BMW has entered the massive and powerful cruiser bike segment, despite the drop in demand for such bikes. Harley-Davidson, being the king of cruisers, hasn't been fairing all that well in recent times, while Indian Motorcycles lure just a handful of buyers looking for a niche product. Cruisers seem to have been losing a grip of the market, for most riders seem to be lured towards performance motorcycles. BMW isn't afraid, however, and has launched its first mighty cruiser, called the R 18 - and it's the coolest-looking thing on two wheels. The brand is very enthusiastic about this movie, and we get astride one to tell you what it's like.
A retro theme
The R 18 gets its design inspiration from the R5 of the past, and it is evident in most of the details. That classic silhouette, with that double-loop steel tube frame, looks great. Those huge front forks are layered with fork sleeves, giving them an even thicker look. The teardrop fuel tank is slim, the wheels have spokes, and the round headlight gives it a classic look. At the rear, you get a huge fender. You're seated really low, and the bike is longer than some cars out there. It also features an exposed drive-shaft based on the original classic. The huge, twin-boxer engine is such a feast for the eyes, with the cylinders protruding out horizontally on either side. And with all that chrome, the pinstriped paintwork, and black elements, it looks stunning.
All the tech
Now this may be a classic to look at, but it's an out-and-out modern machine underneath. It features LED lighting with adaptive turning light, circular integrated display, automatic stability control, engine drag torque control, three standard riding modes, engine drag torque control, hill-start control, reverses gear, and an anti-hopping clutch. There's also switchable traction control, but shockingly, no cruise control.
It is powered by a gorgeous-looking 1800cc boxer engine, which happens to be the largest and most powerful motor in the line-up. It produces 91bhp and 158Nm of torque. In terms of performance and refinement, BMW hasn't gone wrong. Turn on the bike, and the boxer engine springs to life with a lovely punch to it. The throttle response varies, depending on whether you'd like to ride, enjoying the relaxed nature of the bike, or its prompt power delivery. The engine doesn't rev too high, but the torque spread is unimaginable. However, the exhaust note is rather disappointing.
Rides like a cruiser
The R 16 rides extremely well on straight roads, but the seating posture could've been better, but that's due to the huge horizontal cylinders that jut out. The footpegs are placed in the middle and the saddle is a bit too firm, meaning riding for hours will leave you with an aching butt. And the suspension setup isn't pleasing, for most bad roads are felt very easily. BMW bikes have given it three riding modes too: Rain, Roll, and Rock.
The BMW to buy
While a Harley may make a lot more sense to buy, given the fact it's more comfortable to ride and features the same technology. But nothing can match the Beemer for its gorgeous looks. And it also outscores Harley, when it comes to refinement and quality. And then, there are Indian Motorcycles that offer equally well-built products. But the R 18 will appeal to those who love the blue-and-white propeller badge, and the gorgeous machine it's attached to.
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