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BMW Unveils Production R 18 Cruiser With Massive Boxer Engine

Seen in concept form many times, BMW has now unveiled the production version of the massive 1.8 liter Boxer twin, which will be known as the R 18. A direct shot at the cruiser category, the R 18 promises to be the perfect starting point for customization.

Before discussing the technology, particularly the engine, a tip of the hat to BMW for the purity of the design of the R 18. Take a look at the video below (which, frankly, is largely annoying) and scroll to 11:50 where you will see the profile of the bike in motion. The proportions, and balance, are gorgeous in our opinion. Attractive details abound, such as the exposed drive shaft.

The engine is 1,802cc, with a claimed 90 horsepower and 111 pound/feet of torque available everywhere between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm.

We won’t bore you with all of the details, but you can find everything you might like to know, and probably more by following the link below to the full press release. The R 18 can be pre-ordered now, starting at $18,190, U.S. MSRP.

133 Comments

  1. OldBiker says:

    I’m pretty tall and I can’t imagine the seating position would be comfortable for extended touring. Sort of like a Goldwing, big bike but nowhere to stretch your legs. Probably a fun day trip bike or a bike for shorter riders. Mufflers would have to go though!

  2. Tommy D says:

    I came here for the comments. You didn’t disappoint. I thought Honda was late to the table. This is 20 years late. Also that Hipster video is a tired, over played with its fake vibe that actually matches this motorcycle quite well.

  3. Ricardo says:

    Nice bike, I think it will need a massive engine guard bar in case you lay it down in a parking lot :-). I also think the Triumph Bobber looks better than this one.

  4. Hugh says:

    Wait…do all BMW boxers have offset cylinders? Or is it just this enormous one? How could I not have known this? Anyway, not feeling the negativity. Yes that video is super annoying, but the bike is cool. As a person who is at the age where something more cruiser-y might be starting to make sense, I’d choose this over any Harley, hands down. But personally I’m still thinking Speed Twin….

    • OldBiker says:

      Haha! Yes they all have offset cylinders. I laugh because I bought a R1200GS and didn’t notice it for months. Then one day I was riding and looked down and went “What the hell?”. I went home and looked at a lot of pictures online to convince myself that this was normal and that mine wasn’t put together wrong!

    • Snake says:

      “Wait…do all BMW boxers have offset cylinders”

      Only for the past [99] years, LOL… ;-P

      Yes it’s always been there, only Harleys use forked connecting rods. It was mentioned and noticed more prior to the 1990’s ‘oilhead’ engines because the old airheads used Bing carburetors rather than fuel injection, and the differing positions of the (more bulky) carbs made it much more apparent.

    • RyYYZ says:

      This one has particularly offset cylinders, I think, due to the extra main bearing between the crank throws. Other boxer twins only have two main bearings, I believe.

  5. Donald Fraser says:

    That’s Alan Stulberg from Revival. Wondering what happens if a piece of clothing gets wound up in the exposed drive shaft. Sure the brilliant German engineers have considered that.

    • Bob S. says:

      I wondered how the open driveshaft got past the legal staff, but then it occurred to me that it’s probably no more risky than the exposed parts of a chain or belt.

    • todd says:

      Those exposed wheels and exposed pavement sure look scary too!!!

  6. Hot Dog says:

    Jeez, an exposed PTO shaft sorta gives me the willies. First time I saw a exposed shaft drive was at Brainerd, when Dr. Johns Guzzi pulled into the pits. The safety devil in my head wants a covered PTO shaft. The lucky ones had their clothes ripped off, the unlucky ones…..

    • EZMark says:

      A guy I know had a Harley with an exposed primary drive. He reached down with his hand to put out his kickstand and took off his third finger.
      Moral of the story: Don’t ride this bike with shoelaces. Or a long jacket.

      • Hot Dog says:

        Well darn, guess the only good in this story is there’s one less Harley rider flippin’ off Jap riders.

    • dt-175 says:

      I loved going to BIR, and Battle of the Twins was my favorite class. only Harley I ever wanted was gene church’s “lucifer’s hammer”.

    • Snake says:

      Of more recent vintage, Yamaha did it very successfully in the V-Star 650 and 1100 lines; it’s really not that much of a problem, and many people like the looks.

  7. Stuki Moi says:

    Love the engine.

    My back nixes the “all weight on tailbone”, the “sit on the rear axle” (mandated by feet forward and simultaneously behind the cylinders) and the short rear suspension travel.

    I think a “big bike” (CB1300, XJR1300, heck even the new naked supercharged Kawi, type), built around this engine, would be sweet. Ditto a more barebones, classical, “Luftmeister style” RT.

    I know cruisers are where the meat of the big, expensive retro market is at, but feet fully forward and cylinders sticking out blocking your legs, just aren’t the most natural of fits.

  8. southbound says:

    It’s got Honda Rune written all over it. An exercise in styling and a market life to equal the Rune. Probably a great bike, but I think a two year run will prove me right.

    • carl says:

      Two years?? Obviously you are not watching the economy about to fall into a blackhole.

      • southbound says:

        I’m just saying if all things were equal, the Rune was a great bike, went begging, and gone in two years. It was going to be limited to a two year run but if it had caught on I’m sure they would have ramped up. Even with a decent economy I think BMW misread something. It’s a styling exercise and they think this is what a cruiser should look like? It’s primarily the mufflers that make me think only an ex-Rune designer would think of. Or some swoopy 30’s era experimant.

  9. frankie says:

    That BMW cruiser of yesteryear R1200C was ugly as sin, the R18 aint far behind. Who the hell okayed that exhaust-reminds me of the giant ugly one on the first K-series. I bet they wont sell a thousand worldwide. And yeah-90hp claimed which will be about true 80 doesnt excite.THe video? Cringeworthy: i bailed out after 5 minutes.

  10. gpokluda says:

    Looks like an early 2000’s Ural Retro. No thanks.

  11. Sam Jones says:

    I’ve owned 20 BMW’s (since ’76). My current ride is the R1250RS with mostly boxers and a few K bikes and a few more F series as well. The R18 is stunning and I would love to have one in my garage but I must confess, I think the R18 will see formidable competition (in this very narrow market segment) from Triumph’s fabulous RocketIII. The R18 may be more “collectible” but the Rocket will be the “riders’ choice.”

  12. dt-175 says:

    it looks like a /2. Robert pirsig surely would recognize the personalities/influencers in this video.

  13. The video first: Annoying barely scratches the surface. To begin, “reveal” is a noun, not a verb. Secondly, who are these clowns? Now, the bike: UGLY and over priced. Not an unusual BMW approach, it must be said. If I see more than five on the road this riding season, I will eat my Arai. MFC

    • Snake says:

      My personal complaint with the video is the usual YouTube garbage: it (attempts) to put you through long, long minutes of wasteful faff that says NOTHING, just watching someone **yap his stupid mouth off*, before it gets to the meat of the topic and anything interesting.

      Watched for 1 minute, mostly fast-forwarding to find some actual, relevant FACTS. Turned it off after hitting the 3++ minute mark and found it *still* wasting my time.

  14. bmbktmracer says:

    Pipe Bashers! Check this out:
    https://nmoto.com/

    The R18’s exhaust is a copy of the nmoto exhaust which itself is a copy of the R7 showbike exhaust from way back in the day.

    The nmoto bike costs $80,000!

  15. Neal says:

    What a silly, pretty thing. I like how the path of the air is visible, with the airbox feeding the cylinders feeding the exhaust. I feel like the kind of person who likes a clean, precise German cruiser is the kind of person who has strong opinions on date windows on watches… the kind of person who will kvetch about the offset cylinder heads ruining the bike’s symmetry. I’d rather have a Softail Street Bob myself.

  16. mickey says:

    I didn’t find the video as objectionable as many of you did. I enjoyed the riding part, but then I always like to see people enjoying themselves riding.

    It’s easy to see now who their target audience is. None of them looked like me lol

  17. Steve says:

    Who decided on those pipes? Fugly! Plenty of used Yamaha 1100 Virago/Star cruisers out there for < $4000!

  18. Provologna says:

    “…the video below (which, frankly, is largely annoying)…” One of many great reasons this is my only regular motorcycle site is honesty like this. Most press are fearful to bite the hand that feeds them, but not our intrepid reporter!

    OTOH, yes, the annoying nature of this video can hardly be over stated…It’s like the producers spent days listing any and every pathetic stereotype of the intended demographic, then included them in the video, with among the worst B actors extant.

    The video make me puke a little in my mouf.

  19. dt-175 says:

    it’s ironic that at 3:50ish as he speaks of “getting the band back together”, behind him it says “don’t be a dick”… form-over-function seems an odd market strategy for bmw. the /2 series this thing apes was a serious machine for serious riders, wasn’t it? or is everybody now like the doosh with whom pirsig rode west?

  20. RonH says:

    What a nasty video.
    I sure wish these manufacturers would present a video showing the development and technical aspects of a motorcycle along with riding the bike.
    No distracting “friend banter” or music or even spectacular scenery. Try using still cameras to point out the bikes features, options, starting the motorcycle, sound clips, riding impression and maybe even specifications at the end.
    I couldn’t care less about South Africa, an individual’s personal excitement over the bike, group socializing, or fast food.

  21. Marty O says:

    The R1200C was MUCH prettier IMO and look how far that went. But looks are subjective. I can’t see Bond riding one of these to escape capture:) This just looks big for big’s sake. I will never be cool enough to own a cruiser anyway:)

  22. Bill N says:

    There are some interesting statements in the press release. On page 2 it says”The most powerful 2 cylinder boxer engine ever used in motorcycle series production has a displacement of 1802cc. The peak power output is 91hp at 4750 rpm and 116 lbs-ft at 3000 rpm.” They have quoted higher hp than that on many recent 2 cylinder boxer engines. On page 7 it says “Here, valve clearance compensation is not affected by means of hydraulic elements-as was the case in most classic air cooled BMW 2 valve boxers for decades- but via one adjusting screw with a lock nut for each valve”. BMWs have never had hydraulic valves- I quit reading the press release at that point.

    • bmidd says:

      They worded it correctly, you comprehended it incorrectly.

      “Here, valve clearance compensation is not affected by means of hydraulic elements (MEANING NON-HYDRAULIC ELEMENTS)-as was the case in most classic air cooled BMW 2 valve boxers for decades”(meaning they ALSO DID NOT have hydraulic elements).

    • VLJ says:

      I thought the same thing, but then I re-read it and decided that they merely constructed the sentence poorly. I think what they were trying to say is the new one is like the old ones, which didn’t have hydraulic elements. They simply worded it backwards.

      I suspect that what they meant to say was something along the lines of…

      “Here, as was the case in most classic air-cooled BMW 2-valve Boxers for decades, valve clearance is not affected by means of hydraulic elements, but rather via adjusting one adjusting screw with a lock nut for each valve.”

      The punctuation in their text is so lacking that it leads me to believe it wasn’t written or proofread by a native English speaker, which might also explain the confusing sentence construction.

      Either that, or they’re just idiots. I’m guessing the former.

      Anyway, I was more stuck by their claim that t his is the most powerful Boxer engine. Combining horsepower and torque, my math says the latest 1250 Boxer motor is significantly more powerful. Of course it’s liquid cooled, but they didn’t make any distinctions between air/air and oil/oil and liquid cooling.

    • todd says:

      Pure drivel.

    • mickey says:

      Does it have more torque than other boxer twins? When talking cruisers they usually talk torque and rarely talk horsepower.

      • guu says:

        Its even worse if you mean torque and say power.

      • mickey says:

        Until the last year or so Harley and Indian never quoted horsepower, only torque.(because they didn’t want you to know how little horsepower they had). But they had a lot of torque.

        and todd don’t go all bicycle pedaling on us again lol

  23. Wendy says:

    Uh, no thanks, anyhow.

  24. Grover says:

    The best part of the video starts @ 14:34.

  25. Rick says:

    The answer to a question never asked…..those wild & crazy Germans…BMW should be ashamed…leave this segment to Harley & Indian

    • bmidd says:

      I agree. Harley should be ashamed too, leave the ADV bikes and naked performance bikes, to those that know how to make them.

  26. gt1964 says:

    I like the style. I just don’t need 1800cc to “cruise”. Cut the cc in half, and the price while your at it.

  27. GT08 says:

    Can we go back to the 1985-95 period. That was such great time for motorcycle.
    It was all sportbike, not much Harley on road, we dnidt know the term hipster and BMW was cool whit the K75 serie. It was a colorfull era. Now everything is gray, everybody wear beard.

  28. MGNorge says:

    I’m not sure what to think?

  29. Anonymous says:

    I see the R18 emblem on the side proclaims “First Edition”. Any guesses on when we’ll see the one that says “Last Edition”?

  30. Anonymous says:

    I like it! Beautiful machine!

  31. peter says:

    Prettiest cruiser I’ve ever seen by a mile. I would actually own one. Never thought I would say that.

  32. EZMark says:

    A cruiser that bends your legs up like a sportbike?
    Not sure the aging bike market will approve.

  33. JanJ says:

    Reminds me of my 95 Ace, in that the first ride in rain causes so much work that I ended up adding a flared front fender extension making it look like a 39 Indian Chief Fender….

    I see this front fender and it brings up hours and hours of cleaning after the first ride in rain!!

    • carl says:

      Impossible most of these will never leave the garage!

      • Grover says:

        Sure they will. They’ll ride to the local food truck, just like in the video and then back home again. Perhaps they’ll ride it to the local tattoo parlor and get a big BMW tattooed across their chest. It’s all about the looks, not the ride.

  34. bmbktmracer says:

    Regarding the video, it’s rather amusing to watch millenials pretend to be authentic, especially with their overdone half beards and tattoos and throwback hairdos. Just go ride and shut the f up.

  35. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    The more smug youth life style portrayed in an add, the less functional the product. I can only guess that this might be so under stressed it would be a good night continuous high speed banzai runner, but the chopper ergos would suck way before dawn.

  36. The Anonymous says:

    Oh Buddha! I tried to watch the video…Talk about stupid. It’s as if those old enough and affluent enough for this bike were somehow transmogrified ricHippies that speak in dulcet tones of modern day Hipster. This is worse than the so-called HD Pirate Riders.

    I did try jumping ahead to 11:50 but it was all just stooopid, blowin’ in the wind…”Hell yeah, man!”

  37. The Anonymouse says:

    Big motor, small gas tank, more than likely dismal mpg. Dumb.

    Those wheels look nice and traditional. I hope they are tubeless. They don’t look at all like BMW’s normal tubeless spoke wheel. Maybe each spoke hole is sealed or they have a rubber band going around the rim and then they glued it down to seal it tight and prevent air from leaking out. If not…Also dumb.

    The motor looks like a couple of Armadillo’s on the BBQ. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Which brings us to…

    The look of the bike is acceptable enough. But again, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Only when something or someone is unquestionably good looking can that old adage be set aside. This bike is not unquestionably good looking.

    Exposed shaft drive looks cool. Hopefully if it fails we’ll be able to see where it failed. But it does look cool.

    Skybullet is probably right on almost all counts. The same is mostly true for VLJ’s excellent observations.

  38. Skybullet says:

    Millennial Posers, your bike is here. When it’s all about styling (both rider and the bike) the impression they make is way more important than anything else. I understand the need for a manufacturer to have new product; but it could backfire, Cadillac trashed their image in the 70’s and it cost them dearly. The climb back up is long and tough. BMW built a forgettable chrome cruiser many years ago and embarrassed their loyal customers. Again??

  39. Tom K. says:

    I bet they sell at least ten of them the first year in Europe alone.

  40. larlok says:

    Like the model T, any color you want.

  41. TimC says:

    “One of my heroes I guess would be Sting. I mean, I don’t listen to any of his music, but I really respect that he’s making it.”

  42. carl says:

    UMM pass the seating position will suck after an hour. Those cylinders don’t allow room to move your feet forward unless you have 50 inch inseam. Maybe you can use cylinders as floorboards.

    • Denis says:

      Way back in the early ‘70’s, I was 16 and owned my first bike—a little Honda CB 125. But my dream bike was the BMW R75/5. That flat twin with shaft drive was the ultimate configuration for me. An uncle of mine even had a Marusho Magnum 500 at the time. Look that one up if you don’t know what I’m talking about. What a great time in my life. Did I fail to mention that I like this bike?

      Am I the only one who noticed that the gas cap looks like the screw-on case back of a Rolex watch?

      Yes the video sucked. If you want to see a real good bike intro video, watch the one that Honda made for the CB 1100. I believe it was shot in New Zealand. I look at that clip when we have snow and bitter cold. Beautiful and uplifting.

      OK-this old fart is done now.

      • mickey says:

        Like I, or most of this crowd, have ever seen the back of a Rolex watch lol

        These people hate people who can afford a new Rolex.

  43. VLJ says:

    Two bad points: That crazy moray eel-shaped exhaust, and the inherent narrowness of most V-Twin cruisers is ruined by the enormous Boxer motor. Nestled below that minimalist frame, those cylinder heads jut out SO FAR! Ground clearance, or the lack thereof, is sure to be a very expensive riot.

    One horrifically bad point: 1802 ccs, and only eighty or so rwhp? How is that even possible, especially when it’s also only making about 100 ft-lbs of torque at the wheel?

    Another horrifically bad point: those apehangers. Come on, people. Apehangers? Seriously?

    Still another: the sound of a Boxer motor, in loud-pipes cruiser guise. As John Burns likes to say, “The best BMW Boxer motor is the quietest BMW Boxer motor. Otherwise, ‘flatulent’ is the word that comes to mind.”

    Good points: The wheels are fantastic, and the overall dimensions are gorgeous, excepting that gawdawful exhaust pipe. Also, the overall fit and finish and attention to detail appear to be very high. The exposed driveshaft is a great touch. Classy tank, too.

    Overall, though, this thing fairly screams, “Here is something absolutely NONE OF YOU asked for, and no one wants! Yep, another BMW cruiser, and this one’s priced close to $20K! Hope all eight of you actual buyers enjoy it! Bwaaaahahahahaaaa!”

  44. JC says:

    Give BMW credit for trying to enter a new area, but the inability to have forward controls will be an issue with this bike.

    The exhaust is the most hideous thing I’ve seen in years. But the aftermarket can fix that.

    Overall, not a bad looking cruiser.

  45. mickey says:

    They are counting on a lot of Harley riders being tired of the potato sound and would prefer a tractor sound

    Or

    a lot of Beemer riders itching to dump the Shuberth, Aerostitch, Klim and Dainese gear for doo rags, sleeveless T’t, Jean’s and engineer boots.

  46. frank says:

    Nice clean looking machine, although I could do without those particular mufflers.

  47. bmbktmracer says:

    Nice looking machine. The tractor-seat and ape-hanger versions don’t work for me, but the regular models are okay. The whole thing seems much better suited to women, however, as the seat height looks punishingly low for average and taller sized males. The styling touches are really nice and they did a great job of creating something modern with a touch of vintage style.

  48. Johnny Ro says:

    The powertrain has huge potential. Beautiful bike and same for the work they did on this. I sense people at BMW Motorrad really like what they are doing.

    I agree on the annoying video, like an online resume for some advertising agency. The people look like they are having fun so that is all OK.

    Cue the comments on the exhaust pipes.

    I thought the oil cooler could be oriented differently to be less prominent. On other sites it is more visible.

    In the morning, back to my ’89 GS500E, sort the carbs next. A different modern classic.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful. I don’t like V-Twin motors because the rear cylinder give off too much heat for south Texas. Just wish is was more in the 1000cc area.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Wow! I bet they sell 10/15 of those.