The cat is finally out of the bag. When we say cat, we mean big black purring panther. We caught a glimpse of the BMW 1800cc boxer engine in Austin, Texas last month at the Handbuilt Show. Revival Cycles did a stellar job showing off this beautiful 1800cc boxer engine in the titanium framed ‘Birdcage’. Now here is the highly anticipated BMW Motorrad Concept R18 in all its glory. Launched at the very fitting Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, this R18 concept motorcycle has put a modern twist on BMW’s classic boxer engine design from the 60s and the classic lines of the BMW R5 from the 30s.
As soon as you lay eyes on the bike, it screams BMW. With its unmissable boxer engine, cradle frame, exposed universal shaft and stunning drop-shaped fuel tank, it has all the makings of a BMW modern classic. Everything has a purpose and everything is proudly on display. “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,” says Bart Janssen Groesbeek, designer of the concept bike.
The lines on this concept bike are seamless and make a classic silhouette – very similar to the vintage R5. From the steering head, to the tank, straight along the frame and under the seat to the rear wheel – they all flow better than Italian Prosecco at the Concorso d’Eleganza.
The new prototype flat-twin engine is the highest capacity boxer motorcycle ever produced. BMW Motorrad have consciously designed it to look like the flat twin engines they used to build, only with a much larger displacement and air/oil cooling.
Germans being Germans, they made sure the devil was in the detail of this big prototype boxer: the engine block and transmission are made of glass bead-blasted aluminium, as well as hand-polished aluminium components, belt guard and valve covers. They also chose Solex dual carburettors, which are similar to those on the classic BMW 2002 cars – which is a nice tip of the hat to the brand’s heritage.
Another visual focal point is the exposed, chrome-plated universal shaft that connects the back wheel to the drive. We love how there are no covers anywhere on the bike, which proudly puts all the engineering on show. In addition, all the electronics have been simplified to nothing more than the starter and lights.
Just like everything else on the R18, the colour is classic BMW with a slight modern twist. The black paintwork on the tank and fork have a metallic shimmer, which adds to a more custom look and feel. A more vintage white, which has been hand-applied on the fork and fuel tank in combination with the black base colour, represents the BMW of old.
With all the restrictions and laws different countries impose on motorcycle manufacturers these days, we just hope the R18 gets the green light to go into production and comes out of the BMW Motorrad factory looking as close as possible to this wonderful concept.