Old is new again with a nod to the BMW R 5 of yesteryear

BMW unveiled the R 18 Concept about a year ago, and now reveals the much anticipated production model. Slated for release later this year – though don’t be surprised if that is postponed – the R 18 comes packing the biggest and most powerful two-cylinder BMW boxer engine equipped in its bikes to date. We’re looking at 91 horsepower and 116 pound-feet of torque in classic rigid-frame-look cruiser styling.

BMW R 18 in the engine and chassis

2021 BMW R 18
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2021 BMW R 18
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2021 BMW R 18
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The star of the show in the BMW R 18 is a newly-developed, two-cylinder boxer engine dubbed, appropriately, “Big Boxer.” The 1,802 cc displacement makes it the largest boxer BMW has ever used in a production model, and 91 horsepower and 116 pound-feet of torque make it the most powerful.

The double-loop steel tube frame design continues BMW’s tradition of this type of structure, and the suspension shuns the use of electronic adjustments. In a nod to the legendary R 5, the tubes of the telescopic forks are encased in fork sleeves. Ample braking, wire-spoked wheels, and low seat height round out the overview of what promises to be a nice cruiser.

BMW R 18 in the electronics

2021 BMW R 18
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2021 BMW R 18
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2021 BMW R 18
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Updating an iconic design means merging modern technology into the works. The R 18 comes with three ride modes — “Rain,” “Rock,” and “Roll” – as well as disengageable automatic stability control, engine drag torque control, ABS, LED lighting, and optional reverse assist and hill-start control. It’s a nice little electronics package, the likes of which we’re only starting to see in this segment. The factory also offers optional adaptive cornering lighting in the form of individual LEDs in the headlight that activate based on the banking angle.

BMW R 18 begs to be customized

2021 BMW R 18
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2021 BMW R 18
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2021 BMW R 18
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As an early design requirement, the R18 is built to be customized. The rear frame is easily removable as is the painted-part set, which is made of sheet metal. Wiring, lines, and cables are carefully routed to accommodate parts replacements, and parts commonly replaced for personalization – cylinder head cover and engine housing cover – are easy to change.

BMW R 18 First Edition

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An R 18 First Edition will be offered at the start of production. The First Edition includes exclusive paint and chrome, badging, and a “Welcome Box.” The box is a collectible with a picture of the engine on the lid. It includes wearing apparel, historical tank emblems, copper-colored slotted screws, and a book on the history of BMW Motorrad.

BMW R 18 in all its glory

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2021 BMW R 18
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2021 BMW R 18
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This is but the tip of the iceburg that is the new BMW R 18. It’s one of those bikes for which buying it is just the beginning of your adventure.

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Allyn Hinton
Writer and Associate Motorcycle Editor - allyn@topspeed.com
If it had moving parts, it had Allyn's interest from a very early age. At age 11 when bicycles were too simple to hold her interest any longer, her father found her taking apart the lawn mower. When he asked why she was doing it, she replied, “I need to see how it works.” That curiosity and mechanical drive served her well over the next 40 years as she pursued careers in both the automotive and motorcycle industries. Having shared her love of motorcycles with her now husband, biker TJ Hinton, Allyn brings that love and knowledge to TopSpeed as writer and associate motorcycle editor.  Read More
About the author

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: bmwmotorcycles.com

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