BMW Concept R18 Cruiser in front of stairs.
The Concept R18 is a fantastic, retro-styled cruiser.BMW Motorrad

BMW Motorrad debuted its nostalgically styled Concept R18 cruiser at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. And it's a showstopper.

“With its clear aesthetics openly on display, the Concept R18 embodies for me what motorcycling, at its core, is really about. It is all about feeling instead of thinking, and not using technology for self-staging, instead giving space for imagination. This concept bike appeals to something deep down—you just want to just get on it and ride off. But when you get off it again, you don’t just put it in the garage and walk away—you turn around again and give it a final parting glance,” explains Edgar Heinrich, head of BMW Motorrad Design, in a company press release.

BMW Concept R18 Cruiser in front of stairs.
The prototype 1,800cc boxer twin looking period correct.BMW Motorrad

BMW spared no expense recreating the R18, starting with a brand-new 1,800cc boxer engine. The massive mill is a gorgeous homage to the boxer engines of the ’60s, from the glass-bead-blasted aluminum engine block and transmission to the hand-polished aluminum covers. Even the exposed shaft drive is chrome-plated, providing more eye-catching bling.

The electronics are reduced to a minimum to keep the machine as free of wires and lines as possible, furthering the sophisticated, clean look of the machine.

BMW Concept R18 Cruiser in front of stairs.
The attention to detail makes all the difference.BMW Motorrad

Bart Janssen Groesbeek is the designer of the R18, and he was deliberate and meticulous in making sure the bike was as exposed as possible and equipped with only necessary mechanical elements.

“The biggest challenge in the design is to render everything visible. Every part has a functional purpose. There are not many who would dare to take such an absolutely honest approach,” Groesbeek explains.

BMW Concept R18 Cruiser on sidewalk.
The chrome-plated, exposed shaft drive is a beautiful touch.BMW Motorrad

Other touches include a cradle frame and teardrop tank, a faux hardtail back end with a clearly visible single shock, thick fork covers, and a spoke wheel set up with 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels. It’s also shod in Metzeler tires, another nod to BMW’s past.

BMW Concept R18 Cruiser being worked on.
Bringing ideas to life.BMW Motorrad

The black paintwork with hand-painted accent lines is another clear invocation of BMW’s history. The lines on this bike are simple and stunning and no detail was left unconsidered.

And even though it looks like a truly magnificent restoration, there are modern elements as well, including air-/oil-cooling and LED lights.

BMW Concept R18 Cruiser in park.
This is a retro custom concept we’d love to have in our garage.BMW Motorrad

This is the third “in-house interpretation of the large-capacity boxer engine” from BMW Motorrad. The first was created by Japanese designers Custom Works Zon, and marked the very first look at this prototype engine. It was called “Departed” and left the Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show with the Best of Show Motorcycle award.

The second came from Revival Cycles, and was called the "Revival Birdcage." It was on display during this year's Handbuilt Show in Austin, Texas.

BMW Concept R18 Cruiser in front of bushes.
Metzeler tires are another nod to BMW’s history.BMW Motorrad

As for the R18, there’s no doubt the attendees at the Concorso were pleased with the result.

“For me, motorcycles like the BMW Motorrad Concept R18 are a response to a growing need among the motorcycling community: instead of technology, the focus here is on simplification, authenticity, and transparency,” Heinrich concludes. “I observe an almost romantic yearning for real mechanical engineering. Our aim with this concept bike is to address this need and turn it into an analogue statement in a digital age. We have a rich history of iconic motorcycles, and they all bear the same design characteristics. We believe that this can still work well together today with the current technology.”