The BMW brand has always been associated with both speed and luxury, including its motorcycle models. Even though BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle brand of BMW, is best known for adventure bikes and touring bikes, the company has made a couple of cruisers in the past, though they were never able to compete with rivals. That is going to change with the two new R 18 cruisers BMW recently debuted. Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle, the top two brands for the cruiser market, should watch out because these new cruisers are pretty impressive.
BMW motorcycles are popping up in the cruiser market
While BMW has typically steered clear of the cruiser market, they are trying to change that with two new cruisers in 2022. According to Jalopnik, both are touring motorcycles. The R 18 B is a large, low bagger, while the R 18 Transcontinental is a full dresser, ideal for putting a lot of miles on. Additionally, these are not just R 18 bikes that have panniers added. BMW made several changes, from the frame to the exhaust pipes, to make a more comfortable ride and go further without as much fatigue as the traditional R 18. Both bikes take cues from the pre-war R 5 but with a modern twist.
The new BMW R 18 B and the R 18 Transcontinental
The BMW R 18 B and the R 18 Transcontinental have an excellent 1,800 cc displacement and twin-cylinder, air and oil-cooled, boxer engines. With a redline of 5,500 RPM, the engine produces 91 horsepower and 116 lb-ft of torque. Two thick exhaust pipes curl around the engine and then head straight back. The engine accounts for 244 lbs of these bikes’ total weight, which is around 877 lbs for the R 18 B and 941 lbs for the R 18 Transcontinental. Both bikes have a low seat height, 28.35 inches for the R 18 B and 29.13 inches for the Transcontinental, and they are easy to balance and hold up.
There are four analog gauges for the basic instrumentation, fuel, speed, RPM, and power reserve, and a 10.25-inch TFT display to control music, navigation, drive mode, and more. Additionally, as typical of most BMWs, both bikes look good. Plus, the suspension, which uses a telescopic fork and a cantilever suspension strut with an automatic load-leveling system, provides a ride as comfortable as a luxury car.
These BMW bikes are coming after Harley and Indian
With the R18 B and the R 18 Transcontinental, BMW seems to be trying to compete specifically with bikes like the Indian Chieftain and the Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited. One area where BMW seems to have the leg up is Adaptive Cruise Control. Both Harley and Indian are still working on this technology, while BMW already has it in place. In fact, the reviewer from Jalopnik felt it worked better than ACC in some cars and reacted quickly to changing environments. Additionally, in terms of price, both bikes are in line with their competitors, with the R 18 B actually being a little bit less than the Chieftain or the Harley-Davidson Street Glide, at $21,945. At the same time, the R 18 Transcontinental starts at $24,995.
Whether the R 18 B and the R 18 Transcontinental make BMW a major player in the cruiser market remains to be seen, but it seems like a distinct possibility from previews and reviews. It will also be interesting to see how Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycles react to these new motorcycles and if they pull some new tricks out of their sleeves. Either way, the future for cruisers is bright, and competition can lead to more creativity and innovation, which leads to lots of cool new motorcycles.