Sunday, May 26, 2024


HomeZA BikersBike ReviewsBMW K 1600 Bagger – The Epitome of Style and Elegance

BMW K 1600 Bagger – The Epitome of Style and Elegance

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

When BMW delivered the Bagger to me to review I confess to just ogling it for a good few minutes. The Bagger is certainly a thoroughbred hottie—it is stylish and beautiful to behold.

The bike is long and low, with muscular shoulders tapering into sleek haunches. The test bike was a classy metallic matte green, named: “Manhattan Metallic Matte”. The Bagger has ‘bags’ in the form of permanently mounted luggage boxes which conform to the flowing lines of the bike.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

The heart of the Bagger is, of course, the 1649 cc Straight Six DOHC 24-Valve motor, mated to a six-speed gearbox. My first experience with six-cylinder motorcycle engines was when I bought the first Honda CBX 1000 sold in Pretoria. The wonderful primary balance and smoothness of a straight six is trumped only by the sound that they emit.

BMW knows a bit about building straight sixes in some spectacular cars so it should come as no surprise that the motor in the Bagger is a peach. It churns out a velvet smooth 118 Kw of seamless power and 180 Nm of torque. The gearbox has ‘Shift Assist Pro’ which makes swapping cogs effortless at all speeds. One can’t but wonder why BMW has not yet developed an Automatic transmission for this bike. As good as the manual box is, the six would be insane with an auto box complimenting the seamless silky shove that builds from idle to a wailing crescendo in the upper rev range.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

Everything about the bike is effortless, once it is rolling that is. When you first climb aboard you are overwhelmed by the sheer bulk of the beast. This is one large motorcycle. Once you have got the 344 kg bike off of the side-stand, you bring it to life with a press on the dash-mounted button, which speaks to the key fob in your pocket or, as I prefer, hanging on a lanyard around your neck. You then hit the right bar-mounted starter button and experience the unique aural assault of the silky six.

The test bike was equipped with the ‘option 719’ seat which is handsome and super comfy for both rider and passenger. It is a mere 750 mm from the ground. Irene gave it a solid thumbs up, declaring it a perfect ‘to Cape Town’ perch. First gear engages with a typical BMW clunk. Ease out the clutch and you whisper away on a wave of six-cylinder power and torque.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

As is the case with so many big bikes these days, the weight fades away as the bike gets moving. This is helped by the use of BMW’s Duolever front suspension setup made famous on their GS’s, which separates the steering from the suspension action. Whilst the weight fades, you remain fully aware that this is a BIG motorcycle! Traffic is negotiated with caution, given the width both in front and at the back, courtesy of the Bagger bags.

It is on the open road that the Bagger starts to shine. It feels impossible to stress the motor. Whatever you ask of it, it delivers, in silky-six style. The bike offers the rider two-foot positions. Either the conventional footpeg positioned roughly amidships, or floorboards which are further forward, neatly hiding engine protection bars, and allow a comfortable leg stretch. I did a 150 k stint without interruption and found that the floorboards felt quite natural, without putting excessive pressure on my lower back, which can be the case with some ‘Cruiser’ like riding positions. This bike will devour long distances whilst pampering rider and passenger.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

Suspension is semi-active and electronically adjusted for preload and damping. The low stance of the Bagger provides less travel than the regular K 1600, with 115 mm of fork travel and 125 mm of shock travel. The suspension does a good job overall of keeping things in shape, however, you do at times, over dodgy surfaces, become aware of the limited wheel travel. Handling is good. The bike turns and steers reasonably intuitively for a bike of its size. Certainly adequately for the intended purpose and design parameters of the bike. Highway travel on smooth surfaces is certainly five-star. Backing up is made easy with a reverse button on the left handlebar which, once engaged and mastered, allows you to move the bike back effortlessly.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

The windshield is a slightly abbreviated version on the Bagger and is electronically adjusted. I found that riding on the highway with it all the way down left my helmet in perfectly smooth air with no windblast on my body. Raising the shield had the same effect as that on the R 1250 RT, in that it builds up negative pressure behind the screen which sucks you subtly forward. Other manufacturers negate this by a vent in the base of the screen. Harley Davidson, on their tourers, actually fit an adjustable vent, which can be opened and closed to rider preference. With their wind tunnel expertise, I am a little surprised that BM has not investigated this aspect further.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

The dash houses a typical modern 10,25” TFT display with all the modern functionality, including radio and speakers. Once you have figured out how it all works you can set the bike up to suit your particular pleasures. I didn’t try the radio, however, it is apparently effective up to about 110 km/h. To be honest, I think riders should use helmet audio rather than ride around on an R403k Ghetto Blaster.

The 26,5 litres of fuel gives you a decent range of over 400 k’s, given the 6 to 6,5 l/100 you should achieve at sane speeds. Climb consistently on the main jet and the fuel gauge will drop faster than a bride’s nightie. Engaging cruise control and letting the big Bagger loose on the open road is certainly one of the more pleasurable experiences of modern motorcycling.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

The brakes are excellent, especially when you consider the considerable bulk of the bike. They are powerful, with a good feel. The rear disc exhibits a subtle clunk at low speeds when applied lightly. It is hard to explain in that it is felt through the sole of your boot rather than heard. My R 1200 R does exactly the same thing though, so it is more a BM idiosyncrasy than a fault.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

Sadly the heated grips are no longer engaged by simply pressing the little button on the switchgear with a grip icon. It now requires a more complicated process via the TFT dash. Damn, I hate TFT displays and their unnecessary complexity with a passion. But maybe that is just me. After all, they are building these things for a Playstation Generation that gets their jollies from tinkering with electronic gizmos.

What you ultimately get in BMW’s K 1600 Bagger, is a beautifully built and devilishly handsome Cruiser-styled tourer, that will carry you and your significant other far and wide in comfort. It is not for town trolling, given its girth, but let it loose on the open road and you discover its true reason for being. It is a stylish and elegant motorcycle touring magnificence.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

BMW K 1600 Bagger

For more information on the bike featured in this article, click on the link below…


BMW K 1600 B

Pricing From R449,150 (RRP)

Brand: BMW Motorrad
Dave Cilliers
Dave Cilliers
My name is Dave Cilliers, from as far back as I can remember I have loved travel. Africa provides salve for the gypsy in my soul. My best trips are done travelling to unlikely places with unlikely vehicles, keeping it as simple and basic as possible.