We don’t typically cover bikes on our site, but this BMW R18 Dragster concept bike is too cool not to share. The R18 was launched only four months ago and already renowned custom bike designer Roland Sands has added his personal touch to the Bavarian-brand’s cruiser. The result is a unique drag strip-ready motorcycle.
Over the last three decades BMW Motorrad built a cult following for their adventure class motorcycles of the GS nomenclature, and more recently sent the superbike world reeling with the S1000 RR; which allowed the German manufacturer to compete in the World Superbike Championship.
Second time around
The R18 is BMW’s second foray into the cruiser scene, after the R1200C that was manufactured between 1997 and 2004 to compete with the established brands in that particular market segment, and the company claims that the model marks a return to their essential motorcycling ethos of purist, no-frills technology and the boxer engine as the centre of riding pleasure. It’s powered by a 1,8-litre two-cylinder boxer engine that makes 67 kW and 158 N.m – following a long tradition of BMW boxer engines that dates back to the 1920s.
The customiser gets to work
Sands’ own experience served as inspiration for the customisation of the R18, and his dad’s racing endeavours indirectly influenced the build.
“With an engine that’s so visibly the centrepiece, I immediately thought of muscle cars. My family has always been into going fast and my dad was a drag racer, so I thought it made sense to strip the bike down to the essentials and shape it to go fast on a straight track,” Sands says.
After first getting the basic idea of a low-slung drag bike down on paper with a sketch, Sands and his team set to work with their reimagined BMW R18 Dragster. They ran into some difficulties with the bike’s electronics after toying with the intake and exhaust, and adding nitrous oxide, but otherwise the finished product is a sight to behold.
The team spent three months on the build, which includes a frame that no longer features rear suspension, revised front and rear fenders, a hand fabricated stainless steel twin megaphone exhaust, a fork donated by a BMW R nineT, front braking system off a S1000 RR, and a custom seat by California-based perch specialists Saddlemen.
“Combining a racing aesthetic and function with a custom style – this is what we are probably best known for. We like to make stock machines perform better,” says Roland.