2022 BMW R 18 Transcontinental
by Brian Robinson
Last year, BMW made a second attempt to establish themselves in the american cruiser market with the R 18. The secret to its success was drawing as much on their own history for inspiration as American v-twins. Well the next logical step is this transcontinental luxury touring version.
BRIAN ROBINSON: The BMW R 18 arrived with much less fanfare than BMW’s previous American-style cruiser the R1200C; but the R 18 Transcontinental is looking to make a much bigger entrance.
Most people remember BMW’s R1200C as that one bike from that one James Bond movie. Well, no major movie debuts this time around for the R 18, but it looks to have much more substance and hopefully a little more staying power. This 2022 R 18 Transcontinental goes after the heart of the luxury long-distance travel segment.
Like most vehicles, 2 or 4-wheeled, it’s not going to appeal to everyone, but I think BMW was able to nail the style; incorporating cruiser familiars such heavy-duty double cradle steel frame with hidden suspension for a rigid-frame look, and double-sided swing-arm; with traditional BMW hallmarks like long teardrop tank, exposed drive shaft, and their boxer engine, which has been a brand staple since the 1930s.
It’s their most powerful boxer ever, 1,802ccs outputting 91-horsepower with 116 lb-ft. of torque. And it rumbles, not quite in a V-Twin way, but it sounds great.
Part of the cruiser appeal is of course style, but being comfortable enough to cover large chunks of ground at any given time is equally important to most buyers.
So, the Transcontinental adds a fork-mounted fairing with tall non-adjustable windscreen, additional lighting and wind deflectors. The back side of it features a row of high-mounted big analog gauges.
Below, is a huge 10-inch TFT display that looks like it came straight out of a 7 Series. Inputs are made on BMW’s familiar jogwheel controller, which is very intuitive to operate.
And of course they’ve added places to store some luggage; 27–liters in the side cases, 48 in the top trunk, all with central locking.
Special First Edition models include throwback BMW pin stripping and acres of chrome.
An available Premium Package adds Adaptive lighting, Reverse, Active Cruise Control, and even a sound system designed by guitar amplifier maker Marshall.
The wide seat is more long distance supportive than cushy; heated of course, and the integrated backrest will keep your passenger happy for the full 250 plus miles you can get out of a topped-off tank.
And as for the actual riding, the Transcontinental is a heavy one, well over 900-lbs. but well-balanced. I felt no need to go searching for its cornering limits, but they appear to be more than adequate.
The Transcontinental’s base price of $24,995 is not out of line at all when compared to the Electra Glides and Roadmasters of the world; also a couple grand less than BMW’s own K1600GTL sport-luxury tourer. There are options of course, and this First Edition, with a few packages added on, stickers for closer to $32,000.
It’s hard to say for certain whether the R18 will have ultimate staying power, but the fact that this time around they paid just as much attention to their own motorcycle history as they did to America’s gives us hope. The 2022 BMW R 18 Transcontinental perfectly merges BMW’s long distance luxury cruising abilities with American cruiser style and vibe. And it’s ready to rock-n-roll you all over this continent.