Bagger Shootout: 2022 BMW K1600B vs Honda Gold Wing

Bagger Shootout

I personally love the baggers. They not only look cool like traditional cruisers, but they also offer the latest tech, features, safety aids, cargo space, and more importantly smooth riding experience which is essential for long trips. Today, we are comparing two of the most important baggers to see which is a better fit for your lifestyle.

On one side, we have the 2022 BMW K1600B. It’s one of the several K1600 versions, but the B letter differentiates the bagger version from the rest. The K1600 was redesigned for the 2022 model year to include the latest tech, but BMW has a long history of manufacturing K series motorcycles to fill the sport tourer segment.

On the other side, we have the 2022 Honda Gold Wing. It’s probably the first motorcycle that comes to mind when you think of a tourer, and there is a reason for that. It is one of the motorcycles most riders recognize the model’s name before the brand. It is still one of the best-selling touring machines for the last 5 decades.

Let’s start with the looks. Baggers usually look pretty much the same, their unique silhouette is either you hate or love it. I personally like the Bagger profile, and both bikes look different despite having similar body lines.

BMW’s front fascia design represents BMW’s industrial design language, and the front headlights are huge. It has cornering lights for more visibility, but they are located at the bottom. Despite being “base trim” in the K1600 model lineup, it still comes with fog lights that are located just at the very bottom. The front end looks quite big and masculine.

6th generation Gold Wing is quite different when it comes to overall looks. Before the 6th gen, it was more of a traditional design language that Honda wanted to keep due to the average age of potential buyers, but with the current gen, it looks extremely modern and sporty. I personally think Gold Wing’s front fascia looks much more aggressive than the K1600B.

One of the key points that make the Baggers what it is, is the side bags. K1600B’s side bags are very large and wide, you can store your full-face helmet with no problem. Gold Wing’s side bags are much smaller; medium size backpacks can barely fit. However, it looks much sleeker and it’s integrated into the frame, but the Gold Wing offers small storage areas right in front of the rider for your phone, wallet, or other small items.

Both bikes look quite different from the rider’s point of view. That’s because both bikes offer different features for different types of riders. Unlike the Gold Wing, K1600B comes with traditional handlebars and the latest 10.25-inch TFT dash looks extremely modern. It comes with the latest BMW infotainment system and traditional BMW rotary knob, it’s one of the most user-friendly options in the market.

Unlike the K1600B, Gold Wing still has the same features and design since it is first released. Both bikes come with external speakers and a screen in the middle, but Gold Wing still has an analog speedometer, which makes it a more authentic option. The dash is much smaller, and the user interface just looks outdated. The Gold Wing catches up when it comes to smartphone integration, as it offers Apple CarPlay standard.

Speaking of Apple CarPlay, it’s not easy to hook up your smartphone, as you have to have an intercom and you have to connect them to the bike over Bluetooth. This may be a deal breaker for people riding multiple bikes on a regular basis, as you have to re-connect it to your phone every time you switch to the other bike. However, if the Gold Wing is your only bike, it offers a car-like experience and is extremely beneficial for people who can actually utilize it.

For potential buyers, seat and riding position is as important as features. Both entries are exceptionally comfortable. Gold Wing has a little bit more upright position, you literally sat like you are sitting on a chair. It has much better wind protection and a taller windscreen. K1600B has just a little bit more aggressive riding position, your upper body is just a little bit more forward but still pretty upright.

The lower body is a different story though. Due to Gold Wing’s 6-cylinder horizontally opposed engine, there is only one position for your feet. It’s very comfortable, but that’s how you keep your legs and knees if you take it on long trips. K1600B comes with regular foot pegs and highway pegs for longer rides. Regular foot pegs are placed more aggressively compared to the Gold Wing, but nothing can beat the highway pegs if you are looking for the ultimate comfort.

Suspension tunes are also an important factor for the ultimate comfort, which is very important for this type of bike. There are obvious similarities that make both bikes feel similar when you ride them. For instance, both entries come with a dual-wishbone front end to eliminate fork dive and bump steer. They also come with single swing arms, as well as shaft drives.

Both motorcycles are very comfortable pretty much on any surface, but there are small differences that make them the right choice for different types of buyers. K1600B is the sportier choice here, its electronically adjustable suspension has two different settings, and even the softest setting is firmer than the Gold Wing, which has no electronic adjustment option.

If you are looking for the softest suspension setting, you can’t go wrong with the Gold Wing. That also means it bottoms out easier so you need to be careful on broken pavement. Gold Wing’s front end only focuses on absorbing road imperfections; you absolutely get no feedback from the front end. For most potential buyers, this may be the right choice, but something to keep in mind.

Regardless of what type of rider you are, both behemoths are not easy to ride at low speeds and maneuver. If I have to pick one bike, Gold Wing is the easier one to ride around town, tight turns, and low-speed maneuvering mostly because of the engine design. The horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine would not allow the rider to have highway pegs, but it offers a much lower center of gravity.

As I already mentioned twice, let’s get into the details about the engines. Both motorcycles are 6 cylinders, 6-speed, and connected to the rear wheel with a shaft drive. The similarities end right there. Gold Wing’s 1833cc engine generates around 90 hp and 102.5 lb-ft of torque, and on the other side, K1600B’s inline-6-cylinder 1649cc engine pumps out 160 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque.

As you can see the difference on paper, you don’t have to go all out to see the difference. They are tuned completely different. Gold Wing is all about bottom-end torque, and it just doesn’t want to rev as much. Riding at a slower pace is more rewarding due to the silky-smooth character at lower RPM, and it offers great fuel economy. Although the smaller gas tank (21.1 L) is not the ideal choice for long trips for a bike meant to ride long distances.

K1600B’s engine was unexpectedly playful and fun. It becomes alive over 4000 rpm, and screams all the way up to the redline, pulls very hard at any gear. It’s just not as smooth as the Gold Wing, even if you ride it normally, you feel more vibrations but that’s what you get if you want playful character. The drivetrain is also much clunkier than the Gold Wing. The Quick Shifter really helps a lot, but BMW’s drive shaft is definitely louder when you shift.

6th generation Gold Wing is the first and only tourer that comes with an automatic transmission. Aside from the smartphone integration, that’s what makes modern Honda motorcycles quite appealing to younger demographics. The dual-clutch transmission is a great match for this type of vehicle and engine, and Honda has been fine-tuning it for almost a decade.

As both bikes are technically stripped-down versions, my expectations weren’t that high. I’m surprised how capable they are in pretty much any type of riding condition. Both bikes are excellent choices to get from A to B, no matter how far the total distance is. If you want to know which bike is right for your needs, you need to ask yourself – how would you like to go from A to B?

If you want the ultimate comfort with decent practicality, a dual-clutch automatic transmission, and smartphone integration, there is no replacement for the 2022 Honda Gold Wing. Despite its weight, it is a better commuter and better daily rider. I’d not only take the Gold Wing for long trips, but I’d go to work every single day and would be totally fine with it. It’s easier to live with every day, and its unique modern features make the Gold Wing more appealing to younger riders.

2022 BMW K1600B is the right bike for many different types of riders. It may not be the most comfortable choice, but it has a better build quality and feels more special. It is the most expensive choice, but it also comes with more standard features. It may not be the ideal daily rider due to its overall weight and higher center of gravity, but it’s the fun factor that makes the K1600 unique. It’s clearly the enthusiasts’ choice that can do pretty much everything great as a weekend machine.

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