The BMW R 18 isn’t a brand new bike, however it’s new to me. That is BMW’s take at the vintage American cruiser, geared toward the ones riders who could be out there for one thing from Harley-Davidson or Indian. I’m decidedly no longer that rider. In truth, simply two weeks in the past, I had by no means ridden any cruiser, let by myself one with an 1,802cc engine. I wrote off cruisers with that roughly displacement as ludicrous and scoffed at their unhealthy dealing with.
I nonetheless assume the ones criticisms are legitimate, however I’m not as ardent about them since the 2021 BMW R 18 rides a lot lighter than it has any proper to, and its engine is no longer the fire-breathing monster I had imagined. Although BMW has launched cruisers prior to now, this can be a gentle departure from Motorrad’s convenience zone, however I’m each satisfied and stunned to document that the R 18 is a superb motorcycle.
(Complete Disclosure: Comoto invited me to an surprisingly wet weekend in Forth Value, Texas, to trip bikes from a variety of motorcycle makers and try Revzilla and Cycle Gear equipment on the first annual Get On! Moto Fest. I drove up from the Rio Grande Valley, however the corporate paid for my lodging. I additionally participated in a Flat Observe instruction route, courtesy of Comoto.)
No, that’s no longer the cruiser suffering in opposition to the load of its left cylinder in that symbol. It’s simply on its kickstand, however I’d forgive you for pondering the latter used to be true. I will’t overstate what it’s love to throw your leg over the saddle of the R 18 and settle in, simplest to look the Big Boxer’s dual cylinders jut out additional than your knees.
I joked with the BMW rep that the horizontally-opposed cylinders would save my legs within the match of a crash. No sliders wanted right here, no less than to not stay your decrease frame from getting street rash. Simply have a look at those huge cylinders:
After all, it could be a rattling disgrace to mar their polished surfaces, so I attempted my absolute best to stay the rubber aspect down. That used to be difficult to do in the beginning, as a result of, I’d simply ridden my first cruiser previous that day—an Indian Chief Dark Horse. With both cruiser, I by no means slightly become ok with the ahead placement of the foot pegs. BMW referred to the controls as mid-mounted, humorous sufficient.
It’s true that the R 18’s foot pegs weren’t as ahead as the ones at the Indian, however they’re neither positioned like the ones of a regular motorcycle nor the ones of a sports activities motorcycle, which is what I’m ok with.
The primary few instances I got here to a whole prevent on both cruiser, I used to be paddling my toes in midair, suffering to use the rear brake and to downshift. That cut up 2d the place my mind needed to alter to the controls used to be a bit sketchy.
Fortunately, the saddle of the R 18 used to be very low at simply over 27 inches. Its low peak helped me alter to the ergonomics and helped with hoisting the motorcycle’s mass at gradual speeds. The R 18 weighs a whopping 761 kilos regardless that, so low saddle or no longer, it’s numerous motorcycle to throw round. Regardless of what BMW’s reps instructed me, the R 18 didn’t shed any of its weight at parking space speeds.
When I were given at the open street, then again, all of the ones reservations, all of my considerations about mass, weight and ergonomics receded. The motorcycle hinted at what’s to return early on. As quickly I rolled at the throttle, the Large Boxer jolted to the proper simply sufficient to inform me it used to be unsleeping — you need to wake it much less gently when you sought after, however you then’d need to be cautious since the engine loves to kick proper.
I nonetheless knew I used to be straddling each closing one of the most R 18’s seven hundred kilos when starting off, however as I won pace, the R 18 started to really feel unladen. I didn’t notice how a lot weight it shed till I took the primary flip alongside my direction.
The R 18 sought after to lean!
I didn’t imagine it in the beginning, however the motorcycle felt very relaxed as I dipped the bars. Such a lot, that I frightened I’d scrape its ridiculous exhaust pipes. Certain, I used to be sure the pegs would scrape prior to the pipes, however given their place underneath the cylinders and my lean attitude as I grew to become, I had to keep in mind not to dip too a long way.
That used to be more straightforward stated than completed as a result of rolling at the throttle as I leaned impressed numerous self assurance, even for anyone like me who used to be new to cruisers. As I rode the twisty Texas backroads with the BMW demo fleet, it dawned on me that the R 18 may just lean decrease, may just move quicker than I or the opposite riders had been prepared to move. The motorcycle sliced into turns gracefully and made me extra relaxed than I may have imagined. It tracked optimistically and predictably, and sounded fantastic. The ones giant, dumb pipes I discussed make lovely music.
I used to be stunned with the R 18’s dealing with at pace. Ditto the acceleration and the preventing energy. For those who’ve ever ridden amongst a bunch of riders you will be acquainted with how the gang will contract and amplify naturally.
Alongside positive portions of our direction, I used to be in a position to open the motorcycle up and cycle thru maximum of its gears. I by no means went WOT as a result of even with the mass of the motorcycle, the engine has sufficient energy to be a danger on public roads. That Large Boxer makes 91 horsepower and 116 lb-ft of torque, however its energy is delivered in a pleasant manner and the motorcycle shifts very easily.
I simplest shifted into 6th equipment as soon as, to look what it felt like. I used to be going round 60 miles an hour and can say that 6th equipment felt useless. The R 18 used to be slightly by way of that charge of pace even in 5th equipment. Kicking into 6th is like striking this factor into overdrive. It’s supremely relaxed.
I didn’t keep in prime equipment very lengthy. The trip used to be a simply temporary circuit across the neighborhood of Texas Motor Speedway, and BMW mapped out a demo direction that may blow their own horns the motorcycle’s dealing with greater than its energy.
At one level on our trip there used to be a automobile coincidence forward (no motorcyclists concerned), and site visitors got here to a prevent. We queued up and sat staggered as first responders made their approach to assist the drivers. Having to gradual the motorcycle abruptly confirmed off how neatly the motorcycle stopped. BMW has historically geared up its motorcycles with excellent brakes, and the brakes at the R 18 are simply as much as the duty of forestalling the motorcycle. There used to be minimum pitch within the entrance finish because the motorcycle slowed, and the brakes by no means felt jerky or surprising.
That site visitors prevent compelled us to show our motorcycles round and that’s once I remembered how giant the R 18 is. In the midst of that 3 level flip, as I wrestled the heavy device, I used to be made painfully acutely aware of its measurement and weight. I controlled to waddle my manner out of there, however no longer with out important effort.
General, the R 18 gives a compelling bundle. I guess it must at its value level. The R 18 First Version I rode begins at $19,870. For that a lot cash I would favor two analogue gauges as opposed to the only one, however I will perceive why the motorcycle prices what it does. Taking a step again and evaluating it to some of its competitors finds the hefty value top class BMW has tacked on.
Nonetheless, BMW turns out assured it may well promote this cruiser to American riders. The marketplace for those motorcycles has loved a upward thrust in recognition and BMW is inquisitive about tapping into it. The big GS is already a favourite amongst adventure-touring riders, and the R Nine T is a smart access into the unfashionable bare (same old) section. Now, it’s onto the cruiser section for BMW Motorrad.
Although you’re paying so much for BMW’s cruiser, you might be additionally getting numerous motorcycle. Some would say you might be getting an excessive amount of motorcycle, however I urge you to stay an open thoughts. It’s no longer the motorcycle for me, however the R 18 stunned me. It would marvel you, too.