There’s no doubt that the K1600 is capable of tackling those longer road trips with comfort and ease.
The 2018 BMW K1600 Grand America is a fully equipped transcontinental touring bike that has plenty of power. With comfort around every turn, it absolutely is the ideal combination for lengthier rides. This truly is a bagger that discretely hides its power under its modest looking windscreen and large saddlebags.
The benchmark-setting 1600cc inline six-cylinder engine is buttery smooth, and has a very linear power delivery throughout the entire RPM range. It has a very nice sounding deep grunt to the exhaust at low RPMs, and winds out as you get going. The noise the engine makes is properly good and the exhaust sounds nicely tuned. Despite the Grand America’s heavy hitter weight (802 pounds wet), it remains very nimble thanks to the 160 horsepower engine. As with all powerful heavy bikes though, you’re quickly reminded of the true size on slow maneuvers.
Low speed maneuverability is quite good and keeping its weight in mind, I was able to quite comfortably crawl with stop and go traffic fairly easily. It surprisingly likes the corners, eager to lean down on command as if it’s able to predict my next move. Highway passing is really effortless; before you turn off your turn indicator, you’re already well past the car(s) in question. On and off ramps are fun to roll into with quite a bit of lean, and thanks to the K1600’s low center of gravity, it stands back up quite easily after the curve ends.
Ergonomically speaking, there isn’t much I would want to change on the K1600. Everything seems to be exactly where it should, leaving you in a very comfortable riding position. You sit very upright with a slight bend in the knees, and the integrated foot boards almost seem like they’re a part of the engine. The windscreen is electronically adjustable at the touch of a button. At its highest setting, I was able to ride with my visor up without fear of having bugs or dust getting into my eyes, and it deflects just the right amount of wind, while maintaining just a slight amount of wind to keep you cool.
The only thing I’d have to complain about is the foot peg placement. They feel right while riding, but when you come to a stop and put your feet down to the pavement, they seem to be right where your feet naturally go, catching on your pants, which could end badly if you get your pants caught up enough that you’re unable to get your feet to the ground in time. Once you’re conscious of this, you’re able to avoid the pegs, but I still found my pants graving the rubber pegs.
There’s no shortage of storage on the K1600, either. With the exhaust being under-mounted, there’s no encroachment of the saddle bags. One side has a USB port and an auxiliary port so you can plug in your phone and listen to your favourite tunes on the open road. The pillion storage compartment is quite large, and as with all BMW storage compartments, it is very easy to open and close. It’s large enough to comfortably fit a full face helmet with room to spare.
The K1600 has heated seats and grips, keyless ride, adjustable cruise control, a reverse gear, center stand, audio system with Sirius connectivity, and dynamic electronic suspension adjustment. The saddle bags are non-removable and as mentioned earlier, an electronically adjustable windscreen which really transforms the bike from open road wind in your face on a hot day, to shielding you from the elements when the weather turns awry in seconds.
This K1600 is also equipped with Gear Shift Assist Pro, which enables you to change between gears without the use of the clutch. It is so perfectly executed on the K1600 that i was confidently up-shifting while making corners. One thing that should be noted is the reverse gear. Once the transmission is in the reverse gear, there’s no need for the clutch. Simply press the start button, and the bike revs up and slowly engages the reverse gear, but what I wasn’t expecting is when you take your thumb off the start button, the bike keeps rolling with its momentum. I would have expected the bike to automatically brake once you release the button.
There’s no doubt that the K1600 is capable of tackling those longer road trips with comfort and ease, it certainly impressed during my time with it. It will suffice for zipping around city streets, but it’s definitely better suited for the open road. If you’re looking for a bike that’s capable of longer trips, and can still maintain composure rather easily in the city streets, I suggest looking into the R1200RT. That being said, there’s many things that separate the 2018 BMW K1600 Grand America from the rest of the pack. The Grand America starts at $26,100 and comes in at $32,000 as tested.