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BMW K 1600 Grand America and Honda GL 1800 Gold Wing

Luxury tourer in the comparison test

Road trip with gigaliners. On the way to America and beyond, there are significant differences in character between the two luxury tourers, the BMW K 1600 Grand America and the Honda GL 1800 Gold Wing Tour DCT Airbag. Which bike will win the group test??

The original destination was Champagne. Sail the northern Vosges, then Lorraine, on the way back to the Ardennes. Sip sparkling wine, munch on delicious foie gras, charge the expense account with excessive hotel stays. After all, the BMW K 1600 Grand America (base: 25,070 euros, test motorcycle 31,200 euros) and Honda GL 1800 want and have to use exclusive six-cylinder travel steamer like a BMW K 1600 Grand America Gold Wing (as a fully equipped Tour DCT Airbag: 35,595 euros) appropriate luxury touring. Boom, drink, abundance, and in the middle of it all, a comparison. Only the weather god can save the company credit card from dying out: storms and thunderstorms in the west. Change of plan, crazy idea: "It would be a good idea to go to America with them." Surprise: The navigation system calculates a good 460 kilometers and four hours and thirty for the apparently existing overland route from Stuttgart to America. There would certainly be better weather in the land of opportunity. So bring in anchor, cast off! In the case of the Gold Wing, this has to be taken literally: Don’t forget the handbrake in the left bow! Starting. Clack, wummmmmm – as if by the snap of a finger, the starter integrated in the alternator commands the mighty Flat Six to start work.

BMW K 1600 Grand America and Honda GL 1800 Gold Wing

Luxury tourer in the comparison test

Big bike duel

It may be that the square Unicam four-valve engine rotates more mechanically when idling than its even weaker predecessor – but in the wide range of all motorcycle engines, the highly distinguished Honda boxer knows only one real rival when it comes to running smoothness: the 1650-cc six-engine of the Bayerische Motoren Werke. Whichever one has just started: muffled also from the eternally long stove pipes, but hoarse, richer in overtones. It runs at least as polished, but completely different because of its row layout. More silky, sharper. In contrast to the monk-like humming Honda, one or two encouraging throttles promise terrible potency.

Both bikes were created for longer tours.

Pull the clutch – the BMW still has one, and it’s amazingly smooth-running – and with a long way and that typical Bavarian punch, first gear is in place. As soon as the clutch engages, the excellent “Shift Assistant Pro” of the K 1600 makes the left hand of the driver as unemployed as that of the Honda. The right thumb finds the D button on it, and the unique double coupler, which is unfortunately reserved for the very expensive "Tour DCT Airbag" with suitcases and airbag, automatically sorts all of the seven gears depending on the driving mode. ready.

Maneuvering aids are essential for both bikes

That machines of this caliber do not develop their potential beyond underground garages and cities – of course. After all: Thanks to the noticeably low center of gravity (boxer!) And the very low seat height (745 millimeters), the Gold Wing can be maneuvered comfortably, even by halfway experienced short-legged people, both when standing and at crawl speed . More pleasant than the lighter (slim 368 kilos), but a little more difficult due to the higher center of gravity, some might find it more frightening, BMW. In addition to the taller, more expansive Grand America, which is tailored for giant giant pugs, the noticeably shrunken Gold Wing appears almost delicate. Helpful, no indispensable: a maneuvering aid, also integrated in the alternator / starter unit, pushes the 385-kilo colossus (at least 40 kilos compared to the previous GL) back electrically, and forwards if necessary. The K 1600 also maneuvers backwards electrically by pressing the starter.

The BMW K 1600 Grand America is an excavator with a top case.

Out with the two of them on the A 81, because contrary to other assumptions, America seems to be in the northeast. In tour mode, the Honda six hangs more comfortably on the gas, the DCT switches up early. A sublime experience precisely because of this: like a diesel-electric motor locomotive, the DCT-GL hums and buzzes its driver and a lot of luggage with a good nine hundredweight with the accumulated looseness of 1,800 cubic meters. This is practically vibration-free over long distances, with switching operations that have been smoothed almost beyond recognition. This drive unit is not a motorcycle engine in the classic sense. And therefore the perfect Gold Wing engine, because the double-clutch transmission fits in perfectly with the sedate character of the GL as a super tourer. From the presentation in Texas we know that the six-speed switch also works excellently. But if you have the small thing of 36 million play money, you should definitely not miss a test drive with DCT.

K 1600 Grand America 160 hp

The K 1600 Grand America, on the other hand, has a motorcycle engine. And what a one! Drivable from a good 1,000 revolutions, up to 3,000 for any normal driving situation including rapid overtaking, with slightly delayed throttle response even in "Dynamic" mode (a throttle valve for six cylinders), but said chiseled run – in the lower third of the engine speed is the 24-valve engine the confident, dignified travel and strolling buddy. Only to then, with increasing speed needle, put this personality aside. Under the mask: a real sports engine, only huge with 1650 cubic meters. Its true essence: unstoppable power. This cool, perverse batch is in a wonderfully schizophrenic contradiction to Grand America itself. On the outside, a fashionable boulevard excavator with Florida ambitions, under the hood ax-wielding, hoarse, screaming violent criminal. Somehow incongruous, but with considerable entertainment potential. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? More likely Elton John and Jack Nicholson in "The Shining".

The operating concept of the K 1600 corresponds to that of the GS and other BMW models.

It’s also strange that the Grand America, if you follow the subtly always present request to let the Gigaliner off the leash for a few seconds, runs into the electronic limiter at exactly 162 kilometers per hour. That’s pretty much exactly 100 mph. In the land of freedom, where you end up in jail for such speeds, certainly of secondary importance. But on the way from Stuttgart to America, a mortgage. Because a 160 hp K 1600 Grand America has to let the less absurdly motorized GL 1800, which is limited to more practical 180 items (18 more!), Pull away. Bmw said: "This measure takes into account the fact that the customization popular in this vehicle segment through additional equipment in the rear can lead to a significant change in the wheel load distribution, and guarantees maximum stability in all dynamic driving situations. "What do the Americans like to add to it? Nevertheless, the measure is understandable. At top speed, the crosswind-sensitive GA is indeed more restless than the bolt-stable GL.

Honda’s operating concept looks tidier

Back to highway gliding, the parade discipline for American-class motorcycles: cruise control to a comfortable 140, windshields electrically upwards (the GA provides complete protection, the GL lets a touch on the shoulders), sofa landscapes (you can stay sensational on both anyway The BMW running boards are too far forward for the little ones, the handlebars are a bit high), explore the infotainment in the car-like command centers. No job left hand: Bluetooth, radio, MP3, sat nav – all of this is as natural in this class as keyless, central locking, cardan, heated grips and seats. Advantage Honda: Their new operating concept looks tidier, their huge display integrates the navigation system, which is still a partially integrated solution in the K. But also the familiar operation of the BMW by hand wheel is great. It costs a lot extra, with the expensive Honda everything is included. Small downer: at high speed on the Autobahn, the GL 1800 hums louder from the airbox than trucker warriors will appreciate. In the course of the rejuvenation, the Gold Wing – under load – gave up a little of its reluctance. That doesn’t suit their character any more than the now much smaller suitcases. Twice 30 craggy liters plus 50 liter top case is quite a bit, but noticeably less than before. As welcome as the streamlining may be from the point of view of maneuvering and driving dynamics, the committed Winger community doesn’t exactly appreciate the huge, dinosaur-like aspect of the Gigaliner?

The rear view of the new Gold Wing shows that the motorcycle is now positioned more as an excavator with a topcase.

Advantage BMW: civilly moving, the drive whispers more discreetly, and with 37 liters on each side, the "bags" offer a little more volume, the top case also 50 liters. Although the K consumes significantly more fuel than the sensationally economical GL, with the 26.5-liter barrel it still has a good range. These are the final considerations before we roll into America with the Axis powers. So that’s around 15 kilometers northeast of Chemnitz. Not a soul is out here on a Wednesday evening. The silence of the grave even in the beer garden. “Closed due to illness” it says, hopefully no omen for the future of the other side of the Atlantic. Means for us: The following day overland, past Leipzig, across the wild east and all sorts of wonderfully quiet nature parks to Tangermunde. That Hanseatic city gem on the Elbe that is absolutely worth visiting.

Which bike wins the group test?

Rather advantageous for the Gold Wing: the avenues that tend to run straight to the horizon. With its eternal wheelbase and the very flat steering head angle, it travels as reliably as the Intercity with an 18-inch front wheel. But I also want to be able to change course with a firm hand. A huge step forward in terms of driving stability and comfort: the new front wheel guidance via double wishbones. At BMW, the fork alternative is called Telelever. This also decouples in a similar way, but also creates an even more sublime driving comfort. As the Grand America knows how to convert its more lush spring travel on the cobblestones that can be found here again and again into even more floating comfort. Which does not mean that a Gold Wing would be uncomfortable, on the contrary.

In the end, BMW wins.

More easy to steer, almost too motivated on the expensive forged wheels, the K 1600 cannot deny in curves that it would have liked to become a sports motorcycle somewhere deep down. What also applies to your brakes: They decelerate as badly as the engine starts. On the GL everything takes place a lot more relaxed. Less vehement, more touristy. Mooring in Tangermunde! Apart from the costs, which are devastating not only in terms of purchase price, but also in terms of maintenance, the BMW is tight in each of the valuation chapters, but never necessarily superior. The bottom line is that it is the better motorcycle in the general sense. The better, because more relaxed, more calm touring motorcycle is called the GL 1800 Gold Wing.

MOTORCYCLE test result

1. BMW K 1600 Grand America
Somehow schizophrenic: A crowbar from Motor in this chassis, then limited to 162. And yet fascinating, because high-end down to the last detail.

2.Honda GL 1800 Gold Wing Tour DCT airbag
Apart from the sheer engine power, the Honda is nowhere necessarily inferior to the BMW. It knows exactly what it wants to be: the more comfortable, heart-slowing touring motorcycle.

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