The 2021 BMW R 18 heavyweight cruiser certainly gives you a lot to look at, but the monstrous 1,802cc or 110ci horizontally opposed boxer twin engine—the largest BMW Motorrad has ever produced—steals the show.
Strapped onto Cycle World’s in-house Dynojet 250i dyno, the R 18 produced 81.34 hp at 4,800 rpm and 103.09 pound-feet of torque at 2,880 rpm. The graph clearly shows the emphasis BMW engineers were going for, with generous torque from near idle: Roughly 95 pound-feet is available from 1,750 rpm and output doesn’t drop below 90 pound-feet until just before 5,000 rpm, with stated rev limit of the engine at 5,500 rpm. So ample torque is available across the range, emphasis and sweet spot being 1,750 to 3,500, which backs up real-world test impressions.
In our first ride of the BMW R 18, Senior Editor Justin Dawes noted both the ample torque available down low, and the presence of vibration as revs rose. “This is an engine that prefers to lope rather than gallop—both power delivery and higher-rpm engine vibration ask the rider to short-shift and use torque rather than revs,” Dawes commented. “And vibration is prominent when trying to make time on the R 18. Beginning just at about 3,500 rpm and continuing through 4,500 rpm, the engine is a buzz-bomb in this 1,000 rpm range. Mirrors blur, fingers fizz, and lower portions of your body tingle. Thankfully, at 80 mph in sixth gear, revs sit just below the vibration threshold, meaning you can go fast.”
Technical Editor Kevin Cameron wrote about the engine in this preview, including BMW’s decision to omit a balancer that would reduce engine vibration.
The R 18′s power output is on par with its American-made competitors, particularly the Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin, which produced a near identical 81.3 peak horsepower at 4,780 rpm, but roughly 8 percent more max torque of 111.47 pound-feet of torque at 2,520 rpm. It’s no coincidence the R 18′s curves closely resemble those of the Harley. You can see the last time we ran the Street Glide 114 on the dyno here, as well as the resulting power increase of the Screamin’ Eagle 131 crate engine swap project bike for which we had run the 114.