Rennie Scaysbrook | April 3, 2020
BMW Motorrad has unveiled its all-new 2020 R 18 cruiser in a special online event. Retailing in the U.S. for $17,495 and the up-spec First Edition for $19,870, This is BMW’s first cruiser segment motorcycle since the R 1200 C of the mid-1990s, and puts BMW head to head with Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle in the large capacity cruiser segment.
BMW has created its largest ever flat-twin motor for R 18, measuring a very healthy 1802 cc. The peak power output is 91 hp at 4750 rpm and 116 lb-ft at 3000 rpm, with 110 lb-ft of torque available from 2000 to 4000 rpm. A downside is the motorcycle weighs a claimed 761 lb wet, ready to ride.
The massive chassis is a double-loop steel tube design. It’s crafted to give a rigid frame look with the axle driveshaft exposed in a similar vein to the legendary R 5 of the 1930s. There’s no electronic suspension adjustment—a first for any large capacity BMW for a very long time—with the inverted 49mm fork offering 4.7 inches of wheel travel and the rear giving 3.5 inches. Four-piston fixed front calipers haul the R 18 up with a twin-piston caliper at the rear.
The R 18 doesn’t go full cruiser, instead of going for mid-mounted foot controls set behind the motor’s cylinders.
Although there’s no electronic suspension, the R 18 is still packed with electronics. There are three riding modes of Rain, Roll and Rock (Rain is a dumbed-down throttle response; Roll gives a more direct throttle and less intervention on the Automatic Stability Control and Motor Slip Regulation setting; and Rock gives the most “spontaneous”, according to BMW speak, throttle response, while giving more slip from the MSC. There are LED lights, traction control, cruise control, hill-hold control, drag-torque control for downshifts, ride-by-wire throttle, keyless ignition, cornering lights, and combined ABS.
At this stage, there are two R 18 models—the standard and the First Edition, which comes with more chrome and different paint. Plus, First Edition owners get a “Welcome Box” that includes historical tank emblems, assembly gloves, and the all-important R 18 First Edition trucker cap. There’s also a massive load of accessories styled by BMW and collaborators like Roland Sands Design.
BMW was due to launch this at the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin, Texas, as part of the 2020 Austin MotoGP, but with that show and everything around it on hold for the foreseeable future, we’ll have to wait until we get our hands on an R 18 for a test.
For more BMW news and reviews, click here