2021 BMW R18 First Look

by | Apr 4, 2020 | BMW, motoGP News

Since May of last year, we’ve been anxiously awaiting the official reveal of the BMW R18. We’ve had hints from BMW. We’ve had spy photos. But we haven’t had anything for sure. Well, that time is at hand. Today, BMW officially unveiled the 2021BMW R18. What does it have other than the “Big Boxer” engine? Read on and find out.

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1. Largest, Most Powerful Boxer Ever Built

The R18’s engine looks big because it is big! How does 1802cc sound? According to BMW, the power output befits the engine’s size. The largest displacement BMW has made in its 97 years of creating boxers pumps out a claimed 91 hp at 4,750 rpm and 116 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. While the torque peak is impressive, the torque wave that the engine produces, with over 110 lb-ft available from 2,000-4,000 rpm, should make any cruiser fan happy.

2. Uniquely Named Ride Modes

German engineers aren’t typically known for their sense of humor, but it is on full display in the choice of ride modes available. While we all know what the Rain mode would be from previous ride-by-wire motorcycles, Roll and Rock are new but still somewhat self-explanatory.

3. The “Big Boxer” Has 4-Valve Heads And Pushrods

The modern 4-valve heads are still operated by pushrods activated by dual camshafts, which are chain-driven off the crankshaft. With the cams positioned above the crankshaft on either side of the engine, the pushrods are shorter, which reduces moving mass, decreases deflection, and minimizes linear expansion of the pushrods when they are hot. The end result is improved control of the valve timing.

4. A Slip-Assist Clutch

Although BMW refers to it as a “self-reinforcing anti-hopping clutch,” the job description is pretty clear. Big Twins – Boxers included – generate tremendous compression-braking forces, and a slipper clutch will eliminate rear wheel skip during bungled downshifts.

5. Elemental Suspension

BMW has eschewed fancy electronically-controlled suspension components for more traditional analog pieces. The 49mm standard fork hides its delicate sliders under covers that are painted black just like the fork lowers. The rear hardtail-look suspension has a linkage-controlled single shock hidden inside the frame. Travel front and rear is 4.7 in. and 3.5 in., respectively.

6. Wire-Spoked Wheels

The R18’s wheels come with centrally-mounted spokes, meaning (we guess) that the tires will have tubes. The 19-in. front wheel will sport either a 120/70 R 19 or 120/70 B 19, thanks to multiple tire suppliers. The rear 180/65 B 16 will mount to a 5.0 x 16-in. rim.

7. The Drive Shaft is Exposed!

BMW knows its way around shaft drive motorcycles. So, we weren’t surprised about the final drive choice. However, there is something really appealing about seeing the spinning chromed drive shaft below the seat of a cruiser. It’s been done before, but that doesn’t make it any less cool.

8. Disc Brakes All Around

Being a performance-focused manufacturer, BMW naturally put dual 300mm discs, squeezed by four-piston fixed calipers on the front. A single-disc/caliper combination of the same 300mm disc and four-piston variety live out back. The ABS adapts the braking forces, front and rear, to balance the load distribution when triggered.

9. Round Headlight

In a nod to tradition, the headlight is a classic round housing. However, the application is thoroughly modern. The headlight itself is an LED unit, which features “optimized low and high beam light.” A factory turning light is available as an option and is powered by separate LEDs with their own reflector that are triggered by the motorcycle’s lean angle.

10. Combination Gauge

Don’t be fooled by the round speedometer housing. It’s all for styling. Inside, it features an analog speedometer and a digital information display. The indicator lamps are “invisible” until activated.

11. Classic Riding Position

While not necessarily the typical feet-forward cruiser riding position, the R18 has mid-mounted pegs to offer the ideal compromise between a relaxed riding position and one for a more enthusiastic pace. The seat is a comfortable 27.2 in. from the pavement.

12. That Exhaust

We will leave it to you to decide if the exhaust system is a beauty or an abomination.

13. Accessories Galore

Customization is a key component of cruiser ownership, and BMW made sure that there were plenty of options available. The R18 will launch with a raft of offers from Original BMW Motorrad Accessories. Two collections of accessories will be available from Roland Sands. BMW has also partnered with Mustang Seats and Vance & Hines exhausts for further customizing possibilities.

14. Available In Two Versions

An exclusive R18 First Edition will be available worldwide at the model launch, featuring classic black paint detailed with white pinstripes, chrome upgrades, a seat badge, and a First Edition chrome clasp on the side covers. The U.S. price for the First Edition will be $19,870. A Base model will also be available in select markets. In the U.S., the MSRP will be $17,495.

15. BMW’s First Cruiser?

The press documents proclaim “With the new R 18, BMW Motorrad now enters the cruiser segment.” Maybe BMW is right. Perhaps the BMW R1200C is best left down the memory hole.

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2021 BMW R 18 Specifications
MSRP Base: $17,495

First Edition: $19,870
Engine Type Air/water-cooled 2-cylinder 4-stroke boxer, OHV, four valves per cylinder
Displacement 1802cc (110 ci)
Bore x Stroke 107.1 mm x 100 mm
Horsepower 91 hp at 4750 rpm (claimed)
Torque 116 lb-ft. at 3000 rpm (claimed)
Compression 9.6:1
Engine Control BMS-O
Emission Control Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, EU5 exhaust standard
Alternator 600W
Battery 12/26 V/Ah maintenance-free
Headlight LED low beam with projection module

LED high beam with projection module
Starter kW 1.5
Clutch Hydraulically activated single-disc dry clutch
Gearbox Constant-mesh 6-speed gearbox
Final Drive Universal shaft
Frame Double-loop steel tube frame
Front Suspension Telescopic fork, fork tube Ø 49 mm, 4.7 inches of travel
Rear Suspension Cantilever, 3.5 inches of travel
Front Brake Twin disc brake Ø 300 mm
Rear Brake Single disc brake Ø 300 mm
ABS BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral)
Rake/Trail 32.7°/5.9 inches
Wheelbase 68.1 inches
Fuel Capacity 4.2 gallons

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