BMW R 18 – the bobber-style cruiser is now a marvellous reality, as the marque sets a release date for its beautiful, brawny boxer-twin. It seems the cruiser market is about to see a shake-up.
BMW R 18 Concept to Production
Launch of the new R 18 will greatly please riders worldwide, who've eagerly awaited this launch for a number of years. A limited run of the R18 First Edition will be released initially, featuring finishing touches aimed at collectors. However, in some markets, only the standard model will see release.
Regardless, it's been over four years since BMW Motorrad first showed the world the R 5 Hommage concept, built by Unique Custom Cycles. Taking the classic R 5 model as the basis of design, it's there that the journey began.
More recently, BMW dealers at their discretion have been taking deposits from customers – who no-doubt were stirred by the first R 18 concept revealed in 2018 and later the R 18 /2 derivative shown in 2019.
Since then, the engine's been given to number of top wrenchers – with which to tinker. Notably, Revival Cycles and Custom Works Zon.
Yet, the German marque was teasingly tight-lipped about whether the R18 would ever actually see a production line. Certain signals however, strongly suggested otherwise.
The R18 concept bike and its derivatives did the well-trodden rounds, appearing at various prominent bike shows including Concorso d'Eleganza and the CUSTOMBIKE Show.
On each occasion the reception was one of only excitement and anticipation for the model.
More recently this year, a non-branded bagger version with a dresser-style fairing (more popular in the States) was spied on a road-test.
So BMW's production intent was clear despite the guarded approach. Equally, an apparent eagerness to take on Harley-Davidson and Indian in their own backyard.
On top of all that, a steady stream of R 18 images and video have popped-up on BMW's various social media channels, particularly in the last few weeks, further heightening expectation.
Nonetheless, it came as surprise on 3rd April when BMW announced a live premiere for the model would happen the following day. And sure enough a day later official confirmation came – the R 18 will indeed join BMW's Heritage ranks.
Without question, the R 18 is a big bike, both physically and in proposition. The proposition is a bike that's been designed to capture North American rider's hearts. (primarily USA).
It should be noted, this isn't the first cruiser that the brand's built in this vein. The ill-fated R 1200C, (in production from 1997 to 2004) was designed to do just that. It didn't go particularly well. On the other hand the inline-six, K 1600 B bagger has seen solid sales since its launch.
So it's with that air of confidence that the launch of this muscle cruiser comes. And, it looks as though Beamer has nailed it. Looks-wise, certainly.
BMW R 18 Features
1802cc – BIG Boxer Twin
Dominating the design is the enormous 1802cc two-cylinder, air and oil-cooled, boxer engine which is secured to a flawless, double-loop, steel tubed frame. It's the largest boxer-twin that marque has ever produced. Bold, beautiful and powerful too.
BMW reports peak output at 67 kW (91 hp) at 4 750 rpm with an impressive 158 Nm of torque available between 2,000 and 4000 RPM. A 6-speed gearbox sends power to the rear wheel which is driven via an exposed shaft. A nod to the classic R 5 model.
BMW assures us, that all this is accompanied by a “..resonant sound“.
R18 Hardtail Disguise
Cantilever suspension, cleverly bolted to the frame gives the rear a clean, hardtail bobber aesthetic, with 90mm of travel. At the front, 49mm telescopic forks are found, wrapped in fork-sleeves and offer 120mm of travel.
The front 16″ wire-spoked, cast-iron wheel is paired with twin disc brakes. Its counterpart at the rear (19″) gets a single, with a four-piston fixed calliper. In a break with current BMW convention but in reconnection with heritage, the rear is slotted between a double-sided swingarm. Even with the disc-brake, it's another wink to the R 5.
Just the Essential Tech
BMW has deliberately kept technology to the essential, modern minimum. Instead, it's put “…focus back onto the motorcycle essentials: purist, no-frills technology…”
To that end, the suspension comes sans electronic adjustment options and of course the engine is air and oil-cooled. And while the R 18 may be pure in that sense it offers a number of modern comfort and safety features.
For a safer riding experience, ASC (Automatic Stability Control) is fitted to all models. Three riding modes; Rain, Roll and Rock come as standard – along with optional Reverse Assist which should help in manoeuvring this behemoth.
Unsurprisingly for a cruiser, it‘s heavy, weighing in at 345kg [wet]. Undoubtedly, the 1802cc boxer-twin is responsible for a sizeable share of this weight.
Hill Start Control and Keyless Start are additional convenient perks.
R 18 Classic Cruiser Styling
The new R 18 retains many of the Art-deco characteristics from the original 1936 R 5. That comprises of a similar rake angle, pear/tear-drop shaped, 16-litre fuel tank. For the First Edition version, the tank is iconically styled with white pinstripe. The similarities continue with the swept-back handlebars and leather saddle, seat option.
BMW calls the black paint scheme Blackstorm. And, on the First Edition it's accented by numerous chrome components – including a seat badge and First Edition chrome clasp on the side covers.
A classic cruiser riding position is evident in the R 18. However, the pegs are characteristically (for BMW) located behind the massive cylinder heads [mid-mounted]. This, combined with the low seat height makes the bike laid-back, yet assertive.
Additionally, metal features heavily across the bodywork of the R 18, further enhancing its neo-classic credentials.
As is the case with all neo-retro bike launches the notion of customisation is omnipresent. The R 18 follows suit with an impressive calibre of [partner] aftermarket specialists and special consideration in design for customisers.
Importantly, frame and component design keep customisers firmly in mind. The brand describes the R 18 as “conversion friendly”.
This means an easily removable rear frame and “simple-to-dismantle” painted parts. Equally, attachment points for the hydraulic brake lines and clutch cables are placed intelligently, to allow for the swapping-out of higher and lower handlebars.
Additionally, cylinder head covers and the engine case are located outside the oil chamber which is an added bonus if the urge to change the covers strikes.
BMW R18 Price & Availability
Showroom floors are expecting to see the R 18 towards the end of 2020.
The First Edition price will start at £18,995 / $19,870 [US] with base pricing for the standard R18 is set at $17,495 [US]. However, the standard model is not yet confirmed for the UK.
BMW R18 specifications at a glance:
Engine – 1,802 cc (110.0 cu in) two-cylinder boxer
Bore / stroke 107.1 mm × 100 mm (4.22 in × 3.94 in)
Power – 90 hp (67 kW) @ 4,750 rpm
Torque – 158 N⋅m (117 lbf⋅ft) @ 3,000 rpm
Brakes – Dual disc front, single disc rear (ABS)
Wheelbase – 1,731 mm (68.1 in)
Dimensions – L: 2,440 mm (96 in) W: 964 mm (38.0 in) H: 1,232 mm (48.5 in)