Both models are equipped with a handlebar-mounted fairing and hard bags, but as the names imply the Transcontinental is a full-dresser designed for Grand American Touring and the B, short for bagger, is a more traditional American-style touring machine and is less adorned. Integrating new technology not previously seen in this segment, BMW’s R 18 platform and the Big Boxer engine seem to have found their stride in this application.
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Chassis on either bike are identical (spare top case mounts), with the R 18′s double loop steel frame modified to fit the larger 6.3-gallon fuel tank and an updated rear suspension that is automatically adjusted, though not adjustable by the rider. A cantilever suspension strut is mounted directly to the swingarm and features travel-dependent damping and automatic load compensation through spring preload adjustment; BMW claims this will help achieve the best possible ride response, even with a passenger. The bikes are equipped with nonadaptive nonadjustable 49mm telescopic forks, and suspension travel is 120mm (4.7 inches) both front and rear. Alloy cast wheels are equipped with a dual-disc brake up front and a single disc at the rear, all with four-piston calipers and BMW’s Full Integral ABS.
As noted with the earlier models of R 18, mid-mounted foot controls seem to be the only option given the boxer’s large cylinders. Transcontinental models will come standard with long floorboards, while B models will have footpegs a little larger than those on the R 18. The R 18 Transcontinental comes with a large two-person seat and heating standard; the R 18 B has a slightly slimmer seat while also accommodating a passenger.
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Unique among other bikes we’ve seen in the American-style touring genre, both the B and Transcontinental models will have the option of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Dynamic Cruise Control (DCC) as a standard feature. Note that DCC is just a fancy name for what we’re used to, a system that maintains the rider’s set speed even through elevation changes. Likewise, ACC is similar to that we’ve seen on the new Ducati Multistrada V4, with forward-facing radar sensors allowing the bike to automatically accelerate or decelerate to maintain distance from a vehicle in front. The new ACC also features a cornering control system, which BMW says will “automatically reduce the speed, giving the rider the right speed for a comfortable and safe banking angle.” As the banking angle was a point of criticism on past R 18 models, we’re eager to test this in person.
The B and Transcontinental will each come equipped with a 10.25-inch TFT display, larger than any we’ve ever seen on a motorcycle, and four round analog gauges. The same three ride modes from the original R 18—Rock, Roll, and Rain—carry over. Each bike will also come standard with BMW’s Automatic Stability Control (ASC) and engine drag torque control.
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Speakers on each model are the result of a new collaboration between British manufacturer Marshall Amplification and BMW. The recognizable white lettering can be seen on the speakers of both the B and the Transcontinental, with Gold Series Stage 1 and 2 upgrade options already available.
While we saw the R 18 First Edition fall out of production in its second year, as expected given the name, BMW is now introducing a First Edition R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental bearing the same trademark black paint scheme with white pinstriping. “First Edition” lettering, a badge on the seat, and chrome trim set are also included with this limited-edition package.
We also see BMW introducing its Option 719 line for the R 18, including a collection of milled aluminum parts and the eye-catching Galaxy Dust metallic paint finish.
Details on pricing and availability have not yet been released, but we will be reporting back as soon as more information is available.