German firm launches massive assault on heavyweight American heritage touring sector
The standard BMW R18 mega-cruiser is a fairly jaw-dropping piece of kit on its own. But if you’re one of those folk for whom too much is never enough, get your laughing gear round these. The Munich firm has taken the gigantic 1,802cc, 365kg, 90bhp cruiser as a base, and turned it into this pair of earth-shattering mega-tourers. First up is the R18 Transcontinental: a full dress tourer in the mould of the legendary Harley-Davidson Electraglide Classic.
Like the Harley, it takes the massive flat-twin engine and chassis from the base cruiser, and adds another 60kg+ of touring kit: a sleek half-fairing, leg shields, enormous heated touring dual seat, built-in hard luggage, and tall touring windscreen. It also gets a four-dial analogue dashboard, plus a vast 10.25” colour TFT LCD display running along the bottom of the cockpit.
There’s a super-trick stereo system produced by the British Marshall guitar amplifier firm, with optional stage one and stage two upgrades that provide up to 280 watts of music power through four speakers and two subwoofers. Erk.
BMW’s laden the new bikes with ultra-trick riding tech too, including the new radar-assisted cruise control system, hill start, reverse gear, traction control and integrated ABS. Keyless ignition, cornering headlights, full LED lighting, heated grips, engine bars and a 24 litre fuel tank are also on the mammoth list of standard and optional luxuries available to the Transcontinental owner…
If it’s all a bit much for you, the R18 B Bagger offers much of the same, but in a lighter, more dynamic package. It’s ‘only’ 398kg ready to ride, and loses the hard luggage top box, massive touring dual seat and full touring windscreen, but retains most of the tech options.
Enormous pieces of nonsense then, and we love them both. Impressively, BMW has kept the base price fairly sensible: the Transcontinental starts at £23,300, and the B Bagger from £21,500. Once you load up all your fave options, it will quickly increase we imagine, but it’s still a long way from the *£37,495* starting price of the (admittedly 15bhp more powerful) H-D CVO Limited.
Even a lower-end Harley tourer like the Road Glide Limited starts from nearly £26k. The latest Harleys are great pieces of work of course, with decent tech levels and the undeniable cachet of the Milwaukee brand. Munich can match that of course – making it a very interesting contest indeed.
The R18 Transcontinental and R18 B will be in dealers from September, in three colourways: black, 719 Galaxy Dust metallic (flip-flop violet/blue) and Manhattan metallic matt (greenish bronzey-khaki we think!). There’s also a colossal range of bolt-on shiny anodised, chromed and polished parts from the Option 719 accessory programme, plus parts designed by Roland Sands.
BMW R18 Transcontinental
Price: from £23,300 (July 2021)
Engine: OHV twin cam 8v, Boxer twin, oil/air-cooled, 1,802cc
Bore x stroke: 107.1x100mm
Compression ratio: 9.6:1
Carburation: ride-by-wire fuel injection
Max power (claimed) 91hp@4,750rpm
Max torque (claimed) 117ft lb@3,000rpm
Transmission: six speed gearbox, dry slipper clutch, exposed shaft final drive
Frame: steel tube double cradle
Front suspension: 49mm forks
Rear suspension: steel tube braced swingarm, concealed preload-adjustable monoshock
Brakes: twin 300mm discs, four-piston calipers (front), 300mm disc, four-piston caliper (rear), ABS.
Wheels/tyres: cast alloy/Bridgestone Battlecruise H50, 120/70 19 front, 180/65 16 rear
Kerb weight : 427kg
Fuel capacity: 24 litres
Equipment: LED cornering headlight, radar-assisted cruise control, integrated ABS, hill start, traction control, keyless ignition, reverse gear, rider power modes, heated grips, heated seat, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi phone integration, Marshall digital sound system, built-in hard luggage, central locking