I’ve written in the past about how some manufacturers are better than others when it comes to making their heritage work for them. This isn’t always as easy as you think. For a long time, new models were all about looking forward rather than back. Being lighter, faster and more advanced than a previous model was the focus, because that’s what the market demanded.
When retro motorcycles landed, this changed. Suddenly brand history was important, lifestyle choices became the primary part of the sales pitch and performance pretty much played second fiddle to the importance of the past.
The room that I stood in for the presentation of the BMW R18 was the actual room that the first BMW Boxer engine was built in. I refuse to work in a childish link to ‘the war’, but it’s important to mention that there was a period in BMW’s history where they were banned from making the aeroplanes that their business was built upon. They shifted their focus instead to making engines for motorcycles and in 1920 the Boxer Twin was born.
This isn’t a history lesson, but to be stood next to a century old engine in the very room that it was conceived in, at the same time as casting an eye over the new 1800cc Boxer Twin powered R18, was very cool and about as authentic a narrative as you will find. All the while social distancing was in full effect, I’d call the presentation the perfect example of mechanical bubbling. The same family all under the same roof.
So what is it?
The R18 is the largest capacity Boxer Twin engined bike BMW or any other manufacturer has ever made, housed in a long and low chassis that is the perfect shape to go Harley hunting. Watch the full review and then carry on reading please.
Should you test ride one?
Absolutely. Even if you’re not in the market for this bike yet, the time will come when cruisers start to catch your eye and you owe it to yourself to understand the differences between Harley Davidson, Indian, Moto Guzzi and the couple of Japanese offerings in the sector. The bottom line is the BMW R18 is a fun bike to ride and you will find something during a test ride that will make you smile. That’s what these kinds of bikes are all about, you can enjoy them at their best without having to ride at ten tenths everywhere. If you’re reading this and swearing you’ll never be that kind of biker, bookmark this page and come back in a year. Repeat and I promise that eventually you’ll get it.
Should you buy one?
If you’re in the market for a cruiser you should definitely consider it. In dynamic terms it’s very good. It comes with access into the BMW network which in customer service terms is very strong. The range of accessories means you will find your own way to the perfect R18 for you, do so knowing that the base model is already good enough to compete with anything else in the cruiser sector.
The BMW R18 costs from £18,995, find your nearest dealer here.