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Cruiser BMW R18 - “Harley” and “Ural” in one “bottle” from the famous German brand

Cruiser BMW R18 - “Harley” and “Ural” in one “bottle” from the famous German brand
BMW motorcycles in Russia are in demand, and quite stable. Despite this, such tales are far from being heard. Only motorcyclists know about them; for others, the BMW brand is exclusively automobile.

Like Harley-Davidson, the Germans have been working in their niche for a long time. They persistently produced boxer engines like the American V-twins.

Of course, modern realities have made their own adjustments. But still, the most expensive and popular BMW motorcycles are usually equipped with boxer engines.

Круизер BMW R18 – «Харлей» и «Урал» в одном «флаконе» от известного немецкого брендаThe BMW R18 looks solid and clumsy. Photo: Youtube.com

In 2020, the Germans and Americans distinguished themselves. Harley-Davidson suddenly introduced a touring enduro, completely atypical for itself. And BMW, as if in revenge, made its own R18 cruiser. It is this model that our article today is devoted to.


The BMW R18 cruiser appeared for a reason. The model is the embodiment of the traditions of the German brand. According to a similar scheme, the road R nineT was already created in 2013. It was an air-cooled boxer. At first glance, modern, but embodying the history of German bikes.

They wanted to create the BMW R18 using the same scheme. Only bad luck - there was no German manufacturer of cruisers in the history. This is the specificity of Europe - there, for a long time, motorcycles were considered a budget replacement for cars.

And in the USA, the chopper culture arose already in the second half of the 40s. Then the soldiers returning from the war could not find themselves in peaceful life. So they modified production motorcycles to take their mind off things.

This is a 5 BMW R1937 model. Photo: Youtube.com

Such bikes were not a banal means of transportation, a budget replacement for a car. They gave their owners joy, a sense of freedom and united them into a kind of brotherhood.

European models of those years had to meet a number of characteristics:

✅ Budget price
✅ Simplicity of design
✅ Profitability

BMW had to build on pre-war models. And the role model was the BMW R5, released in 1936. Back then they were still creating sports-oriented models.

The modern motorcycle had to be increased in size. Primarily because the boxer engine has gained muscle by 2020. If on the BMW R5 it was half a liter, then for the cruiser it was “boosted” to 1,8 liters.

The BMW R nineT has proven that old models can be produced in a modern guise. Photo: Youtube.com

Despite the modern frame, components and assemblies, the appearance of the BMW R18 is unmistakably “grandfather” - the R5 model of 1936. True, only specialists who understand old German motorcycles can see this. And, unfortunately, there are few such people even in Germany, not to mention Russia.

Appearance and fit

The BMW R18 looks like something monumental. The motorcycle is long and heavy, it is customary to say about these that they are real, “iron”. This bike can hardly be recommended to girls - it weighs almost 350 kg. So rolling it out of the garage or turning it around in a narrow yard is not so easy. Although, there is a reverse mode - it will help the bravest representatives of the fair half of humanity.

The motorcycle looks like a cruiser in retro style. But the boxer engine stands out from the overall picture.

The seat of the bike in the base is single. Of course, it is primarily intended for the driver. But it will also be convenient for the passenger if you order a separate pillow for him. Although, there is no backrest either. If you plan to periodically or constantly carry a passenger with you, it is better to purchase one too. Fortunately, the selection of accessories for the BMW R18 is huge. Due to this, the company receives a good additional profit.

The BMW R18 just emanates some kind of primitive power. Photo: Youtube.com

As for the riding position on the motorcycle, it is atypical for bikes of this class. A rider riding a cruiser or chopper usually puts his feet forward. But in the BMW R18 this place is occupied by the engine cylinders. There's nothing you can do - the boxer engine is distinguished by "pots" sticking out on the sides.

At first glance, it seems that the pose with the legs down is uncomfortable. It’s tempting to put them in the area of ​​the cylinders or even on them. Fortunately, the “pots” do not burn, especially if your feet are wearing boots with thick soles.

But German engineers receive their salaries for a reason. Therefore, special platforms are provided for the legs. And even though they are not in their usual place, the landing still turned out to be more than comfortable. You can spend 4-8 hours behind the wheel without feeling tired.

By the way, the specific location of the footrests makes it possible to even stand on them while driving over uneven surfaces.

Engine and performance characteristics

The engine for the BMW R18 was specially developed, because the German boxer has never had such a volume before. 1 cm802, while the design remained the same “ancient”. And the engine itself was assembled according to the scheme of the 3s.

It seems that the BMW R18 engine does not have enough space in the frame. Photo: Youtube.com

If only our Ural could learn from this! They now have only 750 “cubes”. And this is not an achievement, as it seems at first glance, remembering that Soviet motorcycles from the 60-80s had 650 cm3 engines. After all, before that they were equipped with engines of 750 cc, just remember the M-72 model.

The power unit of the BMW R18 is overhead valve. The gearbox is located in a separate housing. Even though the bike debuted in 2020, it is air-cooled.

Engine power – 91 hp. At the same time, a torque of 158 Nm is available at 3 thousand revolutions. The weight of the engine with gearbox and attachments, including the intake system, is an impressive 110 kg.

The crankshaft and connecting rods in the engine are made of forged steel. But the engine block is aluminum. The working surfaces of the cylinders are coated with Nikasil. Not the best solution for Russia, as practice shows. But these are car statistics. Let's hope it doesn't affect motorcycles. Moreover, they do not have the same mileage as on cars.

The dashboard of the BMW R18 is spartan. Photo: Youtube.com

The frame of the motorcycle is steel duplex. The front fork is telescopic type. The rear suspension is on a double swinging arm with a shock-absorbing central strut.

Disc brakes front and rear. There are four-piston calipers throughout. ABS is available even in the basic version. The drive, which is natural for boxer BMWs, is cardan.

How to ride

The first thing you should pay attention to is the presence of reverse gear. Moreover, this option is implemented in a modern way - through electric traction. This only works when the motorcycle is running and in neutral gear. You need to turn the handle on the engine down, press the starter button - and the heavy bike will roll back with a quiet hum.

Depress the clutch. It runs surprisingly smoothly for a huge motorcycle. You don’t have to worry about your hand getting sore in the city, even if you ride all day. Gears engage clearly and quietly, without jerking or clanging.

The brakes on the BMW R18 work flawlessly. Photo: Youtube.com

It’s enough to take off on the BMW R18 and go through a couple of turns to understand that the bike handles well. This is not a classic heavy cruiser that only rides well in a straight line. The handling of the German motorcycle is at the level of road models.

You can safely take gentle turns at a speed of 150 km/h. A heavy bike goes like it's on rails. There is no rocking, yaw or drift of the rear end.

The BMW R18 accelerates smoothly, but very dynamically. It’s not surprising when this happens due to the torque, the peak of which falls in the range from 2 to 4 thousand rpm. Engine size does the rest. It’s like the average budget car, which weighs four times more.

You can, of course, put your legs forward, but you shouldn’t do it. Photo: Youtube.com

The motorcycle sounds solid, the bike’s engine is not without positive vibrations. But they are only at neutral speed; they are felt while driving, but do not interfere. We have the balancer shaft to thank for this.

You can still buy a BMW R18 in Russia, even new motorcycles. They are asking for 2021 models without mileage from 2,49 million rubles. Expensive, of course, but this is a BMW, such equipment is like a status accessory.

Is it worth taking? If funds allow, why not. After all, this motorcycle will definitely give positive emotions.


Photos used: youtube.com

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