BMW’S se­cret 2017 up­date for the K1600 fam­ily spot­ted by MCN’S spy pho­tog­ra­phers

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

This is BMW’S 2017 K1600GTL su­per-tourer in all its glory, scooped just days ahead of its an­tic­i­pated un­veil­ing in Ger­many at next week’s In­ter­mot show in Cologne.

The class-defin­ing in­line-six has been a strong part of BMW’S range since it burst onto the mar­ket in 2010 as a two-model range com­pris­ing the sportier GT, and the more re­laxed and dis­tance-fo­cused GTL ver­sion. BMW then added a GTL Ex­ec­u­tive, laden with even more crea­ture com­forts.

Em­peror’s new clothes?

The changes might not be im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent, but the closer you look, the more you will see.

The one el­e­ment that ap­pears to be un­changed is the main headlight clus­ter, which sits in a re­shaped nose with larger ex­ten­sions ei­ther side to de­flect air around the bars and rider, im­prov­ing air­flow and re­duc­ing tur­bu­lence.

There are also new more aero­dy­namic mir­rors and a wide, tall screen – which is cer­tain to con­tinue to boast elec­tronic ad­justa­bil­ity.

While the 2016 bikes cut the air with de­cent clar­ity, there was cer­tainly still room for im­prove­ment. The screen will be key to this, as it was hard to find an op­ti­mum po­si­tion that of­fered enough respite from wind­blast, with­out the en­ve­lope of air pres­sure forc­ing you for­ward to­wards the clocks.

Look a lit­tle lower, and it’s clear that the side pan­els are also new. They lack the large flat ex­panses of the cur­rent model K1600GT and GTL’S flanks and have more com­plex shapes and con­tours. There’s no ob­vi­ous me­chan­i­cal rea­son for the changes, which sug­gests they could also have been en­gi­neered for aero­dy­namic ben­e­fit.

The new fair­ings also bet­ter frame the K1600’s en­gine, while the bel­ly­pan un­der­neath now ap­pears to be longer than the out­go­ing model’s, ex­tend­ing fur­ther back over the ex­haust heat shields on the right flank.

With so many changes to the shape of the fair­ing, it was then in­evitable that BMW would have to give the ex­pan­sive tank cover the same treat­ment, and while we can’t see the whole tank due to the rider be­ing on­board in all shots, it has clearly been re­pro­filed. Ca­pac­ity is ex­pected to re­main the same.

Get a shift on

An­other change that was clearly ev­i­dent on the patents which re­lated to the Bag­ger ver­sion (see box­out right) re­lates to the cover over the left hand side of the trans­mis­sion, which is also new. The most likely ex­pla­na­tion for this change is the in­tro­duc­tion of the firms ex­cel­lent Gear Shift As­sist Pro sys­tem that’s al­ready avail­able on their flag­ship sports­bike, the S1000RR, as well as the more tour­ing ori­en­tated S1000XR, and the en­tire R range of boxer twins – in­clud­ing the R1200RT tourer (see p18).

The sys­tem al­lows the rider to make clutch­less shifts both up and down through the gear­box, work­ing as a con­ven­tional quick­shifter on up changes, and au­to­mat­i­cally blip­ping the throt­tle on down changes. While this may seem like overkill on a tour­ing bike, in prac­tice it’s a tan­gi­ble im­prove­ment in terms of us­abil­ity, and smooth­ness on the road – for both rider and pil­lion.

We can only guess at any other elec­tronic aids, but as the K1600 was al­ready well catered for, there were few el­e­ments miss­ing. The ad­di­tion of cor­ner­ing ABS would be log­i­cal and wel­come. There has been no fur­ther word from BMW about their con­nected drive ini­tia­tive, where bikes and cars will com­mu­ni­cate with each other to help im­prove road safety – but re­cent news re­gard­ing their In­tel­li­gent Emer­gency Call sys­tem would seem to sug­gest that it will fea­ture on a 2017 model – and the K1600 fam­ily is a prime can­di­date.

Ul­ti­mate ride

It’s im­pos­si­ble to sure from these images what changes have been made the K1600’s sus­pen­sion. The rear shock is more en­closed (and we can see a new aux­il­iary power out­put nes­tled there, too), and it seems likely that the firm will have up­dated their ex­cel­lent ESA sys­tem for this new fam­ily.

The range could be un­veiled as early as next week, while BMW will have a sec­ond chance at the EICMA show in Italy in early Novem­ber, with avail­abil­ity likely to be early Spring 2017.

‘It may get Gear Shift As­sist Pro, al­low­ing clutch­less shifts up and down the ’box’

This is full tour­ing spec GTL ver­sion

1 Bag­ger patents sug­gest the K1600 will get a quick­shifter /auto-blip­per

2 The bold trade­mark triple-exit ex­hausts are now capped in black

Spot the dif­fer­ence – this is the 2016 bike

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