Out of all the bikes in BMW Motorrad’s current lineup, it could be argued that the R 18 is one of the most captivating. Indeed, this bike is one of many firsts for the Bavarian manufacturer, as it's a stab directly at the cruiser market that’s been thriving in the US for decades, not to mention the biggest production boxer engine in BMW’s lineup.
That being said, customization and personalization has always been at the core of this culture. This is why we’re seeing more and more custom builds that utilize the R 18 as a platform. Recognizing the custom potential of this heavyweight cruiser, BMW is holding the BMW Motorrad Customizing Championship, a contest intended to give due recognition to outstanding creativity and artistic craft surrounding the BMW R 18.
The contest is already going, having started back in April, 2023. Registration for the event is already closed, and the builds are already in progress. This global initiative will surely result in quite a few exciting builds, as 150 dealers across 18 countries will all be working to come up with the most unique, outlandish, and head-turning builds imaginable. BMW Motorrad dealers from the likes of Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, the UK, and the USA, are all participating in the championship.
As for the models they’re using, the bikes are limited to the four iterations of the R 18 – the R 18, R 18 Classic, R 18 B, and R 18 Transcontinental, all of which have a similar foundation, but are decked out in varying accessories and configurations to cater to different riding styles.
In the international semi-finals scheduled from July 31 to August 14, 2023, six of the best motorcycles overall will be chosen by a jury of industry experts and big names in the custom bike scene. After this, a public vote will determine the champion in the grand world final, which will take place during the opening of BMW Motorrad Welt in Berlin on 29 September 2023.
Stephan Reiff, Head of Customer, Brand, Sales BMW Motorrad explained in the company’s official release,“This competition is a celebration of the passion and creativity of the BMW Motorrad dealer network and motorcycle enthusiasts, and we can’t wait to see what new members of the R 18 family the participants will come up with.”
The panel of judges for the International Semi-Finals consist of industry experts and big names in the world of custom bikes. These include motorcycle builder Thor Drake, racer and designer Roland Sands, internationally acclaimed builder J. Shia, motorcycle editor Giuseppe Roncen, and Japanese custom builder Yuichi Yoshizawa. The winners of the semi-finals, as well as the Champion of the contest will receive the opportunity to showcase their builds at major events all around the world.