BMW Motorrad’s latest heavyweight cruiser has been in the making for some time now, and we’ve seen several spy shots, beginning with the concept showcased last year. And it’s finally here, in flesh and blood, or metal and oil, if you will. The 2021 BMW R 18 is inspired by the classic BMW R5, both visually and technically, but implementing the German firm’s latest boxer engine. Visually, it’s still a true-blue classic, with the teardrop-shaped fuel tank, conventional 49 mm telescopic front fork, and sort of hardtail look lent by the cantilever single shock, all harping to the original R 5. In reality, it’s a full-blown modern heavyweight cruiser, and BMW says it combined classic styling with modern technology seamlessly. The R 18 will be available in two variants when launched – a standard version and the First Edition.
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The First Edition comes with all kinds of pinstriping like on classic pre-War BMW bikes, and added chrome garnishing. It also gets historical tank emblems, slotted screws, a leather belt, screwdriver, gloves and a book celebrating the 97-year-old history of BMW motorcycles. So, needless to say, it’s the First Edition which is more old school than the standard variant, although mechanically the new R 18 is anything but old school yet retaining the characteristics and visual appeal of the old BMW R 5. The swingarm tubes loop over and around the final drive in classic R5 design, as does the exposed shaft drive. The valve covers are also inspired by the R5, and the fishtail tips on the shiny chrome exhausts.
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The highlight of the new BMW R 18 is, of course, the new 1,802 cc, boxer engine. The air-and-oil cooled big boxer is an overhead-valve design with four valves per cylinder, with the valves operated by a pushrod and rocker arrangement driven by dual chain-driven camshafts. And it puts out a maximum power of 91 bhp at 4,750 rpm, revving up to a redline of 5,750 rpm. Peak torque is rated at 157 Nm at 3,000 rpm, with 149 Nm available at between 2,000 to 4,000 rpm. A six-speed constant mesh transmission with helical-cut gears with an optional electric motor is driven reverse gear transfers power to the rear wheel through an exposed shaft drive (another classic R5 touch). The engine employs a single-disc dry clutch.
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In terms of a modern electronics package, three riding modes are available – Rain, Roll and Rock, each having a unique application of BMW’s Automatic Stability Control (ASC) and Motor Slip Regulation. Rain mode has the gentlest throttle response with the highest level of traction control, ABS and MSR intervention, Roll is designed for everyday street use, while Rock offers full power as well as spontaneous and direct throttle response, offering some wheelspin as well. LED lighting is offered all around, with rear turn signals doubling up as taillights, and the cockpit is laid out neatly, with all the wires and cables tucked inside the handlebar. The instrument console is a big round analog unit with a small digital display.
The BMW R 18 has a wheelbase of 1,731 mm, and it’s a physically large bike, longer than the current Honda Gold Wing. With a curb weight of 345 kg, it’s also on the heavier side of heavyweight cruisers, weighing 23 kg more than the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy. There’s a long list of bolt-on custom parts, including parts from partners Roland Sands Design, Vance & Hines, and Mustang Seats, for personal customization according to individual tastes.
Prices in the US for the base variant is set at $ 17,495 (around ₹ 13.36 lakh), while the First Edition will be priced at $ 19,870 (around ₹ 15.18 lakh) with availability expected in BMW dealers by late 2020. So far, there’s no word on if the R 18 will be offered on sale in India, even in limited numbers, but we won’t be surprised if BMW Motorrad does offer it, on special orders, as a CBU model.