BMW gives the cruiser motorcycle another chance with new R 18

The 'Big Boxer' bike will start at $17,495

Long overdue, BMW Motorrad finally hits the cruiser motorcycle market with a worthy contender putting the big boys like Harley-Davidson and Indian on notice. 

Propelled by the most powerful boxer engine on a production BMW bike, the new 2021 R 18 doesn’t veer too far from the tradition of historical BMW motorcycles in terms of styling — particularly, borrowing design cues from the gorgeous BMW R 5 — and looks inline with the Concept R 18 first revealed at Concorso d’Elegenza Villa d’Este back in May 2019. 

Despite the German’s attempts at a cruisers in the past, including the R1200C featured in 007’s Tomorrow Never Dies film from the late 1990s where Pierce Brosnan dodges machine gun bullets and a pair of angry Range Rovers through the streets of Thailand (does anyone else remember that?), BMW may have got it right with the new 2-cylinder powered R 18 flossing a displacement of 1802 cc with 91-hp and 116 lb.ft or torque. 

For a proper BMW classic bike, check out our feature on this stunning, vintage 1954 BMW R25 /3.

2021 R 18 First Edition. Photo: BMW

Other key features include a double-loop steel tube frame with bolted rear axle transmission similar to the R 5. Stopping power comes from twin discs in front and a single disc brake at the rear, all rolling on classic wire-spoked wheels.

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Cruisers are know for their low saddles, fat tires and gracefully sculpted fenders and gas tanks — this European newcomer is no different offering an easy-riding, laid-back footrest configuration for more comfort and relaxed handling. 

Also Read: Best Cruiser Motorcycles for Beginners

Unlike cruisers, however, the R 18 finds a set of riding modes — Rain, Roll, and Rock — for a more fine-tuned experience; automatic stability control comes standard on the entry-level trim.

For a more customized look with milled aluminum parts, BMW teams up with Roland Sands Design offering the “Machined” and “2-Tone-Black” models. Mustang Seats steps in with different versions of high-quality hand-made seats, while Vance & Hines pitches in to ramp up the exhaust system. 

R 18 First Edition reserved for select markets only

First Edition R 18 gets a classic black finish with white pinstripe treatment. Photo: BMW

Certain markets will get the First Edition at the time of the bike’s release. This exclusive trim builds on the R 18 adding some more features, chrome surfaces, side covers with a chrome clasp First Edition, a seat badge, and finished in black with white pinstriped paintwork. 

2021 BMW R 18 price

Out the gate, expect the new BMW cruiser to start at $17,495; the First Edition in select markets will start at $19,870. Add $695 for destination and handling. 

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Amee Reehal
Shooting cars professionally since film was a thing, Amee's work has appeared in various outlets including NBC Sports, Chicago Tribune, SuperStreet, GlobeDrive, MotorTrend, and others. He's the managing editor & founder of Find him travelling, spending time with his kids and family. Or golfing, poorly.