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BMW R 18 Classic Tackles the Harley Road King

Another version of the R 18

As expected, BMW is adding to its range of R 18 cruisers with the first being a tourer called the Classic, to tackle the popular Harley-Davidson Road King.

Like that American highway icon, the Classic has a removable clear windshield and leather saddlebags so you can convert from a tourer to a cruiser in seconds.

While the R 18 released a couple of months ago has a solo saddle, this comes with a removable pillion seat.

The Classic also has a 16-inch wheel for sharper steering, an additional LED headlight and electronic cruise control for highway touring.

Everything else seems to be the same as the R 18 including frame, electronics, suspension and 1802cc Boxer engine with 67kW (91hp) of power and 150Nm of torque.

Of course, those big Boxer heads are the biggest difference to the Road King.

They dictate mid-mounted footpegs that some have criticised as creating an uncomfortable “knees in the breeze” riding position instead of a more relaxed position of the Road King and many other cruisers.

BMW Motorrad says their “philosophy” with the footrests behind the cylinders is “not only typical of BMW, it also enables a relaxed and active riding position for optimum vehicle control”.

I would dispute that.

BMW will offer First Edition models in the R 18 and R 18 Classic in some markets with their classic paintwork in black with white double pinstripes. Other highlights include numerous chrome surfaces, a seat badge and a “First Edition” chrome clasp on the side covers.

I suspect there will be other R 18 variants to follow from a stripped-down dragster to a full-dresser with fairings, hard panniers and maybe even a top box.