facebook
AD

BMW R18 Transcontinental: First Ride Review

Authors Image

Anuj Mishra

6,045 Views

Introduction

BMW R18 Left Side View

As I put my thumb against the starter of this 427kg behemoth, the horizontal strokes of its burly 1,800cc boxer-twin mill shake it violently. I let out a joyous chuckle and stamp on the gear lever only to hear a loud clank of the cog shifting. What a characterful motorcycle, I tell myself! This is the BMW R18 Transcontinental. On paper, it is meant to help the rider crunch miles while carrying almost a house for luggage. Then, there’s the banger emanating out of its six Marshall speakers. As gratifying as it all sounds, we wanted the proof of the pudding by eating it. And BMW Motorrad was kind enough to lend it to us. So, here’s the first ride review of the R18 Transcontinental.

The Visuals

BMW R18 Right Side View

This BMW is pretty long, giant, and imposing. However, this metal-intensive mammoth is not just intimidating and, if looked at keenly, also a visual treat with clean and flowy design lines all across. The batwing-style front fairing blends beautifully with the large panniers and top box, with straight exhaust pipes tucked underneath them. And if all of this doesn’t put the onlookers in awe, what surely will are the massive cylinders protruding on both sides and the meticulous attention to detail in small elements.

In typical BMW fashion, the quality and fit and finish throughout are top-notch. The only complaint I have is the loud thudding noise that emanates from the front fairing every time you roll over a set of rumblers or potholes. For a few seconds, it mitigates the feeling of riding something extremely premium.

The Package

BMW R18 Left Side View

The R18 TC’s overall hardware package is nothing short of an engineering spectacle. It’s not just an over-dressed sibling of the standard R18 but BMW has executed some serious alterations to make it a more apt mile-muncher. Compared to the base R18, the TC trim has a shorter wheelbase, a steeper rake, more trail, and additional rear suspension travel. Interestingly, the rear suspension adjusts itself automatically depending on the load on the bike.

BMW R18 Engine From Right

One of the biggest talking points is its 1,802cc mill which is the largest boxer-twin motor to come out of BMW’s Munich-based factory. While it makes just 90bhp, the torque output stands at a hefty 158Nm. Plus, all of that torque comes in at just 3,000rpm! On the flip side, the R18 TC is also shockingly heavy at 427kg (kerb). It incorporates a 24-litre fuel tank, two 27-litre side panniers, and a 48-litre top box.

BMW R18 Instrument Cluster

I can write an entire report on the number of features the Transcontinental has. The cockpit itself is fascinating with four analogue dials showing speed, revs, fuel level, and power reserve. Underneath, a large 10.2-inch touchscreen display shows a barrage of information while giving you access to various multimedia functions. There’s navigation, radio, and comprehensive vehicle data, along with smartphone connectivity for handling calls and playing music. For on-the-go entertainment, BMW has equipped the bike with a total of six Marshall-sourced speakers that are loud yet incredibly crisp and bassy.

BMW R18 TFT / Instrument Cluster

For elevating the safety and comfort further, it offers cruise control, automatic stability control, engine brake control, hill start control, a reverse gear, and three cool-sounding riding modes – Rain, Rock and Roll. Furthermore, there’s a keyless ignition system, central locking for storage boxes, and heated seats and grips.

The Ride

BMW R18 Left Side View

The 740mm seat height of the R18 TC is welcoming, even for shorter riders. But once you’re in the saddle, lifting this 427kg behemoth off the stand feels like a workout. Even for disengaging the side stand, you have to fully extend your left leg while struggling to balance the bike through the flexed right leg muscles. Jab the starter and the engine comes alive with a shaky drama and engaging the first gear is a noisily mechanical affair. However, on the move, it literally sails on the tarmac.

BMW R18 Right Side View

In the Rock mode, the R18 Transcontinental wreaks mayhem with an instant throttle response and a locomotive-like torque delivery. You feel a catapult-like shove from as low as 2,000rpm. Cross 3,000rpm and the bike thunders forward with a relentless surge, crossing 100kmph in a jiffy. The engine retains this thrust until 150kmph, after which the acceleration gradually fizzles down. Nevertheless, its top speed of 180kmph is easily and quickly achievable. Dial the mode down to Road and Rain modes and the throttle response feels more gradual, the torque delivery more linear, and the electronics more intrusive. And the bike still doesn’t feel boring. All of this is accompanied by a slick gearbox with a heel-and-toe shifter.

BMW R18 Left Side View

The tall windscreen and large wind deflectors do a splendid job of cutting through the wind. If road conditions permit, you can set the cruise control at 150kmph for the entire day without any fatigue being induced. It is also rock solid in a straight line and irons out minor surface changes with aplomb. However, as absorbent as the rear suspension feels, the stiff front forks send an equally violent shock while going over sharper undulations. The brakes, meanwhile, don’t have an instant bite but the progression and stopping power are more than adequate and never feel lacking.

BMW R18 Front View

Whatever the speed, turning the bike requires some muscling. But once leaned over, it feels accurate and stable. Plus, carrying great speed through corners feels natural until the exhausts start scraping. It’s quite a handful in the city though. Balancing the bike in crawling traffic puts a lot of strain on your legs. And should you take a tight and slow U-turn, the width of the handlebar demands you to fully stretch your outside arm and the feeling of the bike tipping puts you in a panic mode. Fortunately, to avoid embarrassment and an unwanted workout in the parking area, BMW has given it a reverse gear which works seamlessly.

BMW R18 Bike Seat

The riding position offered by the R18 TC is different from laid-back cruisers. You sit upright holding the pulled-back handlebar with knees bent acutely to reach the centre-set footboards that are right behind the cylinder heads. This riding position, as I discovered after a full day’s ride, is extremely comfortable. Even the seat cushioning for the rider and pillion doesn’t leave any room for complaints. In fact, this is one of the rare motorcycles which accommodates the pillion more comfortably than the rider with an ergonomically designed seat accompanied by armrests.

Conclusion

BMW R18 Right Side View

The BMW R18 Transcontinental embodies grandeur and luxury in the truest sense. It’s truly mind-blowing in terms of seating comfort. The torque delivery, especially in Sport mode, is profoundly addictive. The storage space can help you move houses while the multimedia system can be used to host a full-fledged party. And of course, when you hit the road, people notice and make way for you. In a nutshell, it scores high in all areas that matter in the context of highway-crunching, fully-dressed baggers. However, a potential Indian buyer needs to remember that it hates bad roads due to stiff front forks and low ground clearance while its weight and wheelbase make it difficult to manage in the city.

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi

Gallery

BMW R18 Saddle Bag
BMW R18 Saddle Bag
BMW R18 Saddle Bag
BMW R18 Tail Light
BMW R18 Front Brake Fluid Reservoir
BMW R18 Saddle Bag
BMW R18 Fuel Tank
BMW R18 Engine From Right
BMW R18 TFT / Instrument Cluster
BMW R18 Left Side View

Related Road Test Reviews

Compare Bikes

  • BMW
  • other brands
BMW G310 RR
BMW G310 RR
₹ 3,04,304Onwards
Avg. Ex-Showroom price
Show price in my city
BMW G 310 GS
BMW G 310 GS
₹ 3,29,996Onwards
Avg. Ex-Showroom price
Show price in my city
BMW S 1000 RR
BMW S 1000 RR
₹ 20,75,000Onwards
Avg. Ex-Showroom price
Show price in my city
AD

Featured Bikes

  • Popular
  • Upcoming
TVS Raider 125
TVS Raider 125
₹ 97,054Onwards
Avg. Ex-Showroom price
Show price in my city
Royal Enfield Hunter 350
Royal Enfield Hunter 350
₹ 1,49,900Onwards
Avg. Ex-Showroom price
Show price in my city
Hero Xtreme 125R
Hero Xtreme 125R
₹ 96,799Onwards
Avg. Ex-Showroom price
Show price in my city
Hero Xoom 160
LAUNCHING SOON
Apr 2024
Hero Xoom 160

₹ 1,10,000

Onwards
25th Apr 2024Expected Launch
Ampere Nxg - The Nex Big Thing
LAUNCHING SOON
Apr 2024
Ampere Nxg - The Nex Big Thing

₹ 1,30,000

Onwards
Apr 2024 (Tentative)Expected Launch
Bajaj Pulsar NS400
LAUNCHING SOON
May 2024
Bajaj Pulsar NS400

₹ 2,00,000

Onwards
3rd May 2024Expected Launch
AD