• 2021 - 2022 BMW R18 Classic

It’s old-school nostalgic touring combined with the most powerful boxer-twin to ever grace a production motorcycle

LISTEN 07:56

BMW built the R 18 Classic with an old-school tourbike trim package on the base-model R 18 First Edition. In spite of its Bavarian origins, this model serves up a heaping helping of Americana with classic elements such as the large screen, passing lamps and saddlebags as part of the stock equipment package. Beemer’s most powerful boxer-twin to date pushes it down the road with modern rider aids to complete the package and make it a thoroughly modern machine.

  • 2021 - 2022 BMW R18 Classic
  • Year:
    2021- 2022
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Parallel Twin
  • Displacement:
    1802 cc
  • Top Speed:
    111 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    18995
  • Price:

BMW R18 Classic Design

  • Classic nostalgic touring design
  • Large Windscreen
  • Laced wheels
  • LED lighting
2021 - 2022 BMW R18 Classic
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2021 - 2022 BMW R18 Classic
- image 1078349
Longtime fans of the brand will recognize genetic markers inherited from the venerable R 5, and likely the influence of the mid 20th century American motorcycle culture.

Longtime fans of the brand will recognize the genetic markers the R 18 Classic inherited from the venerable R 5, and likely the influence of the mid 20th century American motorcycle culture, as well. I mean, this thing absolutely oozes old-school charm like an old Harley marking her spot.

The factory also touched on the custom culture as well, starting with the chopped-down front fender and blacked-out front suspension. A classic whisker-bar mounts the LED pimp lights above and LED blinkers below, and up top is a rather large detachable windscreen, by modern standards anyway. Some of the old screens included lower extensions for some leg protection and were wider to boot, thus were significantly larger overall, but this screen still lends it a similar look.

The round cyclops headlight pairs with the round instrument gauge for another dollop of nostalgia. Mid-mount floorboards come stock on the U.S. models, instead of pegs. They define the lower legs of the rider’s triangle with a low, 28-inch tall seat and pullback handlebar to enable a relaxed, upright riding posture that takes little energy to maintain, and is comfortable over the long haul. Also stock is the pillion pad that comes as a detachable component for quick switches between solo and two-up riding. But, it looks like the stock configuration rolls sans passenger foot support, so you’ll have to add that to the final tally if you plan on sharing the fun with a friend. That’s unfortunate.

The 4.2-gallon fuel tank borrows its retro-style pear shape from the R 5 model in another nod to the “Classic’s” deep roots with the BMW badge proudly displayed on both sides. Heated grips are available from the optional equipment list if you plan on doing some cold-weather riding, but so far, no factory heated seat for your derriere. Detachable, slant-cut saddlebags complete the touring goodies, so you can take them or leave them as you like.

BMW R18 Classic Chassis

  • Double-loop, steel-tube frame
  • ABS
  • Low seat height
  • Very stable tracking
2021 - 2022 BMW R18 Classic
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2021 - 2022 BMW R18 Classic
- image 1078364
Frame geometry puts the R 18 Classic deep into stable territory and rock solid on the interstate, even in crosswinds.

Beemer joins the ranks of manufacturers that use old-school frame geometry such as on the R 18 Classic, complete with a rigid-looking rear end that actually functions as a swingarm, not entirely unlike H-D’s Softail line for example. The swingarm doubles as a drive-shaft housing, and it has a bolt-on bevel gearbox out back to complete the drivetrain.

Steel tubing is the material of choice for the double-loop frame that supports the engine without actually cradling it. What would be the cradle section actually lies alongside that big beast of an engine.

The steering head sets a rake angle of 32.7 degrees from the vertical, or 57.3 degrees from the horizontal as the factory would have it, or rake of 32.7 degrees as we usually call it. This is deep in stable territory, especially once the 5.9 inches of trail is factored in, and is rock solid in crosswinds, even at interstate speeds.

Tube diameter measures 49 mm, which is beefy enough but made beefier still by the old-school beer can fender skirts that come shot in black like the rest of the front end. Suspension travel is 4.7- inches up front with a short, 3.5-inch stroke out back that is pushing the lower limits of acceptable travel for a touring machine. The forks are non-adjustable while the monoshock out back sports demand-driven damping with the obligatory spring-preload setting as the only rider-controlled suspension parameter.

Laced wheels round out the rolling chassis with a symmetrical, 16-inch diameter and blackout rims, and they mount fat hoops with a 130/90 ahead of a 180/65 to make for nice fat contact patches. All-around 300 mm discs work with all-around four-bore calipers, with double brakes up front to handle the bulk of the work. BMW’s Motorrad ABS comes with the stock equipment package to help you keep the 805-pound wet weight under control.

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: 3.0" x 16"
Wheel, rear: 5.0" x 16"
Tire, front: 130/90 B16
Tire, rear: 180/65 B16
Brakes, front: Dual 300 mm disc, 4-piston fixed caliper
Brakes, rear: 300 mm disc, fixed caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral)

BMW R18 Classic Drivetrain

  • Largest BMW engine in a production model to date
  • 1,802 cc displacement
  • 91 hp & 116 lb-ft of torque
  • Disengageable traction control and drag-torque mitigation
  • Three ride modes
2021 - 2022 BMW R18 Classic
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2021 - 2022 BMW R18 Classic
- image 1078309
Folks, this 1,802 cc engine is the most powerful Boxer-Twin to ever grace a production motorcycle.

The electronic yummygoodness on the R 18 Classic continues into the engine controls with Beemer’s Automatic Stability Control (ASC) that acts as a traction-control system and can be disabled if you prefer a somewhat rawer riding experience. Also on board is the engine drag-torque control (MSR) feature that prevents excessive backtorque from breaking the rear end loose on hard downshifts. A trio of Riding Modes wrap up the electronic wizardry and allow for quick personality changes to suit preference and prevailing conditions.

Folks, this here is the most powerful Boxer-Twin engine to ever grace a production motorcycle. It’s a timeless setup with a large central crankcase and cylinders that protrude out each side where the slipstream effectively cools the jugs due to the cooling fins. An oil cooler backs up the air-cooled components with its wee radiator mounted low on the forward frame members for double thermal protection overall, and specific protection for the engine’s lifeblood.

Much like the earliest versions of the Boxer engine, the pushrods are external, and they actuate a quartet of poppets per head. Bore and stroke mic out at 107.1 mm and 100 mm respectively to give this beast its 1,802 cc displacement and mild, 9.6-to-1 compression ratio that will definitely give the wrist pins and bottom end a break. Power checks in with 91 ponies at 4,750 rpm, and a whopping 116 pound-feet of torque at an even three grand, which is plenty to pull it out of the hole with authority and a power reserve for passing on the interstate.

Engine: Air/water-cooled 2-cylinder 4-stroke boxer engine with two chain-driven camshafts above the crankshaft
Displacement: 1,802 cc
Bore x stroke: 4.2 inches (107.1 mm) x 3.9 inches (100 mm)
Power: 91 hp (67 kW) @ 4,750 rpm
Torque: 116 lb-ft (158 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Compression: 9.6:1
Fuel Delivery: Electronic intake pipe fuel injection, BMS-K+ electronic engine management with overrun cut-off, twin spark
Emission control: Regulated three-way catalytic converter
Clutch: Single-disc dry clutch
Transmission: 6-speed transmission
Primary ratio: 1.16
Transmission ratios: 1st: 2.438, 2nd: 1.696, 3rd: 1.296, 4th: 1,065, 5th: 0.903, 6th: 0.784
Transmission ratio: 3.091
Secondary drive: Shaft drive

BMW R18 Classic Price

2021 - 2022 BMW R18 Classic
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2021 - 2022 BMW R18 Classic
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MSRP starts at $19k in Black Storm Metallic.

Price and paint are divorced on the sticker. It rolls in its stock configuration for $18,995 MSRP, plus shipping and such. The paint packages are Black Storm Metallic over black, Mars Red Metallic over black, Manhattan Metallic Matte, and the two-tone Option 719 Galaxy Dust Metallic and Titan Silver 2 Metallic over, you guessed it, blackout everywhere else including the engine.

Color: Black Storm Metallic, Mars Red Metallic, Manhattan Metallic Matte, Opt719 Galaxy Dust Metallic/Titan Silver 2 Metallic
Price: $18,995, Color: $19,395, Opt719: $20,445

BMW R18 Classic Competitors

2021 - 2022 BMW R18 Classic
- image 1078310
2018 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special
- image 831982

No doubt about it, the R 18 Classic is going to go head-to-head against some well-established competition, and is most likely to be compared against the Harley-Davidson Road King.

Harley-Davidson Road King

2018 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special
- image 831979

<quote|title=It’s worth mentioning that there are corner-sensitive systems that cover all of the bases, but they are only available as an option on the Road King.

The Road Thing has its own very deep roots to draw upon, with DNA that goes back to the ’40s, and it hits all the same design points that make the Beemer such a retro-tastic machine. H-D didn’t skimp on the sheet metal. The front fender is much closer to what you’d call a “full” fender, complete with brand script, piping, and a fender skirt, all in chrome.

The beer can fork skirts, pimp lights, and large windshield match the Classic blow for blow, but Harley includes fold-up passenger floorboards on the showroom floor, so keep that in mind at the checkout. Hard side bags complete the touring gear, and the main difference here is that the Road King’s bags aren’t easily detachable, and honestly, they cover up some ugly parts of the bike, so you’re gonna’ wanna’ leave them dudes on there. Just sayin’.

H-D powers its entry with a classic Big-Twin engine in the Milwaukee-Eight 107. It churns out 111 pounds o’ grunt against 116 from the Beemer for a difference that makes very little difference in the grand scheme of things. Unless you have a particularly well-calibrated heinie-dyno, performance will not be the dealbreaker either way.

Harley has made progress on the electronics front, but still falls behind here with only ABS and its proprietary Linked-Brakes on offer with the standard equipment package. It’s worth mentioning that there are corner-sensitive systems that cover all of the bases, but they are only available as an option. As usual, price and paint are linked on the Harley with a price spread from $19,929 through $20,745, depending on your paint choice, all of which are higher in price than the R 18 Classic’s listed MSRP.

Read our full review of the Harley-Davidson Road King & Road King Special.

He Said

“Credit where it’s due, BMW knocks it out of the park with its Classic. The big engine, the touring chops, and the electronics all combine to make this a very viable touring machine, commuter, or grocery-getter. The price is too close to the H-D to overcome brand loyalty, and I won’t even start on the heat Beemer is going to get from Indian Motorcycle as well. It’s a great bike, but it has some stiff competition.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I really like this look. It’s the classic old-school touring design — Road King, sure — but also think about the California 1400 Touring, the Springfield, the Super Chief and the Heritage Classic. Big cyclops nacelle, big windshield, no fairing, pimp lights, and bags all wrapped up in a comfortable touring package. Torque comes on down low and you have roll-on just about everywhere in the rev range. I like the mid-mount foot position better than forward controls – which are out of the question on this bike – but it does seem a little forced. I think I said the same thing about the R 18. Low-speed maneuvering doesn’t turn into a wrestling match, and under way, the tracking is solid as a rock. Fit-and-finish is spot on, everything that is supposed to be metal is metal, so yeah, it might be a little pricier against some of its competition, but you gotta ride it before dismissing it.”

BMW R18 Classic Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Air/water-cooled 2-cylinder 4-stroke boxer engine with two chain-driven camshafts above the crankshaft
Displacement: 1,802 cc
Bore x stroke: 4.2 inches (107.1 mm) x 3.9 inches (100 mm)
Power: 91 hp (67 kW) @ 4,750 rpm
Torque: 116 lb-ft (158 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Compression: 9.6:1
Fuel Delivery: Electronic intake pipe fuel injection, BMS-K+ electronic engine management with overrun cut-off, twin spark
Emission control: Regulated three-way catalytic converter
Clutch: Single-disc dry clutch
Transmission: 6-speed transmission
Primary ratio: 1.16
Transmission ratios: 1st: 2.438, 2nd: 1.696, 3rd: 1.296, 4th: 1,065, 5th: 0.903, 6th: 0.784
Transmission ratio: 3.091
Secondary drive: Shaft drive
Chassis:
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: 3.0" x 16"
Wheel, rear: 5.0" x 16"
Tire, front: 130/90 B16
Tire, rear: 180/65 B16
Brakes, front: Dual 300 mm disc, 4-piston fixed caliper
Brakes, rear: 300 mm disc, fixed caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral)
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheelbase: 68.1”
Length: 96.1"
Height (excluding mirrors): 52.8"
Height (above windshield, at DIN empty weight): 55.0"
Width (with mirror): 38.0"
Seat height, unladen: 28.0”
Rider step length, unladen: 65.2”
Fuel capacity: 4.23 gallon including 1-gallon reserve
Fuel type: Premium unleaded
Curb weight: 805 lbs
Max. permitted weight: 1,234.6 lbs
Max. load (with standard equipment): 430 lbs
Top speed: over 111 mph
Electrical:
Alternator: Permanent magnet generator 600 W (nominal capacity)
Battery: 12/26 Ah
Headlight: LED with projection module, 2 LED additional headlights
Starter: 1.5 kW
Details:
Color: Black Storm Metallic, Mars Red Metallic, Manhattan Metallic Matte, Opt719 Galaxy Dust Metallic/Titan Silver 2 Metallic
Price: $18,995, Color: $19,395, Opt719: $20,445

Further Reading

BMW Motorrad

TopSpeed 2020 BMW Buying Guide
- image 789359

Read more BMW news.

Source: The new BMW R 18 Classic | BMW Motorrad

TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
About the author

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