BMW unveils the R 18 cruiser
BMW unveils the R 18 cruiser|BMW R18
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BMW unveils the R 18 cruiser

The BMW R 18 borrows from traditional BMW motorcycles like the R 5, focussing on the essentials: purist, no-frills tech and the brand’s trademark ‘boxer’ engine

Sudipto Chaudhury

With the new R 18, BMW Motorrad now enters the cruiser segment. Like no other BMW motorcycle before it, this model stands entirely in the tradition of historical BMW motorcycles – both technically and in terms of design style. The classic design is combined in the R 18 with clear-cut yet contemporary technology to create a fascinating overall concept – centered around that big, big engine!

BMW R 18 and R 5 facing
BMW R 18 and R 5 side to side
BMW R 18 and R 5

The most powerful BMW boxer engine yet

The centrepiece of the new BMWR 18 is a newly developed 2-cylinder boxer engine – the ‘Big Boxer,’ Inspired by the traditional air-cooled boxer engines from when BMW Motorrad began production in 1923. The most powerful 2-cylinder boxer engine ever used in motorcycle series production has a displacement of 1 802 cc, and makes 90bhp at 4750 rpm, with 158 Nm of torque from 2000 to 4000 rpm.

BMW R 18  engine design
BMW R 18  engine

A frame worthy of that gorgeous engine

Remember the Revival Birdcage concept from many moons ago? Well, discerning bikers knew the concept had something to do with the brand itself, and now they’ve been proven right! At first glance, the double-loop steel tube frame and rear swingarm with enclosed axle drive give the R 18 a rigid-frame look. A meticulous attention to detail is also evident in unapparent features such as the welded joints between the steel tubes and the cast or forged parts. Like the legendary BMW R 5, the rear swingarm – sporting a comparable design – surrounds the rear axle transmission in authentic style by means of bolted connections.

BMW R 18  design
BMW R 18 design frame

Traditional cycle parts

The suspension elements of the new BMW R 18 deliberately dispense with electronic adjustment options. Instead, a telescopic fork with fork sleeves (again inspired by the legendary BMW R 5) and a directly mounted cantilever central suspension strut with travel-dependent damping and adjustable spring preload ensure superior wheel control and attractive suspension comfort. The fork tube diameter is 49 mm, while the suspension travel is 120 mm at the front and 90 mm at the rear.

Braking duties are handled by a twin disc brake setup at the front and a single disc brake at the rear in conjunction with four-piston fixed callipers. Meanwhile the wire-spoked wheels ensure a supremely stylish appearance.

With regards to ergos, the new BMW R 18 features a laid-back positioning of the footrests, the so-called mid-mounted footpegs, located behind the cylinders, which enables a relaxed yet active riding position for optimum vehicle control.

BMW R 18  head on
BMW R 18  right profile
BMW R 18 left profile

Electronic suite

The R 18 features three standard riding modes: Rain, Roll and Rock. The standard trim also includes ASC (Automatic Stability Control, switchable), along with MSR (Motor Slip Regulation or engine drag torque control). Also on offer is reverse assist, makes manoeuvring convenient, and Hill Start Control for easy uphill starts.

BMW R 18 cluster
BMW R 18 cluster

Traditional visual choices

Besides the functional bits, there are also many tasteful aesthetic choices, like the pear-drop tank, the open-running driveshaft and the pinstriped paintwork (all standard options), reminiscent of the legendary boxer dating back to 1936. The new R 18 will be offered worldwide as an exclusive R 18 First Edition right from launch, with a standard model reserved additionally for certain markets. It combines the R 18 look with exclusive equipment features in a classic black finish with white pinstriped paintwork. Other highlights include numerous chrome surfaces, a seat badge and a “First Edition” chrome clasp on the side covers.

Customising potential

The new R 18 offers a highly conversion-friendly design, and as a result is equipped with an easily removable rear frame and a simple-to-dismantle painted part set. Likewise, the hydraulic lines of the brake, clutch and cable harness likewise allow easy installation of higher or lower handlebars in conjunction with matching hydraulic lines and cable harnesses. Additionally, the visible valve covers (cylinder head covers), and the belt cover (engine housing cover) are designed such that they are located outside the oil chamber, making them very easy to change.

And, BMW Motorrad offers multiple options to adapt the R 18 to personal taste and preferences. For the market launch of the new R 18, two different design collections of milled aluminium parts are available, created in collaboration with Roland Sands Design: “Machined” and “Two-Tone-Black”, US manufacturer Mustang Seat is also on call, to offer different versions of high-quality hand-made seats, and for the exhaust systems, BMW has tied up with Vance & Hines.

BMW R 18  custom exhaust
BMW R 18  custom indicator
BMW R 18  custom seat
BMW R 18 custom bars
BMW R 18 custom wheels

Indian innings

Considering the thought process behind the BMW R 18, the brand will position it in its Indian lineup as a ‘Heritage’ offering, sharing its space with the R nineT (Rs 17.8 lakh, ex-showroom) and R nineT Scrambler (Rs 15.55 lakh, ex-showroom). But we cannot simply peg a premium on these and guess the sticker price of the R 18, nor can we directly convert the prices from overseas, as we have a host of duties and taxes to bear. Nevertheless, for a machine as simply beautiful as the R 18, we’d let heart rule over head!

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