Motorcycles: The BMW R 18 Is Too Big, But Too Good To Hate

The 2021 BMW M5 Competition is much easier to live with

  The 2021 BMW M5 Competition is much easier to live with Retuned suspension components make the BMW M5 a little softer, resulting in a much more comfortable daily driver.To give you some context, the previous M5 Competition was so stiffly sprung that it made this sport sedan almost unlivable day to day. Even in the suspension's default Comfort setting, you could feel every little bump and blemish. It was kind of a nightmare.

The BMW R 18 is not a new motorcycle, but it’s new to me. This is BMW’s take on the classic American cruiser, aimed at those riders who would be in the market for something from Harley-Davidson or Indian. I am decidedly not that rider. In fact, just two weeks ago, I had never ridden any cruiser, let alone one with an 1,802cc engine. I wrote off cruisers with that kind of displacement as ludicrous and scoffed at their bad handling.

a motorcycle parked on the side of a car © Photo: Jalopnik / José Rodríguez Jr.

I still think those criticisms are valid, but I am no longer as ardent about them because the 2021 BMW R 18 rides much lighter than it has any right to, and its engine is not the fire-breathing monster I had imagined. Even though BMW has released cruisers in the past, this is a mild departure from Motorrad’s comfort zone, but I am both happy and surprised to report that the R 18 is a good bike.

Shanghai debut at the Maybach-Style - BMW 7 Series Two-Tone

 Shanghai debut at the Maybach-Style - BMW 7 Series Two-Tone 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.

(Full Disclosure: Comoto invited me to an unusually rainy weekend in Forth Worth, Texas, to ride motorcycles from a number of bike makers and check out Revzilla and Cycle Gear kit at the first annual Get On! Moto Fest. I drove up from the Rio Grande Valley, but the company paid for my accommodations. I also participated in a Flat Track instruction course, courtesy of Comoto.)

a motorcycle parked in a parking lot © Photo: Jalopnik / José Rodríguez Jr.

No, that’s not the cruiser struggling against the weight of its left cylinder in that image. It’s just on its kickstand, but I would forgive you for thinking the latter was true. I can’t overstate what it’s like to throw your leg over the saddle of the R 18 and settle in, only to see the Big Boxer’s twin cylinders jut out further than your knees.

2022 BMW i4 preview: 2 models, 80-kWh battery, 300 miles of range and more

  2022 BMW i4 preview: 2 models, 80-kWh battery, 300 miles of range and more BMW divulges a few more details about the electric i4 ahead of its US debut.What can I tell you about the BMW i4 prototype I drove in Malibu last week? It's a promising preview of what's to come. Familiar, approachable and packed with a ton of new features and technology, the i4 represents a big step forward for BMW's electrification efforts.

I joked with the BMW rep that the horizontally-opposed cylinders would save my legs in the event of a crash. No sliders needed here, at least not to keep your lower body from getting road rash. Just look at these massive cylinders:

a motorcycle parked on the side of a building © Photo: Jalopnik / José Rodríguez Jr.

Of course, it would be a damn shame to mar their polished surfaces, so I tried my best to keep the rubber side down. That was tricky to do at first, because, I’d just ridden my first cruiser earlier that day—an Indian Chief Dark Horse. With either cruiser, I never quite became comfortable with the forward placement of the foot pegs. BMW referred to the controls as mid-mounted, funny enough.

It’s true that the R 18's foot pegs were not as forward as those on the Indian, but they are neither placed like those of a standard bike nor those of a sports bike, which is what I’m comfortable with.

The first few times I came to a complete stop on either cruiser, I was paddling my feet in midair, struggling to apply the rear brake and to downshift. That split second where my brain had to adjust to the controls was a little sketchy.

Confirmation via Instagram: BMW with LMDH program from 2023

 Confirmation via Instagram: BMW with LMDH program from 2023 BMW returns to the top class of international long-distance sports after more than 20 years: LMDH program starts with 24h Daytona 2023 BMW Motorsport Director Markus bottle had already been watched this day That it could give BMW in the future a new racing program on international motor sports platforms . On Thursday now bottle - a little unusual - self-proclaimed on his own Instagram account that will be the comeback at the 24 hours of Daytona of the year 2023.

Thankfully, the saddle of the R 18 was very low at just over 27 inches. Its low height helped me adjust to the ergonomics and helped with hoisting the bike’s mass at slow speeds. The R 18 weighs a whopping 761 pounds though, so low saddle or not, it’s a lot of bike to throw around. Despite what BMW’s reps told me, the R 18 did not shed any of its weight at parking lot speeds.

a group of people sitting on a motorcycle © Photo: Jalopnik / José Rodríguez Jr.

Once I got on the open road, however, all of those reservations, all of my concerns about mass, weight and ergonomics receded. The bike hinted at what’s to come early on. As soon I rolled on the throttle, the Big Boxer jolted to the right just enough to tell me it was awake — you could wake it less gently if you wanted, but then you’d have to be careful because the engine likes to kick right.


Video: Inside BMW Group Classic — Into the BMW Dream Factory. (Jalopnik)

I still knew I was straddling every last one of the R 18's seven-hundred pounds when taking off, but as I gained speed, the R 18 began to feel unladen. I didn’t realize how much weight it shed until I took the first turn along my route.

2022 BMW X3 and X4 Get Appearance Upgrades, Bigger Grilles

  2022 BMW X3 and X4 Get Appearance Upgrades, Bigger Grilles With upgraded optics and 48-volt hybridization for the six-cylinder models, BMW keeps the X3 and x4 fresh. BMW has made a few changes to the X3 and X4 for 2022, including, for some reason, making the kidney grille bigger than before.There are other mostly cosmetic changes to the pair, which are expected to be on sale in the fall.Pricing starts at $44,695 for the X3 and $52,795 for the X4.Midterm facelifts can go well or not, and their purpose is usually to keep customers interested with cosmetic changes.

The R 18 wanted to lean!

I didn’t believe it at first, but the bike felt very comfortable as I dipped the bars. So much, that I worried I would scrape its ridiculous exhaust pipes. Sure, I was positive the pegs would scrape before the pipes, but given their position beneath the cylinders and my lean angle as I turned, I had to remember to not dip too far.

That was easier said than done because rolling on the throttle as I leaned inspired a lot of confidence, even for someone like me who was new to cruisers. As I rode the twisty Texas backroads with the BMW demo fleet, it dawned on me that the R 18 could lean lower, could go faster than I or the other riders were willing to go. The bike sliced into turns gracefully and made me more comfortable than I could have imagined. It tracked confidently and predictably, and sounded incredible. Those big, dumb pipes I mentioned make lovely music.

I was surprised with the R 18's handling at speed. Ditto the acceleration and the stopping power. If you’ve ever ridden among a group of riders you may be familiar with how the group will contract and expand naturally.

a group of people standing around a motorcycle © Photo: Jalopnik / José Rodríguez Jr.

Along certain parts of our route, I was able to open the bike up and cycle through most of its gears. I never went WOT because even with the mass of the bike, the engine has enough power to be a hazard on public roads. That Big Boxer makes 91 horsepower and 116 lb-ft of torque, but its power is delivered in a friendly way and the bike shifts very smoothly.

BMW i Hydrogen Next fuel cell vehicle begins testing on public roads

  BMW i Hydrogen Next fuel cell vehicle begins testing on public roads The Bavarian automaker plans to offer the vehicle to the public starting in late 2022.BMW has been working on its i Hydrogen Next project for years (it debuted in 2019), but now the company has started to test it on European roads with an eye on releasing it for public consumption in late 2022 -- albeit in small numbers.

I only shifted into sixth gear once, to see what it felt like. I was going around 60 miles an hour and will say that sixth gear felt unnecessary. The R 18 was barely bothered by that rate of speed even in fifth gear. Kicking into sixth is like putting this thing into overdrive. It’s supremely comfortable.

I didn’t stay in high gear very long. The ride was a just brief circuit around the vicinity of Texas Motor Speedway, and BMW mapped out a demo route that would show off the bike’s handling more than its power.

At one point on our ride there was a car accident ahead (no motorcyclists involved), and traffic came to a stop. We queued up and sat staggered as first responders made their way to help the drivers. Having to slow the bike suddenly showed off how well the bike stopped. BMW has traditionally outfitted its bikes with good brakes, and the brakes on the R 18 are easily up to the task of stopping the bike. There was minimal pitch in the front end as the bike slowed, and the brakes never felt jerky or sudden.

That traffic stop forced us to turn our bikes around and that’s when I remembered how big the R 18 is. In the middle of that three point turn, as I wrestled the heavy machine, I was made painfully aware of its size and weight. I managed to waddle my way out of there, but not without significant effort.

Overall, the R 18 offers a compelling package. I suppose it ought to at its price point. The R 18 First Edition I rode starts at $19,870. For that much money I would prefer two analogue gauges versus the single one, but I can understand why the bike costs what it does. Taking a step back and comparing it to some of its competitors reveals the hefty price premium BMW has tacked on.

Still, BMW seems confident it can sell this cruiser to American riders. The market for these bikes has enjoyed a rise in popularity and BMW is keen on tapping into it. The big GS is already a favorite among adventure-touring riders, and the R Nine T is a great entry into the retro naked (standard) segment. Now, it’s onto the cruiser segment for BMW Motorrad.

Even though you’re paying a lot for BMW’s cruiser, you are also getting a lot of bike. Some would say you are getting too much bike, but I encourage you to keep an open mind. It’s not the bike for me, but the R 18 surprised me. It could surprise you, too.

a motorcycle that is sitting on a wooden surface © Photo: Jalopnik / José Rodríguez Jr.

Croatian Custom Shop Incerum Morphs BMW K1100RS Into A Café Racer .
Often seen at the wheel of one of his supercars, Thai ultra-royalist Tanat "Nat" Thanakitamnuay became a well-known face at demonstrations that ushered in Thailand's 2014 coup. Libby Hogan reports.

See also