Bikes

A Voluptuous BMW R 18 Custom From Kingston Custom


The second custom from BMW’s SoulFuel collaboration series is Spirit of Passion, from Dirk Oehlerking of Kingston Custom. (Ben Ott/BMW Motorrad/)

Although it’s been in existence for less than a year, BMW’s R 18 cruiser has already served as the inspirational platform for a diverse assortment of wild-ass customs. Tarmac-rippling dragster courtesy of Roland Sands? Green-lit. Single-seated power cruiser from Blechmann? Check. Airy, Maserati-meets-Ernst Henne titanium art piece from Revival Cycles? Call it the Birdcage bike. It started back in 2019 with the absolutely bonkers trellis-framed build by Custom Works Zon, dubbed Departed. Along the way we even saw a sporty concept from the Haus of Munich itself in the form of the R 18 /2. But there was nothing really like this opulently curved art deco build from Dirk Oehlerking of Kingston Custom.

You can see why it’s officially called the Kingston Air Stream Roadster Limited Edition; the 1930s design influence is strong.

You can see why it’s officially called the Kingston Air Stream Roadster Limited Edition; the 1930s design influence is strong. (Ben Ott/BMW Motorrad/)

But then, that’s the whole point of a custom—to be a one-off interpretation. And even if you dismiss the bike’s bulbous front appendage as a scooter-chic cowcatcher, it might help to know that this build is officially called the Kingston Air Stream Roadster Limited Edition. So yeah, there’s some history there.

The bodywork, fenders, and fairing are all handmade, but most of the stock R 18 lives on underneath.

The bodywork, fenders, and fairing are all handmade, but most of the stock R 18 lives on underneath. (Ben Ott/BMW Motorrad/)

In the custom world though, this creation is dubbed Spirit of Passion, and the wildly inflated fairing is the clear visual draw here, with all the bodywork, handlebars, and fenders handmade and finished by Kingston. The BMW R 18 exhaust was modified by Oehlerking in Kingston Roadster style, but in fact, much of the stock bike’s underpinnings were left alone, with even the fuel tank and suspension remaining untouched. “The frame is 100 percent original and so sophisticated that nothing should be changed here,” he said. BMW says all this custom work is made easier due to the R 18′s “conversion-friendly architecture,” but that really doesn’t give Oehlerking enough credit.

That’s an original R 18 fuel tank (though the bodywork and handlebars around it are not).

That’s an original R 18 fuel tank (though the bodywork and handlebars around it are not). (Ben Ott/BMW Motorrad/)

The overall design is done in classic art deco style, while the custom elements also adopt the stock bike’s original artwork and pinstripe lines. For Oehlerking, the challenge was to make the mechanical bits disappear: “My motorbikes always convey soul, charm, and character,” he said. That attention to detail goes all the way to the slim wing and skin-tight all-enveloping rear wheel cover out back, which serves as a sleeker counterpoint to the sweep of the bike’s bow.

Front inset grille is another sweet art deco-inspired detail. Who needs ground clearance anyway?

Front inset grille is another sweet art deco-inspired detail. Who needs ground clearance anyway? (Ben Ott/BMW Motorrad/)

The front grille set into that curvaceous fairing is also a throwback reference to one of Oehlerking’s favorite decades: the 1930s, when the Streamline Moderne style was making a name for itself. The radiator grille of a 1930s BMW roadster served as a model for this intricate hand-built detail which faintly emphasizes the outline of the R 18. Out back, the BMW R 18 exhaust has been modified by Oehlerking in Kingston Roadster style, while the saddle is swiped right from BMW’s range of universal accessories. Lending a modern touch to the front end is an inset LED headlight that’s not just a cosmetic afterthought, but is actually integrated into the fairing/trim panel. The turn signals are updated Kellermann indicators.

Cockpit features a combination of original BMW and Kingston custom components.

Cockpit features a combination of original BMW and Kingston custom components. (Ben Ott/BMW Motorrad/)

It’s the second BMW R 18 custom in what the company calls the SoulFuel collaboration series, with the first being Blechmann’s R 18 conversion. But this isn’t Oehlerking’s first rodeo with Motorrad either—he’s got more than a dozen BMW custom machines under his belt, including the Black Phantom and its sibling bike, the White Phantom. You can see the lineage of his style and influences in those earlier builds, but with Spirit of Passion, it feels like Oehlerking may just be starting a whole new chapter.

The nicely proportioned solo saddle comes straight out of BMW’s accessory catalog.

The nicely proportioned solo saddle comes straight out of BMW’s accessory catalog. (Ben Ott/BMW Motorrad/)

Of the design process, racer, designer, and craftsman Dirk Oehlerking said, “It’s a lot of work, but it’s not work at all.”

Of the design process, racer, designer, and craftsman Dirk Oehlerking said, “It’s a lot of work, but it’s not work at all.” (Ben Ott/BMW Motorrad /)

RELATED: BMW Introduces R 18 Classic

A stylish handmade fin extends from the rear wheel to contrast with the vast expanse of bodywork up front. A small taillight is tucked within.

A stylish handmade fin extends from the rear wheel to contrast with the vast expanse of bodywork up front. A small taillight is tucked within. (BEN OTT/)

This handmade cover completely envelops the rear wheel; a hinge enables access to the wheel.

This handmade cover completely envelops the rear wheel; a hinge enables access to the wheel. (Ben Ott / BMW Motorrad/)

Modern LED headlight inset into the fairing leads the way; Kellermann turn indicators replace the stock pieces.

Modern LED headlight inset into the fairing leads the way; Kellermann turn indicators replace the stock pieces. (Ben Ott/BMW Motorrad /)

RELATED: A Timeline Of The 2021 BMW R 18 Launch

Precisely positioned cutouts expose much of the original brake, drive shaft, and engine. In daylight, the swoopy profile looks even more massive.

Precisely positioned cutouts expose much of the original brake, drive shaft, and engine. In daylight, the swoopy profile looks even more massive. (Ben Ott/BMW Motorrad/)

See the stylistic connection? One of Oehlerking’s earlier BMW builds, the R 75-based Black Phantom.

See the stylistic connection? One of Oehlerking’s earlier BMW builds, the R 75-based Black Phantom. (Ben Ott/Kingston Custom/)

See the making and riding of the bike here.

 

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