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HomeCar CultureRidden: 2024 BMW R18 Roctane

Ridden: 2024 BMW R18 Roctane

The new 2024 BMW R18 Octane is seriously improved

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In 2020, right in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown, I was given the then-new 2021 BMW R18 First edition to test initially for a few weeks. While the fit and finish was absolutely exceptional and the giant boxer engine was amazing, the bike had a few issues that made it a bit difficult for me to live with. I ended up having the bike for 2 months and those factors that bothered me meant that over those two months I only rode that 2020 R18 a total of 426 miles.

The two things that bothered me about the 2021 R18 were the serious lack of clearance when taking the bike in corners and the over dampened suspension with too little travel. It took almost no effort to drag the pegs on it and to say that the suspension was spine jarring was an understatement. You can read my original review of the 2020 BMW R18 by clicking here.

This past weekend BMW Motorrad flew me out to Alabama to cover the first ever BMW Motorrad Days in the U.S. and loaned me a 2024 R18 Roctane to ride while at the event. 

Before the event, I was hoping that at the last-minute BMW would swap out the R18 for something like a R9T but when I got to the hotel, I saw the huge group of R18 Roctane bikes all parked for us. Oh well, I thought. At least the event is only 3 days and we are riding to and from the Barber Vintage Festival so it would be livable.

I met my R18 Roctane on Friday morning and the number on the bike I happened to choose turned out to be 13. Besides the bike’s ominous number, the staff at BMW had put a little cartoon figure of Jason from Friday the 13th on the handlebars. Oh well, I guess we will see what happens.

After warming up the new bikes, we headed off on a nice 35-mile route to Barber. In the beginning of the ride I was unable to avoid a big rut in the road. Right before going over it I prepared myself for what I expected to be a punishing jolt. I was surprised to find that something was very different about this new R18 when the bike rode over the rut without missing a beat and effortlessly and smoothly dealt with the road. Something had definitely been improved over the original First Edition R18 I had ridden two years before.

We rode a few miles and entered a very twisty part of the route. Oh well, I thought, I guess I will be grinding away some bike bits. Taking the first part of the route at a very slow speed with little lean I was surprised to find that the new R18, despite having floorboards and not pegs like the old R18 had, seemed to have a lot more clearance. I took the next 10 or 12 turns progressively more quickly and never touched down any of the metal bits of the bike. Just these two changes have made new R18 Roctane a huge improvement for me. 

There are some interesting styling changes for the new R18 Roctane as well. The speedometer is now housed in the headlight, just like it was on every BMW built all the way through 1973. This vintage like-change made the bike that already looks the part of a vintage bike, be even more so, especially while riding it. Yes, the separate speedometer on the original was easier to read but with a cruiser, which the R18 is, style is very important and this vintage throwback just looks right.

The Roctane has the same engine characteristics as the first one I rode, with lots of torque and you definitely feel it, especially when parked and rev the engine, rock to the left more than any other BMW I have owned. The power is also the same as you soon find out as you approach 80 mph and feel that the bike is starting to run out of steam. This is fine, as due to the lack of any kind of a windshield, you would not likely want to go any faster.

Back to the fit and finish of the new R18 Roctane: it is as good as the first edition with some parts being to me even better. The black chrome of the exhaust system is simply stunning as is the black engine case which picks up a bit of a sparkle in the sunlight. Again, this is an example of BMW taking something that was already good and making it better. I even liked the flat Mineral Grey Metallic Matte paint on the Roctane, and I am as a rule not a fan of flat paint on cars or bikes.

So, after the twodays riding the R18 Roctane how do I feel about the bike?

First if you are going to use this bike for long tours where you cover 2-300 miles a day, you should choose something else, a K1600 Bagger or even one of the touring versions of the R18 are a perfect choice. The bike sits you directly into the wind and this gets tiring and somewhat annoying pretty quickly.

If you are using the R18 Roctane as it was intended, for weekend rides out with your pals, making a bunch of stops along the way and just cruising around on roads with nice sweepers and lots of scenery to look at, this new R18 Roctane is perfect. It looks great, rides extremely well, and can actually corner more than many (of not most) other cruiser style motorcycles. It also has the styling, fit, and finish to rival the best from all other manufacturers when parked next to them at a restaurant or bar. The new Roctane is exactly what a BMW cruiser should be, and it now rides as good as it looks. If you rode the 2022 version and had some issues it would be worth it to make a visit to your local BMW motorcycle dealer and give the new 2024 R18 Roctane a test ride. Never did just a few small changes make such a big difference in a motorcycle.

2024 BMW R18 Roctane

Vehicle type: Motorcycle
Base price: $18,695 
Price as tested: $21,035

Engine: 1,802cc, air/oil-cooled, horizontally opposed twin with 4 valves/cyl., 91 hp @ 4,750 RPM and 116 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 RPM

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Wheelbase: 67.7 inches

Steering Head Angle: 55 degrees

Seat Height: 28.3 inches

Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gallons

Wet weight: 825 pounds

EPA mileage estimates: 23 city / 32 highway / 26 combined

Assembled in: Berlin, Germany

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Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

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