BMW presented their 2018 motorcycle line-up on some beautiful bike roads in Mpumalanga. GQ motoring ed Dieter Losskarn experienced the brand-new hi-tech tourer K 1600 Bagger. But another bike touched him more. The new Urban G/S made him relive the Eighties.
This bike has more of a luxury car feel than what I think a motorcycle should have. When I am not in a tin box I want to be exposed to the elements, with the wind in my face and the freedom of the road in front of me. The US of A are clearly the primary target market for BMW’s new K 1600 Bagger, with its protective fairing and big pannier boxes. There is a local market as well. Guys and gals, who love Honda Goldwings, Harley-Davidson Ultras and Indian Roadmasters. The Bagger’s six-cylinder in-line engine is a smooth dream with a surprisingly aggressive sound. The bike is quite heavy, therefore, like the Goldwing, it features a so-called reverse assist. There is a button on the left-hand handlebar to select reverse mode, then you press the start button and the electric motor moves the bike backwards. Together with dynamic traction control, xenon and adaptive headlamps and key-less ride, I feel even more detached from the original concept of motorcycling. Don’t get me wrong, this vehicle is brilliant in its own right, glued to the tarmac due to the dynamic ETA chassis, but it’s not what I want from a bike.
Luckily BMW also has another new ride up their sleeves: the Urban G/S. The opposite of the Bagger: pure, simple, light. The newest member in BMW’s wonderfully nostalgic R NineT heritage collection, established in 2013, is a celebration of the very first R 80 G/S. The new Urban G/S classic enduro is carrying genes from the very first R 80 G/S from 1980 (which I once owned), combined with invisible, modern technology and even the traditional red-blue-white colour scheme of its daddy. The cross-spoke wheels look the part,as does the large 19-inch front wheel, which gives it this typical Enduro look. Transporting freedom and passion from 35 years ago into the here and now. As with all BMW heritage bikes there are many options to modify and individualize your ride. Thanks to a three-component, detachable frame, which allows for instance different after-market seats. The ride is agile: 3.6 seconds from 0 to 100km/h. The Urban G/S loves to be thrown around tight turns. And it is more comfortable to ride than the other off-the-beaten-track R nineT, the old-school Scrambler.
On an Urban G/S with this potent air-cooled boxer engine you will relive the Eighties, when biking was simple and life easy. I didn’t even want to give it back in the end. So is it Bagger or basic? Guess which one of the two I would put in my mancave?
BMW K 1600 Bagger
6 cyl. in-line engine
R 348 000
BMW R nineT Urban G/S
Air-cooled 1170cc two-cylinder boxer
0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds
Top speed: 200km/h
Bagger rivals in SA
The BMW hi-tech tourer K 1600 Bagger’s (R325 000) competition consists of three much more expensive rides: Honda Goldwing GKH 1800 Comfort (R366 450), Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited (R382 400) & Indian Roadmaster (R399 900).
Watch this cool video about the Urban G/S with Paris-Dakar legend Hubert Auriol, who won it on a BMW G/S more than 30 years ago: https://youtu.be/YiRwxqWXuXI