2021 BMW R18 Classic First Look

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

The Big Boxer cruiser gets a touring version

BMW introduced a second version of its R18 cruiser, a touring model dubbed the R18 Classic, featuring a large windscreen, passenger seating, saddlebags, electronic cruise control, additional LED lighting and a 16-inch front wheel.

Like the R18 cruiser, the Classic is heavily influenced by the original 1936 BMW R5, with the Boxer engine showcased within a double-loop steel tube frame. In his review of the R18, Evans commended BMW for its attention to detail and authentic heritage, even if he disliked the lack of suspension travel and cramped foot position. The R18 Classic doesn’t veer too far from these positives or negatives, even with the mid-mount footpegs replaced with footboards (standard in the U.S. but optional in other markets).

Most of the R18’s elements are present on the R18 Classic. The big 1802cc OHV Boxer remains a focal point and its claimed output of 91 hp at 4750 rpm and 117 lb-ft. at 3000 rpm are the same as for the R18 (our own dyno testing produced 82.3 hp and 102.9 lb-ft.) The R18’s bulbous fishtail exhausts were replaced with straight pipes, ensuring enough clearance for the two removable four-gallon saddlebags.

The R18 Classic’s windshield is also removable, fitting at the top of the fork tube and connecting at the bottom with brackets. The windshield is connected to a bar which carries additional lighting.

The seat on the Classic is thicker and flatter than on the R18, and its 28-inch height is 0.8 inches higher as a result. The R18 Classic’s passenger seat is removable for those riding solo.

Up front, the R18 Classic uses a smaller 3.00×16″ wire-spoke wheel fitted with a 130/90 tire compared to the R18’s 3.5×19″ wheel and 120/70 tire. Both models share the same 5.0×16 rear wheel with a 180/65 tire.

Both models share the same suspension, with a 49mm telescopic fork and a directly-mounted central rear strut with adjustable spring preload. Suspension travel is also the same, with 4.7 inches up front and 3.5 inches at the rear.

BMW claims the R18 Classic weighs 805 pounds, a 44-pound increase over the R18.

The two R18 models also share the same braking system, with dual axially-mounted four-piston calipers and 300 mm discs up front, and a single 300 mm disc at the rear. An integral anti-lock braking system comes standard, with the hand lever activating both front and rear brakes.

The R18 and R18 Classic come standard with three ride modes: Rain, Rock and Roll, which manage throttle response as well as the Automatic Stability Control and engine drag torque control (MSR) systems. Unlike the R18, the Classic comes standard with electronic cruise control. Optional upgrades include hill start control and reverse assist.

Like the R18, the R18 Classic will initially launch with a “First Edition” model in Blackstorm metallic with Lightwhite striping. First Edition models also come with additional badging, a book on BMW Motorrad’s history and other various accessories.

U.S. pricing will be announced at a later date.

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Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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2 of 23 comments
  • Sato san Sato san on Jan 01, 2021

    why 3.00×16″ wheel not 19" *3.5?? what benefit?

  • Hamr Hamr on May 17, 2021

    Thank god they got rid of that fugly exhaust. First the jugs are so huge my wife slapped me for looking at them. It would have been better as a 1200. The tank should be larger.

    BMW still has a dealer problem. Ain't enough of them and they are too far in between.