Categories: BMW Mini-Features
May 24, 2019
| On 4 weeks ago

Big Boxer BMW Concept R18 Pays Tribute to Company’s Heritage

[UPDATE: BMW has released a video about the Concept R18 being ridden around the streets of Hamburg, Germany. Apart from one short part around the 36 second mark that was oddly reflected, the video gives us a good look at the concept running. The engine noise in the video is presumably genuine and not dubbed, but it is neat seeing the exposed drive shaft rotating. —Ed]

With the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este as a backdrop, BMW unveiled its third concept bike showcasing the new 1800cc R18 boxer engine. The BMW Motorrad Concept R18 is the first completely in-house design following the Departed concept by Custom Works Zon and the Birdcage by Revival Cycles.

Lead designer Bart Janssen Groesbeek drew elements from classic BMW models such as the R5, R50 and R60. BMW describes the design as “a forward projection of a 1960s boxer engine could look like today as a purist custom bike in combination with all the classic design icons of BMW Motorrad design.”

The Concept R1’s proportions are reminiscent of the R5. The tank and the frame form a straight line from the steering head to the rear hub.

Elements such as the cradle frame, exposed shaft drive, drop-shaped fuel tank draw from BMW’s heritage. The large wire-spoke wheels (21-inch up front, 18 rear) are shod in tires from Metzeler, BMW’s historic tire supplier.

Of course, the highlight of all three concepts is BMW’s new air-cooled R18 Boxer engine. The massive 1800cc engine was designed from the ground up to look like BMW’s boxer from the ’60s, just a lot bigger. The engine block and transmission cases are made of bead-blasted aluminum, creating a contrast to the polished aluminum elements like the valve covers and the pushrods.

The Concept R18 is carburetted in another nod to history, this time drawing on BMW’s automobile heritage, using Solex dual carbs similar to those used in the ’70s-era BMW 2002. The concept is devoid of any electronics, apart from the starter and lights, but any production motorcycles that will use this engine will likely be fuel-injected and come with modern electronics such as engine modes and traction control.

BMW previously confirmed the R18 engine will power a new line of models. A bagger prototype sporting the new Boxer was spotted on German highways in March, and we expect to it will be joined by a full-on tourer and a cruiser model. We suspect BMW will reveal its new big-boxer cruiser models later this year, ahead of the EICMA show in November.