Although BMW is mostly known these days for its cars, it has always produced great motorcycles. After manufacturing aircraft engines, the company moved on to producing motorcycles, predating the 1928 introduction of cars to the BMW catalog by five years. Now, the company is calling on that rich history to bring to market a new yet retro cruiser, namely, the 2021 R18.

The R18, which is available starting at $17,495 for the base model and $19,870 for the early bird exclusive First Edition, combines classic styling with modern technology to deliver a truly impressive cruising bike.

While riders will certainly appreciate things like the 91 horsepower on tap from the 1802 cc engine (the sound of which you can hear on BMW's website) and the hill hold control, what really sets the R18 apart is its ground-breaking design.

A tinkerer's paradise, the new cruiser offers plenty of options for customization while always holding onto BMW's heritage. The result is something pretty special.

Let's look at some of the ways in which the BMW R18 cruiser is making a name for itself as one of the coolest bikes around.

The 2021 BMW R18  Takes Retro Inspiration

Vintage Beemers like this one provided inspiration for the R18
Via: BMW Motorcycle Owners of America

One look at the R18, and it's clear: BMW is harkening back to the good old days. The new cruiser might not be quite as primitive as the company's very first motorcycles, but it certainly takes cues from that time. For instance, it still uses a boxer engine, a hallmark of Beemers all the way back to 1923. The white pinstriping of the First Edition also calls to mind the paint jobs of BMW's first bikes, and according to Bike EXIF, the head of design for the project specifically named the 1930s R5 as the model for the R18's looks.

Even more unusual for a bike today is the R18's driveshaft. Just about every modern motorcycle keeps the driveshaft hidden away. Body paneling shelters much of the vehicles' internal organs from view. The R18 takes a decidedly different approach with its exposed driveshaft, visible just above the exhaust pipe on the right side of the bike. The throwback to the infancy of motorcycle design is subtle but nonetheless helps sell a vintage feel.

Another nod to the bikes of yore can be found in the cooling system on the R18. BMWs famously made use of air cooling for decades, but water-cooled and oil-cooled systems have dominated the market for some time due to their effectiveness. In an effort to provide both form and function, the R18's engine uses a combination of air and oil cooling. While this modern update will do the job better than old-fashioned air cooling, it shows that the company still has its past in mind.

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Futuristic Technology Of The R18

While the R18 wears its old school influences on its sleeve, it's by no means a dinosaur. Among its many features, the cruiser comes equipped with many modern ones, from creature comforts to safety measures.

Chief among the conveniences of a 21st century motorcycle is the R18's ride modes. A welcome addition on a cruiser, riders can switch between Rock and Roll modes or Rain mode. Rock is a sportier mode that puts power down more aggressively, unleashing the full potential of the nearly 2-liter engine, and Roll is a tamer mode for more casual cruising. Rain, of course, is fairly self-explanatory.

The cruiser also features ABS standards on all models. Along with the 300 mm brake discs (a pair at the front and one at the rear), Automatic Stability Control, and Engine Drag Torque Control, the R18 is more than capable of standing up to competing bikes like the Harley Davidson Fat Boy. The R18 also features a six-speed transmission with a slipper clutch to eliminate hopping from the rear wheel.

In case you're not satisfied with these modern appointments, the new BMW offering also has adaptive LED headlights which adjust their brightness automatically based on weather conditions and orient themselves for better visibility when cornering. The R18 can also be started with a keyless transponder, although the option to use a mechanical key is still included to keep that retro feel.

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The 2021 BMW R18 Is Endlessly Modifiable

An R18 First Edition
Via: Wikimedia

Perhaps the most exciting thing about the R18's design isn't the vintage styling or modern features; it's the cruiser's customizability. The cruiser community has been known to enjoy modifying a bike or two, and BMW looks eager to accommodate.

The company has partnered with Roland Sands Design to offer two factory original customization packages. BMW will also be offering a variety of accessories and custom parts for sale so that R18 owners can spec out their rides as they see fit. To demonstrate just how much can be done to the new cruisers, BMW has also joined forces with custom shops like Kingston Custom to make some stunning examples of a bike that truly is something special.

NEXT: We Can't Stop Staring At These Modified Classic BMWs

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