2012 BMW K 1600 GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 Comparison Rider Magazine

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Kawasaki Concours

2012 BMW K 1600 GT vs. 2011 Concours 14 Road Test


November 22, 2011

by Kevin Wing

[This  BMW K 1600 GT vs. 2011 Kawasaki 14 Road Test was originally in the December 2011 issue of magazine]

Concours: Helmet: Qwest / Jacket: Tourmaster 3 / Pants: Tourmaster Flex / Forma. BMW: Helmet: Signet-Q / Jacket: Firstgear / Pants: Olympia Airglide /

This comparison was inevitable. the Kawasaki Concours 14 won our last comparison ( Rider . November among the new bikes featured in the issue were the BMW K 1600 GT and GTL . and luxury-touring variants of a radically K-bike platform. The compact, in-line six-cylinder engine would power both said to produce 160 horsepower and 129 of torque, caused gearheads and the world over to drool

A technological tour de force, the K would have throttle-by-wire, drive modes, a Multi-Controller interface and options such as Traction Control, Electronic Adjustment and an innovative Adaptive My report from the K 1600 world press launch in Africa was effusive with ( Rider . May 2011), and Editor stateside test of the GTL in July that the hype wasn’t jetlag-induced euphoria.

But we won’t the title of Best Sport to the BMW K 1600 GT just because new and exciting. Like a scrappy boxer, the BMW K 1600 GT may stand on its own merits, but to become champion it prove its mettle against an benchmark. The Kawasaki Concours 14 is benchmark, having knocked out the VFR1200F, Triumph Sprint GT and FJR1300 by virtue of its superior comfort and features, all for a reasonable

Compared to the Concours 14, the K 1600 GT a more refined, sophisticated with a more relaxed position, a smoother (and torquey) engine, and an impressive of features and options.

Before into the blow-by-blow, it’s to note that the K 1600 GT and the 14 have very different The German K 1600 GT was designed the ground up as a touring motorcycle, all but a few base pairs of its DNA shared the K 1600 GTL, a bike competes with the Honda Wing. And our test bike fully loaded with the package, offering luxury and previously unavailable on a sport

In contrast, the Japanese Concours 14 was from the Ninja ZX-14, a sportbike that, in highly form, Rickey Gadson in AMA Prostar Drag Racing. And the base/standard/premium choices offered on the K GT, the Concours 14 comes in a single Ideally, we would have a base-model K 1600 GT to the Concours 14, would have put them on a level playing field.

to showcase all of the whiz-bang features you can get on the K BMW’s press fleet is with premium models Therefore, we’ve compared the as delivered, and we’ve done our to keep the BMW’s premium in perspective.

Compared to the K 1600 GT, the 14 feels more like a with a more aggressive position, a higher-revving (and and a more direct connection the rider and machine in terms of response and steering feel.

are heavyweight sport tourers. against their competitors, the K GT and Concours 14 weigh more, larger engines and generate grunt. Both have transverse in-line engine with dual overhead four valves per cylinder and fuel injection.

The K 1600’s six displace a total of 1,649cc; the 14’s four displace With a smaller bore and … (72.0 x 67.5mm), the BMW peak horsepower and torque at revs than the more Kawasaki (84.0 x 61.0mm). On Tuning’s DynoJet dynamometer, a K GTL, which has the same and drivetrain as the GT, made slightly rear wheel horsepower at 7,900 rpm, in Dynamic than the Concours 14 (137.8 at rpm).

But the Kawasaki’s horsepower emerges only above rpm. Between 3,000 and rpm, the BMW makes 10-25 horsepower than the Kawasaki. And it comes to torque, the BMW opens a can of whoop-…: 114.3 lb-ft at rpm vs. 92.8 lb-ft at 7,300

From 3,000-7,000 rpm, the K makes 7-30 lb-ft torque than the Concours.

If riding is your top priority, the 14 is the way to go (and for a lot less dough). If and/or cutting-edge technology are top priorities (and price is no the K 1600 GT is the better choice.

Although the Kawasaki is at a power in the midrange, below 7,400 at 690 pounds fully fueled it 64 pounds less than the 754-pound BMW. Since bikes have comparable heights and widths, and their shapes are similarly aerodynamic, the difference erodes some of the K GT’s midrange advantage. bikes are incredibly fast, and smooth.

But in terms of sheer acceleration, the decision clearly to the K 1600 GT.

The K 1600 GT’s throttle-by-wire system is a mixed On the one hand, it optimizes fuel and enables electronic cruise and multiple riding modes Road and Rain, which throttle response, power and control). On the other hand, to the Kawasaki, the BMW’s throttle was lighter but also vaguer, at low speeds.

And when revs below 3,000 rpm at neutral or throttle, the bike would and jerk, as if E-gas had gotten signals. The Concours 14 makes use of throttle cables, and even twisting its grip required effort, the connection between and rear wheel felt direct.

Contrary to preliminary the K 1600 GT has the same 7-gallon capacity as the GTL, not 6.3 gallons as earlier. The Concours 14 holds 5.8 and it has a fuel-economy assistance mode we used about half the during this test. the displacement and weight differences, economy numbers were with an average 33.5 mpg on the BMW and mpg on the Kawasaki.


To their prodigious power and weight, both the BMW and Kawasaki stout cast-aluminum frames use their engines as stressed The rails of the K 1600 GT’s frame pass over the top of the which is canted forward 55 from vertical to keep the of gravity low. The Concours monocoque frame uses a aluminum shell to connect the to the steering head.

Both cast-aluminum parallelogram-type swingarms BMW’s Paralever is single-sided, the Tetra-lever is conventional) to eliminate from their shaft drives, as well as six-speed with hydraulically actuated wet Clutch action was comparably and both levers were The BMW’s clutch has a self-energizing that caused the lever to at times, but feel and engagement unaffected.

Shifting felt smoother and lash less pronounced on the

Radial-mount, four-piston calipers the Kawi’s large petal Linked ABS is standard. Excellent good feel.

The Concours 43mm male-slider fork and shock (4.4/5.4 inches of are adjustable for preload and rebound, a remote preload adjuster at the rear. Our fully loaded K GT was equipped with optional Suspension Adjustment (ESA offering pushbutton adjustability Comfort, Normal and Sport, preload settings) for the Hossack-type front suspension and Paralever shock (4.5/5.3 inches of

Both bikes have wheels in the same sizes, and shod with similarly grippy sport-touring rubber: Roadtec Z8 Interact tires on the Bridgestone Battlax BT021 on the Kawasaki. When set up properly, bikes delivered a comfortable, ride, but even in Sport the heavier BMW wallowed and bounced more than the Kawasaki in bumpy corners. Despite its wheelbase (63.7 inches vs.

inches) and steering damper, the K GT had noticeably lighter steering the Concours 14, but the BMW also felt stable and predictable.

Big bikes big brakes, and these bikes excellent binders. Each dual front discs, a rear disc and standard with adjustable front BMW’s partial Integral ABS is front to rear only; K-ACT ABS system is fully Braking power and feedback are on both, but the K 1600 GT’s felt more intuitive and thanks in part to its anti-dive front suspension.

Traction is standard on the Concours 14, and the system is on or off. The K 1600 GT’s Dynamic Traction Control, uses a gyroscopic lean-angle in addition to wheel-speed sensors, in with the riding modes and the level accordingly.

The K 1600 brakes are simply amazing, exceptional power and feel, standard front-to-rear linked

Although previously heralded for its accommodations, in this comparison the 14 has the sportier seating position. Its seat is slightly angled, its are farther forward and its footpegs are set and farther back. The K 1600 GT more relaxed, with a flatter, height-adjustable seat inches; no-cost optional low is 30.7/31.5 inches), less to the bars and less bend at the knees.

Both have electrically windscreens that retract to lowest position when the is turned off; the BMW remembers the height, while the Kawasaki has height presets. The BMW’s is taller and wider, with a notch at the top, and it provides a less turbulent experience for the and passenger. Passengers reported legroom and seat comfort on bikes.

The Kawasaki’s seat buzzier but the small kick-up at the helped them feel secure during acceleration on the BMW’s flatter seat.

The BMW and are nearly neck and neck in of luggage capacity, but the Kawasaki a heavier load (482 vs. 437 pounds). Both have locking, removable saddlebags hold a full-face helmet in side, though the Kawasaki’s are slightly larger (35 vs. 33 liters).

also have small, storage compartments in the fairing. The single compartment is up high, the left handlebar; the BMW’s two are down low, in front of the shins, and the right one is foam-lined and an audio adapter cable. have standard luggage

The 49-liter top trunk that’s on the K 1600 GTL can be added as an option on the GT, and offers 39-liter and 47-liter trunks.

Each of the Concours’ saddlebags easily swallows a helmet. Opening, closing, and removing them is intuitive.

fight is a scorecard decision, not a The BMW K 1600 GT and Kawasaki Concours 14 are matched, with particular that will appeal to riders. The BMW’s bigger makes more horsepower and in the midrange, where you need it of the time.

The in-line six is silky and sounds amazing, but its computerized response introduces a subtle between the rider and the machine, a wedge of artificiality that feel for optimization. The K 1600 GT has brakes, lower-effort steering and a relaxed seating position, but its weight compromises suspension and reduces fuel economy.

front end feel, less stability and more driveline sapped confidence at a sporting Nonetheless, bottomless torque, brakes and ample cornering make the BMW capable of ludicrously speeds on just about any And when it comes to burning solo or with a passenger, no tourer can match its comfort and

The BMW’s saddlebags are slightly than the Kawasaki’s, but they’re easy to use. Central locks are optional.

Last the Kawasaki Concours 14 bested the VFR1200F, Triumph Sprint GT and FJR1300 in terms of comfort, protection, torque, features and The bigger, heavier machine was to the right than the others on the sliding scale, yet it retained the of a sportbike, capable of deep angles and blistering speeds. to the K 1600 GT, it makes less power and torque, but fully it weighs 64 pounds less.

It has a sportier riding position, direct throttle response and steering feel. When Tuttle and I chased each up and down our favorite test and swapped bikes several both of us were faster on the It made us work harder, but we rewarded for our efforts.

With ABS, traction control, grips, electric windscreen, monitor and keyless security the Kawasaki Concours 14 established the mark for luxury on a sport yet its MSRP of $15,599 keeps it reach of most buyers. The BMW K GT has raised the bar even higher, but the price.

The base-model is equipped ABS, riding modes, control, electric windscreen, headlight with dynamic and heated grips and seat. up to the standard package adds GPS ESA II, adaptive headlight, traction and tire pressure monitor, and the package adds a full system, power central and an anti-theft alarm.

The BMW’s price of $20,900 is $5,301 than the Kawasaki; the as-tested package is $24,540, which the differential to $8,941. For some that will be the deciding end of story.

If money was no object and I have only one bike, it be the BMW K 1600 GT, a decision influenced by its smooth, powerful six-cylinder and its higher level of comfort—attributes are the same regardless of options In fact, because they so much in common, I would be to step up to a GTL because its seating is even more comfortable and it with a top trunk.

Being able to add so many to either model is a definite but most are nice-to-haves, not need-to-haves. The Concours 14 remains a remarkably comfortable sport tourer is by no means eclipsed by the K 1600 GT. As I in my Riding Among Giants test ( Rider . October well-chosen accessories can make the even more comfortable for the haul. You may have a different and therefore come to a different

In the end, there are no losers

Kawasaki Concours

Base Price: $20,900

as Tested: $24,540 (premium

Warranty: 3 yrs. 36,000


Type: Liquid-cooled, in-line six

Bore x Stroke: x 67.5mm

Compression Ratio:

Frame: Cast-aluminum-alloy twin-spar frame w/ engine as stressed

aluminum subframe; cast-aluminum single-sided swingarm

Wheelbase: in.

Rake/Trail: 27.8 degrees/4.3 in.

Height: 31.9/32.7 in.;

low seat: 30.7/31.5 in.

Suspension, BMW Duolever

w/ Electronic Suspension

(ESA II, as tested), 4.5-in.

Rear: BMW Paralever w/ single ESA II (as tested), 5.3-in. travel

Liquid-cooled, transverse, in-line

Bore x Stroke: 84.0 x

Compression Ratio: 10.7:1

Frame: Aluminum monocoque w/ as stressed member; cast-aluminum swingarm

Wheelbase: 59.8 in.

26.1 degrees/4.4 in.

Seat 32.1 in.

Suspension, Front: male slider, adj. for preload rebound

damping, travel

Rear: Single adj. for spring preload rebound damping, 5.4-in.

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