Are you ready to rock? BMW certainly hopes so, as the German moto maker is rolling out the newest vintage-inspired member of its Heritage line that aims to put the rock in octane.
BMW R 18 Roctane joins the existing lineup of R 18 bikes, which features the R 18, R 18 Classic, R 18 B, and R 18 Transcontinental. Drawing influences from motorcycles such as the 1936 BMW R 5, the Roctane continues the R 18 cavalcade’s now-established tradition of blending the past with modernity.
For those who have already met the rest of the Heritage line, the Roctane offers something old, something familiar, and something new. Let’s take a closer look at what we can expect from the motorcycle.
Design & Chassis
The Roctane sits somewhere in the space between a cruiser and a bagger. Compared to the rest of the Heritage bikes, it boasts a larger 21-inch front wheel. Combined with the unique mid-rise handlebar and 18-inch rear wheel, the bike has a more determined air to it than its brethren.
The Roctane shares its double-loop steel tube frame with the R 18 and R 18 Classic. Together with the centerpiece engine (more on that later) and a 4.2-gallon fuel tank, the chassis design harkens back to the BMW boxer models of the days gone by.
The bike features a steel swingarm—constructed out of steel tubes and both cast and forged components—that combines with other design choices to give the bike a rigid and muscular look reminiscent of early BMW models.
And then there’s the suspension, which further contributes to the classic design. The Roctane eschews all electronic adjustment options—they have no place on a bike like this.
The 49mm fork’s tubes are encased in fork sleeves, just like on the R 5 the bike looks up to. The front features 4.7 inches and the central shock 3.5 inches of travel, the same as on the R 18. Both the front and back elements have travel-dependent damping and adjustable spring preload.
Engine & Transmission
Now, back to the engine. Powering the Roctane is a 1802cc boxer engine, which shows BMW’s boxer tradition is still going strong after starting in 1923. This powerplant—the highest-displacement boxer BMW has ever built—is familiar from the base R 18 model.
The output hasn’t changed and the mill still dishes out 91 ponies at 4,750 rpm and reaches its maximum torque of 116 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm.
The air/oil-cooled engine draws inspiration from those of BMW bikes built between 1936 and 1951. However, modern needs have necessitated a small change when compared to the classics.
The forged crankshaft features an extra center main bearing. And it’s a good thing BMW made the tweak, as the bearing reduces unwanted bending vibration in the crankshaft, resulting from the large cylinder volume.
For shifting, you get a six-speed gearbox (with reverse as an optional addition). There are no quickshifters here, but a single-plate, dry, self-reinforcing anti-hopping clutch eliminates rear wheel hop during hard downshifts.
Brakes & Wheels
As already mentioned, the Roctane boasts 21-inch front and 18-inch rear cast alloy wheels. The bigger front wheel (compared to other Heritage bikes) extends the castor (7.3 inches vs. 5.9 inches on the R 18) and offers more stability on straight lines.
The wheels are shod with a 120/70 B21 tire in the front and a 180/55 B18 tire in the back.
To stop the bike’s 825-pound dry weight, we have twin 300mm front disc brakes with four-piston fixed calipers. In the rear sits a single 300mm disc brake.
BMW Integral ABS is standard on the bike. This system activates both the front and rear brake with the hand level, while the pedal only engages the rear brake. It also adjusts brake force distribution between the front and rear based on the dynamic wheel load distribution.
The aforementioned mid-rise handlebar is a bit of a break from the typical BMW style. However, it allows for a more relaxed and active riding position for enhanced control.
The slim two-level seat sits an inch higher than the R 18’s at 28.3 inches. The design tapers toward the rear and features passenger straps.
There are running boards on the Roctane, together with a heel-toe gearshift controller. Altogether, the ergonomics should provide an upright and comfortable riding triangle.
Although the Roctane is inspired by the past, it doesn’t drop all the modernities completely. The bike comes with standard keyless start and comes with three ride modes—the same as the R 18.
The Rain mode offers a more gentle throttle response and activates the Automatic Stability Control (ASC) for enhanced safety. The Road mode aims to be a good fit for any road, while the Rock mode unleashes the bike and allows the rider to take it to the max.
Standard electronically-controlled Engine Drag Control reduces rear wheel slip on slick roads.
The round instrument cluster is integrated into the LED headlight housing, playing into the bike’s classic look. The cluster displays engine rpm, selected gear, and trip computer details.
An adaptive, lean-sensitive headlight is available as an option to shed more light into tight corners. The bike comes standard with cruise control and a hill start control is optionally available.
The Roctance comes standard with a Black Storm Metallic colorway, while Mineral Gray Metallic and Manhattan Metallic Matte finishes are available as options. The engine and drivetrain are blacked out, while the exhaust system boasts a dark chrome finish.
To make the bike equipped for cruising, BMW has included standard hard cases. Painted in body colors, the cases offer 27 liters of luggage space. They can be fitted with optional removable liners. BMW also offers soft cases as an option.
The BMW R 18 Roctane is projected to hit the market in Q3 2023 at an MSRP of $18,695.