Styled by Germans after vintage American designs, the BMW R 18 is enjoying a similarly multicultural presence in the custom world. The retro BMW cruiser has been turned into a dragster, a rolling Art Deco-style sculpture, and even a titanium Maserati Birdcage homage. And these are just a fraction of the modified R 18s that have sprung up all over the world. Now, it’s Italy’s turn to take a crack at this cruiser.
It wasn’t made by M division, but the custom BMW R 18 M gives the cruiser some extra sportiness
BMW’s M division didn’t take on a motorcycle project until 2021 when it launched the M 1000 RR. So far, it hasn’t touched the R 18. But now, someone else has. After creating a one-off lightweight R nineT several years ago, Italy’s LowRide magazine took a crack at the cruiser with help from Lissone-based American Dreams. And the result of this collab is the BMW R 18 M.
Arguably, the BMW R 18 M is more M Performance than ‘true’ M, as the bike’s 1802cc air/oil-cooled boxer-twin engine is untouched. But that wasn’t this project’s goal. Instead, the team focused on making the motorcycle look and handle sportier without losing its retro design. So, the modifications aren’t limited to the M-stripe paint job.
To cut weight, LowRide swapped the BMW R 18’s cylinder-head covers, intake ducts, and various other bits with carbon-fiber versions. Italian design firm Elaboratorio gave the bike a custom fiberglass tail and mini fairing, further reducing weight. And besides being lighter, the custom ER Exhaust Revolution exhaust pipe is shorter than stock. That should improve the R 18’s somewhat-poor lean angles.
The BMW R 18 M has a different riding position than the standard version, due in part to the mid-mounted foot controls. LowRide also modified the suspension and chassis, though it hasn’t released specifics. In addition, the custom BMW cruiser rides on Cruisetec tires and features Rizoma mirrors, lights, and controls. Plus, it has a custom LR Leather seat.
Garage 221’s BMW R 18 Aurora amps up the retro vibes and adds a Harley-Davidson-esque touch
While LowRide injected some performance cruiser energy into its custom BMW R 18, Rome-based Garage 221 leaned further into the bike’s vintage looks. And in some areas, its build, the R 18 Aurora, literally leans into the historic BMW motorcycle parts bin.
For example, the R 18 Aurora’s seat is from BMW’s first cruiser attempt, the 1200 C. It also borrows part of a 1991 K 75’s rear frame, while its red color references the 1983 RT 100. The cruiser’s new oil-cooler grille echoes 1960s-era BMW car grilles, Autoblog notes. And the Aurora’s ‘batwing’ fairing supports from a 1982 R 100.
Speaking of, the fairing itself is arguably less BMW and more Harley-Davidson Electra Glide in design. Though given that the BMW R 18 draws inspiration from classic American cruisers, it’s thematically on point.
In addition to the fairing and paint job, Garage 221’s custom BMW R 18 also has handmade fenders, seat supports, and license-plate holder arms. And while the engine is untouched, it now bellows out of a set of Leo Vince pipes.
Can you get your own versions of these customized BMW bikes?
Since BMW Motorrad Roma commissioned the R 18 Aurora, it’s not for sale. And the R 18 M was a collaboration between LowRide and American Dreams. It’s therefore likely not for sale, either. Both custom cruisers will be at the 2022 Verona Motor Bike Expo, though.
If you want an R 18 with a fairing, though, BMW now offers it on the B and Transcontinental models. And several shops, including Zillers Garage and NMoto, offer R 18 body kits and bolt-on parts to customize the bike’s looks. Painting the cruiser to match Garage 221’s Aurora won’t be cheap, though, but it’s not infeasible.
So, with a bit of work, your BMW cruiser could live la dolce vita, too.
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