Why do we ride motorcycles? I ride because it’s an adventure. It makes me feel good, stirs my soul and makes me happy. I don’t even mind what I ride or where, I just love riding.
BMW Motorrad was kind enough to loan me one of their R18 cruisers for a couple of weeks, so I took advantage and made some memories.
My first ride on the R18 was a 350 miles road trip, from the collection point at Farnborough, to Manchester and back to my home in Northampton. All in all, it ended up being around 6 ½ hours in the saddle, with various stops on the way. It gave me plenty of time to get acquainted with BMW’s big, retro, cruiser.
This is obviously a premium product. The engineering is beautiful, the quality of the components is second to none and the fit and finish is superb. Cruising on the motorway at 70 mph was effortless, just gliding along on the 91 hp and 158 Nm of torque, There’s acres of room and the slightly feet-forward riding position, very wide bars and comfortable seat make it a breeze to soak up mile after mile.
The only issue I had was the lack of a fuel gauge. It’s an unexpected omission on a motorcycle that starts at £17,480 on the road. Other than the lack of a fuel gauge, necessitating constant on the fly maths, the bike was faultless.
On the next trip I took Kate. BMW Motorrad fitted the R18 with the optional Pillion Package for me which includes; classic passenger seat padding with retaining strap which fits over the rear wheel arch, folding, rubber topped, pillin footrests for £255.
We took a run over to Caffiene and Machine and i have to say, it felt pretty special, tuning up onthe R18.
There aren’t many R18’s on the road, so it’s an exclusive club. Perfect for somewhere like Caffeine and Machine.
The ride there and back is a pleasure; fast, sweeping ‘A’ roads punctuated by quaint villages. On the R18 it was a leisurely ride, soaking in the views and enjoying the experience.
Riding pillion on the BMW’s R18 was bitter sweet. It’s a comfortable place to sit, the pillion position is great. Kate is short but found the foot pegs to be perfectly positioned and the seat easily comfortable enough for longer rides. There’s lots of room on the bike and it’s low so that jumping on and off is a doddle. The biggest issue for pillions on this variant ot the R18 was the rear suspension. On smooth roads it was an absolute pleasure, relaxing and comfortable, with great visibility due to the raised pillion seat, but hitting a bump or pot hole was a little brutal. I increased the preload on the rear shock, but it would need some more fettling to make it more suitable for regular pillion rides. BMW have various versions of the R18, and most are aimed at touring, with good pillion carrying ability, so it’s only a matter of setting up the rear suspension.
I even took no2 son to the silverstone MotoGP on it, and amongst the thousands of bikes there it felt pretty special.
Without doubt, the centrepiece of this bike is the engine. It’s huge in more ways than one.
It is the most powerful two-cylinder boxer engine ever used in motorcycle series production. The BMW R18 engine has a displacement of 1802 cc and a peak power of 67 kW (91 hp) at 4,750 rpm. From 2,000 to 4,000 rpm it produces over 150 Nm of torque.
This is a heavy bike; 345 kg ready to go heavy, in fact. That weight dissolves as soon as you get moving, and i’d go as far as saying this is one of the easiest bikes i’ve ridden for slow speed manouvering. It must be down to the engine style or maybe the very easy clutch action, but it’s easy to ride. The brakes are good, despite the mass. A good squeeze on the lever and it stops without issue.
I found that foot pegs touched down fairly easily when I pressed on, particularly 2 up, but it’s a very pleasant riding experience and I don’t think I have ever ridden a bike that attracts more attention. I had people taking pictures of it parked, asking if they could take selfies with it and one guy even face timed his dad to show him the bike.
It’s dramatic, beautiful and unique, drawing inspiration from the rich BMW Motorrad heritage. There’s a sense of theatre surrounding the R18, it’s a lovely bike to ride and although it’s not fast, it makes you feel special, which surely is what this riding bikes stuff is all about.
I love the blend of vintage style and modern technology. It reminded people of simpler times.
The BMW R18 has the DNA from over a 100 years of iconic models coursing through it’s veins, and the in built BMW reliability and engineering excellence that have made the brand what it is today.
Capacity - 1802 cm³
Max. power - 67 kW (91 hp) at 4750 rpm
Max. torque - 158 Nm at 3000 rpm
Mileage / consumption
Consumption per 100 km based on the WMTC - 5.6 l/100km
CO2 emission based on WMTC - 129 g/km
Clutch - Single-disk dry clutch
Gears - 6-gear shifting claw transmission in separate transmission housing
Secondary drive - Shaft drive
Suspension / brakes
Frame - Double-cradle steel frame with screwed-on underbeams
Front suspension / spring elements - Telescopic fork
Rear suspension / spring elements - Steel swinging fork with central shock strut
Spring travel, front / rear - 120 mm / 90 mm
Wheelbase - 1731 mm
Wheels - Spoke wheel (front only)
Rim dimensions, front - 3,5" x 19"
Rim dimensions, rear - 5,0" x 16"
Tyre, front - 120/70 R19
Tyre, rear - 180/65 B16
Brake, front - Twin disc brake, diameter 300 mm, four-piston fixed calipers
Brake, rear - Single disc brakes, diameter 300 mm, four-piston fixed calipers
ABS - BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (partially integral)
Dimensions / weights
Seat height, unladen - 690 mm
Rider step length, unladen - 1630 mm
Usable tank capacity - approx. 16 L
of which reserve - approx. 4 L
Length - 2440 mm
Unladen weight, fully fuelled/road-ready - 345 kg 1)