Biking tips

Fifth version of BMW R 18 lands with retro new Roctane

BMW R 18

This year marks the 100th anniversary of BMW as a motorcycle manufacturer, and the Bavarian company appears to be going all out on the heritage front, with another new derivative joining the retro R 18 cruiser family.

Based around the standard R 18, the huge 1802cc flat twin cruiser, the curiously named Roctane takes its inspiration from the 1936 BMW R 5, in particular with the pear shaped tank and traditional open propeller drive shaft yet, despite the retro touches, the R 18 Roctane is bagger styled cruiser rather than straightforward roadster.

And it is a long, low and wide cruiser, with the giant cylinder heads proudly protruding ahead of the mid mounted footpegs. Like other models in the R 18 range, the frame has been engineered to resemble a classic hardtail design while the silencers been redesigned to accommodate the hard panniers, which sleekly integrate into the bike’s swoopy lines.

Another nod to the R 5 comes in the form of the encased forks. BMW says it has deliberately avoided specifying electronically damped suspension to the Roctane, however the 49mm telescopic front forks are manually adjustable for preload and have what BMW describe as ‘travel dependent damping’. Brakes are a fairly conventional twin-disc set-up up front, with a fairly skinny 21” alloy front wheel and 18” item at the back for a classic cruiser look.

Priced at £22,100, the blacked out Roctane sits right in the middle of the R 18 range – above the stripped down base model and the R 18 Classic soft bagger, but below the full on touring models like the R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental. As with the other models, it’s a motorcycle packed with lovely details and which delicately balances very traditional design with subtle amounts of modern technology.

Those modern elements include state-of-the-art LED lighting, keyless ignition and three funkily named riding modes, called ‘Rain’, ‘Rock’ and ‘Roll’. Options include BMW’s trademark heated grips, a plethora of styling parts and some useful rider aids including hill start and a reversing function – which could prove useful on a motorcycle weighing in at a hefty 374kg.

The R 18 is a premium motorcycle offering a fresh alternative to the likes of the Triumph Rocket 3 and the plethora of big bore Harley-Davidsons and Indians on the market. It has always been something of a niche model since its release three years ago, but the combination of that torque laden (158Nm) big boxer motor and a laid back chassis makes it a unique proposition in the current motorcycle market to which the Roctane adds another flavour. 

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