BMW R18 Custom Build

BMW R18 Custom Build

The word custom is a pretty loose term, my recent adventures to the USA with the BMW Chopper showcases the extreme end of customisation. On the opposite end of the scale sits my newly completed BMW R18 which uses a completely different set of ideals to achieve a custom outcome. 

Riding a motorcycle is a thrill, it evokes a sense of freedom, being alert and open to your surroundings makes you feel at one with your bike and the environment that surrounds you.

The thing I love about customising a motorcycle is the added personality and feel that it brings, it takes all the great things about motorcycling and enhances them.

Speaking of motorcycles and good times the reason this bike has been customised is to compete in the Risky Road Bike category at Dust Hustle, an event I know and love. 

You might remember the time I took a stock BMW R9T and gave it hell round a motocross track.

Or the BMW R18 I built last year but couldn’t go due to those border closures, Dust Hustle has always been a favourite of mine.

So what went into this years bike you ask? Let’s get into the details……

Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the bike as it began but if you want to take a look then feel free to jump over to the BMW site.

The first two very import aspects of this bikes transformation are the tyres and the exhaust. The pipes ill get too in a minute but the tyres were pretty simple, choose a set of Adventure Trail tyres with a timeless block pattern and fit them up. 

Perhaps the best thing about working on BMW motorcycles is their ease of assembly, or removal in my case. They pull apart so damn easily you would think they prepared for this at the factory. 

As you would have seen in my previous post I have a few new skills, my lack of CAD ability quickly diminished with the Trinity build and I used this new tool to complete a few of the more difficult tasks being the seat, headlight mount, speedo mount and exhaust system.

I measured these items with a ruler and a set of vernier callipers, drew them up in Fusion 360 and had them laser cut by my local laser cutter.

The headlight moved in and down as far as the factory items would allow, the speedo dropped down, the seat pan allows the fitment of a solo seat and covers everything below it. 

All these items bolted right on and it saved me so much time in the fabrication phase, not to mention my ability to recreate these parts and have a catalogue for the work I have completed to this bike. 

Let’s move onto the exhaust, last years full titanium race system was a little obnoxious and I don’t know if this bike sounded as good as it could because of it. 

So this year I decided to leave the catalytic converters and exhaust valves exactly where they were designed to be. I focused on the back half of the exhaust creating a bolt on system that’s styled similar to BMW’s fantastic R18 Concept bike. 

I designed the side plates in fusion and had these laser cut out of 1.6mm stainless steel, I then took a 500mm long section of 3” tube and halved it. The louvers on the side plates were bent in on the vice and everything was shaping up nicely.

Once everything was TIG welded together these slipped on the factory system and mounts perfectly, I added a heat shield around the riders heel area and the exhaust was complete.

Wrapping around the rear wheel was an old Harley fender and this needed cutting and shaping to fit its new application. 

The style is reminiscent of an old lowered swing arm Harley  and although the fender radius comes no where near matching the tyre I think it looks just right. 

I came up with a great (completely reversible) way of lowering the rear suspension so the frame lines all match up, this modification alone does a lot for this bike. 

The fender and the tank are painted by Karl at KDS designs, he did an amazing job adding in some flake to the tank and painting the fender whilst matching the pinstripe lines perfectly. 

Always fun working with Dean Walters

The finished bike surprised me to be honest, I like the R18 but it feels a little underwhelming from factory, BUT, once customised with all the factory components remounted in a more compact way the bike feels lighter and more aggressive, the roar from the exhaust matches the aesthetic and the bike just begins to come alive with all of its customised personality. 

The bike is going on display at the Moto GP and then it’ll be raced by yours truly at Dust Hustle, I can’t wait to enjoy the event and see what the bikes capable of. 

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