Discover the new ICON Hooligan street-style riding trainer

Exklusiv! The first custom based on the factory BMW R18

Custom BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands
Before the BMW R18 officially broke cover, the Bavarian marque teased us with concepts and customs that showcased the whopping 1,802 cc power plant. The monstrous boxer is now almost ready to hit showrooms, so we’re getting a look at the first custom based on the final production R18. And not surprisingly, it’s a dragster.

BMW Motorrad commissioned the build from California-based Roland Sands Design. The two companies go way back, and RSD are responsible for a number of parts in the R18’s aftermarket catalog.

Custom BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands
Presented with the largest boxer motor that BMW have ever built, shop boss Roland Sands immediately knew what he wanted to achieve. “With an engine that’s so visibly the center piece,” he says, “I immediately thought of muscle cars.”

“My family has always been into going fast and my dad was a drag racer, so I thought it made sense to strip the bike down to the essentials and shape it to go fast on a straight track.”

Custom BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands
Speak to anyone involved with the development of the R18, and it’s immediately apparent that BMW are very keen on customization. Its classic cruiser layout lends itself to visual tweaking, and certain bits have been designed to be easily swappable.

But the RSD team did more than just bolt a few parts on and off here. They leaned all the way into the dragster concept, by ditching the rear suspension and fabricating a custom hardtail rear.

Custom BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands
It’s a neat arrangement that incorporates the OEM shaft drive so well, that it looks like it was designed that way from the get-go.

The setup also includes custom foot controls, set way back. And there’s a small guard on the right side, to keep your heel from making contact with the knuckle joint of the exposed shaft drive.

Custom BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands
Up front is a set of adjustable BMW R nineT forks, matched to the brakes from BMW’s S1000RR superbike. The wheels are RSD units, taken straight from the R18’s parts catalog.

Other bolt-on BMW/RSD bits include the speedo and headlight bezels, grips, levers, reservoir fluid caps, and the gas cap. The R18’s handlebars have been swapped for clip-ons, and the riser holes in the top yoke are now plugged.

Custom BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands
RSD kept most of the R18’s original bodywork, but trimmed both fenders, and added a custom seat from specialists Saddlemen. And since the riding position is low and long, there’s a leather pad on top of the tank for the pilot’s chest to rest on.

Further down you’ll find a custom aluminum belly pan that not only helps with aerodynamics, but also acts as a stash space for most of the BMW’s wiring. It has a three-piece design, so that the sides can be easily removed to access vital bits.

Custom BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands
Keen eyes will spot a chromed bottle stashed under the seat too. That’s because this boxer runs a direct port wet nitrous system from Nitrous Express. It’s plumbed straight into custom-made steel intake manifolds, with a standalone fuel pump that injects both nitrous, and additional fuel to richen the mixture.

That allows the bike to be ridden with or without nitrous, with no changes to the ECU mapping. RSD also installed a Nitrous Express purge valve, and their electronic throttle position sensor, so that it only kicks in when the throttle’s wide open.

Custom BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands
The engine package is finished off with a custom stainless steel twin exhaust system, with milled aluminum end caps on the mufflers. A ‘breast plate’ and valve covers from the aftermarket set add an extra visual hit to the motor, along with custom ‘R18 Dragster’ engine badges.

Custom BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands
Just like the BMW boxers of old, the R18 is currently only available in black. But RSD opted for a two-tone metallic blue here, executed with white pin stripes by longtime collaborator Chris Wood. And it looks so good, it makes a strong case for adding a little color to the range.

Custom BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands
If you’re not into cruisers, this dragster seems like the most logical use for an 1,802 cc boxer motor. And we’re glad someone took a crack at it. Who else is curious to see what builders will do with the R18, once it hits the streets?

BMW Motorrad | Facebook | Instagram | Roland Sands Design

Custom BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
3K Shares
READ NEXT