Well, the announcement was that BMW wanted to show the entire cruiser market how to make such a bike right with the brand new R18. BMW style. At the heart of it all is a newly designed boxer with 1800 cubic meters and lots of torque. Do Harley & Co. have to dress warmly from now on?
Hardly ever before has a motorcycle been pushed into the market with such a marketing effort. Whether design studies at the classic car event Pebble Beach in the USA or a presentation of the new two-cylinder boxer engine – in fact, BMW maintained the tension until the market launch. This, the coming R18, the message goes, would be something very special.
And in fact, the motorcycle now presented is something very special. Perhaps not in every individual discipline, but in the sum of its characteristics it is at least special. Sure, the Triumph Rocket has 2458 cubic centimeters more displacement, an Indian Roadmaster with 168 Newton has a higher torque, and a Harley Electra Glide Ultra is even heavier at 414 kilos.
Then let's take a look at the data, which are incorruptible and provide a foretaste of the upcoming test kilometers. The BMW has a long wheelbase of 1.73 meters and weighs a whopping 341 kilos. The two-cylinder boxer weighs 100 of this alone. And inside, a ten-kilogram crankshaft rotates, suggesting huge moving mases – the test on the road will confirm this.
In order to be able to move the 341 kilos, BMW has installed a return aid (with additional payment, of course, this costs 945 euros). The starter then pushes the motorcycle backwards out of the gap, but the Bavarians saved a real reverse gear like the Honda Goldwing.
Speaking of extras: AT BMW, one has always believed that rudimentary equipment is sufficient and asks the inclined customer to pay again with more or less sensible packages and in any case chargeable. That is the negative view of things. On the positive side, the range of accessories available for the R18 is simply huge. If you want, you can put together your very own R18. The basic price of 22,250 euros for the "First Edition" can be brought to something with a 3 in front with just a few crosses of the surcharge list, and that's far from over.
Expensive? But for sure. BMW has never claimed that they want to roll up the market from below. The processing quality is already standard at an excellent level, and loving details can be discovered by the observer everywhere. We particularly liked the one-piece mirror foot, the small cover behind the exhaust or the double-walled exhaust system, which is supposed to prevent the chromium from blowing. My personal hit: the open card. How could BMW get an operating license for such a thing? This is very big cinema. The R18, so much is clear, is a statement of design.
Among the cruisers, the seating position of the R18 is unique. If the cruiser driver is used to pushing his feet towards the horizon and thus achieve the desired degree of casualness, you can forget that with the BMW. Where else the lower legs are, the cylinders of the boxer motors stand out. The upper body is positioned cruisertypically, but the legs are angled. With only 690 millimetres of seat height, the knee angle could become a problem, from our three-strong and sometimes long-legged test crew no one has complained.
Can such a work of art also drive? Then let's go.
The view falls on a beautiful, classic analog instrument for speed. It integrates digital displays for tank, on-board computer and speed in 50 increments. The driving modes are called "Rain", "Rock" and "Roll", which some find funny, others overdone. Anyway, everything works perfectly.
Oh yes, it's a BMW. With boxer engine. Again and again I forget a special feature of these engines, because when started, the whole motorcycle shakes briefly to fall into the stable run. Yes, it's just two huge cylinders that are getting going in the opposite direction. If you want, you can experience this jerking while driving, as will be shown later. Previously, the BMW was owned, which is no problem because of the low seat height. Feeling you sit further back than it is reality, because the motorcycle seems to have pulled up after sitting on.
The wheelbase is 1.73 metres long. So it is clear: this can't be really great with the manoeuvring, because physics puts a stop to it. Surprise when starting: Of course, it proceeds with pressure, but above all surprisingly light-footed. Where did they go, all the kilos? Make it, do: These are all there, but here too physics is helpful: due to the low centre of gravity, the BMW looks much lighter than it is. This changes abruptly if you manually lower the focus manually. The then overturned bike can be set up again best for bodybuilders with a large circle of friends.
The unfamiliar ease of driving is not lost at higher speeds. Of course, there are limits that are reached at about 30 degrees inclination (first put on the footrests, not the voluminous exhaust). But hey, this is a cruiser. If you are looking for a curve arrow, you are wrong here.
Surprisingly good is the sitting position, better: the position of the feet. Let's be honest: The constant set-up and down of very far-forward feet is annoying and rarely really comfortable, especially in urban traffic.
A cruiser is rarely hounded. Having said that, the brakes could be better. The criticism is not the pure braking performance, but the indifferent feeling of the handbrake, combined with a comparatively high force, which is necessary for operation.
And now finally: the engine. Yes, PS he will have any. But it is completely superfluous. The R18 thrives on its torque. Between 2,000 and 4,000 revolutions, i.e. where you prefer to stay as a cruiser, it is always over 150 newton meters (maximum 158 for 3,000 tours). In practice, you can get so relaxed around the area that the R18 can almost pass as a prescription drug. Just ask your health insurance company.
Now the BMW R18 is finally available for testing at the dealership, and that's a good thing. Even though the guardians of the Holy Grail reviled the BMWs in advance and as producers of these bikes only Indian or Harley or otherwise, but certainly not the Bavarians, let it come into question, it has become very good. Attention: very good, not great. It is full of loving details, enthusiastic with workmanship and the whole concept – but can't do anything that the others couldn't.
In this respect: Welcome to the cruiser market, BMW R18. From now on, you don't have to convince with marketing, but on the street. You all have the facilities for this, but Harley or Indian can stay calm.
The test bike was provided to us by Bergmann & Söhne in Pinneberg.