Some bikes are just begging to be customized straight out of the factory. A good example of this is any bike in BMW’s Heritage lineup. For years, the BMW R nineT across all its variants has been the blank canvas for many artists to express themselves through a rolling piece of art. With the introduction of the R 18 in 2020, BMW released yet another bike that would become an instant hit in the custom world.
We’ve seen a lot of custom builds based on the R 18. However, none of them are quite like the latest masterpiece from Paul Yaffe, a renowned custom builder who’s been at it since 1991. Yaffe’s work has gained so much acclaim that he has received numerous accolades over the years, including being inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame in 2015. When Yaffe got his hands on the BMW R 18 Transcontinental, he made sure he knew the ins and outs of the bike. To do this, he rode it for 3,800 miles across the US, as well as an additional 2,600 miles to Sturgis and back.
Needless to say, the end result is nothing short of spectacular, with its massive front wheel giving it the look of a big wheel bagger. Yaffe retained a lot of the R 18’s original components, and by doing so, managed to create a seamless blend between German engineering and American craftsmanship. Unveiled in all its glory at the Motor Bike Expo in Verona, Italy, Yaffe’s custom creation dubbed the R 18 One Eight “C” combines classic hot rod aesthetics with BMW’s precision engineering.
The most notable feature is the large 26-inch wheel that was cut from solid aluminum. To accommodate such a big wheel, the frame was stretched and raked. Swooping lines give the R 18 One Eight “C” a very distinctive look, with the 50’s Mercury Lead Sled playing a major role as the inspiration for the bike’s look. Custom hand-crafted components including a steel front fender, custom fairing, Yaffe Monkey Bars, and extended rear fender add substantial road presence to the already massive R 18, and custom saddlebags tie in the look for a thoroughly streamlined aesthetic.
Apart from their unique aesthetic, BMW’s boxer engines are known for their sound, and to enhance this, the R 18 One Eight “C” breathes through custom Boxer head pipes and a high-flow baffle system. The bike gets an air suspension system, allowing it to be lowered when on display. Of course, a custom paint job by Hector Martinez drapes the R 18 One Eight “C” in an elegant finish, highlighting the bike’s low-slung, hot rod-inspired design.