Since introducing its Big Boxer-powered R 18 in 2020, BMW has invited some of the world’s best customizers to put their own spin on Germany’s heavyweight cruiser. At the Motor Bike Expo in Verona, Italy, BMW unveiled the R 18 M and R 18 Aurora customs.
The creativity seen with previous R 18 customs, such as Kingston Custom’s Art Deco-styled “Spirit of Passion,” Roland Sands’ R 18 Dragster, and Shinya Kimura’s post-apocalyptic ‘The Wal,’ has been nothing short of jaw-dropping.
The latest customs are the result of the collaboration between BMW Motorrad Italy and its dealer network. The R 18 M was developed by Italian magazine LowRide and created by American Dreams. Commissioned by BMW Motorrad Roma, the R 18 Aurora was created by Garage 221.
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BMW R 18 M
M is the letter that distinguishes the sport versions of BMW four-wheeled models, and today it also includes motorcycles like the M 1000 RR. The source of inspiration for the BMW R 18 M project by the editorial staff of LowRide is the following: the idea is to give the BMW cruiser a sportier, more streamlined look, avoiding exaggerations while showing respect the R 18’s retro lines.
“Stability, long wheelbase, and readiness of the 1,800cc Big Boxer instigate lightning starts and deserve, in our opinion, a sporty and retro look,” said Giuseppe Roncen, director of LowRide. “In the R 18 M design, we find suggestions from BMW Motorrad tradition and cues from the four-wheelers: M stands for Motorsport.”
The work has focused on chassis, suspension set-up, bodywork, and accessories, leaving mechanics and electronics unchanged as the natural strengths of the R 18. Lightened and with a different riding position, the BMW R 18 M promises to be even more fun to ride.
“We remain curious to experience its potential,” continued Roncen. “Significantly lightened, the bike should also be easy to handle due to its riding position, which is more compact and forward loaded, without exaggeration.”
The R 18 M project was made possible by BMW Italia and was born in the wake of the emotions that this bike can give: a fun cruiser, powerful and lively, with a big heart and an infinite torque. LowRide has involved some of the best Italian craftsmen and companies specialized in the sector.
The realization of the sketches was entrusted to designer Oberdan Bezzi, already a partner of LowRide in the past. He has managed to make it an exciting power cruiser without upsetting the essence of the BMW R 18. American Dreams handled the assembly and coordinated the work. Elaboratorio, specializing in prototyping and modeling, created the headlight shroud, lower cowl, and tailsection.
Carbon Italy handled the head covers, intake ducts, and other carbon fiber details. The short exhaust pipe, designed to make the line more compact and allow greater lean angles, bears the signature of ER Exhaust Revolution. L.R. Leather covered the saddle in leather, while the paintwork was entrusted to Dox Art Factory. Rizoma provided mirrors, grips, and universal indicators for the accessories.
Click here for the American Dreams interview
BMW R 18 Aurora
The idea and desire of Garage 221 to create a custom bike based on the BMW R 18 found its origins a while ago, at the presentation of the bike at EICMA 2019. The lines of the new BMW cruiser, innovative and at the same time faithfully traditional, deserved “complementary elements and an even more Heritage spirit, starting from the soft lines of the tank to the characteristic shapes of the boxer,” said Pier Francesco Marchio of Garage 221.
The project initially focused on the study of the different sections of the bike, keeping in mind the need to connect the new elements in a unique harmony of lines, taking inspiration from the cruisers of the 1970s, which have always impressed Pier Francesco “for their impressive aesthetic fluidity.” Distinctive elements of the BMW R 18 Aurora are the wraparound fenders and the batwing fairing.
Modifications that led to the R 18 Aurora stem from Garage 221’s deep knowledge of BMW Motorrad history. The saddle was borrowed in its entirety from a 2005 BMW R 1200 C. The fairing supports are adapted from parts on a 1982 BMW R 100 and a 1991 BMW K 75. Even for the color of the body, a 1983 BMW R 100 RT was used as a reference, customizing the graphics in its shades and intensity. The front and rear fender supports, saddle supports, and license plate holder arms are entirely handmade.
The exhaust pipes were made in collaboration with Leo Vince, taking particular care of the sound, to make it even more full-bodied and captivating. Their design has been specifically studied to give a very personal and muscular line to the central part of the R 18.
The R 18 Aurora’s oil cooler grille gives a classy natural touch, inspired by the grille of BMW’s cars from the 1960s. “It was a lot of hard work,” said Pier Francesco, “but the result is truly stunning. The textured paintwork of the cylinder head covers, the injection housings, the central crankcase and our oil cooler grille make everything look homogeneous, creating a unique effect with the cylinder block and the bevel gear.”