BMW Motorrad has a lot of great bikes; superbikes, roadsters, and adventure bikes. However, its latest two are actually big, American-style, country-crossing cruisers — the BMW R 18 Transcontinental and the BMW R 18 B.
The BMW R 18 Transcontinental is an American-style grand touring bike, designed to travel long distances in comfort and speed. It’s designed for solo riding or with a pillion (fancy word for rear passenger). The R 18 B is more of a “Bagger”, designed more for solo riding.
Both bikes come with BMW’s “Big Boxer” engine, which is the more powerful boxer engine BMW’s ever fitted to a motorcycle. It’s an 1,802 cc two-cylinder boxer engine that makes 91 horsepower (67 kW) at 4,750 rpm. Its peak torque of 110 lb-ft (150 Nm) is available between 2,000-4,000 rpm.
In traditional fashion, the BMW R 18 Transcontinental, and its “Bagger” sibling, uses a double-loop tube steel frame, with a rear swinging arm that encloses the rear axle. Front suspension is comprised of a telescopic fork and a swinging-arm cantilevered suspension strut, with travel-dependent damping. The rear suspension strut also gets travel-dependent damping and automatic load compensation, to help adjust for the weight of a passenger and gear at the back.
To aid in the BMW R 18’s mission of comfortable cruising, both versions of the bike come with Dynamic Cruise Control (DCC) and Active Cruise Control (ACC) as standard kit. The former keeps the set speed, even when riding down hill. While the latter will adjust the speed according to vehicles in front of it, using radar sensors. ACC can also adjust the speed for the upcoming turn, to help the rider corner more safely.
Cruise control isn’t the only fancy feature the R 18 comes with. Four round analog instruments, along with a 10.25 inch TFT screen, create a retro-styled but modern instrument cluster. The “BERLIN BUILT” script on the speedo is also seriously cool. It also gets Active Stability Control (ASC), a hill start control, and even a reversing aid, to make life easier. Iconic speaker and amplifier brand Marshall teamed up with BMW to make the speaker system for the R 18 as well. It’s comprised of up to four loudspeakers and two subwoofers, with 280 watts.
The standard BMW R 18 Transcontinental features the top case storage and a high wind shield, for more practicality and comfort. While the BMW R 18 B ditches the top case and uses a more aggressively raked windshield, for a more emotional experience for the rider.
However, there’s a ton of customization that can be done to both bikes to truly make them your own. The Original BMW Motorrad Accessories range offers a wide range of personalization for both bikes. Special paint choices and milled aluminum parts, designed together with Roland Sands Design, are available for both the R 18 Transcontinental and the R 18 B, to make your bike unique.
If you like big, comfy cruisers and are looking for a new grand touring bike, the BMW R 18 Transcontinental, along with its slightly edgier R 18 B sibling, is a classic-cool touring bike with more than a hint of vintage Americana.