The BMW R 18 has strong ties to Verona’s Motor Bike Expo (MBE). In 2020, the Bavarians introduced its R 18/2 Concept to the world at the MBE event. Two years later, the R 18 is still a highlight of the show, with BMW presenting two special custom renditions of the big-bore cruiser from Italian custom shops American Dream and Garage 221.
BMW’s automotive division frequently releases high-performance models under the brand’s M badge. American Dream applies that same mantra to the cruiser platform with the R 18 M. The shop attributes the initial design sketches to motorcycle design guru Oberdan Bezzi, and prototype and modeling specialists Elaboratorio constructed the bikini fairing, fender, and tail section from fiberglass.
The new bodywork transforms the stripped-down bobber into a muscular power cruiser that’s more reminiscent of Arch Motorcycle models. Of course, no M model is complete without the iconic tri-co badge, but American Dream splatters the color scheme across the white base paint. A custom exhaust system and Rizoma mirrors and indicators complete the build, achieving the refined finish typical of BMW’s M models.
Fellow Italian custom shop Garage 221 takes a much more traditional approach to its R 18 build, however. Instead of maximizing the cruiser’s performance, the team improves the R 18’s touring prowess. The batwing fairing may provide extra wind protection, but it also closely resembles Harley-Davidson’s Street Glide model.
Despite the modern convenience of a large front fairing, Garage 221 opts for a bare-bones bobber aesthetic for the rest of the build. From the trimmed, strut-mounted fenders to the floating saddle sourced from a 2005 BMW R 1200 C, the R 18 Aurora draws from multiple eras of cruiser lore.
“It was hard work, but the result is truly surprising” admitted Garage 221’s Pier Francesco. “The texturized painting of the cylinder head covers, the injection crankcase, the central crankcase and our oil radiator grille make everything homogeneous.”
Garage 221 finished off the build with a stunning candy apple red paint base with pinstripes and airbrushed details. A custom Leo Vince exhaust gives the R 18 even more grunt and fully exposes the final shaft drive. If the Garage 221 and American Dream customs teach us anything, it’s that the R 18 is one versatile platform.