For as long as I can remember BMW motorcycles have been a part of my life, from falling asleep in dad’s sidecar as a toddler to the more recent adventures on my R9T the flat twin boxer powerplant is a formidable character in the 2 wheeled landscape.
In 2019 I had the chance to travel to the BMW HQ in Munich and see a series of production prototype R18s and sit down with Edgar Heinrich who is BMW’s lead designer and Roland Stocker head of BMW Heritage to talk about motorcycles and more importantly custom motorcycles.
I took a lot away from those conversations and my time in Munich and after returning back to Australia was eager to see the production R18 land on our shores. It wasn’t the greatest timing though with a pandemic in full swing along with our neighboring states shutting the borders an interstate ride on an R18 was off the cards for a little while.
But this didn’t stop the good times from happening and I finally had the opportunity to get my hands on an R18 to prepare for an event known as DustHustle and complete an ETS Project video for the subscriptions service.
Now I know what you’re thinking, the R18 is the wrong motorcycle for this, but the name of the game is to add some variety to the event, after all the class it was competing in was called Risky Road Bikes so it was certainly going to fit right in!
Being in a state that couldn’t cross the border I had the task of building the bike and shipping it up to compete, I had a little over a week to do what I could but my main focus was the exhaust, the biggest problem with the R18 is its lack of exhaust noise, it has everything else but unfortunately it just doesn’t sound like it looks.
I set out to change that by fabricating a set of 0.9mm thick 2.25 inch Titanium straight through exhausts that enhanced the lines of the bike. This was a fun job and Titanium is a nice material to work with. These slip over a pair of stainless steel header flanges that gradually bring the 1.75 inch port diameter out to the 2.25 inch exhaust pipes.
With the exhaust all mounted to the bike I had to take care of a few other areas, a Hoosier Flat Track 19 inch tyre replaced the stock one and the fender unbolted along with the headlight, indicators and speedo, out the back I unbolted the factory seat, shock and fender setup and replaced it with a simple seat pan that attached to the solid suspension bar that replaced the shock. This got the bike a little lower in the rear with a Dunlop 180/17/16 tyre handling the awkward task of transferring the 116 lbs-ft of torque to the dirt track.
What’s amazing is that with all of these modifications and all the electronics unplugged the bike works perfectly still, I remember Roland saying that they wanted to embrace modifications on all their Heritage motorcycles and on behalf of all the idiots out there I want to thank him for that.
After all motorcycles are about personality, freedom and doing whatever you want with them. If that’s taking an 1800cc motorcycle and entering it in a dirt track race then why not! I didn’t get the chance to ride it due to the border situations here but I had some pretty good feedback from Chris Urquuhart who jumped on board and dug the left rocker cover into the dirt for a day.
Moral of the story is, ride bikes, have fun! To see the fabrication process in its entirety head on over to our Projects page and if your looking to do something like this yourself then why not head to our Skills section to learn the fabrication processes involved in the making of this project.