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.
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.
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.