Concept R 18 roars to life.

BMW Motorrad custom concept unveiled at Villa d’Este.

It’s the world premiere the custom scene has been eagerly awaiting – a BMW Motorrad custom concept featuring a new prototype flat-twin engine – the highest capacity boxer motorcycle ever produced. Simply named ‘Concept R 18’, this pure, stripped-down, raked-out bike gives more than a hint of what’s coming - in the cruiser segment.

 

Custom built concept vehicle. Not available for sale.

Concept cruiser steals the show at the Concorso.

Concept cruiser steals the show at the Concorso.

It has become something of a tradition for BMW Motorrad to present breathtaking design studies in Italy every May at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este event on the shores of Lake Como. Visitors to the world’s most exclusive ‘beauty contest’ for historic cars and motorcycles have witnessed some outstanding two-wheeled contributions from BMW Motorrad’s design department in recent years. These have included the Concept Ninety homage to the original R 90 S, the Concept 101 six-cylinder ‘bagger’ and the R 5 Hommage – a tribute to the original and iconic 1936 model.

 

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Riders from around the world have noted with significant interest two fascinating custom bikes recently unveiled by reputable builders in Japan and the USA featuring prototypes of BMW Motorrad’s big boxer engine. The builders – CUSTOM WORKS ZON and Revival Cycles – were each given free rein for their own interpretations of how a large-capacity boxer custom bike could look. And the stunning results witnessed in the ‘Departed’ and ‘Birdcage’ builds have begged the question among enthusiasts – how might a genuine BMW Motorrad ‘hand-built’ machine look and sound?

Custom built concept vehicle. Not available for sale.

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"
A motorcycle is the biggest accessory you can wear. It’s not about being the fastest.
"

Edgar Heinrich

BMW Motorrad Head of Design

Well, the wait is over. And judging by the enthusiastic reaction of those who saw (and heard) it unveiled at the 90th anniversary ‘Concorso’ celebratory event, the Concept R 18 is set to win the hearts and souls of fans worldwide. Equally exciting, BMW Motorrad will be presenting a series production cruiser motorcycle powered by the ‘big boxer’ engine in 2020. If it looks and performs anything like the Concept R 18, custom bike riders are in for a treat.

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"
We have a history other companies would kill for, and it’s great to capitalize on it.
"

Edgar Heinrich

BMW Motorrad Head of Design

Stripped-back and naked, BMW Motorrad style.

Stripped-back and naked, BMW Motorrad style.

Lay your eyes on the Concept R 18 and it’s clear that a desire to make an authentic, pure, hand-built, custom bike has taken the designers deep into the brand’s past for inspiration. Without a doubt, these talented enthusiasts – many of whom ‘chop’ bikes in their spare time – have certainly made good on the promise initially shown with the unveiling of the R 5 Hommage in 2016, exactly 80 years after the legendary sports boxer made its debut. This segment needs a big motor, so if the 500cc unit of the original R 5 doesn’t cut it (by modern standards) then the biggest motorcycle boxer engine of all time certainly does.

Custom built concept vehicle. Not available for sale.

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"
BMW decided a long time ago to make a heritage bike with a big boxer engine.
"

Michael Eder

BMW Motorrad Design

Reduced to only the absolute, pure essentials.

Reduced to only the absolute, pure essentials.

Clearly an exciting bridge between the aforementioned ‘hommage’ bike and the forthcoming series production motorcycle, the Concept R 18 has presence, attitude and promise in equal measures. The focus is the huge boxer engine – physically much larger in size than the 500cc version used in the hommage showbike, and designed to make a real statement. The spoked wheels have been chosen (21” front and 19” rear) to match the considerable proportions and the overall stance of this latest showbike which exudes attitude and presence. The modified front end and fishtail exhaust contribute to its custom, hand-made feel.

Custom built concept vehicle. Not available for sale.

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Low and long, raked out and understated, the Concept R 18 is a thing of beauty, with its polished aluminum cylinder covers, subtle color treatment to the motor, teardrop tank and fork, and areas of pin-striping with golden yellow tint in the deep, layered paint treatment. There are only three metal surface treatments used – either blasted, painted or polished – to give a clean, authentic atmosphere for the bike, while the iconic Metzeler-branded RILLE tires have a custom-made tread pattern and special color treatment on the sidewalls. Anyone familiar with BMW bikes from the ‘50s will recognize the Pagusa-style seat, with embossed logo and hammered area on the leather.

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Uncomplicated riding that feeds your soul.

Uncomplicated riding that feeds your soul.

Open shaft-drive, cantilever rear suspension, a twin-Solex carburetor from a BMW 2002 car, a 1950s Bosch-inspired LED headlight mounted between the fork legs, no visible switchgear – the list goes on. And a walk around the Concept R 18 (as the motor’s plaquette proudly states) includes many surprises. For sure, it’s the continuation of a story that started with the R 5 Hommage. But what is most exciting is where this story is leading us now – not down the high-technology road, but in a more individual, authentic, and, dare we say, emotional direction. Time to slow down and look at the view?

Custom built concept vehicle. Not available for sale.

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A masterpiece made of titanium.

Revival Cycles is showcasing big boxer engines with the Birdcage.

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Suitable motorcycles.