2020 BMW R 18 Revealed

Production motorcycles don’t always end up looking like the concepts that inspired them, or do justice to the classics they are meant to honour. The R 18 models we’ll actually able to buy when they arrive in Canadian dealerships come Q3 (pending slowdowns caused by the Coronavirus pandemic) actually hold true to the retro-inspired R 18 Concept that was unveiled at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este event in May 2019.

BMW Motorrad took to Facebook and YouTube to unveil the production cruiser today. Speaking about classic DNA meeting modern design, the R 18 pays obvious homage to the BMW R 5 in both name and likeness as well. Following the same purist design mantra, it also features a double-loop frame, the classic pinstriped pear-shaped fuel tank, narrow, elongated exhaust pipes, and exposed driveshaft. LED lighting, adaptive turn signals and the circular instrument housing featuring the words “Berlin Built” are indeed modern, but in keeping with the original design aesthetic from 1936.

Pricing will start at $20,895 for the base model, but the initial shipment of R 18’s will be “First Edition” models offered at an MSRP of $23,745. That extra $2,850 gets you white pinstripes, some chrome and an exclusive “First Edition” badge on the side covers and seat. Yes, $2,850. No word yet on how many special editions will make their way to Canadian shores.


Housing the largest boxer engine to be used in a production motorcycle to date, the 1802 cc two-cylinder is said to produce 91hp. Suspension components are said to be deliberately simple, foregoing any adaptive technology. The 49 mm front telescopic forks offer 120 mm of travel while the central cantilever strut with damping and adjustable spring preload features 90 mm of travel. Braking consists of a dual-discs up front with four-piston fixed calipers and a single in the rear.

Riding Modes

Featuring Keyless Ride, the R 18 also offers three riding modes: Rain, Roll and curiously, Rock. Standard trim also features ASC (Automatic Stability Control), Hill Start Control, optional reverse assist, and a function called engine drag torque control which prevents wheel spin when downshifting.

Customization Options

Said to be very friendly for customization, the rear frame is easy to remove and attachment points for brake, clutch and cable harnesses were made with the expectation that handlebars could be swapped. Although I can’t imagine the mid-mounted controls being well suited to the ape hanger handlebars shown in the media materials. Given the size and placement of the heads, forward controls simply aren’t an option. As expected, a wide variety of BMW Motorrad accessories will be available. Additional collaborations with Roland Sands Design, Mustang Seat, and Vance & Hines offer additional opportunity for individualization.


  1. It’s nicely decluttered homage to BMW motorcycles, versus the cluttered plastic assembly of their “contemporary” SUV’s.

  2. I ride a 2014 Indian Chief Vintage (purchased new in 2014), just that statement announces that I have a basic attraction to the nostalgic look of a motorcycle with a desire to have a bike that’s nostalgic on the outside but modern on the inside, tested to ensure trouble free riding – I have over 50,000 kms on the Vintage to date with nothing but regular maintenance and tires required. The BMW R18 obviously panders to those enamored with nostalgia to a certain extent, as well as those riders looking to have a motorcycle from a historic motorcycle company which is reliable and easy to ride. Personally, I can’t wait to test ride this bike and view the accessories – I’m hoping for some of the same qualities as the Indian which can be quite simply dressed up for touring (without all the bells and whistles), but with minimal effort can also be stripped of windshield, passenger seat and saddle bags for simple local rides. From an aesthetic point of view BMW has hit the mark in my opinion visually, as is always the case the actual test ride and accessories review will confirm (or not) if I need to make another spot in the garage.

  3. My father has been drooling over this motorbike for several months. He’s 80 this year.
    It is a cool looking machine, but not my cup of tea – I’ve been drooling over the new T7 from Yamaha.

    Dustin – you need to clean up that first paragraph mate, it’s really hard to read.

  4. Why so much hate? How such a gorgeously designed piece of motorcycle engineered sees zero appreciation here makes me question the validity of much of these comments. Boredom certainly seems to fuel hateful commentary.

    • I agree it’s not enough to dislike a motorcycle that’s not your choice, some folks just have to denounce it as if their opinion was of divinity. The 1800 is gorgeous, it exemplifies MOTORcycle. Big cube Harley Davidson or Indian’s are there for the same reason, rolling opulence, a artistic statement in metal.

      Any motorcycle segment can be criticized. But that’s low hanging fruit.

  5. Given that the cruiser market is in decline, according to my dealership, let alone Harley’s woes, why bother bringing this out? If they made a Rocket 3 or Diaval clone, then it might make sense. Yes, I know they are termed power cruisers but they don’t have that chopperish look about them.

  6. Rain, roll and rock…really? But I like it, it’s doing it’s own thing, Love the exposed shaft. And that price beats its competition (which I’d guess are Fatboys and the like). But 760lbs at the curb – who ever thought a BMW cruiser would be heavier than a comparable Harley. Still, can’t wait to ride it, but the new Rocket 3 has more of my attention.

    • Well, they took a chance years ago on the R nine T and it apparently has sold so well they came out with all those variants. Then again, BMW’s R1200C cruiser didn’t last all that long.

  7. With all that electro-gadgetry that BMW is so enamoured with,I think they forget a crucial function. With the
    driveshaft and U-joint exposed BMW missed the mark not having a grit & gravel detector to on-line schedule
    a very real and necessary service and credit check appointment for renewing and repairing the driveshaft.

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