BMW releases the R 18 “Big Boxer”

April 3 2020

BMW just concluded its virtual Press Launch of the BMW R 18, this iconic “Big Boxer” concept has been floating around for awhile building anticipation for the machine. Although the model is more modernized than the two concepts we’ve seen, BMW’s first entry into the cruiser market a classically refined machine paying homage to its past.

The R 18 has a double-loop steel tube frame and rear swing-arm that surrounds the rear axle transmission with authentic style using bolted connections. polishing off the styling for the bike, the R 18 has a telescopic fork, and a directly mounted suspension strut with travel-dependent damping and adjustable spring pre-load. The R 18 rolls on classic wire-spoked rims with twin disc front brake and single disk at the rear. Although it might not look like it, BWM says the ergonomic positioning is harmonious, allowing for a laid-back positioning while maintaining optimal manoeuvrability.

Although the model looks like it’s come out of the vault from the 1930s, the R 18 has a surprising amount of tech within it. The bike offers three riding modes “Rain”, “Roll” and “Rock” – unusual for this segment. It also includes ASC (Automatic Stability Control, able to be disengaged), it is also equipped with MSR (Engine Drag Torque Control). Not to mention, a reverse assist and hill start control function. The “Rain” mode softens throttle response allowing for forgiveness in wet conditions. The “Roll” mode offers optimum throttle response while ASC and MSR are set to achieve ideal performance on all roads. While the “Rock” mode is said to offer the full dynamic potential of the R 18, throttle response is very spontaneous and direct, while ASC allows a little more slip.

This is the most powerful BMW Boxer, outputting 91 hp at 4,750 rpm and 116 ft-lb of torque at 3,000 rpm with a displacement of 1802 cc. The new “Big Boxer” is air/oil-cooled with large ribbed cylinders and cylinder heads weighing 110.8 kg including the gearbox and intake system. The bike also has an exposed driveshaft based on the classic R 5 model. A very interesting component of this bike is the clutch. The self-reinforcing single-plate dry clutch transmits torque generated by the engine to the transmission. The self-reinforcing anti-hoping function eliminates unwanted rear-wheel hop caused by engine braking in the event of hard downshifting.

Although for us the launch was a bit of a letdown, focusing more on the hipster culture surrounding the hype of the R 18 rather than the bike itself. Nonetheless the raw and the attractive silhouette remain true to what we expect from BMW. BMW has partnered up with Mustang seats, Vance Hines exhaust systems and Roland Sands designs, offering an array of different customization options for the machine to make it your own.

BMW is preparing for the Canadian arrival of the bike to dealerships in the third quarter of 2020 (however it is subject to change based on the COVID-19 situation). Base MSRP is $20,895, the first shipment of the exclusive R 18 “First Edition” models with special equipment will be set with an MSRP of $23,745. The release of the bike likely couldn’t be timed much worse, however, we think that it will lighten all motorcyclist’s hearts to see a fine piece of art come out at this time and have something to look forward to aside from the solitary riding season we are expected to have.

You can find more about the R 18 on BMW’s website here 

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