BMW really wants its new R18 cruiser to capture the hearts and minds of affluent middle-class people who’ve grown sick of their custom V-twins. Beemer handed its new flat-twin big-bore cruiser to Roland Sands Design to prove that the thing is capable of great things in the hands of a great designer. Needless to say, RSD delivered with the new Dragster custom. This thing looks like an absolute riot, sounds even better, and goes like hell.
The R18 has 91 horsepower and at least 54 kg-ft of torque, so that 1.8-litre flat-twin engine is pumping out decent enough power to make a two-wheel run down the 1320 an exciting affair. While RSD didn’t release any power figures or quarter miles times for the Dragster, it appears to be running a completely stock BMW engine with hand-fabricated megaphone exhaust and custom intake. Though there is what looks to be a nitrous bottle plumbing go-fast juice into either side of the intake.
For drag bike purposes, rear springs are pointless, so the RSD crew built this R18 into a hardtail racer with a custom frame. Both fenders were modified, but retain their stock shape. The R18 fuel tank was also retained, as it was not only stylistically correct, but it is large and wide, allowing the racer to lay down on it for aerodynamic advantage.
From there, the recipe was a pretty simple one. Move the mid-controls to the rear of the bike for maximum drag stance. Replace the clutch and brake hydraulics with off-the-shelf RSD parts. The front fork was lifted directly from BMW’s R nineT, while the front brake assembly was cribbed from an S1000 RR sport bike. Add in a custom drag seat from Saddlemen, and a set of Dunlop drag slicks and you’re ready to rip up the strip.
With a whole slew of American custom shops working on this R18 chassis, it seems BMW is pretty serious about the custom market, and is doing what it can to be accepted by the scene. Will this gambit pay off? I’m not sure but I like the R18 a lot more after seeing the RSD Dragster than I did before, and I already kinda liked it.
Neat bike. BMW, let me ride it!
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