Home Motorcycle 2024 BMW R 18 Roctane | First Ride Review

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane | First Ride Review

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane | First Ride Review


2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
The brand new black midrise handlebar and blacked-out powertrain on the R 18 Roctane positively make it stand out from its siblings.

In my early days with Rider, the BMW R 18 caught my eye. I had by no means ridden a BMW, and as a cruiser man it was proper up my alley. When one in every of my fellow editors, Allison Parker, obtained an opportunity to ride an R 18 at the BMW U.S. Rider Academy, I expressed curiosity to Rider EIC Greg Drevenstedt about doing the identical.

Just a few weeks later, BMW announced a new R 18 – the Roctane – and invited Rider to get a primary trip on the bike in Germany, so I made my pitch. The trip would coincide with the lately opened 100 Years of BMW Motorrad exhibition on the BMW Museum in Munich, so I figured this may be the proper alternative to get a bit further perspective on how we obtained so far.

I got here away from the journey not solely wiser however after two days of driving by way of the Bavarian and Austrian Alps, a lot happier.


BMW R 18: A Rising Household

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
At this cease by Lake Plansee in Austria, it was exhausting to know what to pay extra consideration to, the Roctane or the surroundings.

The 2024 BMW R 18 Roctane is the fifth member of the R 18 household, which launched its first mannequin in 2020 and was impressed by the long-lasting BMW R 5 from the Thirties. The Roctane, which BMW describes as a “cruiser, a bagger, and every thing in between,” joins the usual R 18, the R 18 Traditional, the R 18 B (Bagger), and the R 18 Transcontinental.

Associated: 2022 BMW R 18 Transcontinental | Road Test Review

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
The elevated path on the R 18 Roctane contributes to raised straight-line stability, an attribute that BMW believes shall be interesting to American cruiser riders.

As with the opposite R 18s, the Roctane has an air/oil-cooled “Large Boxer” Twin engine displacing 1,802cc (or 110ci within the parlance of American cruisers) and mated to a 6-speed transmission, a single-plate dry slipper clutch, and a nickel-plated driveshaft. We dyno’d the 2021 R 18, and it made 109 lb-feet of torque between 2,000-4,000 rpm on the rear wheel.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
It’s exhausting to not argue that in the event you noticed this bike coming your approach, you’d need to get a re-examination because it handed you by.

This factor is a monster, figuratively and actually. The afternoon I arrived in Munich, I went to the BMW Museum. There are some wonderful sights to make sure (extra particulars can be found here), however one space of notice is devoted to the R 18. It features a show stand with the 1,802cc Boxer mounted on it. I had seen this show in a photograph, however it wasn’t till I used to be standing in entrance of the large engine that I actually realized why it’s known as the “Large Boxer.” With the partial exhaust pipes popping out of the cylinder heads and hooking down in entrance like mandibles, it seemed like an enormous alien insect head dipped in chrome.

After all, that might’ve been the jetlag and an overactive creativeness, however it was nonetheless fairly placing.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane BMW Museum
The insect overlord is right here to guide the R 18 troops into battle. OK, I positively wanted sleep at this level within the journey.

Past the engine, the R 18 Roctane additionally shares the identical braking and suspension programs as its siblings, with 4-piston calipers biting twin 300mm discs up entrance and a single 300mm disc within the rear and a 49mm telescopic fork and central rear shock with travel-dependent damping, adjustable spring preload, and 4.7/3.5 inches of journey entrance/rear.

As to what makes the Roctane distinctive from different bikes within the R 18 household, one solely needed to step again and have a look at it subsequent to different R 18 fashions on the launch, together with the gorgeous 100 Years Edition.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
Though the R 18 Roctane has the identical Rock, Roll, and Rain trip modes as the opposite R 18s, on a day like this, I’d say there may be actually solely a necessity for one: Rock.

The Roctane has a blacked-out engine and drivetrain, a Darkish Chrome exhaust, a black midrise handlebar, and a bigger 21-inch entrance wheel.

The Roctane’s chassis geometry and seating place falls between that of the usual R 18 cruiser and the R 18 B(agger). Its 7.3 inches of path is 1.4 inches longer than the R 18 however just like the R 18 B, whereas its 67.7-inch wheelbase is true in the course of the 2 bikes. At 28.3 inches, its seat peak is about an inch taller than the R 18 and once more just like that of the R 18 B.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
I didn’t thoughts the Large Boxer cylinder proscribing the ahead actions of my legs, however I’d’ve most popular larger footboards and higher shift lever and brake pedal positioning.


Balancing the Previous, the Current, and the Future

Within the BMW Museum, there was an interesting wall show of a few of the totally different instrument panels used on the corporate’s bikes through the years, beginning with the spherical analog speedo of the Thirties BMW R 61 and R 71 progressing to the a lot bigger, rectangular show of the present-day BMW R 1250 RT and Okay 1600 GT.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane BMW Museum
This show on the BMW Museum exhibits how the occasions have been a-changin’, however the instrument cluster on the R 18 Roctane turns again the clock. (Don’t thoughts the BMW Museum typo subsequent to the underside TFT show.)

BMW took a unique tack with the most recent member of the R 18 household. Once more impressed by the 1936 R 5, the Roctane’s instrument cluster is integrated into the highest of the metallic headlight nacelle, with a traditional analog speedometer and an inset multifunction digital show. Some might need for a bit greater than the understated show, however for a cruiser, the simplicity works. On the Roctane, along with velocity, trip mode, and equipment choice, you may scroll by way of different data equivalent to rpm, time, odometer, journey meters, and gas financial system.

However wait, the place’s the gas gauge? Severely, no gas gauge? I’d like one thing greater than only a warning.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
The 2024 BMW R 18 Roctane has a minimalist instrument cluster constructed into the headlight nacelle. The time of day is displayed on this photograph, however the rider may select from a variety of different choices.

Personally, I like that the trip modes of the R 18 household are known as Rock, Roll, and Rain. Whereas considerably unorthodox, there’s no query of what you’re getting right here, and I sampled all three modes on our trip – Rain not essentially by alternative, however it certain is fairly in Germany this time of 12 months. 

Every mode moderates throttle response, traction management, and ABS however not the ability, and whereas Roll and Rain have been extra sluggish, even in Rain, throughout a pair moments after I wanted to overhaul a automotive, the Roctane had what I wanted. I simply needed to twist the throttle more durable to get it. In Rock, there was no hesitation, and I used to be happy to seek out that it wasn’t snatchy. Throttle response was fast, highly effective, and easy, even sharpening out a few of the engine vibration current in Roll.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
The Metzler Marathon Extremely tires have been examined – and carried out admirably – in quite a lot of climate situations.

I’d argue – and a BMW rep truly agreed with me – there isn’t actually a necessity for Roll. In addition to beginning off the trip in Roll and utilizing it coming down from the breathtaking cliffside Burghotel Falkenstein on some slender, frost-heaved switchbacks that have been moist from the earlier evening’s rain, I principally stored it in Rock or Rain.  

When it got here to rocking, the Roctane’s ample path contributed to reassuring straight-line stability. Blasting down the autobahn at 140 kph (that’s about 87 mph to you and me, children), it felt stable. There was a good quantity of windblast at these speeds, so if I needed to do a lot of that, I’d be inclined to put in one in every of BMW’s accent windshields.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
The Roctane’s blacked-out engine properly enhances the excessive gloss chassis bits and Darkish Chrome exhaust.

Among the many journalists readily available throughout our trip, the overall consensus was that the Roctane can be a greater bike for cruising wide-open roads within the U.S. than bending by way of all of the twists and turns within the Alps. In addition to the freeway stints, most of our high-speed driving over the 2 days consisted of lengthy sweepers reasonably than twisties. These have been a real pleasure on the Roctane, however even for the few spots that have been a bit tighter, I didn’t have any downside flopping the bike backward and forward, even with its 825-lb curb weight.

I used to be additionally happy with the Metlzer Extremely Marathon tires, which have been grippy in all situations, from dry to moist to actually moist on some events. It is a bike I’d gladly take over the well-known Hogback of Scenic Byway 12 in my dwelling state of Utah.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
One of many many sweeping corners on our check route, this one wrapping round Lake Plansee in Austria, enhanced the enjoyment of driving the Roctane.

And despite the fact that the Roctane is a protracted, heavy bike, the Large Boxer helps maintain the burden low and offers higher than anticipated steadiness and maneuverability at low speeds. The R 18 Roctane will also be geared up with elective Reverse Help and Hill Begin Management, each of which might be particularly useful if the bike was loaded to capability.

There are just a few areas by which the R 18 Roctane could possibly be improved, the primary being the place of the foot controls. As we famous in our review of the R 18 Classic, the situation of the shift lever relative to the footboard made it almost unattainable to get my boot beneath it. I used to be in a position to upshift with the facet of my huge toe generally, however most of the time, I simply used the heel shifter. Nevertheless, given the midmount controls and my 32-inch inseam, it felt awkward. The rear brake pedal appeared equally tough to entry with my boot. I like the lengthy footboards on my cruiser at dwelling, however on the Roctane, I discovered myself envious of the blokes driving the R 18s with footpegs.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
“Filler stripes” that cowl the area between the 27-liter top-loading, locking exhausting circumstances and the bike could be chosen as equipment.

The second space in want of enchancment is braking. Like different R 18s, customary gear on the Roctane contains BMW Motorrad Integral ABS, the place the hand lever applies braking power to each wheels however the foot pedal applies braking power solely to the rear wheel. That is the primary bike I’ve ridden with integral ABS, and whereas I used to be in a position to shed velocity when essential, I used to be stunned that the brakes didn’t really feel extra responsive, particularly contemplating these huge twin discs up entrance. I needed to apply extra stress on the lever – whereas additionally making an attempt to get my boot on that elusive rear pedal – than I’d’ve guessed.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
The Roctane shares the identical braking as different members of the R 18 household, with 4-piston calipers biting twin 300mm discs up entrance and a single 300mm disc within the rear.

Lastly, the top-loading, locking exhausting circumstances are trendy and simple to make use of, however at simply 27 liters of capability in both sides, they’re on the small facet. (The saddlebags on the R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental are the identical measurement.)

What’s Subsequent for the BMW R 18 Roctane? A Matter of Religion

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
BMW is probably not aiming to be “the higher Harley-Davidson,” however that new 21-inch entrance wheel on the Roctane seems like all-American cruiser.

Those that are contemplating the R 18 Roctane in all probability fall into one in every of three teams: 1) Those that recognize cruisers and are interested by this one; 2) Those that love all-things-BMW Motorrad; or 3) Those that like Harley-Davidsons and have an open thoughts.

In any dialogue of heavyweight cruisers, Harley-Davidson is all the time the elephant within the room, even when everybody tries to disregard it. At dinner on the primary evening, I had an illuminating dialog with Christian Pingitzer, BMW Motorrad’s head of product administration, after he requested me about my private bikes and I instructed him my principal trip is a 2004 Heritage Softail Traditional.

“We’re not making an attempt to be the higher Harley-Davidson,” he mentioned at one level. “Harley is sort of a faith.”

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
One of many stunning stops alongside the way in which throughout two days of driving the 2024 BMW R 18 Roctane.

It’s no secret that the R 18 fashions haven’t bought as nicely on this facet of the pond as BMW may need hoped, and there’s no denying the Roctane bike seems extra the a part of an American cruiser than its predecessors. On the second day, Tim Diehl-Thiele, head of communications, mentioned that the corporate was “absolutely on monitor” with gross sales of the R 18s in China and Europe, however “within the U.S., we want time.”

Then he went on to name H-D a “tremendous cool model” and likewise referred to it as a faith.

That is attention-grabbing to me. I’m a cruiser man and I’m not spiritual, however I do agree that Harley-Davidson is sort of a faith. Nevertheless, what I’ve come to imagine since I’ve been with Rider is that BMW is one thing of its personal faith, and so they have their very own passionate adherents who love the model and ignore all of the others.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
The 1,802cc “Large Boxer” Twin engine is an imposing characteristic of the R 18 household, however it’s additionally a novel look that drew me to the cruisers.

Much like how I select to dabble relating to issues of religion, I additionally take pleasure in dabbling in quite a lot of motorbike manufacturers. In the case of the Roctane, I loved the joys of the ability coupled with the boldness it impressed and the comfy cruising. And I stay up for seeing – and hopefully dabbling in – the longer term developments of the R 18 lineup.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane Specs

  • Base Worth: $18,695
  • Worth as Examined: $21,900 (Mineral Gray Metallic Matte, Choose Package deal, Reverse Help)
  • Web site: BMWMotorcycles.com
  • Guarantee: 3 yrs., 36,000 miles
  • Engine Kind: Air-/oil-cooled, longitudinal opposed flat-Twin, OHV w/ 4 valves per cyl.
  • Displacement: 1,802cc (110ci)
  • Bore x Stroke: 107.1 x 100.0mm
  • Horsepower: 80 hp @ 4,500 rpm (2021 R 18, rear-wheel dyno)
  • Torque: 109 lb-ft @ 2,900 rpm (2021 R 18, rear-wheel dyno)
  • Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated single-plate dry slipper clutch
  • Remaining Drive: Shaft
  • Wheelbase: 67.7 in.
  • Rake/Path: 34.7 levels/7.3 in.
  • Seat Peak: 28.3 in.
  • Moist Weight: 825 lbs.
  • Gasoline Capability: 4.2 gal.

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