Channeled, chopped and otherwise compressed from tourers into pseudo cruisers, baggers are the latest craze in customs. Once the sole purview of Harley-Davidson, manufacturers from Honda to Indian are sprouting top-of-the-line baggers, And for 2018, even BMW has now joined the fray.

Strip away the fluff

Essentially a full-boat tourer — in this case, think Munich’s K1600 GTL land yacht — with its windshield cut down, its rear topcase jettisoned and then the whole thing slammed as low as it can go, the K1600 B is, depending on your viewpoint, either a tourer with a bit of style or a cruiser with a modicum of practicality. Either way, it is BMW’s way of trying to marry form with at least a bit of function.

The mystique of a six

What the K1600 B brings to the table is the mother of all touring/cruiser engines. Inline sixes — from Honda’s racing RC 166 to Benelli’s copied-from-a-Honda-CB550 Sei — hold a mythical place in motorcycling yore.

Now BMW’s K1600 B carries that torch.  Oh, it’s way more high tech than those ancient beasts and, unfortunately for those who like their internal combustion con brio, thoroughly muffled for modern efficiency and comportment. But twist that throttle (by wire) and those six 72 mm pistons still speak to a pageantry we don’t hear enough these days. And contrary to the high-revving monster one might expect from so many cylinders, the K1600 B is all grunt, its maximum 160 horsepower — no, that’s not a typo — occurring at an incredibly low 7,750 rpm. And even though the K1600's maximum torque of 129 lb-ft officially occurs at 5,250 rpm, it feels like most of that is available right off idle. Indeed, the K1600 may be the only motorcycle — other than Honda’s Gold Wing (also powered by six pistons) — that can accelerate from 1,000 rpm snatch-free in top gear. And accelerate it most certainly does, the K1600 B doing a fair impression of a sportbike in drag every time you twist its quick-turn throttle.

Which makes the K1600 B a bagger like no other. Yes, it’s stylish. Yes, it features (optional) foot-forward controls and a sweptback handlebar. But that real attraction is that King Kong of a motor and its uncanny impression of a sport bike when the road gets twisty. Don't be fooled by the cruiser clothes.

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