Five things about the 2020 BMW R18 First Edition

By thoriq, 12 October 2020

BMW Group Malaysia has been on a roll of late, with all of its sub-brands (BMW, Mini and BMW Motorrad) spawning new products consistently over the last several months.

Just a day after sizing up the new 2 Series Gran Coupe, the firm took the effort in holding a special press viewing session of its latest and gorgeously retro R18 First Edition flagship retro cruiser offering. Having sized it up in the flesh, this big retro boxer-powered cruiser is indeed a bike to behold.

With that, here are five things we learned about this big and beautiful Bavarian two-wheeler, which by the way arrives in Malaysia exclusively in First Edition flavour.

1. It has a big shaft and wants you to know it

Unlike other boxer-powered BMW bikes, which feature an enclosed shaft-drive setup, the R18 adopts a brand new and exposed shaft-drive design and setup instead.

The clever bit here is how it is able to automatically adjust its length according to the chassis’s suspension movement and angle without any loss of power. It even sports a shiny nickel-coated surface, which adds protection against the elements and rust, thus making it equally as robust and reliable as enclosed shaft drivelines.

Above all, it’s a sizeable thing to marvel at, perhaps one that’s very fitting to the R18’s equally sizeable air- and oil-cooled 1,802cc – yes, 1.8 litres! - ‘boxer’ twin-cylinder heart that outputs 89bhp and 159Nm.

2. It’s ready to ‘Rock’ and ‘Roll’

Despite its retro looks, the R18 is a fairly modern bike as it packs plenty of electronics underneath. Amongst them is ride-by-wire tech, which in turn grants selectable ride modes, and BMW Motorrad have gotten a little creative with naming them. There are three in total, those being ‘Rock’, ‘Roll’ and ‘Rain’ modes.

Aptly, each offers different levels of throttle sensitivity and corresponding intervention by the ABS and traction control (TCS) systems present. Roll mode offers the best balance of both, while Rock mode delivers sharper throttle and less ABS and TCS intervention. Rain, on the other, has the softest throttle sensitivity possible with the highest ABS and TCS intervention.

Surely, it wouldn’t have sounded nice if the R18 has regularly-named ride modes such as ‘Sport’ or ‘Road’ now, would it?

3. It comes with a reverse gear

As you’d expect, something as big as the R18 will be tricky to maneuver about in a parking lot. For those wondering, the R18 tips the scale at a whopping 345kg (unladen, road-ready). It also measures in at 2,440mm long and 964mm wide.

Fortunately, BMW Motorrad knew about this challenge, bringing forth the availability of a reverse gear feature. Whilst offered as an option in other markets, Malaysia-bound R18 First Editions will have this feature equipped as standard instead.

The switch for this is located within reach on the left side of the bike just under the seat, which we know will be a huge relief for those lucky enough to buy one. Speaking of which…

4. It’s also rare and expensive

Initially, just 18 units of the R18 First Edition were allocated when orders were opened back in July. However, despite its massive RM156,500 initial price tag, said order book got filled up in record time.

With that kind of response, BMW Motorrad Malaysia opted to increase said allocation, to which the firm has added another 15 units. The news got even when the firm also revealed a slightly revised price tag which now reads at RM149,500 apiece.

Yep, it’s still pricey, but at least it comes with BMW Motorrad Malaysia’s three-year warranty coverage and three-year roadside assistance package. Also…

5. It comes with this cool ‘starter pack’

Coming from its Heritage product line, each R18 First Edition purchase includes the special ‘starter pack’ pictured. In it is a sizable book detailing the bike’s design and engineering heritage, plus an exclusive R18 First Edition cap and leather belt.

On top of those, the pack also features a 1920s-styled BMW decorative logo set. There are three of which (a pair for the tank and the third for the front of the massive boxer engine) and owners can easily swap each into place using the specialised screwdriver tool and pair of protective gloves that comes with it too. Pretty neat, no?

Check out more images of this big retro-styled and boxer-powered cruiser in the gallery prepared below.