For the reasons that should really matter, this bike is awesome. You know, things like comfort and performance. The character of the six-cylinder 1,600cc engine is incredible, the on-the-fly adjustable suspension makes the ride smooth and stable, and the gadgetry is intuitive—but why is it that my heart aches?!

I just want the rumble. I'm leaning in and going fast, but I want to hear and feel the bike so much more. I'm just not connected to it. Don't blame me—I'm not the one who called the 2018 BMW K1600 B a bagger.

I have spent a lot of time getting caught up with the names of motorcycles this year. From bobbers to scramblers to the K1600 B (yes, the B is for “bagger”), OEMs are skipping the legwork of naming their motorcycle and just going with whatever sub-genre they want it to fit into. Calling the K1600 B a bagger is a stretch, but I can see where they’re coming from.

BMW K1600 B Action
2018 BMW K1600 BKevin Wing

For me, there are a few boxes that need to be checked for a bike to be a real bagger. First, a bagger should fit bagger parts. I don't see Papa Paul Yaffe busting out any speaker lids for this bike anytime soon. Second, I think it needs to stir up some sort of raw, guttural emotion, which to me the K1600 B does not do—until you ride the thing. And third, it has to be a comfortable touring machine with hard bags, which is where this bike sits head and shoulders above a lot of the competition. It's sleeker, smoother, quieter, more powerful… Let's be honest—it's a sport-touring bike that they are calling a bagger, but would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

BMW K1600 B Dash
The dash of the BMW K1600 BKevin Wing

If I came from a different part of the motorcycling world, the K1600 engine might be my favorite powerplant out there. I can’t emphasize enough how smooth the thing is, and the range of power is astounding. You can lug it in higher gears, hit the throttle, and pull straight up to speed. In the tight, technical twisties you can keep it in the higher revs for quick response and great power. It puts out a massive claimed 160 bhp and 129 pound-feet of torque, which I am assuming is to the crank, not the tire, but I’m definitely not complaining. If you only care about the things an engine really should do, this is “A+,” number one. But if you want an engine that looks good, sounds good, and inspires some sort of emotion when you start it, this isn’t the one.

BMW K1600 B Turn
Editor Morgan Gales showing you the underside of the K1600 BKevin Wing

The huge engine block is tucked into the fairing that is essentially just the same as the K1600GT or GTL. Meaning that from the front, this is basically just a black version of its popular sport-touring models. The rear section of the chassis has been changed to fit the lower passenger seat, lower bags, and pipes. This creates a nice line distinguishing the B from the other models, but that bulky one-piece upper fairing and gas tank shroud just reads way too sporty for me.

BMW K1600 B ignition
BMW K1600 B saddlebagKevin Wing

Ergonomically, BMW gives you a lot of options on this bike. You have standard mid-controls, which I always prefer for more aggressive riding, and optional floorboards that can install up front and are great on highways or longer trips. Underneath the seat on each bike is a small plate that lets you raise or lower the front of the seat by about an inch, changing your positioning. I used this after the first day and found that keeping the front in the higher position moved me farther back in the seat and kept me more comfortable.

BMW K1600 B Left View
2018 BMW K1600 BKevin Wing

BMW also offers two seat heights, the taller one being better for taller riders. I tried this as well and found myself more comfortable on the taller seat with my 6-foot-4 stature. The taller seat and floorboards were just some of the optional accessories on the bikes that we tested, however, and when I started really listing the bike’s aftermarket accessories, it added up quickly.

BMW K1600 B riding
2018 BMW K1600 B in front of the Biltmore ManorKevin Wing

The $19,999 price tag provides you with the bike, but you have to fill in the blanks. There is black plastic cover where the speakers should go and a black plastic cover where the navigation system should go, and I can’t imagine anyone dropping $20K on this bike and leaving those ugly covers there. Honestly, when we show up at launches like this, I want to ride the stock bike. I asked to ride a stock bike. I was not given that option. Instead, the bike came with all of the following aftermarket accessories installed: Adaptive headlight, tire-pressure monitor, Hill Start Control, Gear Shift Assist Pro, Keyless Ride, LED auxiliary lights, reverse assist, and the audio system with Bluetooth. This adds about another $5,000 to the price tag, which BMW thought was necessary to be on there before we got to ride it.

BMW K1600 B Mirror
Vents open to redirect some air to the body of the riderKevin Wing

I get that aspirational riders may want to pick up the base model and add the accessories if they have the money (if that's even an option), but without all of the accessories the bike felt a little naked. When you compare the price tag of this to something like the Star Venture or Indian Chieftain, take it with a grain of salt and consider all of the accessories that come installed.

BMW K1600 B Right View
2018 BMW K1600 BKevin Wing

While it may tack on a bit to the price tag at $1,300, the Gear Shift Assist Pro was a pretty awesome feature. Taken from BMW’s S 1000 RR sportbike, it took virtually no time to get used to. All you had to was shift up without the clutch when you’re giving it gas or shift down without clutch when you’re off the throttle. It was intuitive and quick, creating a new sensation and making acceleration even smoother. It was really fun to play with and nice when we were moving through traffic, but I often found myself just instinctively going for the clutch anyway. I’d say to try it and see if you think it is worth the added cost. It’s definitely a cool feature that we’ll probably be seeing on a lot more bikes moving forward.

Morgan Gales BMW K1600 B
Morgan demonstrating just how big the pipes really arePangor

I don’t see this being the bike to take anyone off of an American bagger. What I do see it doing is taking your sport-touring guy and making him a little more comfortable heading out to something like Laughlin or Sturgis, which I think is awesome. Maybe he’ll slip on that extra silver ring or doo-rag when leaving the house on his bike now—good, get into it!

While calling it a bagger made me expect a little bit more of an emotional connection, the idea of stretching the boundaries of where riders feel comfortable and the silly niches we all try to fit into, I'm into it. Like I said, this bike has all the chops where it matters, but getting off of it and back onto the Indian Springfield I had in my driveway just felt like coming home.