In October, 2019, two test mules of the then pre-launch BMW R 18 were spotted being loaded on a truck in Germany. At the time, we already knew that BMW was preparing a production version of the R 18 Concept unveiled at the 2019 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, but this was our first real glimpse of the imposing cruiser.
The two test mules were equipped with a few additional features such as sidecases and windscreens, which suggested that BMW was working on more "dressed up" versions of the model. The bagger-looking test mule was later spotted again, this time without a tarp, rocking a very Harley-looking batwing fairing and body-matching paniers.
The second, more touring-oriented model had yet to resurface since last year’s sighting. That was until now. We finally got our first peek at what could be the all-new—and very uncovered—R 18 Touring.
The differences between the entry-level BMW R 18 introduced in April, 2020, and this test mule are minimal. The bike in the spy shots pretty much looks like the standard R 18 equipped with a few touring-friendly accessories, the most obvious of which is the tall windscreen. A set of straight pipes replaces the R 18's signature fishtail mufflers and the wire-spoke wheels’ design looks more minimalistic (read: fewer spokes.)
While on the R 18, the flashers are attached to the handlebar, on the test mule, they are instead attached to the windscreen’s mounting system and topped with a pair of round auxiliary lights.
Everything else, from the fuel tank size to the saddle’s shape to the pinstripe paint job, looks the same between the two bikes. Based on what we currently know about the standard R 18 and what we’ve seen of the bagger in the spy shots, the touring version looks like a sort of halfway point between the two.
So, when can we expect the R 18 Touring and maybe even the bagger to debut? For consistency purposes, BMW could choose to launch in April, as it did with the R 18. In the absence of motorcycle shows, the House of Munich could decide to fill the event gap by hosting its own event before the end of the year or maybe simply sending out a press release with a handful of pictures like it did with its most recent launches.