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BMW R 18 Unveiled, No NZ Release Yet

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

BMW Motorrad has unveiled its long-awaited return into the cruiser segment with the new R 18, but thanks to world events there is currently no word on when we’ll likely see it here.

With the global Covid-19 Pandemic still raging around the world, BMW Motorrad’s New Zealand distributor Europe Imports has told On Throttle the R 18 is destined for our shores, but they cannot say exactly when.

Europe Imports General Manager, Nick Lewis, told us the same can be said for pricing.

“Due to what’s happening in the world I can’t update pricing or arrival times yet, I don’t expect we will know for a few months," he said.

Disappointing news for fans of BMW’s big boxer engines for sure, with the R 18 featuring the most powerful example of BMW’s opposed-twin cylinder engine to date.

Dubbed the “Big Boxer”, BMW claims the R 18’s 1802cc heart is 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 R 5, with exposed shaft final drive and classic black and chrome accents. The twin exhausts stand out not on,y for its immense size and attempt to follow the aesthetic of the once-popular fishtail pipes.

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 for a 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 allows a high degree of freedom for conversion of 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.

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 from a motorcycle. Whether they have created a bike worthy of capable of pulling the rug out from under the Americans will depend on the yet to be released NZ pricing and whether Kiwi buyers are in a position to fork out on a premium cruiser once we are out of lockdown.


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