Just a few days before the craziness of the 2019 motorcycle show season kicks off, the BMW R18 retro-cruiser has been spotted again (see it here).
Rumors of a new BMW boxer of gargantuan proportions began circulating last year, coming to a head in the fall when it was featured in a Custom Works Zon machine, and then again in the spring when Revival Cycles built a high-profile custom around it. Then, shots of BMW’s own R18 machine appeared online, showing a bike with incredibly spartan lines, powered by an oil/air-cooled 1,800 cc boxer.
In an age when traction control, wheelie control, launch control, even thought control (Just kidding! we think …) are standard, the R18 prototype was very stripped-down in its first appearance last May. Forget leaning ABS—the only electronics on this thing were the lights and ignition. Overall, the design was a weird mix of that bobber look that’s hijacked the retro scene lately, mixed with vintage Euro roadster lines. This is a machine that looks like something Lord Peter Wimsey would ride, or maybe T.E. Lawrence, if he wasn’t so attached to Brough Superiors.
Even after BMW brought the prototype to show off at Sturgis this summer, there was still some will-they-or-won’t-they confusion, with no official confirmation of the bike’s arrival, at least not for 2020. However, BMW’s French dealers are now taking deposits on the bike, so it’s pretty much a done thing.
The photos, which have mysteriously appeared in multiple publications with no real indication as to their origins, show a couple of differences from the model flogged around last summer. The front wheel looks smaller, and those tasty fishtail mufflers have been replaced. There’s also a light bar bolted on. We’d guess that means the production R18 will have quite a bit more electro-trickery than the concept, although no doubt the designers will still have emphasized a stripped-down look. We’ll know for sure when it’s unveiled at EICMA.