BMW steps on Harley and Indian's toes.

BMW is dipping its toe in the cruiser pond with the (long-awaited) introduction of the new 2021 R18 bagger. After almost a year of teasing, the biggest, baddest Boxer engine is here and ready to take on its American competitors. 

The model officially debuted on April 3, 2020, and BMW finally opened up about all its new bike's features. Here's a look at everything we know about the new 2021 BMW R18. 

First, let’s talk about the engine because that’s the one thing about the new R18 that BMW has discussed at length. In a press release published in November 2019, the manufacturer described the new engine into details. The enormous air and oil-cooled flat-twin has a 1,802cc capacity with a 107mm bore, 100mm stroke, and a 9.6 compression ratio. The engine uses an over-head valve with dual camshaft set up reminiscent of BMW’s early boxer engines. The shaft also receives an additional bearing to avoid excessive vibration caused by the two oversized cylinders. 

BMW 1,800cc Bower Engine
The beast.

BMW announced the power ratings at 91 horsepower at 4,750 rpm and 116.5lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm with a redline set at 5,750 rpm. The press release also stated that the engine weighs in at an impressive 244.3 pounds—and that’s without the whole bike around it. The engine is mated to a constant-mesh six-speed transmission and power is sent to the rear wheel via a drive shaft.  

Now that the model has been officially unveiled, we get to learn more about BMW's design choices. The bike is built on a double-loop steel tube frame, a design that "perpetuates its tradition" according to the company. The same goes with the steel tube with enclosed axle swingarm, a design that's been borrowed from the mythical BMW R5.

Playing on Harley and Indian's field has a big advantage: weight isn't as big a sensitivity as usual and comfort becomes the most important feature. So it doesn't really matter that the R18 weighs in at a hefty 761 pounds (a third of which is the engine alone)—on the contrary, it's even expected considering the models it's measuring up to.

Gallery: 2021 BMW R18 Everything We Know

As for the riding position, it is straighter than on the R18’s American counterparts usually offered with highway pegs or boards. The boxer engine’s design dictates the riding geometry, forcing the rider to sit up straight in the saddle with the knees at an almost perfect 90-degree angle.

At the front, the frame is supported by a 49-mm encased inverted fork with 4.72 inches of travel while at the back, the dual-sided swingarm is paired with a single shock with 3.54 inches of travel. As for stopping power, the R18 uses a pair of 300-mm discs paired with four-piston calipers mounted to the 19-inch front wheel and a 300-mm disc teamed with a four-piston caliper mounted to the 16-inch rear wheel. The model is offered with standard ABS.

The model unveiled is what we suspect to be the model's stripped down entry-level. A series of spy shots and a collection of renders patented in Brazil suggest it will also be offered with a fairing à l’américaine reminiscent of the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide and Indian Chieftain, with the big shield at the front, round headlight, auxiliary lights, and what could be body-matching luggage. BMW also confirms that a selection of custom accessories will be available, provided by some of the biggest names in the industry including Roland Sands Design, Vance & Hines, and Mustang. 

It also comes equipped with three riding modes, stability control (ASC), engine drag torque control (MSR), reverse assist, and hill start control. BMW has yet to confirm the new model's availability but pricing is set at $17,495 for the base model and at $19,870 for the limited "First Edition". 

 

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The new BMW R 18: supreme cruiser with historical roots.
With the new R 18, BMW Motorrad now enters the cruiser segment. Like no other BMW motorcycle before it, this model stands entirely in the tradition of historical BMW motorcycles – both technically and in terms of design style. It borrows from famous models such as the BMW R 5 both technologically and visually, shifting the focus back onto the motorcycle essentials: purist, no-frills technology and the boxer engine as the epicentre of riding pleasure, combined with “good vibrations”. What is more, classic design is combined in the R 18 with clear-cut yet contemporary technology to create a fascinating overall concept – offering a riding experience that is as cultivated as it is emotional.

The most powerful BMW boxer engine of all time with abundant torque.
The centrepiece the new BMW R 18 is a newly developed 2-cylinder boxer engine – the “Big Boxer”. Both its impressive appearance and its technology reflect a continuation of the traditional air-cooled boxer engines that have offered an inspiring riding experience since BMW Motorrad began production in 1923. The most powerful 2-cylinder boxer engine ever used in motorcycle series production has a displacement of 1 802 cc. The peak output is 67 kW (91 hp) at 4 750 rpm. From 2,000 to 4,000 rpm, over 150 Nm of torque is available at all times, and this elemental pulling power is combined with a full, resonant sound.

Double-loop steel tube frame and rear swingarm with enclosed axle drive in rigid-frame look.
The centrepiece of the suspension in the new R 18 is a double-loop steel tube frame. Its design perpetuates the longstanding BMW Motorrad tradition of this frame type. Outstanding manufacturing quality and a meticulous attention to detail is also evident in unapparent features such as the welded joints between the steel tubes and the cast or forged parts. Like the legendary BMW R 5, the rear swingarm – sporting a comparable design – surrounds the rear axle transmission in authentic style by means of bolted connections.

Telescopic fork with fork sleeves, cantilever suspension strut, wire-spoked wheels and disc brakes.
The suspension elements of the new BMW R 18 deliberately dispense with electronic adjustment options. Instead, a telescopic fork and a directly mounted central suspension strut with travel-dependent damping and adjustable spring preload ensure superior wheel control and attractive suspension comfort. As in the legendary BMW R 5, the tubes of the telescopic fork are encased in fork sleeves. The fork tube diameter is 49 mm, while the suspension travel is 120 mm at the front and 90 mm at the rear. The new BMW R 18 braking system consists of a twin disc brake at the front and a single disc brake at the rear in conjunction with four-piston fixed callipers. Meanwhile the wire-spoked wheels ensure a supremely stylish appearance.

Harmonious ergonomics for optimum vehicle control.
In keeping with the BMW Motorrad philosophy, the new BMW R 18 features a laid-back positioning of the footrests – so-called “mid-mounted footpegs”. This classic position behind the cylinders is not only typical of BMW, it also enables a relaxed and active riding position for optimum vehicle control.

Three riding modes along with ASC and MSR for a high degree of riding pleasure and safety as standard. Reverse assist and Hillstart Control as ex factory options
The new R 18 also offers the three standard riding modes “Rain”, “Roll” and “Rock” – unusual in this segment – so as to be able to adapt to individual rider preferences. The standard trim also includes ASC (Automatic Stability Control, disengageable), which ensures a high level of riding safety. In addition, the new R 18 is equipped as standard with engine drag torque control (MSR). Among other options, a reverse assist makes manoeuvring convenient, while the Hill Start Control function facilitates uphill starts.

The new R 18: iconic style newly showcased, featuring a rigid-frame look, modern technology and authentic materials.
The R 18 masterfully transposes the iconic style of bygone times to the present day, retaining a purist design in numerous details that is mainly influenced by classics such as the BMW R 5. It is no coincidence that functional and stylistic elements such as the double-loop frame, the pear-drop tank, the open-running driveshaft and the pinstriped paintwork (ex factory option) are reminiscent of the legendary boxer dating back to 1936. The classic bodywork features of the R 18 are also made of metal – as befits an authentic classic. The suspension is likewise aptly reminiscent of the legendary R 5. Together with the double-sided swingarm and a cantilever suspension strut, the rigid-frame concept of the R 5 is perfectly transported into the modern age in visual terms.

The R 18 First Edition: exclusive look in paint and chrome.
The new R 18 will be offered worldwide as an exclusive R 18 First Edition right from launch, with a standard model reserved additionally for certain markets. It combines the
R 18 look with exclusive equipment features in a classic black finish with white pinstriped paintwork. Other highlights include numerous chrome surfaces, a seat badge and a
“First Edition” chrome clasp on the side covers.

Conversion-friendly design as a prerequisite for straightforward customising and optimum individualisation.
More so than virtually any other motorcycle, the new R 18 offers a highly conversion-friendly design – a focus even in the early design phases of the basic motorcycle layout. As a result it is equipped with an easily removable rear frame and a simple-to-dismantle painted part set. Carefully conceived attachment points for the hydraulic lines of the brake, clutch and cable harness likewise allow easy installation of higher or lower handlebars in conjunction with matching hydraulic lines and cable harnesses. In addition, the visible valve covers (cylinder head covers) and the belt cover (engine housing cover) are designed in such a way that they are located outside the oil chamber, making them very easy to change.

Customising parts and Roland Sands design collections “Machined” and “2-Tone Black” for the new R 18.
The BMW Motorrad equipment range offers a maximum selection of individualisation options with which to adapt the R 18 to personal taste and preferences. The wide range of different parts available from the programme of Original BMW Motorrad Accessories allows individual customising that significantly alter the character of the R 18. For the market launch of the new R 18, two different design collections of milled aluminium parts are available, created in collaboration with Roland Sands Design: “Machined” and
“2-Tone-Black”.

Co-branding with famous brands: BMW and Mustang seats as well as BMW and Vance & Hines exhaust systems “Made in USA”.
For the accessories and customising programme of the new R 18, BMW Motorrad is collaborating with Roland Sands Design and several well-known suppliers including US manufacturer Mustang Seat to offer different versions of high-quality hand-made seats. In addition the customising potential for the exhaust systems in cooperation with Vance & Hines is no less creative.

The highlights of the new BMW R 18:

• Iconic style blending modern technology with authentic materials.

• Biggest ever BMW boxer engine with a capacity of 1 802 cc.

• Output 67 kW (91 hp) at 4 750 rpm, maximum torque 158 Nm at 3 000 rpm.

• More than 150 Nm available at all times from 2 000 to 4 000 rpm.

• Exposed drive-shaft based on the classic role model.

• Elaborately crafted double-loop steel tube frame.

• Rear swingarm with enclosed axle drive in rigid-frame design.

• Telescopic fork with sleeves and cantilever suspension strut featuring travel-dependent damping.

• Harmonious ergonomics for relaxed riding and optimum control.

• Disc brakes front and rear, with wire-spoked wheels.

• State-of-the-art LED lighting technology, classically interpreted.

• Adaptive turning light for even better illumination of the road when cornering as an ex factory option.

• Classically designed circular instrument with integrated display.

• Keyless Ride for convenient function activation by remote control.

• Three standard riding modes, ASC and MSR.

• Reverse assist for convenient manoeuvring and Hill Start Control for easy hill starts as ex factory options.

• The R 18 First Edition: exclusive look in paint and chrome.

• Extensive range of optional extras and Original BMW Motorrad Accessories as well as a cool Ride & Style Collection.