BMW R 18 Transcontinental 2022 motorcycle: a German Harley
THIS STEINWAY with a license plate is the 2022 BMW R 18 Transcontinental, the German company’s first American-style motorcycle, powered by a horizontally opposed 1.8-liter engine and naked cultural appropriation.
You may be wondering why? Or even, what is it? Is the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide this good BMW felt that it should be copied? What forces brought this battleship to our shores?
I can explain: BMW Group, including Motorrad, is based in Munich, the capital of Bavaria, gateway to the Alps and one of the most popular driving destinations in the world. And when the Motorrad executives themselves got out to ride, what did they see? Lots of people in their key demographic – wealthy, independent, European – touring big, slobbering Harley-Davidsons.
Visitors can even rent them, en masse, for group outings. Believe me, a bunch of Harley baggers dragging pipes around mountain bobby pins is quite a sight. It makes sparks like the Chinese New Year.
Europeans dig Harleys for complicated reasons, rooted in post-war history and culture. Germans love Harleys because they are naughty. What attracts them all is the stubborn and sentimental primitivism of the formula, redeemed by charm. And leather.
In many ways, Transcontinental cites chapters and verses from the Book of Hog, especially when the Prophet Milwaukee says, “Everything will be bright as hell and heavy as sin. As equipped, including side and top cases, oversized front fascia, and the optional Marshall Gold Series II audio system, this long haul rolled off the delivery truck weighing 942 pounds.
I was terrified. Throwing a leg on the Conti was like riding a bison. When I pulled the standing beast from its crutch position, I thought I was going to blow up an o-ring. I uttered the old Midwester’s force song—Uftah!
I was closed fists the entire first day. It took a week before I felt fully in control Die Königschwein. After two weeks I felt confident enough to take my 14 year old daughter for a ride. I even felt a little bit of pride in mastering what I think is almost the heaviest production bike. Never.
It’s not that bad, really. As it accelerates above walking speed, the heaviness of the Conti quickly evaporates. In everyday traffic, it shows surprising centering and controllability, in parking lots, narrow streets and more.
However, near walking speed, it looks like Satan’s free body physics problem, which you might miss. In the space ratio between man and machine, this two-wheeler looks more like a jet-ski or a snowmobile than a motorcycle.
“Europeans like Harleys for complicated reasons. What attracts them is primitivism, redeemed by charm. And leather. “
The Transcontinental (a two-seater “chest of drawers”) and the R 18 B (a “bagger”) use a modified version of the standard R 18 frame that accentuates the villain: no more front rake, no more front casters. Hence the Conti’s deep propensity to go straight ahead. The corridor discipline is excellent. Indeed, 80 mph in sixth gear is a bit of ecstasy, with the big boxer motor gently flattening at 2,200 rpm, the rider wrapped in the low-pressure windless zone behind an extra-tall windshield and a fairing as wide as a pool table.
In its comfortable driving position (floors, rocker shifter), puffing power, scintillating presence, the Conti is unmistakably adjacent to Milwaukee. But there are some intriguing differences. Harleys have V-twin engines, with the crankshaft oriented east-west. The BMW, true to the company’s tradition, uses a horizontally opposed ‘boxer’ engine, with its forged steel crankshaft oriented north-south (longitudinally) and with the large silver-metal cylinder heads protruding from the sides, like a boss.
The arrangement has a rather surprising dynamic effect. When sitting stationary, if you idle the huge engine, the momentary gyroscopic precession of the crankshaft is enough to rotate the motorcycle sideways along a force vector of surprising magnitude, like a 30 knot crosswind with your name on it. Whoooaaa, bike! was die scheisse!
The Conti uses the same 1,802cc boxer engine as that of the R 18 range (air / oil cooled, four valves per cylinder, dual ignition, injection into the intake manifold). Uniquely, these engines feature overhead valve cylinder heads – push rods in exposed tubes, the whole thing. BMW claims that this reverse-engineering pays homage to the company’s much-loved OHV engines in icons like the R5. Allow me, lawyer.
Either way, when you roll on the BMW’s accelerator at highway speeds, the old-fashioned pot-walloping picks up speed, gets wider and stronger, with just a touch of Bavarian. The maximum torque lives at 3000 rpm; you can twist harder but you won’t go much faster. The six-speed, single-clutch transmission shifts gears as I play Ultimate Frisbee, slowly and methodically.
Either way, you don’t win any contracts for the biker bars on the drag strip. BMW lists acceleration from 0 to 62 mph in 6 seconds; and it’s in the hands of his best muleskinner.
The aesthetic of the Transcontinental is about as subtle as the black powder mining. The first edition ‘Black Storm’ paint scheme refers to the lacquered grandeur of pre-war BMW motorcycles, with hints including white stripes and French fenders. Its hard tail profile (achieved with a cantilevered center rear suspension strut, almost hidden away in the works) is meant to remind the R 5’s “stiff frame”. The fairing obviously pays homage to some of the most. beautiful airships of the time.
If the R 18 Transcontinental wanted to lose a few pounds, it could lose the Marshall sound system. These things are so crass. Cyclists cannot hear music at cruising speed, on the engine, and through headphones, even with the volume set to 11. However, others can, for miles around, while your playlist is playing. Classic rock spreads across the landscape in Doppler-shifted jackassery rings. .
What is German for “delete option”?
2022 BMW R 18 Transcontinentale
Base price: $ 24,995
Price, as tested: $ 31,695
Powertrain : Two horizontally opposed 1,802 cc cylinders, with four valves per cylinder, electronic ignition and push rod actuation; six-speed single-clutch transmission with reverse assist; rear universal shaft.
Power / torque: 91 hp at 4,750 rpm / 116 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm
Length / width / seat height / wheelbase: 103.9 / 40.9 / 29.1 / 66.7 inch
Unloaded weight : 942 pounds
0-62 mph: 6 seconds
Loading capacity: 100 liters
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