We firmly believe that you can have an adventure on any motorcycle, so we’re always ready to swing our legs on the latest and greatest touring motorcycles. To put it simply, if he has two wheels and moves body and mind during a walk, it is in our street.
That’s why, at the start of September, we found ourselves cruising the German countryside aboard BMW’s R 18 B, the Bavarian manufacturer’s brand new bagger-style cruiser.
Now, if the plentiful amount of chrome detailing and retro American styling weren’t enough of a gift, the R 18 B is clearly not a traditional one. ABR bicycle. But don’t be fooled into thinking that a ride is an adventure.
On the ride, we discovered that BMW produced a touching motorcycle and packed a lot of swagger and character out of every sparkling crevice. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that it took all of our restraint to avoid turning that vast bat fairing south and heading for the Alps at the end of our day.
Instead, to give you a little taste before a full review in the upcoming November / December issue of ABR, written by Chief Bike Tester Julian Challis, we’ve put together a list of five things we loved about riding the BMW R 18 B.
This monstrous boxer engine
At the heart of the R 18 B is BMW’s iconic boxer engine, which many adventurous bikers are already familiar with. However, it has been considerably strengthened compared to the horizontal cylinders of the R 1250 GS.
At 1,802cc, the air-cooled and oil-cooled engine is the largest boxer BMW ever built, producing 91 hp. And, more impressive (and especially for a cruiser), it produces a whopping 158 Nm of torque at just 3000 rpm, of which 150 at just 2000 rpm.
It’s a bike designed for comfortable cruising and it delivers on what it promises. He’s more than capable of pulling you, your significant other, and all of your luggage along the tarmac with ease.
Add to all that the typical boxer stability and sumptuous rumble of the exhaust and it’s safe to say that, if you’re a fan of BMW’s flagship engine, you’re on a winner with the R 18B.
Good classic look
Appearance is subjective, but there is something straddling a retro-style motorcycle that speaks to the soul.
Get 100 non-bikers to sketch a motorbike and I guarantee you at least 90 of them would draw something that looks like the R 18 B. It’s a real whim when you’re cruising and, let’s face it, there is something inside all of us that appreciates attention.
With four colors available, including two options blue and matte green, there’s plenty to choose from too. Mine is the Manhattan Metallic Matte, but we passed our test on the black model with white details, as you can see in the photo above.
While the R 18 B looks like a bike designed to fit in the middle of rustic Route 66 towns, under the skin it’s anything but old-fashioned.
The electronic suspension is extremely comfortable and has displacement-dependent damping and automatic load compensation. This automatically configures the bike for the way you ride, whether you’re alone, two, or fully loaded for a week on the road.
Next to that, we love the expansive 10.5-inch TFT display, which can be navigated using the BMW steering wheel on the left grip. The inclusion of four analog clocks on the vivid display is a nice nod to the cruiser legacy, especially when we synced our phone (which we stowed in a fan-cooled pocket in the center of the tank) and used this TFT as a GPS.
Finally, we’re fans of the three drive modes, which do a great job of taming that big boxer engine and handling the power delivered when conditions are less than ideal.
The names of the modes too, Rock, Roll and Rain, also bring another touch of cruiser swagger to the new version of the German manufacturer.
If we were planning a road trip across the country to the United States, there is no doubt that the new bagger would be at the top of the list when choosing which bike to take.
It’s just comfortable all day long. The saddle is soft, the body position relaxed and natural, and the front fairing offers plenty of wind protection for crouching on the highway.
The conventionally positioned footrests, rather than the front sets found on other cruisers, also mean it’s easy to get used to the seated position, especially when you step off our regular adventure bikes.
Armed with a large coupler machine, it was simply a pleasure to hook up the R 18 B at high speed, relax in the saddle and enjoy the cruise.
Roll on a soundtrack
And we’re not talking about the hoarse exhaust.
BMW has teamed up with iconic British speaker maker Marshall to equip the R 18 B with a full audio system for the ultimate cruising experience. At launch, each bike came with a carefully curated playlist with everything from Deep Purple to Metallica hitting the bikes out, and we loved it.
The exact number of speakers you will have depends on the specification you choose; two are included as standard in the fairing while others can be fitted in the optional saddlebags.
So fire up Spotify and get ready to sing with all your heart. With the speakers on, no one will be able to tell.
We really enjoyed our time driving the BMW bagger in Germany. While this is undoubtedly a far cry from the usual boxer motor bikes we ride from the brand, there was something touching about cruising the great cruiser through the countryside, quite an adventure in every sense of the word. .
It is up to you to decide if you feel the same, so we recommend that you find out more about the R 18 B on the BMW website or quickly visit your local dealership to test drive it. Rock On.