The German manufacturer’s policy shift aims to dent American cruiser dominance
September 7, 2021
By Kali Kotoski
BMW Motorrad is known for a lot of things. But cruisers and baggers and touring motorcycles — at least in the American sense — aren’t among them.
The company is trying to change that with the R 18 retro-styled cruiser it introduced last year, which features the company’s largest “Big Boxer” engine coming in at 1,802cc and capable of producing 91 horsepower at just shy of 5,000 rpms. And now, BMW has expanded the platform offerings with the 2022 R 18 B (B is for Bagger) and the R 18 Transcontinental.
BMW is clearly trying to take a bite into Harley-Davidson’s American dominance, and to a lesser extent the fast-rising alternatives being put out by Indian Motorcycle. A cynic could see the move as being a shot fired in territorial waters. For example, the widely-praised Harley-Davidson Pan America was largely created to give H-D a foothold in the European market.
But if pundits are correct, the R 18 platform has a lot more staying power than BMW’s previous ventures into the American cruiser category, which includes the R1200C that was introduced in the late 1990s and lasted until 2004.
Simply put, the R 18 platform certainly looks a lot more American, with its classic chassis and retro styling and all the cc’s needed to raise eyebrows among the V-twin crowd. The R 18 B and Transcontinental further adopt American styling cues with full fairings and bags to make long rides a breeze.
And the bikes are outfitted with plenty of bells and whistles. The R 18 B features a low windshield and a slim seat along with the 27 liters of storage in each bag, while the Transcontinental has a tall windshield, wind deflectors, driving lights, heated seats and highway bars. The trunk on the Transcontinental gives an addition 48 liters of storage.
The heart of the chassis of the new R 18 Transcontinental and R 18 B is a double-loop tube steel frame made of steel with a backbone of sheet metal formed parts. Its design perpetuates the longstanding BMW Motorrad tradition of this frame type, the company said in a news release.
Both models have Dynamic Cruise Control as a standard option with Active Cruise Control as an upgrade. The Active Cruise Control works with the aid of radar sensors integrated in the front fairing, allowing the motorcycle to either accelerate automatically to adjust the speed or the new, standard full integral braking system applied to decelerate. The tech also is applied for safe cornering to achieve the right speed for a comfortable banking angle.
The cockpit, specially designed for the new R 18 Transcontinental and R 18 B, with four analog round instruments and a 10.25-inch TFT color display, provides maximum functionality.
Both models feature three different riding modes and come with Marshall speaker systems that can be upgraded from Stage 1 to Stage 2.
Available at dealerships now, the 2022 BMW R 18 B has a base price of $21,495 and the 2022 BMW R 18 Transcontinental has a base price of $24,995.