It’s been a long time coming, and we finally have a cash price Kiwis will have to put down if they want to get their hands on BMW’s all-new cruiser - the R 18.
The R 18 is set to arrive in dealerships this month with pricing starting at $43,990 for the high-spec First Edition model, with the recently announced R 18 Classic due early next year with pricing yet to be set.
The First Edition R 18 comes fully loaded with extras from BMW's extensive parts catalogue including an exclusive look in signature double pinstriping paint and chrome, adaptive headlight with a built-in daytime running light, passenger accommodation, heated grips and a very useful reverse gear.
That firmly places the First Edition of the bike at the premium end of the market up against the popular American manufacturers Indian Motorcycle and Harley-Davidson.
Powered by the largest mass-production boxer engine BMW Motorrad has ever produced (dubbed the “Big Boxer” by BMW) the R 18’s 1802cc heart is also the most powerful 2-cylinder boxer engine ever used in a production motorcycle. Power output is a respectable 91hp at 4750rpm, with over 150Nm of torque available between 2,000 to 4,000rpm.
All that grunt means the 345kg R 18 can hustle from 0-100kph in just 4.8 seconds, with top speed claimed as 180kph.
Backing the engine’s performance is a comprehensive electronics suite. BMW has gone a slightly different direction from the norm when it comes to naming the three standard riding modes. Those modes are the self-explanatory “Rain” mode, followed by “Roll” as the standard mode and “Rock” as, you guessed it, the most aggressive.
The standard trim also includes Automatic Stability Control, which BMW has ensured is able to be switched off, ensuring a high level of riding safety or the ability to burn the 180 section rear tyre at will with the immense torque on tap. In addition, the new R 18 is equipped as standard with engine drag torque control (MSR). Among other options, a reverse assist makes manoeuvring convenient, while the Hill Start Control function facilitates uphill starts.
Keeping with the classic theme of the overall bike, BMW has opted for a circular analogue dash unit with inlaid LCD display. However, in terms of lighting the R 18 has been bestowed with a full suite of LED lighting.
Thankfully for all involved, BMW has opted to not make the same mistake as the infamous R 1200 C and has left the telelever suspension for the R 1250 GS. That means out front are 49mm fork tubes which are matched by a cantilever shock system in the rear.
Stylistically the R 18 takes its cues from the 1936 BMW R 5, with exposed shaft final drive and classic black and chrome accents.
If the classic style doesn’t quite float your boat, BMW has also ensured there are plenty of customising options for the R 18, an expected and critical trait for any bike going up against the big guns from the USA.
With customisation a consideration from the beginning of the design process, BMW fitted the R 18 with an easily removable rear frame and a simple-to-dismantle painted part set. This gives owners a high degree of freedom for converting the rear end of the new R 18 to suit personal preferences with comparatively little effort and change the paint finish in line with personal taste.
We've seen two vastly different custom versions of the R 18 break cover already, including a drag racing version from iconic US-based customiser Roland Sands that really shows off the power of the all-new engine in its rawest form.
The same thought has gone into the connections for the hydraulic lines of the brake and clutch as well as the cable harness to allow for an entirely problem-free installation of higher or lower handlebars in conjunction with longer or shorter hydraulic lines and cable harnesses.
It seems BMW Motorrad has really thought out what the large capacity cruiser owner wants and with a price under $44,000 for the fully kitted out First Edition the German offering is priced firmly between Indian Motorcycle's 1800cc models and Harley-Davidson's popular touring models and flashy CVO lineup.