Anatomy of a Bike Purchase

So, about the actual purchase of the Nightowl (my new 2015 BMW K1600GTL). Well, this is a long story of research and negotiations that went on for several weeks.

Getting Informed

Having been an owner of nothing but Harley-Davidson motorcycles for the last 22 years, I needed to educate myself of any idiosyncrasies of BMW motorcycle ownership. Luckily, my friends Chuck and Jinks were both long-time BMW owners and had logged plenty of miles on their respective Teutonic-engineered rides.

The other valuable effort was to join the K1600 Forum. This forum was a wealth of information on the bikes, sources for accessories, how-to procedures for maintenance, etc.

Side Note: Since I purchased the Nightowl, I’ve been working hard on accessorizing it for my specific needs. Here again, the forum has been a valuable resource on and even connected me to specific forum members who manufacture specific accessories for the bikes. But that, is a story befitting another post…

Settling on a Year and Model

After much deliberation, I settled on a 2015 model. I was not fearful of buying a used bike, and there were a surprisingly large number of two- or three-year-old bikes on the market with low (<3000) miles. It’s as if there’s a preponderance of affluent middle-aged folks who attempt to resolve their mid-life crisis by buying this specific flagship model of touring motorcycle, only to dump it one or two year later after barely riding it. That’s my theory, anyway.

After further research on model year differences, the two things that directed me to a 2015 bike were the keyless ignition, and ESM software upgrade (that didn’t retrofit to previous years) and (I hate to admit it) color.

What can I say: My name is Ghost and I like a black bike.

I’ll be damed if BMW makes any/many models in black. Sure, you can get a dark graphite or blue-gray, but not a basic black. Lucky for me, the 2015s are available in Dark Storm Metallic, which is BMW marketing speak for black (or vivid black to you former H-D owners).

Finding the Supply for My Demand

The first challenge was finding one. The two dealers in the Detroit area didn’t have the bike I wanted, so that meant searching farther afield.

There was a perfectly viable model offered on the K1600 Forum, but that was back in September when my research on this purchase was still young; it sold before I found the balls to act. I had no compunctions about buying a bike on the other side of the country, so I cast a wide net and performed daily monitoring of the following resources:

  • The K1600 Forum’s classifieds
  • Search Tempest (nationwide Craigslist searches)
  • Cycletrader
  • eBay

Most of the candidate bikes I found were at dealers and they were spread across the country: New Hampshire, Florida, Texas, California, Washington, and Wisconsin (but not in my home state of Michigan, naturally). After several phone calls, I started serious negotiations with Schlossman Motorcycles of Milwaukee, WI. They had a number or 2015s in stock and were motivated to deal. They had a total of four black GTLs; three new models and one demo. That brought about the next conflict point…

Buying New versus Demo

It was the time of the year for dealers to start going beyond factory incentives to discount the 2015 models to make room for the crates of 2016s starting to pile up on the loading dock.

So I negotiated a respectable price for a brand new virtually unridden 2015 K1600GTL in dark storm metallic (black) with everything but the exorbitantly priced Navigation unit. The price might not be quite down as far as I wanted, but it’s very likely at the edge of profitability for the dealer so I’m feeling OK about that.

Then the dealer says, “I still have our 2015 GTL demo”.

“Oh?” says I.

The demo is the same color and option packages, but with ~1700 miles on the clock. It’s had it’s 600 mile service and is still wearing the original tires.

The difference in price is $1,475.

Given the nature of the motor and the complexities of the electronics, I was asking myself, “Do I care about 1700 demo miles on a bike?” I’m wasn’t sure.

Some motors are more sensitive to break-in than others. Given that engine stresses for the GTL are spread over six water-cooled cylinders, I was inclined to think that this motor wouldn’t suffer much from the overly enthusiastic riding of a few prospective buyers. Still, BMW continues to publish break-in guidelines and if I bought the new bike, I’d follow them even if I think it’s a bit of overkill. (That’s just me being me.)

It was good news that the 600 miles service was out of the way. The bad news was that my first tire change would be 1700 miles sooner in my future. My thinking was that these two factors cancelled each other out.

After careful consideration, weighing the pros and cons of the demo bike and posting on the K1600 Forum for input, I elected to buy the demo.

The Final Gory Details

I was able to wrangle a pretty good deal on the demo model with 1670 miles and the extended demo factory warranty (42 months starting in June 2015 / 36k miles). At the end of the bargaining, I scored a $5,400+ discount (20%) off MSRP, a 20% discount off of a few factory accessories, and a two-year extended warranty at dealer cost.

Here’s my best effort to distill my final deal down to the basic facts:

  • 2015 K1600GTL factory demo. BMW tends to load up the bikes with factory options (premium package) but will put a few on the floor in raw form. My demo was one of the loaded models, which tended to include the following packages:
    • Premium Package
      • Adaptive headlight
      • Bluetooth interface
      • Keyless ride
      • GPS prep
      • ESA II (Electronic suspension)
      • Central locking
      • LED auxiliary lights
      • Tire pressure monitoring
    • Safety Plus Package
      • Hill start control
      • (other items already in premium package)
    • MSRP $27,365
      • Extra costs in MSRP:
        • Destination – $495
        • Documentation – $195 (I got the dealer to assume this cost)
        • Setup – $295 (I got dealer to assume this cost)
      • 1,690 miles on the odometer at pickup
      • 600-mile service already performed
      • Still running original tires
      • Bike put into service on 6/11/2015, which started the clock on the factory warranty. BMW factory demos automatically get an additional six months added to the 3-year/36K-mile warranty. Prospective BMW motorcycle buyers need to have the dealer check the put-in-service date on your candidate bike and make sure that it’s less than six months ago (in which case, you’re getting a few months of extra warranty for free). If the put-in-service date is more than six months ago, they’ve already consumed the extra warranty and started to eat into your normal three years of warranty; I would have made sure that they drop the price a bit for that.
      • At the time I bought the bike, there was a $1,600 BMW factory incentive, which had just dropped $150 from $1,750. BMW Motorcycle Promotions change every month. For example, a deal for a bike on 12/31 may have more/less wiggle room for the dealer than a deal on 1/1. My dealer was willing to match the $1750 incentive and when it dropped to $1600, they agreed to still match at the $1750 value.
      • Actual sale price: $21,950
      • I also got the dealer to give me a 20% discount on any BMW accessories that I wanted on the bike. Prices below reflect this discount:
        • LED top case tail light $153.56
        • iPhone adapter with lightning connector $76.80
        • Ground lighting kit $109 (I’ll install it, but the dealer must code the bike for the option so it shows up in the menu system; that was another half-hour of labor or $45. I got this option because of all the camping I do — it’s nice to see where you’re setting down your side stand when parking in a pitch black campsite.
        • Ilium engine guard $375 and highway pegs $259 (aftermarket parts, not discounted). Note that the Ilium engine guard is much nicer than the factory BMW unit, which is why I was willing to buy non-discounted engine guard and highway pegs. The Ilium equipment, in general, is very nice.)
      • 2-year RPM One extended warranty $350 (I was able to get the dealer to give this to me at dealer cost). This effectively extends the factory warranty from three to five years.
      • When I flew into Milwaukee to pick up the bike, my salesman picked me up at the airport and drove me to the dealer.
      • Oh, and I made sure the dealership gave me a free dealer t-shirt.
      • Finally, if you’re getting a 15-20% discount off MSRP, the financed amount will be significantly lower than the value of the bike. Check your insurance to see if it will simply cover the financed amount or the actual market value. My policy with Progressive didn’t do this by default, though I could add it for a few hundred bucks per year. Instead, I elected to purchase gap insurance on the financed note, which does the same thing but is handled through the credit union instead of the insurance company. This was a one-time cost instead of an annual cost, which made it a better deal.

The sale price of $21,950 is about 20% off MSRP, which is close to if not below dealer cost. I don’t think they made much money on this deal.

After I Get Home

Since the purchase, I’ve struck up a relationship with BMW Motorcycles of SE Michigan (in Plymouth) as my local dealer. I’ll be doing my own maintenance, but they’ll be the ones to supply factory parts and do the odd computer coding that I can’t do with a 911GS Wifi module.

Posted from Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States.

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