2021 BMW R 18 Classic First Look Preview
A touring-capable version of the BMW power cruiser.But the R 18 in base trim is essentially a big, classed-up bobber. Not the best for long-range rides. BMW is hoping to entice some riders to test the touring chops of its R 18 platform with the new R 18 Classic.
© Provided by Motorcycle Cruiser BMW has chosen to partner up with Kingston Custom for the second bike in its Soulfuel series.
BMW’s R 18 cruiser has inspired a wild variety of customs in its short life, and it seems like it’s not done yet. The latest eye-opening effort in the brand’s Soulfuel series—a collaboration between BMW Motorrad and selected customizers—is Dirk Oehlerking’s Spirit of Passion, an art deco-flavored amalgam of sumptuous bodywork and inspired details using a mostly stock R 18 as the framework. (The previous R 18 build in the Soulfuel group came from Blechmann.) It’s yet another twist from the previous customs we’ve seen on this platform; a world away from Roland Sands’ down-and-dirty Dragster, or the airy, titanium-framed Birdcage bike from Revival, or even the jaw-dropping Departed build from Custom Works Zon.
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© Provided by Motorcycle Cruiser Called Spirit of Passion in custom circles, Kingston Custom refers to it as the Kingston Air Stream Roadster Limited Edition.
Oehlerking’s creative outlet is called Kingston Custom, and he’s not exactly unfamiliar with BMW’s product line; the dude has built more than a dozen custom machines wearing the blue-and-white roundel over the years, including the singular Black Phantom and its sibling machine, the R80RT-based White Phantom.
Related: Behold BMW’s Newest Custom, The Blechmann R 18 © Provided by Motorcycle Cruiser Racer, designer, and master craftsman Dirk Oehlerking is no stranger to BMW custom builds.
You can see some of the same 1930s influences in Spirit of Passion too, though the draw here is the curvaceous fairing, with Oehlerking handling the flowing bodywork, fenders, and handlebars himself. The R 18′s stock exhaust was modified to flow better with the roadster style, but most of the stuff under the bodywork was left pretty much stock, like the brakes, drivetrain, and suspension; even the fuel tank stayed OG. BMW says it’s all a tribute to the R 18′s “conversion-friendly architecture,” but you gotta admit the craftsmanship of the bodywork alone is from another planet.
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The little BMW roadster becomes more responsive in 2021.The major updates include a new ride-by-wire throttle, which BMW promises will allow for more instant power delivery at initial roll-on and more precise throttle response mid-ride. There is also a new slipper clutch to smooth out downshifts, along with an increase in idle speed to help riders, particularly newer riders, avoid stalling the bike.
Related: 2021 BMW R 18 First Ride Review © Provided by Motorcycle Cruiser Front grille element is a nod to 1930s-era BMW roadster.
The overall classic art deco theme is unmistakable, but Oehlerking was careful to reference the stock R 18 where possible, adopting and adapting the original paint and pinstripes, and extending them to the new parts to create a homogenous whole. You can see the detail in the fairing’s paintwork and as far back as the fin and precisely fitting full wheel cover at the rear end, which also continues the double pinstriping.
Related: Custom Works Zon’s “Departed” Wins Best Of Show At Mooneyes Show © Provided by Motorcycle Cruiser Oehlerking was careful to match the stock R 18’s paint and pinstriping with the new bodywork, from the massive fairing back to the rear wheel cover (which is hinged to allow wheel access).
The front grille detail in the fairing is modeled on the radiator grille of a 1930s BMW roadster, but even though it looks period-correct, the solo saddle came right out of BMW’s range of universal accessories. No need to go full exotic, right? An inset LED headlight and updated Kellermann indicators give the bike a modern touch and improve on-road safety to boot (yup, she’s roadworthy).
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© Provided by Motorcycle Cruiser Sport shield and the Kingston logo adorns the huge expanse of bodywork up front.
Sure, it’s polarizing; the Spirit of Passion’s style is definitely not everybody’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying that Oehlerking’s eye for singular design and meticulous approach to craftsmanship are something to appreciate.
Well-placed cutouts ensure parts of the stock drivetrain and engine are visible. Solo seat is from the BMW accessory collection.
From this angle you can see the Streamline Moderne design influence; stock pipe was modified to fit the aesthetic.
One of Oehlerking’s earlier BMW builds, the White Phantom. Can you pick out an R80RT under there?
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BMW sets up a new, limited edition model of its upper class series for China. Its painting is reminiscent of the cars of the worst rivals. © BMW Group Two-type paint covers are nothing new in the car world. Interestingly, they are mainly at the two ends of the offer spectrum: small and compact cars are often individualized through color-deposed roof parts, because their surcharges can maximize the margin. For the same reason, such coloring are also widely used in the absolute luxury class.