BMW has been tantalizing us with the release of the 2021 BMW R 18 cruiser (or the “Big Boxer”, as it’s known) for a while now. But after a year of waiting, it’s finally been unveiled. And it’s a beauty. With its purist, old-school looks and classic geometry, it taps into the retro market in a way BMW’s never managed before. But this machine is about more than just good looks… with the biggest engine BMW’s ever fitted to a bike, superb adaptability, and contemporary technology, it offers the height of riding pleasure. Keep reading to find out more.
1. The engine is a beast
If you’ve seen the pictures, you’re no doubt aware the R 18’s engine is big. If you haven’t, then let me tell you – it’s big. Some might even say huge. In fact, it’s the biggest boxer-twin engine BMW has made in all its 97 years, operating at 91 hp at 4,750 rpm and 116 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. The torque wave produced by the engine, meanwhile, is, as motorcycle.com notes, capable of keeping even the most demanding cruiser fan happy with over 110 lb-ft available from 2,000-4,000 rpm.
2. It’s tapping into the retro market
With the R 18, there’s little doubting that Beemer is trying to tap into the retro market. The old school style is obvious from the moment you set eyes on the cruiser, thanks in no small part to its low key, clean-cut, unpretentious swagger. The blackout treatment on the rims and hubs, the cyclops headlight, and the big, laced wheels help complete the throwback feel. If you really want to keep the illusion going, you’ve even got the option of replacing the textured solo seat with an old-school solo saddle.
3. The price tag is almost as big as the engine
BMW is putting a lot of marketing clout behind its new Boxer, and there’s a reason. At $17,495 for the base model, even the most devout Beemer fan might raise an eyebrow at the expense. And that’s not even to mention the $19,870 a First Edition model will set you back…. although with its Blackstorm Metallic sheet metal, its elaborate Light white pinstriping and its serious amount of bling, it’s as gorgeous as it is expensive.
4. The First Edition model is chrome-tastic
The R 18 comes in several different options. Customers willing to fork out for some extra special finishing touches might want to look past the base model and consider the First Edition instead. Stylish, unique, and limited to the first year of the bike’s production only, it combines the classic good looks of the base model with some very blingtastic little touches, including Black Storm Metallic paintwork with double pinstriping in Light White, and several very handsome chrome accents (including a “First Edition” chrome clasp on the side cover). To top it off, each new owner will receive an exclusive “Welcome Box” … we won’t spoil the surprise by revealing what’s inside, but if you’re a Beemer enthusiast, you won’t be disappointed.
5. It holds up well to the competition
When a new bike (or anything else, for that matter) comes onto the market, comparisons are inevitably going to be drawn between it and its closest competitors. In this case, the clearest competitor to the R 18 is, as topspeed.com rightly notes, the Harley- Davidson Low Rider S. So, how does it stack up? Very well, by all accounts. While the Low Rider S might be the more agile of the two, the superior traction control and drag-torque mitigation of the R 18 is hard to beat.
6. It’s got its roots in the past
The R 18 might be BMW’s shiny new centerpiece, but it’s roots are embedded firmly in the past. As Roadracing World and Motorcycle Technology notes, both the style and technology of the Boxer have been created entirely in the tradition of Beemer’s old-school motorbikes, with an emphasis on clean, purist aesthetics, functional, no-frills technology, and, at the center of it all, an engine that’ll ensure the maximum amount of riding pleasure.
7. It’s the most conversion-friendly bike on the market
Some people will be attracted to the purist, retro look of the R 18. Other’s will want a piece of that big old engine. Others still will fall in love with just how conversion-friendly the design is. With a simple-to-remove rear frame, an easy-to-dismantle painted part set, the possibility to install higher or lower handlebars, and easily adaptable belt and valve covers, the bike is unquestionably one of the most conversion-friendly on the market.
8. It’s not all BMW’s work
To give the R 18 an extra special edge, BMW has collaborated with some iconic brands for its accessorizes. The handmade seats (available in a choice of black or brown, and with or without backrests) are given added flair thanks to Mustang’s input; the exhaust systems (available in either chrome or with a scratch-resistant black ceramic coating) have Vance Hines to thank for their creativity, while Roland Sands Design has played a hand in the two different collections of milled aluminum parts.
9. It’s got three riding modes
As ultimatemotorcycling.com reports, the R 18 comes with three riding modes with additional electronic aids. Titled “Rain”, “Roll” and “Rock”, the modes are adaptable to user preference, giving the rider greater control over riding pleasure and safety.
10. The spec is impressive
Like what you’ve seen but need a little more detail on the spec? I don’t blame you – after all, if you’re going to fork out almost 20 big ones on a bike, it pays to spend a little time milling over the small print. Without further ado, here it is: Frame: Double-loop steel tube frame. Front Suspension/ Travel: Telescopic fork, fork tube Ø 49 mm/ 4.7”. Rear Suspension /Travel: Steel swingarm with central shock strut / 3.5”. Rake: 32.7°. Trail: 5.9“. Wheels: Spoke wheels. Wheel, front: 3.5″ x 19″. Wheel, rear: 5.0″ x 16″. Tire, front: 120/70 R 19. Tire, rear: 180/65 B16. Brakes, front: Twin disc brake Ø 300 mm. Brakes, rear: Single disc brake Ø 300 mm. ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral).