STURGIS | As I am wont to do, I fell in love with a beautiful Bavarian girl at the rally this week.
I was a bit surprised when my boss, a buttoned-up guy in chinos and an Oxford shirt, actually paid me to date her. So, wanting to rise above the fray, meet my editor’s endless demands and spend a few hours on a blue highway, I picked up the gal — let’s call her Heidi — and took a little 150-mile road trip.
We traveled to the highest reaches of the Harney range, stopped to see four guys at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, then drove down Iron Mountain Road, spun around the Pigtail Bridges and had lunch at Custer State Park before skirting up the incomparable Needles Highway.
At every stop along the way, my date’s racy curves turned all the boys' heads, and even some of the girls'. She’s like that. And every time I got on her, she just screamed.
Heidi weighs in at 740 pounds, a little heavier than I’m accustomed to, but she purred like a kitten the entire trip.
You see, my rendezvous was with the new 2018 BMW K 1600 B, one of only 10 of the German firm's motorcycles to arrive in the U.S. so far. And she was an experience I will never forget, riding one of the most technologically advanced motorcycles in existence. Now, I’m hoping for a second date.
Years ago, BMW, long known for its elegant sedans and innovative designs, set its sights on the Sturgis motorcycle rally, intent on grabbing market share from a demographic long dominated by Harley-Davidson and Indian classics.
This year, the motorsports company has had a major presence at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip, trucking in 36 bikes covering its Heritage, Urban Mobility, Touring and Adventure categories, the latter its best-selling segment.
But the K 1600 B, along with its GTL and GT companions, are in a league of their own. Sporting a 1600 cc six-cylinder inline engine that delivers 160 horsepower, enough to get riders up any incline in the Black Hills with ease, they are the epitome of pure motorcycling pleasure.
The company will continue to offer demo rides from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through today at the Buffalo Chip, and the new model is expected to show up at BMW dealerships, including Sturgis Motorsports, sometime next month.
With a manufacturer’s suggested retail price ranging from $19,900 to $24,000, depending on options and features, the bikes also are competitively priced. And those features are what make these models so cool — heated seats and handgrips, an electronically adjustable windscreen with memory, GPS, Bluetooth, a USB charger, satellite radio, an adaptive headlight that turns as you turn, reverse, and Gear Shift Assist Pro, a fancy function that allows riders to change gears without ever touching the clutch.
“You get spoiled really fast on this motorcycle,” said Jim Dusky, BMW’s event manager. “BMW basically cheats — we give you traction control, ABS brakes, and dynamic electric adjustable suspension which, by changing modes, adjusts the suspension, brakes and throttle-response, all electronically. This bike senses the driving conditions and how you actually drive, then compensates for that.”
Aimed at the V-Twin bagger touring cycle market and bike enthusiasts who want plenty of horsepower, Dusky said the response to the new BMW had been overwhelmingly positive in Sturgis.
“Most of those coming in for demo rides have been a multi-brand customer, having previously owned Hondas and Harleys,” he said. “But true Harley traditionalists, who are reluctant to step into this footprint, have had a 'holy cow' reaction, saying they didn’t think they could put all of that on a motorcycle. When they ride it, they’re super-impressed. They don’t want to get off the bike, and we say, 'You have to give that back now.’”
My experience was equally enticing. In fact, Heidi performed so admirably on our first date, I’m going to visit my banker next week to see if we can afford to get engaged.