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  • Robert Farago

BMW K1600 GTL vs. Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT



Last year, Cruiseman’s Garage compared the Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT to the BMW K1600 GTL. Almost half-a-million viewers watched Chris “Cruiseman” Dikmen rate the two touring motorcycles on almost five dozen aspects. After much deliberation…


Mr. Dikmen called it a draw. “It’s not a question of which is the better bike,” the Wing Nut prevaricated for the post’s finale. “It’s which is the better bike for you.” Spoiler alert! Wrong.


Assuming you don’t fancy a gussied-up retro-style V-Twin-powered flying lounge chair courtesy Indian or Harley, assuming you want the better of the only two continent-crushing alternatives, it’s the BMW K1600 GTL all day long.


Literally. As you will read when I embark on my Travels with Charley Ridiculously Random Motorcycle Tour.

For now, I’ll resist the none-too-powerful urge to second-guess Mr. Dikmen’s ratings in 58 categories, and highlight three key differences that elevate the pride of Germany over its 43-year-old Japanese-American rival.


Transmission



Thanks to its seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT is a slow-speed nightmare.


Amble along in Tour Mode. At some point – to which you’re not privy – the Wing will decide it’s time for second gear. Forcing you to ease off the gas while squeezing the brake. Either that or it’ll sulk, delaying forward propulsion just enough to make things… difficult.


On the flip side, twisting the throttle in Sport Mode places battery leads on the Gold Wing’s testicles. Who doesn’t like fishtailing an 834-pound motorcycle, waiting for traction control to do it’s thing?


You can turn off the Wing’s DCT, then select and hold gears via the Wing’s handlebar-mounted + and - buttons. How great is that? I’m not exactly sure. Meanwhile…



The K1600 GTL’s shifter makes an almighty clunk – a strangely agricultural sound for a motorcycle with a 10.25” full-color TFT screen. Properly applied, the special K’s Gear Shift Assist Pro reduces the noise and quickens the pace. So there is that.


The killer blow: the K1600 GTL’s Ride-by-Wire throttle is perfectly, infinitely adjustable.


Despite a center of gravity somewhere in low-earth orbit – especially compared to the Honda’s limbo-low-slung six – the K1600 GTL’s user-friendly throttle makes it a far safer and more enjoyable ride than it’s competitor.


Luggage



I’m not saying the Gold Wing Tour DCT’s saddlebags are diddy, but only because Sean’s in enough trouble as it is. I could fit my bulky Dianese motorcycle jacket in one and… that’s all folks.


The Wing’s custom-fit luggage is the size of a doctor’s bag. The pokey panniers are a poison pill.

Honda’s decision to sacrifice side storage for style (keeping the big Wing svelte) was a huge mistake. Although not literally.



The BMW’s saddlebags are almost cavernous enough to generate an echo. An echo. Each will stow a full face helmet, given half a chance. They’re also easily removed, making the bike-to-hotel transition a breeze.


The Honda’s top box is more capacious than the Bimmer’s, but it’s fixed-in-place. Removing the K’s trunk is super easy. Barely an inconvenience!


Take away the K’s top box and you still have almost as much overall luggage capacity as Goldie, minus 40 pounds of aerodynamic drag and the dad bod bike look, plus a helicopter-sized landing pad for strap-on luggage. Case closed. So to speak.


Engine



The Honda Gold Wing’s a 1833cc liquid-cooled, horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine is awesome. Famously silky smooth and tractable.


The 125hp power plant delivers its 130 lb-ft of torque nice and low, right where the two-wheeled behemoth needs it (around 4500 rpm). Unfortunately…


The Gold Wing Tour’s DCT not only f’s-up walking pace progress, it refuses to let you explore the top of the rev range in mileage-seeking Tour mode.


Go full Sport Mode or button her up (down?) and OK sure: the Wing takes flight like excrement off a dirt-moving implement. Or something like that.



When Viking ancestors get around to singing chants about motorcycle engines, the K1600 GTL’s 1649cc liquid-cooled inline-six engine will get its proper due.


The K’s significantly more powerful 160hp six serves-up 129 lb-ft of torque, albeit slightly later (about 5,250 rpm). You’ve got to rev it hard to get the most bang-for-your-buck. And?


And the DOHC six is Silicon wafer smooth. If Satan is the anti-Christ, the big Bimmer is the anti-Harley. The K1600 GTL’s engine has no vibration. None. For all intents and purposes, it’s a Cuisinart-powered motorcycle.


While the Honda’s only a second slower to sixty from standstill (4 vs 3 seconds), the BMW’s so much more fun! The dial-able throttle and rev-happy six are a pleasure undimmed.


Other Stuff



Cruiseman’s comprehensive comparo touches on a lot of other differences between the two bikes, both major (e.g. the BMW’s knees-up-Mother-Brown riding position and relative lack of dealers) and minor (e.g., the Honda’s complicated emergency start procedure and cheap, unlockable phone compartment).


If I had to highlight one reason not to buy the Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT, it’s the DCT. The best reason to leave the BMW alone? The OEM windshield forces you to choose between helmet buffeting (screen down) or body buffeting (screen up).


If the VStream windshield above sorts out the long distance comfort not-entirely-rock-solid-stability-at-speed issue, there’s no good reason to choose the Honda over the BMW. Unless you don’t like sports bike-style handling, modern electronics and a more comfortable seat.

 

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