Test ride day
When I last took the K1600 to the dealer, I saw an announcement of a test ride day: riding some new BMW models. I have no intention to change my big beast, but why not try out things. The interesting temptation was to ride the biggest BMW ever built: the massive R 18. Let me quote the official advertisement by BMW:
“The R 18 Classic is a modern cruiser with a nostalgic sense of BMW design. It reminds one of the beginnings, of the first cruisers suitable for touring. It also invokes timeless marks of our motorcycle history, such as with the white double lining found on the R 18 Classic First Edition. The heart of the machine is obviously the boxer with the most displacement we have ever built. It stands for relaxing tours and pure enjoyment. For the R 18 Classic First Edition, we brought back to life distinctive characteristics from BMW Motorrad tradition: The First Edition is characterised by its white double lining and chrome design options as well as the sticker and logo.
An early, high torque ensures the powerful cruiser torque: The 1802 ccm twin-cylinder boxer engine of the R 18 Classic is the boxer with the most displacement we have ever built. An engine you can see, hear, and feel: It delivers its maximum torque of 158 Nm at 3000 rpm. From 2000 to 4000 rpm, it always delivers over 150 Nm, meaning a consistently high torque with the typical running characteristics of a boxer. At 4750 rpm, the Big Boxer delivers 67 kW (91 hp). Start every tour with some zip.”
I had reserved two slots today: one hour with the R 18 and one hour with the S1000XR, pretty much the opposite of the Big Boxer. I had to ride to Antwerp for this. Unfortunately, I learned that I had to ride in a group behind a guide that lead us for 30 min on some back roads. Not really what I had expected, but ok.
I had read a series of articles about the R18 and my impression was immediately: it’s all true. The seat it very low, like the centre of gravity. The bike is very easy to ride, despite its curb weight (345 kg). The design might be from the 30’s, but the ride is very smooth, super stable. The highlight is of course its massive motor. 900cc per cylinder. Oomph! >The sound is great, not too loud and annoying like so many other BMWs, but solid and quite attractive. I had the “Classic” model, i.e. with a wind shield and soft bags. And some flat boards. I had quite some trouble to shift the gears upwards. It was only after the ride that I realised that it had a heel toe shifter! The only thing that I noticed negatively: the max lean angle. I got the feet boards scratching on the ground by simply turning into another road! This is not a bike for canyon surfing…
Apart from the fantastic motor, what it so special about this cruiser? Well, unlike the Nine T, this is true retro. A truly beautiful bike. Full of citations, the quality is outstanding. Almost no plastic. Dedication for details. And what I like very much: simplicity. Modern bikes are full of bits and pieces that were somehow attached to the bike, without taste or aesthetics. This is back to simple design. Simply great to watch. I add a few pictures.
The next ride was with the S1000XR. Of course too slow in the group. The bike is the opposite of the Big Boxer. Plastic, high seat, TFT monitor, 4 cylinder high rev engine. Enormous power. A true fun bike.
So, would I buy a R 18? Well, I’m not a cruiser guy. But if I had to make a choice, the R 18 is a great bike to ride, with a great personality. And the looks are just great. Finally a modern retro bike that makes sense.
I rode home on my K1600 and concluded that it was a fantastic bike as well. One that suits me much better. Cruising or bombing along, it’s up to me.