BMW Motorrad has expanded the model range of its bold, retro R 18 heavy cruiser with a Bagger version, bringing 100 years of German engineering to bear on a model variant that seems tailor-made for American roads. Whether cruising the interstate, exploring rural byways or simply riding around town, the bike possesses all the essential raw traits of its big-bore peers, but presented with aplomb. And when parked, it’s an alluring piece of eye candy that holds its own against any of the competition.
As with the BMW R 18 Transcontinental, BMW’s stalwart, air-cooled Boxer power plant propels the R 18 B. Bored out to 1,802 cc, the horizontally opposed flat-twin motor breathes via four valves per cylinder, producing a visceral 110 cubic inches of presence. Complementing its lugubrious thump is a peak torque rating of 116 ft lbs at 3,000 rpm. Output peaks at 91 hp, arriving at 4,750 rpm, and easily handles the bike’s curb weight of 877.4 pounds. Despite that heft, the R 18 B delivers impressive responsiveness and a surprising level of sportiness when the ride calls for it.
Engine mapping is thumb operated and offers Rain, Roll and Rock settings that can be made on the fly. The Rain mode mellows out power to avoid any abrupt hits during slippery conditions, while Roll is the standard setting. However, in safe riding conditions, most riders will opt for the seductive Rock setting, which dramatically transforms the entire character of the motor, giving it a surprising snap, which should satisfy even the most demanding hot-rodder.
The bike also features a fork-mounted fairing—with a short windscreen—and stylish, top-loading side-mounted hard cases which all combine to give the bike a long, lean profile. The seat height is low, at just 28.35 inches from the ground, and is plush enough to comfortably accommodate a full day in the saddle. Longer road trips are also easier to accomplish thanks to the 6.3-gallon gas tank which—when combined with an average 42 mpg—should allow for more than 225 miles of touring (dependent on conditions and terrain) before refueling.
The six-speed transmission is smooth and concise—operated by a toe/heel shifter—with sixth gear serving as overdrive, keeping revs low at highway speeds. Additionally, the R 18 B is equipped with reverse to better facilitate maneuvering in tight quarters.
Also well thought out is the distinctive dash, with a 10.25-inch TFT screen situated for optimum rider visibility. The display provides availability to bike settings, route navigation and pertinent ride information as well as management of the stereo. The onboard computer is accessed by rotating a circular control on the left, allowing effortless scrolling through pages of pertinent data. In addition, both the grips and seat are heated, and there’s a wide range of settings designed to customize rider and passenger comfort to preference. The 2022 BMW R 18 B starts at $21,945.
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