BMW Motorrad took the opportunity at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on Lake Como to present a retro bike, the Concept R18 — a historic big cruiser look with a modern custom attitude.
“With its clear aesthetics openly on display, the Concept R18 embodies for me what motorcycling, at its core, is really about,” said Edgar Heinrich, head of BMW Motorrad Design. “It is all about feeling instead of thinking, and not using technology for self-staging, instead giving space for imagination. This concept bike appeals to something deep down – you just want to just get on it and ride off. But when you get off it again, you don’t just put it in the garage and walk away – you turn around again and give it a final parting glance.”
Immediately recognizable as a genuine BMW, the Concept R18 motorcycle can be, in a sense, interpreted as a return to the brand’s roots, displaying the look of a bike from BMW’s golden age, with a glimpse of what the 1960s’ BMW Boxer engine might look on purist bike today (the only electrics are the starter and lights).
In addition to the Boxer engine, the concept bike features a cradle frame, exposed chrome-plated universal shaft and drop-shaped fuel tank with black paintwork and hand-applied contrast lines. It rides on large spoke wheels (21-inch in front, 18-inch rear) wrapped in Metzeler tires (a further nod to the past), to provide the secure stance and balanced proportions are reminiscent of classics like the BMW R5.
“The biggest challenge in the design is to render everything visible. Every part has a functional purpose. There are not many who would dare to take such an absolutely honest approach,” said Bart Janssen Groesbeek, the concept bike’s designer.
The aluminum 1800-cc 2-cylinder boxer engine, with Solex dual carburettors, is presented in a throwback look of the flat twin engines BMW built in the 1960sbut with larger displacement and modern cooling technologies.
The leather seat design is borrowed from 1950s’ bikes, reinterpreted to be more comfortable but with the same purist quality embossing. The headlamp design, with classic U-shape glass, is also a throwback to the ’50s though the lights are LEDs.
Recreating the aesthetics of the day, the Concept R18 was presented with an exclusive horse leather jacket (very smooth with only little grain and smoothly integrated protectors).
“For me, motorcycles like the BMW Motorrad Concept R18 are a response to a growing need among the motorcycling community: instead of technology, the focus here is on simplification, authenticity and transparency,” concludes Heinrich. “Our aim with this concept bike is to address this need and turn it into an analogue statement in a digital age. We have a rich history of iconic motorcycles, and they all bear the same design characteristics. We believe that this can still work well together today with the current technology.”