the Honda passenger feels more wind its low pillion is easier for passengers to mount and dismount.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold WingBMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold WingWith so many convenience, electronic and audio features in common, it’s hard to pick one bike over the other when it gets down to which is easier to live with. Luggage capacity on the Honda will be an issue for some—even though it’s easily solved with a trunk rack and waterproof duffel, that lump will detract from the beauty of the tailsection. A larger issue for this control freak is how the Honda locks out most of the navigation, phone and vehicle functions when you’re underway unless you have an iPhone and can use Apple CarPlay (which does work very well). With the exception of changing the rear suspension preload, anything you can do at a stop on the BMW you can also do moving down the road, including navigation inputs, though the Navigator GPS screen is much smaller and the Honda’ s overall feature integration is far superior. Honda’s claim of better fuel economy also bore fruit on our ride, where it averaged 40.7 mpg from regular gas vs. the 34-36 typical of the previous GL1800, giving the new bike a range of about 224 miles from its 5.5-gallon tank. The BMW requires mid-grade dino juice but holds a full 7 gallons; at its average of 39.5 mpg it will go 277 miles before its tank fills with air.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold WingIn the end it really comes down to your performance priorities. The BMW’s combination of excellent comfort for two, exhilarating power and handling and greater removable luggage capacity—at the expense of some highway stability—could be just the ticket for an experienced solo rider or adventurous couple who live for speed and corners. The Honda, on the other hand, offers a more civil touring experience with great comfort, unflappable handling, supreme smoothness, locomotive-like power and refined, contemporary electronics. Whichever bike you choose, it’s not going stay parked in the garage much.

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing
2018 BMW K 1600 GTL

2018 BMW K 1600 GTL Specs
Base Price: $25,595
Price as Tested: $28,844 (Premium package, BMW Navigator GPS)
Warranty: 3 yrs., 36,000 miles
Website: bmwmotorcycles.com 

Engine
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 Insp. Interval: 18,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: BMS-X EFI, 52mm throttle bodies
Lubrication System: Dry sump, 4.75-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Shaft, 2.75:1

Electrical
Ignition: BMS-X Computer Controlled
Charging Output: 700 watts max.
Battery: 12V 19AH

Chassis
Frame: Cast aluminum-alloy twin-spar main frame w/ engine as stressed member & aluminum subframe; Paralever single-sided aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 63.7 in.
Rake/Trail: 27.8 degrees/4.2 in.
Seat Height: 29.6 in.; optional high seat: 30.7 in.
Suspension, Front: BMW Duolever w/ Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment, 4.5-in. travel
Rear: Single shock w/ Dynamic ESA, 5.3-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm discs w/ radial opposed 4-piston calipers & partial integral ABS
Rear: Single 320mm 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: 787 lbs. (as tested)
Load Capacity: 448 lbs. (as tested)
GVWR: 1,235 lbs.

Performance
Fuel Capacity: 7.0 gals., last 1.0 gal. warning light on
MPG: 89 PON min. (low/avg/high) 37.7/39.5/41.5
Estimated Range: 277 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 2,750

BMW K 1600 GTL vs Honda Gold Wing

2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour Specs
Base Price: $23,500
Price as Tested: $26,700 (Tour model)
Warranty: 3 yrs., unltd. miles, transferable
Website: powersports.honda.com

Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, longitudinal, opposed flat six
Displacement: 1,833cc
Bore x Stroke: 73.0 x 73.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Valve Train: Unicam SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 24,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ 50mm throttle body
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 3.9-qt. cap
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated wet assist-and-slipper clutch
Final Drive: Shaft, 1.795:1

Electrical
Ignition: Fully transistorized
Charging Output: 1,560 watts @ 5,000 rpm
Battery: 12V 20AH

Chassis
Frame: Aluminum tubular & box-section double cradle w/ single-sided cast aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 66.7 in.
Rake/Trail: 30.5 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 29.3 in.
Suspension, Front: Double-wishbone w/ Showa shock, electronically adj. (as tested), 4.3-in. travel
Rear: Pro-Link w/ Showa shock, electronically adj. (as tested), 4.1-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm discs w/ 6-piston opposed Nissin calipers & C-ABS
Rear: Single 316mm disc w/ 3-piston floating caliper & C-ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 18 in.
Rear: Cast, 6.00 x 16 in.
Tires, Front: 130/70-R18
Rear: 200/55-R16
Wet Weight: 831 lbs. (as tested)
Load Capacity: 428 lbs. (as tested)
GVWR: 1,259 lbs.

Performance
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gals., last 1.0 gal. warning light on
MPG: 86 PON min. (low/avg/high) 40.1/40.7/42.5
Estimated Range: 224 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 2,000

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Great write-up, two great motorcycles each designed for there target market. I rode Harleys for 28 years until I test rode the new BMW K1600B or Bagger. BMW opened my eyes and I love it.

    These are truly golden years for motorcycle enthusiasts. I only wish today’s bikes had been available when I was younger.

  2. An area where I expect to see a very clear winner is maintenance costs. What will the scheduled maintenance cost at a licensed dealer for the first 50K km or 30K miles? For a touring oriented publication this is essential information.

  3. I’m both a Honda and BMW fan – and I wish Honda made the GTL to be honest, only for the reliability and probable lower maintenance cost. That said, there’s no way I’d give up the BMW GTL’s greater lean angle, shorter wheelbase, lighter weight, longer range, added storage capacity, and easily removed topcase and saddlebags – they’re simply worth any additional cost. In the end they’re also priced in the same ballpark. So for a technical rider, the decision is simple. If you’re a cruiser you can take your pick.

  4. I’m 54 years old and I don’t see myself on any touring bike anytime soon. I think the new Gold Wing is a huge improvement of that previous eyesore of a bike. I couldn’t get over what Honda designers have been doing the last 10-years with several models. This bike to me would be my choice especially because BMW’s are not known for reliability and cost more to maintain.

  5. I’m in the midst of a long wet cold beautiful ride just bedtime at the motel. Guess what sticks? “ . . . the BMW twitches and bobs in a straight line like an anxious thoroughbred and requires your full attention at all times, especially on irregular pavement surfaces. When it’s cold and dark and you’ve got many miles to go, this can get really annoying.” Guess what bike I’d choose?

  6. I am a long time goldwing rider. I have always thought the bike to big. I was delighted when the new goldwing came out. But I will switch to the bmw for one reason. Honda’s sparse luggage capacity simply makes it an impossible choice for two up touring.

    • I agree. I rode my GTL to the Honda dealer and was a little apprehensive I might like the Honda more. Sat on one and was relieved. It’s more like an ST1300 now. Seat was junk, I felt like I was sitting on top rather than in bike, and where is the luggage space? I think it’s a great bike but not for long distance touring.

  7. A long distance tourer that lacks highway stability? I’m currently shopping for a touring bike, after 20 years touring on my 99 Valkyrie. I’m leaning towards the new Wing, there’s a lot to like about the redesign, figure a luggage rack will give us just enough storage for two up touring. I’ve never heard anyone say the K1600 was twitchy on the highway, going for a demo ride this weekend to see…

    • I can tell you I’m a big BMW FAN. Have had RS, 2 GTs, GTL and now a K1600B. The GTL and now the B twitchy side to side highway action. Hate that. I talked to corporate many times and they won’t even acknowledge it so this is my last BMW. It is sad. Everything about these bikes is superior to all others but if I have to be anniyed by the weaving for hours is rather have a Harley or a Wing.

  8. Put 3000 miles on a GTL rental through AZ, UT, CO and NM. It was as solid as a rock at high speeds on ANY type of road. You could set the cruise control and ride no hands sipping cocktails two up. Completely stable, no added attention needed at all. There was definitely something wrong with your test machine, most likely the tires.

    • I agree. I have 5000 miles on it now and just returned from a trip from South Florida to Tail of the Dragon, Blue Ridge Pkwy, Skyline Drive and Washington DC. I’ve not noticed the instability at highway speeds mentioned in the review.

  9. Mark I’d like to start off by saying that was a great article I totally enjoyed reading it.
    My wife and I owned a 2009 Harley electric glide. We loved the Harley but there was always little problems with the engine or transmission over the years so we sold the bike at the end of last summer. It was a huge toss up between the BMW or the Honda. We were going to go for the BMW and then we went to a bike show in Toronto and sat on the new 2018 Goldwing Tour and that was it, my wife love the way she was able to get on and off it as a passenger and for myself I was looking for a bike that was more sporty and a lot more reliable on long trips. The new 2018 Goldwing Tour met and exceeded our expectations for our new bike.

  10. I have owed two Goldwings a 2008 followed by a 2012 gold wind airbag .
    I know they updated the Goldwing this year and it was time. I never had trouble with either bike.

    In 2015 I tried a ride on a new BMW 1600 GTL exclusive and was amazed and we bought one in the fall 2015. My wife said the riding position was superior and the heated seating fantastic . She was more comfortable and had a better view as the Goldwing she could not see in front as my head obstructed her view .
    I feel the safety was better with all the ride modes and the bike just took the corners on its own , the headlights follow the curve. The detail that BMW is down to smallest detail , for example small wings that turn out to deflect wing to cool air on you to down on hot days.
    Maintenance is more expensive but remember you get what you pay for a more for a vastly superior bike.
    I was so very happy with the BMW so much that last July I bought a 2017 BMW R 1200 GS Adventurer in a triple black what a bike.
    In my personal opinion the German engineering is vastly superior .

  11. Great article – was a Harley rider until riding through central London forced me to give up the chrome for the german marvel that is the K1600 GTLE. Had it over a year now and love it. Its like a sports bike through town, and I feel confident cutting up traffic and weaving in and out between double decker buses. Its had its fair share of highways (motorways as we call them) and I agree that it can get twitchy. Unlike my old Harley which I took coast to coast in the US, where at times in NM or AZ I forgot I was on a bike – the BMW does need you to think and control and also doesn’t like wind too much. But I went last week to see the Goldwing at a local Honda dealer – and I took out the wired DCT/automatic version. It feels a lot clunkier and bigger than the BMW – roundabouts were a nightmare (I know you don’t have these in the US!) and its turning circle needs a football field. It wins the bluetooth/tech toys over the BMW though – which still forces me to plug an old iPod into the AUX cable. I didn’t get to take it on the highway – but after jumping back on the BMW, it felt exhilarating to rev up and jump and glide through traffic. Great idea on changing up the tires to get better highway stability – but I am also looking at the Grand America – any other thoughts on this one?

    • Agreed, good article. Maybe I’ve missed out on something with my K1600GT but I find it really stable on the highway, on Michelin Pilot 4s anyhow. For London riding, mainly because of the clunky gearchange, width and lack of manoeuvrability compared to the thousands of pizza and commuter scooters: that, and always parking it to never, ever face downhill. You’re bolder than me, Miles, or probably I’m just older! The BMW top box of my treasured 1200RT is even compatible. I really like the electronic headlamp change from left to right dip – even at the expense of the adaptive function not working away from the domestic setting. I’m also a big fan of Hondas – and the (no longer produced) VFR1200F is nothing short of a masterpiece – if like me you’ve ever had an injured left hand stopping you riding, the paddle shift is great. US bikers – if you want a great experience come to rural France, and rent, beg, borrow or buy a bike – open roads, friendly riders, mostly aware and respectful car drivers, and even with the speed limit decreasing to 80km/h this summer the roads are still open. The autoroutes remain at 130, and there’s always Germany…

    • Just be aware, because a lot of people don’t realize, that the BMW Grand America, is limited to 101 mile per hour.

  12. I have a 2013 K1600GTL, I have 32,000 miles on and it is a great bike. I have owned a dozen bikes over my life and have ridden since I was 7 years old. My last bike was a Honda ST1300. It was also a great bike I owned it 8 years and sold it with a bit over 60,000 miles. I debated for a couple of years on getting the BMW. It would be my first BMW and the cost and reliability were my biggest concerns. It has actually turned out to be very reliable. I would take off and head across the country today on it. I would definitely buy another one and probably will. It’s not perfect, but I don’t believe any bike is. You always find something about every bike that could be better. I think this is a good article and I agree with what they have to say. If you are doing more short trips and want a better everyday bike, I would say the BMW is a much better bike. If you are looking at a 1,000 mile a day touring bike, buy the Honda, but I don’t believe either would be a bad choice.

  13. Great Article , Thanks. As a 60 year old rider for more than 40 years I can say the my BMWk1600 GTL is the best bike I’ve ever owned when it comes to my touring bikes. I went from an Ultra-Classic to a Yamaha FJR1300, I loved the handling and rocketship performance of the FJR, but wasn’t as comfortable on long hauls. The GTL will run circles around the V twin is a joy to ride, has the power performance, loves to turn and all the plush comforts for rider and passenger. Love to ride the back road twisties here in California.

  14. Test road 2018 1600gtl today…..I noticed the highway twitch. This bike had just 800 miles on it…..demo bike. Other than that…..i like the bike. Currently have 2015 kawsaki voyager.

  15. I’ve not ridden a bike since pre Air Force days 1985. I’ve fallen in love with the GTL Exclusive, any suggestions how I return to riding and develop the skills to command a gtl 1800? This article was well written, thank you.

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