2021 BMW R 18 Classic takes nostalgia-inducing modern touring to a new level

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

The BMW R 18 Classic is a throwback to vintage motorcycle design.

The BMW R 18 Classic is the cruiser sibling in the BMW R 18 family. It’s a touring bike that takes vintage cruising motorcycle design, borrowing from the BMW R 5, and makes it thoroughly modern while focusing on what the company sees as motorcycle “essentials”.

BMW designers created the motorcycle’s pear-drop tank, open-running universal shaft, and double-lined paintwork are reminiscent of the legendary boxer dating back to 1936. Its bodywork is made of metal and the suspension pairs with a double-sided swinging arm and a cantilever suspension strut to further the connection to the R 5.

It has a double-loop steel frame and a rear swinging arm with an enclosed axle. The telescopic fork and directly mounted central suspension strut allow for 120 mm of suspension travel at the front and 90 mm at the rear. Twin disc brakes give stopping power at the front while a single disc brake at the rear works in tandem with four-piston fixed calipers.

The R 18 Classic gets its power from BMW’s newly developed two-cylinder boxer engine, dubbed “Big Boxer”. It is the most powerful two-cylinder power plant that BMW has ever used in motorcycle series production and has an output of 1,802cc. It gets 91 horsepower and at 4,750 rpm and from 2,000 to 4,000 rpm, 110 pound-feet of torque is available at all times. Engine drag torque control comes standard. Reverse assist and hill start assist are also available.

Drivers can ride their BMW in their choice of Rain, Roll, or Rock drive mode.

The bike rides on spoked wheels (a 16-inch is at the front) and has mid-mounted footpegs, which allow for laid-back driver positioning. Its windshield, saddle bags, and passenger seat are removable. There is an additional LED headlight and standard electronic cruise control.

BMW R 18 Classic

The R 18 Classic is now configurable on the BMW Motorrad website.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW has designed the bike to be conversion-friendly. It has an easily removable rear frame and a simple-to-dismantle painted part set. The automaker further explains, “Carefully conceived interface points for the hydraulic lines of the brake, clutch and cable harness likewise allow entirely problem-free installation of higher or lower handlebars in conjunction with matching hydraulic lines and cable harnesses. In addition, the visible valve covers (cylinder head covers) and the belt cover (engine housing cover) are designed in such a way that they are located outside the oil chamber, making them very easy to change.”

For the new model, BMW Motorrad has worked with suppliers to come up with a variety of high-end aftermarket parts for the motor. Mustang Seat has been enlisted to offer a variety of high-quality hand-made seats. Vance & Hines worked with the exhaust system to make it customizable.

The 2021 BMW R 18 line starts at $17,495. The R 18 Classic has a starting MSRP of $19,495.

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