The BMW R 18 bike had a very interesting launch. Even before it was made available to the public, the people from BMW Motorrad decided to offer it to a few, hand-picked artists, known for their work in the field of customizing bikes. The first two were Roland Sands and Dirk Oehlerking and now a third name is added to the list, courtesy of Shinya Kimura. The Japanese customizer is known primarily for his work on older bikes but he decided to join BMW Motorrad in this endeavor.

His creation based on the BMW R 18 is called ‘The Wal’ and work on it started back in mid-February. By the end of June the bike was almost ready but some problems on the mechanical side of things kept Kimura from finishing it 100%. That was also probably because of the way he does normally does things, being a keen follower of the ‘hands-on’ approach. Basically, Kimura bikes are done on the spot, without any sketches, drawings or blueprints.

“I built the R 18 entirely for myself. When I rode the production R 18, I thought it might suit my build and riding preferences better if I designed it to be a little more front-facing with a fairing. I decided to adopt the frame, wheels and tires as well as suspension elements and brakes because I didn’t feel the need to change them after I had ridden the bike. I also wanted to be able to ride for long distances with my R 18 while feeling and enjoying the legendary boxer engine,” said Kimura.

“It was very important to me to preserve the two characters of the R 18 as I experienced them when riding. Thanks to its mighty engine, the bike is wild and has almost inexhaustible power on the one hand, yet it is completely good-natured on the other. Just like a whale, hence the German animal name for this R 18, which for me is something like a “Sports Endurancer”, he added. Therefore, his changes reflect those ideas.

The bike now has a larger fuel tank compared to the stock bike, an elongated, rounded seat hump and a half-shell fairing. The latter houses two asymmetrically arranged headlights that give Kimura’s R 18 the appearance of a whale, along with ‘a set of teeth’ positioned underneath. “What I like best about my version of the R 18 is that I was able to change the style and seating position to my liking without destroying the excellent original functionality of the R 18. But drastically changing the seating position and adding my own style and taste was a big challenge in my interpretation of the BMW Heritage. Besides, all these computerized systems and wiring were quite new to me and I learned a lot,” says Kimura, obviously pleased with the result of his work.