BMW K1 vs BMW K 1600 GTL – Watch the video. The aluminum three-spoke Italian FPS wheels were unconventional in that the back wheel was 18 inches in diameter, the front, 17. Big features like record-breaking aerodynamics and ABS weren’t the only thing that made the K1 ahead of its time – even the simple features like the fuel gauge, a warning light if your brake bulb goes out, self-canceling turn signals, and the clock couldn’t be taken for granted on other bikes for years (in some cases decades) to come. I must admit there is something reassuring about being aboard the GTL when the weather turns to crap, which it did the first night I rode it. The K1 sported a longitude mounted inline four flopped on its side. I went across the country on a new $22k+ sport-touring Kawasaki H2 SX SE a couple of years ago and it didn’t have anything similar – you’d have to wire in your own lead to the battery (and Kawasaki is FAR from alone on this).
But it also does get toasty in the summer and when in slow traffic. The term GT (or Gran Turismo, or Grand Tourer – call it what you like) brings up an instant set of images for any petrolhead. The designers of the K1 did neglect one area, that of external luggage, the K1 literally bristles with little, in built glove compartments and small storage areas, with tow larger one in the rear side panels, but BMW only offered a soft pannier, luggage option while the biker likely to buy such a beast insisting on hard luggage more capable of withstanding high speed use. I’ve always thought the Marrakesh Red/Yellow livery was hideous as I could never get past the whole “ketchup/mustard” dynamic. Then, at Cologne, it showed its bold new GT bike for 1989 – the K1. It was the lowest ever seen on a production bike at the time, and it enabled a top speed of 150 miles per hour (impressive for 100 horsepower). The colour schemes were reduced to just two while the graphics were toned down to reduce the initial shock. What might surprise many is the fact it isn’t all of German origin, some crucial areas like the suspension and braking are pure Italian, the front forks being Marzocchi, while the stoppers are Brembo throughout. The effort for building a machine able to challenge japanese ones was the target for BMW. Neither fish nor foul...it's hard to pigeon hole, classify or typecast. An interesting enough line-up, though in reality it was a very touring-focused range that was all too often accused of being überconservative. At the time, there was a voluntary 100 horsepower limit for motorcycles sold in several European countries, including Germany.
The engine contributes to an extremely narrow and compact machine which in turn makes for footrests and handlebars a shade to close together for total comfort. ABS brakes (BMW was the only maker consistently offering it at this stage) were optional.
It soon became obvious that the K100, and its RS and RT siblings, were not going to be great sellers, while the demand for boxers stayed strong. Each wheel has a ring for the ABS system to calculate the speed differential between front and rear. THUMBS UP– Good distance mount– Wild bodywork– ABS brakes, THUMBS DOWN– Wild bodywork– Lousy turning circle, ENGINEType: Liquid-cooled, four-valvesper-cylinder, four-stroke, in-line six-cylinderBore x stroke: 72.0mm x 67.5mmDisplacement: 1649ccCompression ratio: 12.2:1Fuel system: EFI, TRANSMISSIONType: Six-speedFinal drive: Shaft, CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEARFrame type: Twin-spar alloy bridgeFront suspension: Duolever, electronic adjustmentRear suspension: Paralever monoshock, electronic adjustmentFront brakes: Twin 320mm discs with four-piston calipers (ABS)Rear brake: Single 320mm disc with twin-piston caliper (ABS), DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIESWet weight: 348kgSeat height: 750mm (taller options available)Fuel capacity: 26.5ltWheelbase: 1618mm, PERFORMANCEMax power: 118Kw (160.5hp) at 7750rpmMax torque: 175Nm (128.9ft-lb) at 5250rpm, OTHER STUFFPrice: $36,990*Test bike supplied by: BMW Motorrad AustraliaWarranty: 24 months/unlimited kilometres, *Manufacturer’s list price excluding dealer and statutory costs, THUMBS UP– Lightning fast– Ultra comfortable– Lots of electronic safety nets, >> Watch a video of the K1 road test here.
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