BMW Gets The Cruiser Right, Finally, With The New R 18
BMW Motorrad has dipped its toe into the cruiser market in the past, but the ugly R1200C from the late 1990s has got nothing on the German brand’s latest effort, the retro-inspired R 18.
BMW finally got the styling right for the market. The R 18 is a pure throwback in looks, harkening back to the R 5 of the 1930s. A cleverly designed double-loop steel tube frame and rear, double-sided swingarm with enclosed axle drive gives it the look of a rigid frame bike, yet it still benefits from cantilever rear suspension, while the front fork suspension features old-timey sleeves around the tubes. A pear-shaped tank and wire wheels complete the retro look.
While it may look old, it does have modern features; the throttle-by-wire has three modes: ‘Rain’, ‘Roll’ and ‘Rock’, while even the base bike comes with LED lighting, automatic stability control and engine drag torque control; options include reverse assist (using the starter motor to reverse the bike) and hill start control.
Power comes from the largest boxer twins BMW has ever designed. The 1,802cc mill has just 91hp, but a good amount of torque with more than 110lb ft available from 2,000rpm to 4,000rpm. It’s also a central focus of style, with large panels slathered in chrome to go along with the flowing exhaust pipes.
BMW designed the R 18 to be highly customizable, with pieces such as the rear swingarm, valve covers and a seat that can be easily replaced with BMW or aftermarket pieces. We’ll personally take it as is here, with the First Edition black with white pinstriping.
Regardless of how riders will or won’t customize the R 18, it’s a far better cruiser than BMW has ever made and a more-than-worthy rival to Harley-Davidson.
*Images courtesy of BMW Group