Kawasaki Versys 1000 owner buys a BMW K1600 GTL: Initial impressions

I would say that the K1600 GTL is like the Maybach vs the S Class tag of the Versys 1000.

BHPian krishsreedharan recently shared this with other enthusiasts.


The year 2019 was a landmark year in my life - I bought my first bike, the Kawasaki Z900. And I thought that was final part of my dream to get an in-line 4 powered "Big" Bike. The entire process and the review of the bike is in this thread.

About 6 months into my ownership of the Z900, COVID struck and the next 9 months was very minimal riding done due to different stages of lockdowns. And then THIS happened:

And I thought that I had all that I could wish for in my biker's world - and never could I have imagined that the bike gods had something else in store for me. During one of my many sojourns into the world of YouTube, I was looking for big-displacement bikes with maximum number of cylinders and I got presented the K1600 from the BMW stable which was an in-line 6 cylinder engine which was renown for its silky smooth nature. Obviously, the next thing I did was to deep-dive into the history of this bike and what I saw only kindled the interest in me.

Call it divine providence that around the same time, I saw an article on Team BHP which announced the proposed launch of the updated K series bikes in India. Now is when things got into high gear. Like with my other two wheeled acquisitions till date, I started to build the case to put forth for approval from the home minister. And the discussion went something like this:

Me: You know, you should check out this video on YouTube ... its an awesome bike.

Her: Don't tell me you are thinking of getting another bike ...

Me: No, seriously. Just wanted to enlighten you on what exists in the biking world out there.

and many videos of the K1600 later,

Her: I think it would be nice to have a BMW in the house.

After that, I stopped thinking. Time to get into high gear. During my next visit to my Kawasaki dealer for some minor work to be done on the Versys, I asked them if they knew anybody at the BMW Motorrad showroom at Coimbatore.

Lo and behold, within the next few days, I got a call from the Sales Advisor there. I would like to give a shout out to Adarsh of KUN-Motorrad at Coimbatore for handling the entire process super smooth and answering all my questions, how every trivial or silly they might have been.

The Decision Making and Booking Process

Our first discussion over the phone was a long one wherein, the first thing I let him know was the he need not hard sell the bike. I had by then probably devoured almost every video there was on YouTube on the K1600. So the discussion was more focused towards when the official launch was going to be as well as the indicative launch price.

Once that was clarified, I wanted to let things rest for a while so that I would know in a few days, whether after the first round of scratching, the itch still persisted, or whether it died entirely. I did not see any point in putting down roughly about 36 big ones, unless I knew for sure that the itch was a serious one which deserved treatment.

In order to validate my decision to go in for this bike, I turned to - where else - a few members of this forum to discuss my "itch" in detail and also get a very dispassionate point of view. Many thanks to @neil.jericho for taking time to listen to all my justifications (which I had to come up with to counter my own thought process) and offer his very objective point of view through this journey. He did voice out one point - that if I did get the K1600, the Versys would become all but redundant and it might help for me to think about giving that up. But then, at that point, the heart won over the head and I decided to keep all the bikes. More about this later in this write up.

Jump-cut to one week later, I messaged Adarsh to send me the bank account details and I bit the bullet and made the pre-launch booking of a K1600 GTL in Gravity Blue Metallic. All of this happened around the 1st/2nd week of April 2022. The count-down had begun.

The back and forth between me and Adarsh continued into a few months until the touring range was launched on the 16th/17th of August. At that point in time, he updated me that there about a fixed number of bikes coming in for the first lot - all of which had been booked pre-launch, and that mine was one amongst them.

While all this was happening, I had this sudden idea that I could replace the Versys with the GS1250 and I requested him to set me up for a test ride - which he obliged. But once I rode it, it was clear in my mind that it was not the bike for me. Don't mistake me, it's a great bike no doubt. But the in-line 4's spoil you.

In the meanwhile, I had already stared the process of organising for the funding of this purchase of mine. Decided this time to go with BMW Finance since there was a very negligible difference between what they offered and what HDFC were offering me. More than anything else, one of my main reasons was to build a business relationship with them so that it would make things a lot more smoother for my next purchase with BMW - as and when is fated to happen.

The Bike arrives in India

Jump cut to 1st October - I got a message from him that the bike was already in India - in Mumbai port to be precise and it would reach Chennai in a few days time. Adarsh kept me informed of the progress on a daily basis and in 2 days, the bike reached Chennai. However, the rain Gods played truant and it took another two days before the bike could be unboxed and the acceptance inspection completed and the bike accepted for onward delivery to the customer.

Another parallel in this storyline was the decision on the name. Initially, I had thought of the name “Bluebird” but then, after discussion and some further instrospection, decided on the name “Condor”. This is named after the Andean Condor, a bird of prey.

These were the first photographs I received of Condor.

These pictures were taken immediately after the un-boxing and the Acceptance Inspection. You can see the top box kept separately on the side. KUN-Motorrad had taken care to ensure that once the inspections were done, the to-box was re-packed again to avoid any kind of accidental scratches to the paint.

Now comes the next twist in this tale. The Indian Motor Vehicles Act was enacted with the aim of laying a stable and consistent platform governing all things motoring. However, in their infinite wisdom, the architects of this piece of legislature also gave the States, the wiggle room to modify certain parts of the act that they thought fit, to suit their situations. Of course, the intention behind this, I believe, was from a good place, but I am sure those of you who have got caught in this quagmire, will agree with me that the implementation is still very messy.

ARAI is the national body which deals with homologation of any new model which is to be launched in India. The 2022 K1600 GTL is ARAI homologated. However, under this loop-hole, the Government of Tamil Nadu requires that any new model that is to be registered with the RTO would require the approval of the State Transport Authority before the RTO can register the bike. In this case, BMW had fulfilled its obligation by getting the bike ARAI homologated. It fell on the dealer in Tamil Nadu to submit the paperwork required to the State Transport Authority and get their approval. This submission was done on the same day on which the Acceptance Inspection was completed.

The Delivery Plan

In the early stages, when I was informed that the bike would land in Mumbai and after customs clearance, get trucked to Chennai to the dealer for further process, I had decided that I will go to Chennai and take delivery there so that I could ride back to Coimbatore and this would also allow me to run-in the engine for about 500 plus kms so that I can complete the requisite mileage before the first month. But after experiencing continuous rains, I decided that it would make more sense for them to truck the bike to Coimbatore and I take delivery here. This decision was a good one as you will note reading further.

Since I was not doing the delivery at Chennai, KUN Motorrad, in consultation with me, decided that once the State Transport Authority approval comes through, they will do a temporary registration in Chennai and the truck the bike to Coimbatore for delivery and to be permanently registered.

Coming back to the current, here we were, waiting for STA to issue its approval for two weeks. By the end of the second week, the plan was that if the STA approval did not happen by the beginning of week 3, we would do a temporary registration at Pondicherry and then truck the bike for delivery to Coimbatore directly from Pondicherry.

This suited me fine since, between the 21st and the 30th of October, I was to be in Goa with the family and that of my sister-in-law. This was a vacation that was planned in July. It came in handy that it would take my mind off the fact that the bike was in Chennai waiting for the STA Approval.

I got back on the 30th afternoon to the news that there was no change in status. It was therefore decided that Plan B will be adopted. So, on the 7th of November, the bike was trucked to Pondicherry where the temporary registration was done.

At 7:30 pm, on the 7th of November, the bike landed in Coimbatore. And this is the first picture I got from the dealer.

So, the next 24 hours were quite excruciating. I wanted to go and literally "claim" the bike by linking it to the Connected Ride app on my phone. And claim I did the next day evening, with my son in attendance. Some pictures during that visit.

My first view of the beast.

The in-line 6 heart

The 10.35" TFT Display

Classic BMW Switchgear

A more sinister side of the beast.

After the first meeting, it was decided that delivery will be on Friday, the 11th of November between 12:30pm and 1:30pm.

The next few days were bright and sunny and I was hoping that the weather would continue to be such on the delivery day. Friday dawned and what to I see - cloudy skies. I was ok with that too as long as it did not rain. But by about 7:30am, the skies opened up and there was a continuous drizzle. So it was clear that the delivery ride was going to be a rain ride.


We (the Home Minister, the Resident Monkey and I) reached the KUN Motorrad Showroom by 12:45pm, thanks to the rain. I had with me my Oxford Rainseal rain-overgear, which I had not used until then. What better way to inaugurate new gear than with a new bike.

The customary cake cutting.

The bike, ready to be unveiled.

The unveiling performed by my wife and son.

The start of a rainy ride back home.

The ride back home went off without any incident. The original plan was that either my wife or my son would ride 2 up on the delivery ride. However rain put paid to those plans since I am yet to get proper rain overgear for either of them. This is something I need to take care of very soon.

Sailent Features of the BMW K1600 Range

The BMW K1600 range has been developed by BMW to satisfy the hardcore luxo-touring group of riders. At this point, BMW offers 4 variants worldwide - the K1600 GT, the K1600 GTL, the K1600 B and the K1600 Grand America. The K1600 GT is the base version of the bike wherein GT stands for Grand Touring. The K1600 GTL is the GT version with some added feature packs, the GTL standing for Grand Touring Luxury. The K1600 B is the Bagger version which is predominantly sold in the US markets and the K1600 Grand America is the GTL equivalent of the Bagger.

The salient features that are common across all models are:

  • Engine - in-line 6, 24 valve, 1649cc
  • Power - 160 bhp @ 6450rpm
  • Torque - 180 Nm @ 5250rpm
  • Fuel Type - Unleaded Premium RON95/15% Ethanol Blend
  • Gearbox and Final Drive - 6 Speed Manual with Shaft Drive
  • Suspension Front - BMW Motorrad Duolever; central spring strut
  • Suspension Rear - Cast aluminium single-sided swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever; central spring strut
  • Suspension Adjustment - Fully dynamic with automatic load sensing and self levelling
  • Brakes - Front dual 320mm discs with 4pot calipers, Rear single 320mm disc with 2 pot calipers
  • ABS - BMW Motorrad Integral ABS Pro (part-integral, slant-layer-optimized)
  • Rim Size - Front and Rear - 17"
  • Tyre Size - Front 120/70 ZR 17; Rear 190/50 ZR 17
  • Seat height - 750mm
  • Fuel Tank Capacity - 26.5 Litres
  • Wet Unladen Weight - 368kgs

Standard Equipment

  • 10.25-Inch Colour-TFT display with connectivity and integrated mal-navigation (by BMW Motorrad Connected App)
  • Charging storage for mobile phones (USB-C)
  • Fully LED headlight with light icon and adaptive cornering light
  • Double tone fanfare
  • 4 configurable favourite button cluster
  • Dynamic traction control (DTC)
  • 3 riding modes Rain, Road und Dynamic
  • Engine brake control (MSR)
  • Dynamic ESA (electronic suspension adjustment with automatic load leveling)
  • Hill start control (HSC Pro)
  • Tyre pressure control (RDC)
  • Heating grips
  • Seat heating
  • Side cases
  • Topcase
  • Audio system 2.0 with DAB+, SAT-radio and sound-profiles

In addition, the GTL for the Indian market comes by default with the Comfort-package, consisting of Keyless Ride, central locking system, gear shift assistant pro, anti-theft alarm and LED-auxiliary head lamp and engine protection guard.

Riding Impressions

Gingerly easing the bike out from the delivery area, my only thought at that moment was "have I bitten off more than what I can chew?". But the moment the bike crossed the smooth flooring of the delivery area, it was like although a big weight was taken off my shoulders. The added comfort to this was, unlike the Versys, I was able to comfortably flat foot both my legs, which was very confidence inspiring. And once the bike started moving, it was almost like the entire 368 kgs disappeared. It was quite nimble and easy to ride.

Put the bike in rain mode and did the rest of the ride home without any further incident. Some of the folks who followed me for a short distance, later told me that it did not sound like a bike at all, more like a sports car. Took my time getting used to how the bike responded to various inputs such as throttle, brakes and also how surprisingly easy it was to tip into corners. Gauging clearances to take the bike into proved to be easy, after spending a little over a year and three months with the fully kitted out Versys 1000.

My first short ride came on the following Sunday, when we managed to catch a short break in the otherwise incessant drizzle. Took it out for a 20 km ride on a predominantly straight road. As always, it appears to have torque and horsepower across the rev range. But yes, from a standing start, one needs to give more throttle input for the initial move out.

Ground clearance is a hit and miss, depending on how inconsistent speed-breakers in our country are. I guess a safe bet is to slow down to a crawl and at the slights doubt on the height of the speed breaker, take it diagonally.

Lights are pretty good for a factory setup on a bike. The low beam has a good spread and it follows the curve of the road. Yes, they are adaptive headlines with a 30 degree lean ability on each side. As such when you tip into a corner, you feel you are still driving straight, because the corner is well lit. It's only then that one realises the beauty of the adaptive lights. Likewise, the entire set of lights - both low and high beam have a 2 degree up and down movement. So when the nose of the bike lifts during acceleration, the lights drop down and when the nose goes down on braking, the lights tip slightly up. The low slung fog lamps give out a good spread of light, so when used along with the main lights, give a good bright path ahead. I was toying with the idea of adding a pair of Clearwater Erica's which come with a mounting setup specifically for the K1600 series of bikes. But based on this initial experience, I have decided to put off this purchase for some more time so that I can get some more experience before I decided to "invest" another 1.5 lakhs on the lights.

Brakes are what you expect them to be for a bike of this size and power. Plenty of stopping power and no fade. Pull on the front brake and a bit of power goes to the rear brake as well. Press on the rear brake pedal and all power goes to the rear only.

Seating is super comfortable. Seats are also heated. To take the line of comparison I had made in my Versys 1000 thread, wherein I had compared the Versys 1000 to an S Class vs the Z900's hooligan nature, I would say that the K1600 GTL is like the Maybach vs the S Class tag of the Versys 1000.

Engine and Gearbox - I am honestly at a loss for words to describe both of these components. In three words, it's a gem. Start the engine and it start off with an angry bark. This then changes to a growl and once the engine reaches its operating temperature, it settles into a mellow purr. In order to keep the width of the engine within manageable limits, the bore of each cylinder is narrower than its in-line 4 cousins. However it compensates by having a longer stroke. Despite this, it revs to almost 9000 rpm. Torque is available almost from 1000 rpm with the peak at 5250 rpm. Peak power comes up at 6750 rpm. When I first got onto the Z900, I used to think that an in-line 4 engine was very smooth. Then the first time I got onto the Versys 1000, I thought the in-line 4 on the Versys which displaced 1043cc was way smoother than the Z900, which displaced 948cc. However, this in-line 6 blew both those engines out of the water. Absolutely NO vibrations across the rev range.

Yesterday was my first long ride which I managed to put in around 150 kms on the Odo. Bike was extremely comfortable and I felt quite fresh even after I got back home. No buzzing in either my legs or my head. Managed to push it into 3 digit speeds and bike was rock solid. For its weight, it picks up momentum deceptively fast. And after all the going up and down the gears and the rev counter, the bike turned int a very decent mileage of 15.4 km/litre.

I am now looking forward to a whole lot more riding and within in the next week, I need to put in at least another 300 kms on the Odometer. First services is due on the 6th of December and I hope to have done at least 600kms by then.

It has definitely lived up to the reputation which has been accorded to it by the various reviews and videos on YouTube and I am thrilled to be the owner of a part of automotive history.

Read BHPian comments for more insights and information.

Power to the people