The BMW R18 – a retro-style cruiser bike that exudes a strong mechanical beauty and a masculine aura. With a massive 1,800cc Big Boxer engine, the largest ever built by BMW, and a host of modern technologies, the R18 is clearly designed for tall, free-spirited men who have a deep love for speed.
Derived from the production of aircraft engines during World War I, BMW was constrained by the Versailles Treaty after the war and had to shift towards engine design and production. From there, the company began manufacturing its first R32 motorcycles in 1923, marking the appearance of the BMW brand logo, using a twin-cylinder flat boxer engine and a shaft final drive system.
After 99 years of development, the basic boxer engine configuration and shaft final drive can still be found on the current generation of BMW motorcycles, with the R18 duo being prime examples.
The difference from the “ancestor” R32 is that the modern-generation engine has been refined, improved, and equipped with a range of mechanical and electronic technologies to provide improved efficiency and impressive performance, such as electronic fuel injection, BMS-K+ electronic control unit, and BMS-O twin spark plugs.
In the Southeast Asian market, Malaysia was the first destination for the BMW R18 First Edition, with limited quantities of only 18 units. Both the R18 and R18 First Edition are fully imported from Germany, with the words “Berlin Build” prominently displayed on the handlebars to showcase their glorious origin.
The heavyweight cruiser model from Bavaria adheres to a classic design that is irresistibly attractive. The smooth, yet strong lines of the R18 are clearly inherited from its predecessors such as the R32 and R5, which first appeared in the 1920s and 1930s.
A quick glance at the BMW R18 is enough to immediately notice its masculine vintage details, represented by the classic round headlight, shiny metal tracker handlebars, iconic drop-shaped fuel tank with embossed BMW logo, flower spoke wheels, and most notably, the striking double white pinstripes on a Blackstorm metallic paint background.
Other than the blue and white Bavarian flag logo, all other details on the bike are black or gray. The contrast between the shiny chrome details and the dark background enhances the mechanical and masculine beauty of this German cruiser.
The metallic gray engine block and the shovel-shaped front fender are both matte finished, giving a solid and robust feel. Meanwhile, the dual exhaust pipes are directly connected to each cylinder’s combustion chamber, showcasing the classic beauty of mechanical engines.
On top of the engine block, the inscription “1800cc” stands out, expressing pride in the history associated with fighter planes and symbolizing the power and strength of this masculine machine.
The Big Boxer engine on the BMW R18, with a displacement of 1,802cc, is also the largest flat twin engine ever produced by the Bavarian motorcycle brand. This is evident in the compact footrest area at the rear, seemingly “swallowed” by the two cylinder heads and combustion chambers on both sides.
With this massive heart, the bike can deliver a power output of up to 91 HP (equivalent to 67 kW), with a maximum torque of 158 Nm at 3000 rpm. Within the range of 2000 to 4000 rpm, the engine consistently provides over 150 Nm of pulling force, demonstrating the power and stability that only the new generation of Boxer engines can offer.
Combined with a 6-speed gearbox and a dry clutch system, riders on the BMW R18 have more than enough capability to enjoy speeds over 200 km/h – a realm that is typically reserved for speed enthusiasts and free-spirited individuals.
The front and rear fat tires use spoked wheels, with a front wheel size of R19 and a rear wheel size of B 16. This is accompanied by 300mm diameter disc brakes with perforations for cooling, equipped with Brembo’s 4-piston calipers. The front wheel uses dual disc brakes.
Alongside its classic masculine beauty, the German engineers have successfully integrated modern details to give the BMW R18 a contemporary and high-tech vibe. One example is the full LED headlight system that tilts with the handlebars and incorporates a demi and auxiliary light. The round instrument cluster features a traditional mechanical needle but also integrates a digital display for multi-information, along with the Keyless Ride smart key.
Additionally, this heavyweight cruiser is equipped with advanced riding assist technologies, including automatic stability control, ABS brakes, hill start assist, reverse assist, and three customizable ride modes: Rain / Roll / Rock.
The rider of the BMW R18 is also well taken care of, with convenient riding assist technologies such as heated handlebars, cruise control, and reverse gear…
The seat height of 690mm places the rider’s center of gravity quite low and seems to be suitable for riders of various body types. However, in reality, with a wet weight of 345kg and a maximum load of up to 560kg, the BMW R18 requires riders who are at least 1.75m tall and weigh over 90kg to truly master this heavyweight cruiser.
On the display bike, the BMW R18 is also equipped with a pair of double rider leather bags hanging on both sides behind the rear wheel. The dual-layered seat is wrapped in leather and features a classic design. The front lighting system adds two round lights, reminiscent of highway patrol motorcycles.
Meanwhile, the BMW R18 First Edition comes with a solo seat. The hanging bags have been removed and replaced with uniquely shaped reverse-mounted exhaust pipes. The cylinder head covers on both sides have also been replaced with shiny chrome instead of the original matte gray on the standard version.
The front lighting system of the First Edition is simpler since it no longer features auxiliary lights and turn signals located underneath. Additionally, the handlebars no longer have a windscreen as in the standard version.
In the Vietnamese market, the BMW R18 and R18 First Edition duo, fully imported by Thaco, are priced from 1,199 billion VND – quite high compared to the 156,500 ringgit (equivalent to 803 million VND) in the Malaysian market or the $19,870 (equivalent to over 470 million VND) when the bike was launched in the global market.
Anh Phan (Tuoitrethudo)