BMW’s New, Super-Sleek R 18 Custom Motorcycle Proves the Kidney Grille Isn’t a Lost Cause

It's a mega-cruiser with art deco fairing by Dirk Oehlerking.

FOTO © BEN OTT
BMW | Ben Ott

BMW Motorrad's new R 18 is a big cruiser powered by a fresh 1,802cc (110-cubic-inch) two-cylinder referred to by the brand as "the big boxer." With 90 horsepower and a peak torque output of 117 pound-feet available from 3,000 rpm, it's one serious beast, and a bike BMW loves to see get customized by the best in the business. After being unveiled digitally due to the pandemic, the first two special R 18s were created by Roland Sands and Bernhard Naumann, who came up with a dragster and the equally racing-inspired Blechmann R 18. Now, the latest one-off created by Hanover-based Dirk Oehlerking shows the Kingston fairing first seen on a bike called Kingston Phantom Good Ghost. Coincidently, Oehlerking's grille design could easily be mistaken for BMW's own from 1936, the debut year of the Milla Miglia-famous 328 roadster that first raced at the Nürburgring.

New Kingston design parts include the handlebars and mudguard, while the R 18's exhaust has been modified in Kingston Roadster style. The turn indicators have been replaced with Kellermann units and the LED front headlight is now integrated in the fairing. Paintwork and lines have been adopted for the fairing and wing, creating a unique art deco piece somewhat reminding me of Morgans, cars also powered by BMW, if not by an American V-Twin.

BMW | Ben Ott

Behind its fancy wind deflector, however, most of this R 18 remains stock. BMW says that "thanks to its extremely conversion-friendly architecture,
the BMW R 18 is predestined for customising." Keeping that in mind, the head of Kingston Custom had this to say about his journey with the bike now called Spirit of Passion:

"The BMW R 18 is so perfect that I left the technology as it is. The frame is 100 percent original and so sophisticated that nothing should be changed here. This project is probably the most impressive of my entire career. It means a lot to me—if not everything at this moment. The trust that BMW Motorrad has placed in me once again is hugely important to me. I’m very grateful for that."

Together with the previous two customs, the RSD R 18 Dragster by Roland Sands and the Blechmann R 18 by Bernhard Naumann, BMW is really pushing the boundaries of its R 18 platform, built in 2020 around "the big boxer," an engine which is literally the highest-capacity two-cylinder boxer engine of all time.

This air and oil-cooled wonder also comes with a vertically split engine housing and triple plain bearing crankcase, produces more than 110 pound-feet of torque from 2,000 to 4,000 rpm, and revs to a cruise-friendly 5,750 rpm, kept smooth by a generously sized flywheel.

Knowing all that, am I the only one wanting to see this 1.8-liter boxer in a small classic car? How about a BMW Isetta...

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