BMW R18 Cruiser Preview & Price. Better Than Harley-Davidson?

BMW R18 Cruiser Preview & Price. Better than Harley-Davidson? 1

Meet the series version of the BMW R18

BMW R18 is a big step for the Munich brand and it marks its entry to the cruiser world, dominated by Harley-Davidson. The biggest boxer engine ever produced by BMW – 1,800 cc, an all-new frame inspired by the R5, and a new attitude. This is not the R1200C. This is the real deal. 

Watch our BMW R18 Preview on YouTube

The Big Boxer Engine – BMW R18 is based on an air-cooled boxer unit, a traditional BMW engine, and it’s the biggest one BMW ever produced: 1,800cc, and it makes 91 horsepower, which is excellent for this segment, but probably it doesn’t mean too much if you’re a sportsbike rider. When it comes to cruisers though, and when it comes to this type of engines, the torque is the most important – and from 2,000 to 4,000 rpm – the range you re gonna use it for 90% of the time – it produces 150 Nm of torque. 

It’s an OHV engine, two camshafts and it features those pushrods that resemble, the traditional boxer engines build for more than 70 years. Actually, the design is inspired by the R5 engine, built almost a century ago, in 1936.

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Want more? Check-out our exclusive walkaround and engine start video

Just like the old boxers, BMW R18 has a single disc dry clutch, but it was designed as a self-reinforcing anti-hopping clutch, which is very important for this type of engine, with huge torque and low rpm range. Basically, if downshifting hard, the wheel won’t lock anymore.

The throttle is ride by wire, which is very important, and we’re expecting a smooth response of the acceleration. 

The Open Shaft. Another piece de resistance for the new BMW R18 is the exposed shaft. It’s nickel-plated and open just as in the BMW’s built until 1955

4 shaft

The Frame. R18 features a traditional double-loop steel frame, which is very nicely put together. The swingarm, which is also made of steel tubes and cast or forged parts, surrounds the rear axe transmission, just like the in the BMW R5. It looks like a rigid frame, but obviously it has a rear suspension, hidden somewhere under the seat, and everything goes in line in a spectacular way. It’s lovely and discreet. As in the old R5, the suspension tubes are encased in fork sleeves, giving this minimalistic, clean, historical feeling. 

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The BMW R18 Riding Position. This is a very interesting subject since there are people curious about how you’re gonna ride without a feet-forward riding position as in most of the cruisers on the market. Having this giant boxer engine, it’s impossible to obtain an elongated riding position, so BMW comes with mid-mounted footpegs for the R18, right behind the cylinders. What I wonder is if there’s going be a lot of heat coming from the engine and if it will become disturbing during the hot summer days.

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However, there are some different seats and handlebars available to customize the new R18. From what I’ve seen on the list, there are six seats, some handlebar risers and three optional handlebar types, including two ape-hangers.

Custom Parts for the BMW R18. Speaking of accessories, there are different dimensions for the wheels, different pegs and footboards, bags, -a long list of elements. But, there are some genuine American parts worth to be mentioned, like the Vance & Hines exhausts, the Mustang Seats and the Roland Sands Collection created specially for this bike. There are two collections – the machined ant the two-tone black.  So you can transform it just as you like – from the classic, simple, R18, to this eye-catching bobber.

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The BMW R18 features keyless ride, and there’s this minimalistic button over there, on the handlebar, to turn on the bike, there’s a classic dash, which looks lovely and a small digital display where you can see the riding modes. 

Electronics. Speaking of that, it has the Rain, Roll and Rock riding modes. BMW bikes usually have Rain, Road and Dynamic. But the R18 comes with Rain, Roll and Rock! How cool is that. Every riding mode is modifying the ABS, Traction Control and throttle response. So, in Rain is softer, and in Rock mode, it’s the most aggressive.

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Reverse Gear. There’s a switch on the left side of the bike and it’s an useful feature, considering the weight this bike has. There’s also a cruise control that comes as an option. 

The headlight is full LED and it comes with a cornering function.

BMW R18 First Edition – it’s a limited series, and it comes with a special package. Some cool stuff such as the tank emblems, some assembly gloves and screwdriver, a leather belt and a book about the history of BMW Motorrad.

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When it hits the market and what's the price. It will be available this summer in the USA and a bit later, in the fall, for the rest of the world. The price: for the USA, there’s gonna be a standard version – priced at about $17,500, and it will cost $19,870 with additional stuff. In Europe, we’ll have the First Edition that will cost 22,800 euros in Germany. 

Walkaround coming soon: In two days I’ll get my hands on this bike and be able to come up with a walkaround and to share my thoughts after seeing it in person, so if there’s something you want to know about the new R18, just aks using the comments section below, and I’ll try to come up with an answer. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more, and check the info below it you want to support us. 

5 frame

33 thoughts on “BMW R18 Cruiser Preview & Price. Better Than Harley-Davidson?

  1. The. Heat from this fine machine sounds like it's not what one would covet in places like South Fl.
    Harley is a bad enough leg cooker in the summer at a red light.

  2. Alright looking bike but 5k to expensive. Coming from Europe to the USA and Canada BMW has a serious problem, Harley is his name. I don’t think there enough Jewish lawyers out there to support BMW’s new bobber. When BMW can gather 1000 of there bikes for a weekend run then they will have my full attention. Good Luck Guys.

    1. I am not a lawyer, and not Jewish, (and what does Jewish have to do with it anyway) but this bike intrigues me. The mid mount pegs to me is a bonus, and there may just be a market for individualist who don’t want to ride in a group of 1000 other individualists who all ride the same bike.

  3. If it’s a touring cruiser, report on the windscreens available please and the wind noise exposure.

  4. Well typical of all large cruisers, short guys cant open their legs wide enough to get around the tank comfortably.
    Are these cruisers now becoming outdated? Are all the people that ride them slowly giving them up and a glut of used but unused cruisers flooding the market?
    I went to the motorcycle show in Toronto. The most comfortable bikes, that felt like a bike should be, were the Triumph Bonneville and the Kawasaki 650. I tried a lot of bikes. Most of them just too big and heavy. A bike should be light enough to manage without struggling. I also thoguht Motto Guzzi and Royal Enfield were good, and quality improving for the RE.
    All in all I believe smaller bikes will get more popular, esp. electric when they become affordable.

    1. I am 5’4″ with a 28″ inside leg…. I had no problem flat-footing this bike, with even some bend at the knee and comfortably seated.
      Sat on a HD Low-Rider and could JUST get my feet flat after sliding up to the tank and legs fully straight.
      It’s only Harley’s that are fat where it matters most to short riders

  5. I really don't get it! It's always the same story…why tha *** do these machines sell first in the USA and at a lower price Than EU!?it should be the reverse…. anyway find the cylinders dangerously Sticking hot out there and reducing maneuver ability in tight European traffic…. otherwise cool bike…pitty it's German…

  6. Disappointing numbers from such a large engine. 100 newtons is just 74ft/lbs. My 1200 thruxton makes 85ft/lbs or, 115 newtons if you prefer. Cool looking for the segment but I doubt they'll sell many.

  7. "Built in Berlin", but costing more in Europe? At current exchange rates, €22,8000 is over $24,600!
    Why is a German-built bike so much more expensive in Europe?

  8. The styling needs a home. It looks like they werent sure if they wanted to be a british 50s, an american 70s/80s, or something else. Not particularly attractive, although the exposed drive shaft is interesting. I'm not in love with or hating anything. Its just kinda boring. Is that what they wanted?

    1. I just took an R18 for a test ride. Interesting to say the least. It is definitely retro and has a strong curb appeal. I liked the pipes, the exposed shaft and the reverse gear.
      The first acceleration from a stop was frightening because it pulled hard to the right with the engine torque and the shaft drive. I had trouble getting my foot under the shifter but in retrospect I could have used the heel shifter but forgot it was there. I pulled out on the freeway and within 1km was pulled over by the police. They did not even ask me for my license. They just wanted to see the bike. It is definitely a head turner. Looks like a great cruising machine. I would want one with the floating seat just for the “cool” factor.

  9. I have the old R1200C BMW cruiser with the same mid controls behind the boxer heads and never feels hot in Georgia summers. Feet are down when at stops and air flow prevents heat when moving. I would expect this bike to feel the same. My Ducati (or any other air cooled twin) with engine higher and your thighs is hot in summer.

  10. I ride. Suzuki Boulevard C109 which is an 1800cc bike and it comes stock with 123hp and 117ft/lbs of torque. I too was disappointed with the numbers they are giving for such a huge bike.

  11. I put 110,000 miles on a 1974 R90S, and I never had any issues with heat from the cylinders, and I rode in the lower midwest in baking hot summers. I'm curious if there can be passenger pegs/seats? what is the wet weight? Fuel capacity? I love the traditional look of black with white pinstripes and the old /2 style frame. nice job!

  12. Those pipes are atrocious. Also, can't put forward controls on it because of the engine poking out on the sides…

  13. Another straight-line torque monster–meant to be seen, not ridden. BMW’s timing is unfortunate, given the inexorable demise of H-D as its adherents gradually fade into the murky past. Buy one now, put it in the garage for 50 years, the bring it out to the wonderment of those who long for the days of the culmination of the 19-th century industrial revolution.

  14. Too expensive for what it is , not even a fuel gauge , ugly pipes , Harley fat boy beats it hands down , what is air cooled all about at this price

  15. This is Ivan again. In promise I can make this bike the new standard in California. I can pay for it although my credit sucks. Call me or email me. I’ll do anything to get this bike seen and respected amongst the riding committee in Cali. All I need is a real chance. I live this bike. Thank you Ivan

  16. Just test drove this here in Florida. Thought at 6’3” the seating position would cramp me a bit.
    Needless to say, impressed as hell.
    Have owned a 99 R12C for over 15 years. Was happy with the underwhelming performance of the boxer because the bike, to me, was and still is amazing.
    To my pleasant surprise, the R18 proved to be a a solid, surprisingly comfortable and actually fun ride .
    Rain mode initially held back but kicked-in competently.
    Rock mode could literally have your passenger fall off the back in multiple gears.
    Rain mode was perfect when my wife finally joined me for the test ride, although after 13 months of pandemic living I was tempted to switch to Rock and have her fall off the back. 🙂
    So now I am looking at my options, of I buy now I take advantage of a fantastic 0 percent program, and will make up my mind this week as to whether I buy or not.
    I will admit, been riding all my life but this thing is a beast and a head turner.
    Kudos to the boys in Berlin.

  17. Just purchased the 2022 R18 Transcontinental trading in my Harley Ultra Class Limited. I’ve ridden the Harley for over 15 years, and felt it was time to try something different.

    On the plus side.. I was shocked. The cylinders ride cooler than the Harley, and leg rests above the cylinders can be used without a concern for heat.

    The second surprise, this bike technically weighs more than the Ultra Limited, but it handles better at low speed. The weight is lower, which makes is noticeably easier to manage at low speed. The reverse gear is a bit odd, but works well. It’s particularly useful in a gravel parking lot. Lastly the best surprise.. the sound of the Vance and Hines tailpipe are excellent, as is the low rpm torque.

    There are other coo-dos for this bike but a few not so good things. One which I took for granted is the service provided by Harley dealers.. It’s not there with BMW. If an R18 needs service on a long trip, you might have a problem finding parts. I had to schedule my first service a month after purchasing the bike. R18 mechanics are in very short supply. That’s not much of an issue with Harley. There seems to be a Harley dealer with great mechanics in most of the US and Canada.
    The R18 is not built to be self-serviced. The users manual doesn’t even discuss how to change oil. The BMW engineers just don’t seem to like ordinary mechanics working on their beautiful machines. The R18 has a lot of high tech features that are not well documented in their manual. Even the BMW sales people tend to not fully understand how this bike works. For Harley riders you’ll be surprised to find you cannot start this bike with the kick stand down. Also, surprisingly, you can shift the R18 from 1st to Neutral while underway. Imagine the surprise you got from leaving a stop, getting to 10 mph and found the bike in neutral, fully loaded with a passenger. Opps, giving it extra throttle didn’t increase the speed.

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