2022 BMW R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental | Top 10 Review

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
The 2022 BMW R 18 B (shown above) and R 18 Transcontinental are new hard bagger touring models powered by the 1,802cc “Big Boxer.” (Photo by Kevin Wing)

Last year, amid a global pandemic, BMW Motorrad introduced a motorcycle that is a very big deal for the company. With the introduction of the R 18, BMW entered the traditional cruiser segment, a distinctly American category that has long been dominated by Harley-Davidson.

Just as Harley-Davidson is known for V-Twins, BMW is known for horizontally opposed Twins called “boxers.” To compete in the world of heavyweight cruisers, there’s no replacement for displacement. BMW created what it calls the “Big Boxer” that displaces 1,802cc, or 110 cubic inches – much larger than the 1,254cc boxer in most of BMW’s R-series models like the R 1250 RT.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
Left to right: R 18, R 18 Classic, R 18 B, and R 18 Transcontinental (Photo courtesy of BMW Motorrad)

Soon after the standard R 18 came the R 18 Classic, which is equipped with a windshield and semi-soft saddlebags. For 2022, BMW has further expanded the lineup with two touring models, the R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental. Both are equipped with a fork-mounted fairing, a full infotainment system, hard saddlebags, and other amenities. The Transcontinental also has a top trunk with an integrated passenger backrest.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
A fleet of BMW R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental test bikes in Denver, Colorado, ready for a first ride. (Photo by the author)

BMW invited Rider to ride both models at their U.S. press launch in Denver, Colorado. And after the one-day press ride, I spent four days riding an R 18 Transcontinental (TC) more than 1,500 miles through five states with my wife as a passenger and the luggage packed full of gear.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
After leaving Denver and climbing into the Rocky Mountains on I-70, we took U.S. 6 up to Loveland Pass for our first several crossings of the Continental Divide. (Photo by the author)

We’ll have an in-depth road test review soon. Here are our top 10 highlights of the new bikes.

1. They Rock better than they Roll

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
The 1,802cc (110ci) “Big Boxer” is the largest boxer Twin that BMW has ever produced. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

BMW’s “Big Boxer” makes a claimed 91 horsepower and 116 lb-ft of torque at the crank. When we put the R 18 on Jett Tuning’s dyno late last year, its shaft-driven rear wheel spun the heavy drum to the tune of 80 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 109 lb-ft of torque at 2,900 rpm, which is about what you’d expect after accounting for power loss through the drivetrain.

The R 18s have three ride modes – Rock, Roll, and Rain – that alter throttle response, idle character, engine-drag torque control, and traction control intervention. In Rock mode, the R 18s feel lumpy and shake a lot at idle, and their throttle response is direct. But in Roll and Rain mode the bikes feel dull and lifeless, like a middle-aged couple nodding off at an AC/DC concert.

2. Who doesn’t like big jugs?

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
Each 901cc cylinder juts horizontally out from the engine case, which forces the rider’s legs to remain amidships with feet on the footboards. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

Ahem. Get your mind out of the gutter. We’re talking about cylinders here. With 901cc jugs sticking out of both sides of the bike, there’s no getting around the size of those things. They are a distinctive styling element, with prominent cooling fins and chrome pushrod tubes.

Even on really hot days – when riding across northern Arizona and southern Nevada, Carrie and I dealt with temps ranging from the high 90s to 113 degrees – the cylinders don’t put out excessive heat felt by the rider and passenger, nor do the exhaust pipes. But they do trap the rider’s legs behind the cylinders, limiting options to stretch out during long stints in the saddle.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
BMW offers accessory chrome-plated leg rests to the rider can stretch up with legs atop the Big Boxer’s cylinders. (Photo courtesy of BMW Motorrad)

The cylinders are too wide for highway pegs, so BMW offers accessory chrome-plated leg rests so riders can stretch their stems with calves atop the cylinders, as shown in the photo above. The leg rests weren’t available on the press ride or our ride-away. I tried resting my jean-clad legs atop the cylinders, but that lasted about half a second because those big jugs get hot to the touch.  The TC has highway bars in front of the cylinders and my legs are long enough that I was able to put my heels on them and mostly straighten out my knees.

3. Leave the riding to us

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
The radar sensors for BMW’s optional Active Cruise Control are mounted in the front fairing above the headlight. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

Thanks to the proliferation of throttle-by-wire, cruise control has become a common feature on all sorts of motorcycles, even sportbikes. It’s especially helpful on long, multi-day rides when even moderate tension in the rider’s arm while maintaining steady throttle can lead to sore wrists and achy shoulders.

On the R 18 B and Transcontinental, BMW takes things a step further with optional Active Cruise Control (ACC). Embedded in their front fairings are radar sensors that scan the lane in front of the bike when cruise control is activated. If a vehicle is detected in front of the bike, the system will automatically reduce speed to maintain a fixed distance (both speed and distance are adjustable). Using inputs from the lean-angle sensors, ACC will also adjust speed to assist with safer cornering.

ACC works really well, and it isn’t affected by vehicles in adjacent lanes. This is one of those features you don’t think you need or want until you use it.

4. My, what a big TFT you have!

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
Above the R 18 B/TC’s 10.25-inch TFT are four analog gauges for fuel level, speed, rpm, and power reserve. The Multi-Controller is the black-and-white knurled wheel on the left grip. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

Most premium motorcycles are equipped with TFT (thin film transistor) instrument displays that offer nearly infinite variation for graphics, color, animation, etc. BMW has offered TFTs on some of its models for several years, but none approach the size of the TFT embedded in the fairing on the R 18 B/TC. It measures 10.25 inches on the diagonal, which is at least a couple of inches more than the largest TFT we’ve seen on other bikes. The thing is like a billboard, and its default background is a copper-colored illustration of the Big Boxer.

Using BMW’s proprietary Multi-Controller wheel on the left grip, navigating through menus is a breeze and keeps the number of buttons to a minimum. But, unlike the Indian’s Ride Command system, the hardened, glare-resistant glass screen isn’t touch-enabled.

5. If it’s too loud, you’re too old

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
There are two 25-watt Marshall speakers in the front fairing. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

If you’ve seen amps on stages or stood next to huge stacks at a rock concert, then you’re familiar with the cursive script of the Marshall logo. In the movie “Spinal Tap,” there’s even a Marshall amp that goes to 11. BMW partnered with Marshall to create an audio system for the R 18 B and TC, and it rocks.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
On the R 18 B, the optional Marshall Gold Series Stage 1 adds two 90-watt subwoofers in the saddlebag lids. On the R 18 TC, the Marshall Gold Series Stage 2 adds the saddlebag subwoofers and two more 25-watt speakers in the passenger backrest. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

The standard setup has two 25-watt speakers embedded in the front fairing. The Premium Package on the R 18 B upgrades to the Marshall Gold Series Stage 1, which adds two 90-watt subwoofers in the lids of the top-loading saddlebags (eliminating half a liter of storage capacity) and brings total output up to 230 watts. The Premium-equipped R 18 TC gets the Marshall Gold Series Stage 2, which adds yet another pair of 25-watt speakers to the passenger backrest, for a total of 280 watts.

6. Get out of my way

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
The BMW R 18 Transcontinental’s fairing has a tall fixed windscreen, and adjustable wind deflectors are attached to the bottom edge. There are also larger non-adjustable wind deflectors between the fairing and cylinders. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

To complement the classic lines of the R 18, the fork-mounted fairing has a streamliner shape that tapers at the sides, providing wind protection for the rider’s hands. There’s a single round headlight that uses LEDs for low and high beams, and there’s an optional Adaptive Turning Light that swivels +/- 35 degrees to illuminate the inside of curves during cornering.

The fairing parts the wind smoothly, though airflow over the R 18 B’s short windscreen hits the rider’s helmet while airflow over the R 18 TC’s tall windscreen goes over the rider’s head. During our multi-day ride, my wife said she enjoyed the calm pocket of air and never dealt with helmet buffeting like she has on some touring bikes.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
When we left Montrose, Colorado, at 7:30am, it was 57 degrees. By the time we climbed into the San Juan Mountains on the Million Dollar Highway, the temperature dropped as low as 40 degrees. (Photo by the author)

Neither windscreen offers height adjustment, which is disappointing, especially on such premium machines. The top edge of the TC’s screen was right in my line of sight, which was distracting during back-and-forth cornering in the Rocky Mountains. While the tall screen provided welcome protection from cold wind when temps dropped into the 40s on Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway (U.S. Route 550), I wished I could lower it when the mercury rose into triple digits several hours later in northern Arizona.

7. Galaxy Dust metallic would have made Prince jealous

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
The BMW R 18 B in Galaxy Dust metallic / Titanium Silver 2 metallic. (Photo courtesy of BMW Motorrad)

Offering an iridescent paint scheme that changes from purple to blue depending on how the light hits it seems a little out there for BMW. And in the studio photos, it looks garish. But in person Galaxy Dust metallic it looks undeniably cool, and the color variations are more subtle than the photos suggest. The colors are darker, the metal flake really pops in bright sunlight, and the Titanium Silver 2 metallic on the gas tank and fairing adds nice contrast.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
Unless the Galaxy Dust metallic is in direct sunlight, it looks dark and brooding rather than flashy. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

Such a unique, factory-custom paint job doesn’t come cheap. It will set you back $2,400.

If it were possible to make a sequel to “Purple Rain,” an R 18 B in Galaxy Dust metallic / Titanium Silver 2 metallic with a custom his-and-hers seat and sissy bar would be Prince’s motorcycle of choice.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
During our press ride, we had lunch at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, which provided Stephen King with the inspiration to write “The Shining.” (Photo by the author)

8. Two peas in a pod

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
The BMW R 18 Transcontinental lives up to its name, with the weather protection, luggage capacity, comfort, and technology for multi-day, two-up touring. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

For long-haul touring motorcycles, rider and passenger comfort is critically important. Carrie and I rode more than 1,500 miles on the R 18 Transcontinental over four days, averaging nearly 400 miles per day. Except for the final day on I-15 through the Mojave Desert, we logged most of our miles on scenic roads full of hairpins, high-mountain passes, and steep grades.

As mentioned above, the cylinders of the Big Boxer limited my ability to move my legs around during long stints in the saddle. But the seat and riding position were comfortable, and the footboards allowed me to move my feet around to adjust the position of my hips and knees.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
Carrie was happy as a clam on the backseat of the R 18 TC. She was all smiles after our first full day on the bike, riding from Denver, Colorado, to Montrose and summiting Loveland Pass (11,990 ft), Hoosier Pass (11,539 ft), and Monarch Pass (11,312 ft), and visiting Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. (Photo by the author)

Carrie’s first-ever ride on a motorcycle was on a Honda Gold Wing back in 2009, and she’s measured every passenger seat and backrest since against that experience. With a low rider seat height of 29.1 inches on the TC and a passenger seat just a few inches higher, Carrie, who has short legs, found it easy to climb on and off the bike, aided in part by the passenger footboards. And once aboard, she found the seat to be all-day, day-after-day comfortable and the wrap-around backrest to be reassuring.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
We crossed the Continental Divide on the Transcontinental three times in one day. (Photo by the author)
2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
After riding over Colorado’s Monarch Pass on U.S. 50, we visited Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. (Photo by the author)

9. A place for my stuff

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
The top-loading, central-locking saddlebags on the R 18 B/TC hold 27 liters in each side. The trunk on the R 18 TC holds 48 liters. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

As George Carlin once said, “That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff.”

The top-loading saddlebags on the R 18 B and TC offer 27 liters of storage each, or 26.5 liters with the Marshall subwoofers installed in the lids. Styling-wise, the bags look great. Function-wise, they are fairly narrow, which presents some challenges with packing (BMW offers accessory drop-in liner bags that should make the process easier). But they open and close easily, with pop-up levers and central locks. The top trunk on the TC holds 48 liters (47 liters with optional audio), and it is spacious and easy to open/close/latch even when filled to the brim.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
Atop the fuel tank is a water-resistant, fan-cooled compartment with a USB port for a smartphone. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

In the top of the 6.3-gallon fuel tank is a waterproof compartment for a smartphone. There’s a USB socket for charging and connecting the phone to the bike (navigation is provided via the free BMW Connected app). And since smartphones get hot, the compartment is ventilated with an electric fan. But the smartphone compartment does not lock, so riders must remember to take their phones with them when they park their bike. How else would you check Instagram?

10. Heavy is as heavy does

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
Before an options or accessories are added, the 2022 BMW R 18 Transcontinental has a claimed curb weight of 941 pounds. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

Heavyweight cruisers come by that description honestly. The 2021 Indian Roadmaster Limited we tested weighed 895 pounds. The 2020 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Limited we tested weighed 922 pounds. The 2022 BMW R 18 B weighs 877 pounds and the R 18 Transcontinental weighs 941 pounds, and that’s before you add the Premium Package and other options/accessories. Part of that major poundage comes from the Big Boxer and its 6-speed gearbox, which weighs 244 pounds – about 35 pounds more than a Honda Grom.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
Though it’s a heavy bike, the BMW R 18 Transcontinental handles well and it has 35 degrees of cornering clearance on both sides. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

Greg’s Gear:
Helmet: HJC RPHA 90S
Jacket: Vanson Stormer
Gloves: Highway 21 Trigger
Pants: Fly Racing Resistance Jeans
Boots: Sidi Gavia Gore-Tex

BMW beefed up the R 18 frame to accommodate the added weight of the fairing, saddlebags, and trunk. Total permitted weight is 1,389 pounds, which translates to a load capacity of 512 pounds on the R 18 B and 448 pounds on the R 18 Transcontinental. Compared to the standard R 18, the B and TC also have a shorter wheelbase (66.7 inches, down from 68.1) and sharper rake (27.3 degrees, down from 32.7 degrees) but more trail (7.2 inches, up from 5.9). Even though the B and TC are heavier, they handle better.

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
Optional reverse assist is available on the R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental. Moving the lever on the left side of the bike above the shifter engages reverse, and it is controlled using the starter button. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

Like most touring bikes, you mostly notice the weight when you lift it off the sidestand or move it around a parking lot or garage. Fortunately, our test bike has the optional reverse gear installed, which helped when moving the bike around on an incline. Out on the road, the heavy bikes trundle along just fine. And when the road gets windy, they handle well within the limits of other heavyweight touring cruisers.

We’ll post our full review soon, so stay tuned!

2022 BMW R18 R 18 B R18B Transcontinental Review
2022 BMW R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental in Galaxy Dust metallic / Titanium Silver 2 metallic (Photo courtesy of BMW Motorrad)

2022 BMW R 18 B / R 18 Transcontinental Specs

Base Price: $21,945 / $24,995
Price as Tested: $29,065 / $31,695
Website: bmwmotorcycles.com
Engine Type: Air/oil-cooled, longitudinal opposed flat Twin, OHV w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 1,802cc (110ci)
Bore x Stroke: 107.1 x 100.0mm
Horsepower: 91 hp @ 4,750 rpm (claimed, at the crank)
Torque: 116 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm (claimed, at the crank)
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated single-plate dry slipper clutch
Final Drive: Shaft
Wheelbase: 66.7 in.
Rake/Trail: 27.3 degrees/7.2 in.
Seat Height: 28.3 in. / 29.1 in.
Wet Weight: 877 lbs. / 941 lbs. (base models)
Fuel Capacity: 6.3 gals.
Fuel Consumption: 42.5 mpg (R 18 Transcontinental, as tested)
Estimated Range: 268 miles (R 18 Transcontinental, as tested)


  1. Perspective is everything. Almost every review of the R18B & R18T that I had seen was “less than glowing”, but you and your wife seemed to have had a great time on the bike. I guess it helps to use the bike as it was intended to see if it really works well.

    Thanks for the review. This bike doesn’t fit my wants or needs, but I have a lot more respect for it now.

    • Rider has always been just like Trailer Life. You will never read a negative comment about anything they test. Just sunset photos bathed in sepia tones and life-is-good analysis. The way it has always been since 1975.

      • Quotes from above:
        “But in Roll and Rain mode the bikes feel dull and lifeless, like a middle-aged couple nodding off at an AC/DC concert.”
        “[T]he cylinders don’t put out excessive heat felt by the rider and passenger, nor do the exhaust pipes. But they do trap the rider’s legs behind the cylinders, limiting options to stretch out during long stints in the saddle.”
        “Neither windscreen offers height adjustment, which is disappointing, especially on such premium machines.”
        “Styling-wise, the bags look great. Function-wise, they are fairly narrow, which presents some challenges with packing.”

  2. Interesting that that smaller BMW boxer twin actually produces about 50% more power. I think BMW missed an opportunity to produce a real power cruiser/tour bike.

    Having owned the smaller BMW “boxer” motor I can attest it was a real pleasure to ride in the GS Adventure format. Great power and ran really smooth. I also owned a new Indian Chieftain Dark Horse in the 116ci version. Both bikes felt more capable when in the undulating twisties of the mountains or in cruise on one of our super highways.

    Today I ride a new Honda Goldwing bagger (non-tour). Flipping the mode into “Sport” will yank your arms off. The only other bike that pulled harder was the Triumph Rocket III. Nothing beats Hondas version of the “boxer” with 4 extra cylinders. The Honda is smooth, powerful, and very comfortable on long rides.

    I think BMW missed the mark on this one. They had a blank slate and like HD did with the Pan America, they both built excellent first generation bikes. Like HD, both missed the mark slightly…the BMW more so. I see long term sales trouble for BMW though…limited audience in a very crowded market.

  3. I was able to see and sit on these at my local dealership, and the biggest disappointment right off the bat was that the bags are actually really small. Compared to the Harley Tour Pak, which has amazing capacity, (as does the top case on my GTL), the BMW top case on the Transcontinental will fit a helmet; but only sideways as the speakers take up significant space. It seems like even without the speakers it would be a less than preferred size. A 2nd helmet would be a tight fit, if it would fit at all. The side bags are also fairly small on the inside compared the exterior dimensions. For a long-distance touring machine; the top case and side cases should have better capacity.

  4. Who would buy this beast based on a review, be it glowing, faint praise or downright disgust? Nope, this thing deserves to be ridden by those who eschew facts and embrace fantasy. Evidence suggests there’s more than a few in that demographic so hats off to BMW for addressing the needs of that particular tribe. And, who are the rest of us to judge? Not me – live and let live!

  5. I have owned 2 Wings (87 and 02), 87 Kaw Veger 1200, 2 CB750s, 67 BSA 441 Victim, 65 BMW R27, 69 Triumph 250, 65 Honda 305 Super Hawk, 67 Black Bomber and a 12 Yamaha Road Star Silverado. My present rides are a 14 Indian Vintage (Red of course), 2007 FXDC and 2 Honda Metropolitans.

    With my passing interest in motorcycles, I have to say that I love the R18 Transcontinental!!!
    I’ve been to Sturgis 8 times and I would love cruising on I-90 headed into Sturgis on the R18 Transconti. Or the hills of Tennessee and North Carolina heading to Myrtle Beach South Carolina. I’ve been there 4 times.

    Ask an Electra Glide rider how much horsepower he has and he will tell you, “Who cares.”
    The same goes for Indian Riders who see America during their Summers.

    It’s not the specs. it’s the feel of the experience.

    Next Summer, get off the keyboard get on a bike and meet the World. It really doesn’t matter how many bikes you have had or how many miles you have ridden. I still remember 2
    summers on my 305 Super Hawk, which I bought for $97.00 in 1972.

    • Just reading this review and i bought and ride an r18 transcontinental and I love it OK I agree pannier storage not great so I made a tow bar and added a trailer absolutely amazing, so big thumbs up from me

  6. HD isn’t struggling because of a declining market. HD builds crap with no imagination and the same style for many years. Look at Indian building nicely finished motorcycles and using modern technology that works. HD’s “Boom” system has been a piece of junk since it’s introduction. I know, I have a 2015 Road Glide Special and the only thing the Boom does is blind me when the sun is at my back. The BMW R18 family is a long way from a knock off. No V-Twin here. The R18B is a motorcycle with unsurpassed fit and finish, technology that make it safer and easier to ride, proven powertrain and a fantastic suspension. It’s not perfect, just a breath of fresh air in a room full of clones. Finally a new touring bike that is not a Harley Davidson.

    • I give Harley points for a very refines torque curve but BMW winds hands down with the adaptive suspension and fit and finish. Although I did get more storage on the Side bags with my Street Glide but love my BMW R18Bs Phone compartment. Just wish the thing had Apple Car Play.

  7. I bought the R18B and with the exception of the glitchy GPS map that depends on a Phone app I like it better then the last two bikes I owned. Harley Street Glide Special and Harley Electra Glide. The torque curve was smoother on the Harleys as well but the Boxer has a personality of its own. I also feel like the quality is better on the BMW and you get more for the money. Had no idea how much I would love adaptive cruise. I can take or leave the reverse gear. I do wish there were more accessories. FYI, I been riding since I was 10 and owned a BMW 1150RT many years ago so this is my second boxer.


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