BMW Concept R18 – Big Boxer Custom


BMW Motorrad have unveiled the third custom creation based around the new 1800cc Big Boxer powerplant, this time offering a modern interpretation of the classic 1960s boxer powerplant, alongside an R5 inspired overall theme. The bike was unveiled at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.

BMW Motorrad Concept R Big Boxer
BMW Concept R18 ‘Big Boxer’concept art
Edgar Heinrich – Head of BMW Motorrad Design

“With its clear aesthetics openly on display, the Concept R18 embodies for me what motorcycling, at its core, is really about. It is all about feeling instead of thinking, and not using technology for self-staging, instead giving space for imagination. This concept bike appeals to something deep down – you just want to just get on it and ride off. But when you get off it again, you don’t just put it in the garage and walk away – you turn around again and give it a final parting glance.”

BMW Motorrad Concept R Big Boxer
BMW Concept R18 ‘Big Boxer’
Bart Janssen Groesbeek – Designer

“The biggest challenge in the design is to render everything visible. Every part has a functional purpose. There are not many who would dare to take such an absolutely honest approach.”

The BMW Motorrad Concept R18 features a boxer engine, cradle frame, exposed shaft and drop-shaped fuel tank. Its black paintwork and hand-applied contrast lines are typical design icons of BMW Motorrad classics

BMW Motorrad Concept R Big Boxer
BMW Concept R18 ‘Big Boxer’

Balanced proportions are reminiscent of classics like the BMW R5, and convey – even from a distance – the look that comes about whenever things are consistently reduced to their bare essentials. The frame and tank create a common line all the way from the steering head to the rear wheel hub and lend a somewhat flowing elegance to the side view.

BMW Motorrad Concept R Big Boxer
BMW Concept R18 ‘Big Boxer’

The large spoked rims (21-inch front and 18-inch rear) provide a particular stance and balance around that hulking big-bore power unit.

The heart of the BMW Motorrad Concept R18 is the Big Boxer, a newly designed, two-cylinder 1800cc flat-twin, a layout synonymous with BMW and its history. Its outward appearance is consciously reminiscent of the engines that BMW Motorrad used to build up until the end of the 1960s – but with a considerably bigger displacement and modern air/oil cooling.

BMW Motorrad Concept R Big Boxer
BMW Concept R18 ‘Big Boxer’

The engine block and transmission are made of glass bead-blasted aluminium, providing an ideal stage on which to present the hand-polished aluminium components as well as the belt guard and valve covers.

The engine badge bears the name of the concept bike. In addition, Solex dual carburettors – similar to those used in the famous BMW 2002 sports cars – also hark back to the brand’s history.

BMW Motorrad Concept R Big Boxer
BMW Concept R18 ‘Big Boxer’

A chrome-plated universal shaft connects the back wheel to the drive. There are no further covers anywhere on the motorcycle. Similarly, the electronics of the concept bike are reduced to no more than starter and lights.

As for its colour design, the BMW Motorrad Concept R18 shows itself to be a classic. The theme is typical BMW: the white, hand-applied lines on the fork and fuel tank in combination with the black base colour represent the classic BMW colour theme.

BMW Motorrad Concept R Big Boxer
BMW Concept R18 ‘Big Boxer’

A discreet yellow-gold varnish effect lends the bright twin lines an exclusive touch, and the black effect paintwork on the tank and fork rods similarly reveal, in the best custom style, an unusual depth when the sunlight strikes the large metallic particles in the various layers of the paintwork.

The visual design of the imprinted single leather seat is borrowed from the classics of the 1950s. Reinterpreted and somewhat more comfortable.

BMW Motorrad Concept R Big Boxer
BMW Concept R18 ‘Big Boxer’

The cantilever spring strut is integrated beneath the seat. The graphics of the headlamp design are also reminiscent of the 1950s. The classic U shape of the original glass cover components are now interpreted as LED lamp elements.


Big Boxer Concepts

The BMW Motorrad Concept R18 is the third in-house interpretation of the large-capacity boxer engine to come from BMW Motorrad. Last December the model created by the Japanese customisers, Custom Works Zon was presented at the Yokohama Hot Rod Show, on the basis of this new prototype engine.

BMW Boxer Zon
Yuichi Yoshizawa and Yoshikazu Ueda with the Custom Works Zon

The ‘Departed’ won the biggest accolade of the event, the ’Best of Show Motorcycle’ award, thrilling motorcycle fans with its classic forms, modern production techniques and all manner of manual art and craft in the details.

The next round was the interpretation by Revival Cycles. The customisers from Austin, Texas created a spectacular bike with their ‘Revival Birdcage’ model, an ideal presentation platform for the Big Boxer. The specially developed titanium frame features an unobstructed view of the engine and drive from all angles. This American design created a furore at last month’s Handbuilt Show in Texas.

BMW Cruiser Big Boxer
Revival Cyles showcase the new BMW Big Boxer cruiser engine in their showpiece

Edgar Heinrich – Head of BMW Motorrad Design

“For me, motorcycles like the BMW Motorrad Concept R18 are a response to a growing need among the motorcycling community: instead of technology, the focus here is on simplification, authenticity and transparency. I observe an almost romantic yearning for real mechanical engineering. Our aim with this concept bike is to address this need and turn it into an analogue statement in a digital age. We have a rich history of iconic motorcycles, and they all bear the same design characteristics. We believe that this can still work well together today with the current technology.”

BMW Motorrad Concept R Big Boxer
BMW Concept R18 ‘Big Boxer’

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