The concept of a “custom motorcycle” is an extremely open-ended thing. Some builders instinctively want to tear everything apart and then piece a bike together to make the shape they see in their minds. It might involve most of the parts from a single model, or it might involve fitment of some other parts that builder feels would work better. If that builder also likes to fabricate their own parts, that’s a whole other level to consider.
Of course, it can all vary by individual bike, too. What if you’re a builder who really likes a given bike, but just feels like a few little things could be improved? It’s a bit like a good editor going over a piece of writing or photography. It’s the art of letting the original composition speak for itself, and merely tweaking a small detail here or there to get a little closer to perfection.
That’s what you get with the BMW R 18, as modified by veteran Swedish custom shop Unique Custom Cycles. Customizer Ronna Norén saw the good structure of the R18, very lightly took his red pen, and made a few small but significant changes here and there to improve it. As a result, the lines flow sinuously on down the road, and it looks like it’s moving even when it’s standing still. Pretty neat trick, if you can manage it.
Gallery: Unique Custom Cycle's BMW R 18
Norén opted not to touch that 1800cc boxer, but instead slimmed down some of the structures around it. He reworked the subframe, and also trimmed down the rear fender in aid of that flowing vision he wanted to achieve. He also shifted the angle of the oil cooler slightly, to make it blend into the overall composition a bit better. The original 16-inch rear and 19-inch front wheels grew to an 18-inch rear and 21-inch front to get the desired stance.
Still, more work was needed to get that low-slung look just right. An inverted Öhlins fork went on the front, along with a matching Öhlins damper in the rear so everything could be dialed in. Norén also switched the front brake calipers over to Brembos and switched the discs to custom 340mm ISR units. A 5 ¾-inch headlight took the place of the stock 7-inch one, and Norén topped it off with his own custom exhaust and handlebars.
Two of the things that stand out most upon seeing this R18 are the paint and the saddle. Håkan Lindberg blacked out the engine, and also applied that beautiful burnt orange paint that instantly draws your eye. Amsterdam-based custom seat specialist Silver Machine crafted this R 18’s saddle, and like everything else on this build, it just flows perfectly with the whole. UCC’s R18 build proves that sometimes it isn’t about being showy; it’s about helping a bike achieve its full potential.