Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.
BMW R18 Concept gave the first clues to the new model last May
BMW’s long-awaited re-entry to the cruiser market has turned into a saga that’s stretched over more than a year and on Friday 3rd April the firm promises to finally reveal all the details. But why wait that long when we’ve managed to dig up the key specifications already?
Although BMW has already announced details of the massive 1802cc air-cooled boxer engine that powers the new bikes, including its power – 90hp at 4750rpm – and torque of 116.5lbft at 3000rpm, there’s been little else to go on apart from a trickle of spy shots and some leaked design drawings.
Now we can reveal a bit more, though.Initially, BMW will have two versions of the bike, as seen in the designs we showed earlier this month. We can now confirm that the basic, unfaired version will be simply called the R18 – mimicking the name used on BMW’s concept bike preview machines, the R18 Concept and R18/2 – while the part-faired bagger model will go under the title R18 Classic.
The base version, above, will be simply called ‘R18’.
In terms of engines, both versions are identical, with no change in power or emissions despite the two bikes having different exhaust systems. That difference will be reflected in the noise, though. The base R18 is the quieter of the two, its bulbous pipes keeping noise down to 75dB in EU drive-by tests and a peak of 95dB. The R18 Classic isn’t much louder in drive-by testing at 76dB but maxes out at a rowdier 99dB through its straight, low-mounted pipes.
Both tests show that BMW has been more than successful in damping the mechanical noise of the pushrods and rockers, and that the lack of a water jacket on the air-cooled engine is no problem. We investigated the subject in detail last year, and it seems that this seemingly old-fashioned engine design doesn’t have any significant problems in meeting modern rules and regulations.
The second model, dubbed ‘R18 Classic’, is believed to be the bagger seen above.
Although it’s always been clear that the R18 is a huge bike, the details we’ve got hold of reveal exactly how big it is.
Both versions stretch a full 2440mm in length, making them just 35mm shorter than a Honda Gold Wing. In contrast, the Harley-Davidson Softail Slim – which is arguably the closest rival to the base model of the R18 – is 130mm shorter at 2310mm. Even a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard, which is the nearest rival to the R18 Classic, is 40mm shorter than the BMW.
The German bikes are hefty beasts, too. The base R18 comes in at 345kg ready-to-ride, which is 41kg more than a Softail Slim. The R18 Classic – with bags, a fairing, more instrument, longer fenders and a larger fuel tank – is 20kg heavier at 365kg, although once you reach that stage the Harley equivalent has overhauled it, with the Electra Glide Standard tipping the scales at 372kg.
If those are the Harleys that BMW is gunning at, the American bikes’ prices might also give a clue to the BMWs’ likely tags. The Softail Slim, rival to the base R18, is currently £15,695 while the Electra Glide Classic that goes against the R18 Classic costs £20,195.
In terms of performance, the 1746cc Harleys are close to the BMWs in both power and torque – 86hp and 107lbft from the Softail Slim and 88.5hp and 110lbft from the Electra Glide.
Despite different bars, both versions of the BMW R18 are the same width; 949mm. That’s 24mm wider than a Gold Wing. Understandably, the Classic is the taller of the two at 1342mm, while the naked R18 measures 1126mm to the top of the bars.
Both models have a top speed of 112mph; surely reflecting an electronic limiter rather than their absolute maximumWe’ll bring you all the official information and pictures next Friday when BMW unveils the R18 in full.