Like Honda and Suzuki, BMW manufactures both cars and motorcycles. The Bavarian brand’s automotive and two-wheeled heritage are equally rich, but BMW treats the two arms as separate entities. Classic car language rarely informs BMW Motorrad design, but Belarus-based ShifCustom reaches back into the BMW automotive archives for its custom R 18 reverse trike.
The House of Munich looked to the 1936 R5 when it designed the 2021 R 18 cruiser. The shaft-driven, big-bore boxer leaned into the R5’s iconic looped frame, teardrop tank, and low and long stance. With those styling foundations, Minsk, Belarus’ ShifCustom knew they could draw from BMW’s auto offerings of the same era.
The BMW 328 debuted in 1932. Deemed a sports car in its day, the 328 featured a 1,971 cc straight-six that produced 79 horsepower and reached a 93-mph top speed. The R 18’s 1,802cc opposed-twin nearly matches the 328’s displacement, but it flaunts a higher power output and top speed. Those similarities made the BMW 328 a natural fit for ShifCustom’s retro-inspired reverse trike.
Gallery: ShifCustom BMW R 18 Reverse Trike
Despite sporting a similar front end to the Can-Am Spyder, the custom shop engineered its own three-wheeled chassis for the R 18. ShifCustom digitally designed the front end before attaching the double wishbone suspension system and front subframe to the stock frame. An extended steering neck, dual shocks, Audi A3 wheels, and Nissin push the Bavarian cruiser even closer to an automotive chassis.
ShifCustom only strengthens that association by covering that front-end apparatus with a 328-esque hood. From the twin front grilles to the slotted body panels to the dual headlights, the new nose cone captures the essence of BMW’s ‘30s design language. ShifCustom only adds to that Art Deco inspiration with elongated front fenders and rear mudguard.
The two-tone satin silver/navy blue livery further elevates the three-wheeled motorcycle, while the brown leather saddle, tank bib, and hood belts tie the vintage aesthetic together. Crossovers between BMW’s four- and two-wheelers may be seldom, but the ShifCustom’s R 18 reverse trike proves that it’s a beautiful union.