BMW Bagger: The R18 Heavy Duty Custom

BMW R18 Heavy Duty. Credit: BMW

BMW continues to push its R18 as a custom platform, with this new low-riding bagger from Euro builder Fred Kodlin and his son Fred. This machine was built to display at Daytona Bike Week (where BMW naturally reckons it would find a lot of potential R18 buyers), and it comprises considerable modification of not just the bodywork, but also the chassis.

However, the engine itself appears to be unmodified. This is often the case with R18 customs, as regulation-heavy Europe might frown on tweaks that change the bike’s emissions profile. The exhaust is custom-made, but it’s for looks, not performance.

Credit: BMW

First, the chassis. Kodlin gave the bike an air suspension, stuffing the compressor behind the left side case. Along with providing comfort, this lets the rider air down the system for parking; the bike actually rests on support points when the air’s let out, easy to hop aboard. And of course, to some riders, it looks cool, and that’s all they really care about anyway.

Credit: BMW

Then you get the re-styled bodywork. The gas tank was custom-built for this machine, with the phone charger carried over from the stock bike. Kodlin also built a new front fender out of sheet metal and created a new rear fender out of two stock R18 fenders put together. The father-son build team hid a set of Marshall speakers and an amp behind the sidecovers. They made a set of winglets (with no practical function) to sit over the engine, added some underglow lighting, and also put together a custom seat and a synthetic leather cover for the instruments.

Kodlin also custom-built those sidebags for this machine, and reshaped the windshield for a distinctive look. The paint job came courtesy of Marcel Sinnwell, a previous Kodlin collaborator.

Of course, this is all part of BMW’s plan to muscle into Harley-Davidson’s cruiser market (hence the Daytona launch). The PR accompanying these photos plays up the ease of customization:

But Fred Kodlin by no means laid his hands on all the assemblies and parts. What was a particularly positive surprise for him: “The bolts. They are all made of stainless steel, with a nice Torx head. That’s not the way it is on other bikes. The basic bike and especially the engine are very, very cleanly finished. All the electrical cables are already nicely hidden, so we didn’t have to do anything to the engine,” he explains.

For this reason, numerous R 18 B components were deliberately not replaced, but at most modified. For example, the shortened hand levers and handlebar end weights. Likewise, the engine remained unchanged from a technical point of view. Only the cylinder head covers, belt cover and intake snorkel were painted in metallic black.

Cruise control with distance control, reverse gear and eCall have remained unchanged. The are absolutely unique features of the BMW R 18 B in the Cruiser world, where these functions are not offered by any other manufacturer.

As Europe and the US bicker back and forth over motorcycle tariffs (it seems to have settled for now, but sooner or later it will come back), not to mention the rise in H-D prices in recent years, an alternative to the made-in-America V-twins is going to grab some attention, particularly if BMW keeps getting bold customs like this built for the moto rally circuit.

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