Indescribable! That was the feeling I had while gliding around the Raleigh Beltway. Underneath me was the new BMW K1600 GTL. The GTL (Grand Touring Luxury) is BMW’s newest at-tempt at taking on the world with its ma-chines. Riding the GTL’s 1649cc, 160hp, in-line six-cylinder engine was like being on top of my own little rocket.

I did not plan on riding that day, but I was at Capitol BMW and the bike was sitting there on the showroom floor. After sitting on the bike a few minutes, I wanted to feel it move. Capitol BMW is one of the few bike dealerships that lets you go for test rides. So I asked Greg, the sales man-ager, if I could take it out. He kindly pulled it out of the showroom while I grabbed my helmet from my car.

It was only a few months ago that I sold my BMW K1200 LT (Luxury Touring). I thought I was going to be riding an LT replacement, but once I sat on the GTL I realized it was not a replacement but something new and exciting. Ergonomically this bike is a perfect fit for me. The bike is lower, slicker, 100 pounds lighter and smarter.

As Greg explained some of the new features, controls and technologies to me I found it easy to understand. It only took a few minutes to figure out the logic of this machine.

Once the engine started the sound was unlike any engine I have ever heard. It may have had something to do with the six-hole exhaust. The sound was as unique as the bike itself. As the dashboard lit up, it reminded me of something you would see on the bridge of Star Trek. Wow!

As I twisted the throttle, I had to tell myself to go easy! Once I was on the road and I got the feel of the bike, the first thing I did was adjust the electronic wind-shield to get some air flowing. As I rotated the multi-controller instrument wheel with my thumb, the dash board displayed a menu of selections. I quickly found a radio station I liked; I cranked up the volume and set off to find a groove.

The multi-controller is the first of a kind controller on a bike. It is a wheel — much like a joy stick, except it’s a wheel. It is positioned on the inside of the left hand grip. It rotates with a flick of the thumb and you can push side to side to navi-gate the menus. This controls everything from the Sirius radio, radio or iPod to the suspension and traction settings, temperature, oil, navigation and more menus and information than I have room for here.

The GTL has DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) which adjusts the engine torque and is designed to reduce the risk of wheel spin on various pavements. The DTC modes include “rain”, “road” and “dynamic” controls. The ESA II (Electronic Suspension Adjustments II) allows you to quickly adjust the bike for a passenger or luggage. With the multi-controller I was able to switch between “comfort”, “nor-mal” and “sport” suspension on the fly.

The new audio system is very easy and sweet to use. Fortunately for me I had brought my helmet that has built in Bluetooth. Within less than a minute my headset was paired up with the bike. I was extremely surprised by the quality of music com-ing through my headset. The bike has a lower compartment which houses connec-tions for USB, iPod or MP3 devices. Unfortunately, BMW does not offer a wired helmet option.

BMW offers an optional in-dash Motorrad Navigator IV GPS system. This GPS is removable and secured by a clever mounting system for which the wind-shield doubles as a guard against theft.

There are no mountain twisty roads in Raleigh but I was able to loop around a few on and off ramps. The bike was tight and fast, much like that of a sports bike while in the “dynamic” mode. On the highway it was almost effortless to pass cars. At higher speeds I could not feel any vibration or any wind buffeting.

08-03-11-jim-jones.jpgBMW is offering this bike in two different flavors; the K1600 GTL and K1600 GT model. As BMW is going after the Gold Wing market with the GTL, they are also going after the sports-touring market with the K1600 GT. The GT has a firmer rear suspension for more rebound dampening. The GT’s seating position is more aggressive. The foot pegs are an inch back and an inch higher for a more sporting riding position.

The GTL is designed for a passenger, speed, control, long-dis-tance riding and comfort. The only bad thing I could think of is that with a bike like this I would have to move west to one of those states with no speed limits and wide open roads.Ride Safe!

Photo: The GTL has DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) which adjusts the engine torque and is designed to re-duce the risk of wheel spin on various pavements.

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