Motorcycle builders from all over the world are still taking turns putting their personal touch on the BMW R 18. The latest one-off created with the German firm's blessing is a striking chopper called Magnifica that's built by hand using materials such as wood, brass and aluminum.
Andrea Radaelli from Milan-based Radikal Chopper created the Magnifica at the request of an Italian collector. Starting with the R 18, he drew inspiration from motorcycles and cars built from the 1920s to the 1940s. At the time, wood was commonly used; some vintage bikes featured wooden grips, and many classic cars (including BMW models) were fitted with a wood-rimmed steering wheel. Radaelli expressed this by making the seat out of mahogany — which sounds utterly uncomfortable until you realize that there is a padded leather cover for it.
The fork is built using billet parts, all of the fairing has been removed to provide an unobstructed view of the air-cooled "Big Boxer" engine, the exhaust system has been redesigned, and the fuel tank has a more tapered shape. Vintage-looking trim pieces and polished parts add a finishing touch to the overall look, creating a motorcycle that blurs the line between a piece of art and a form of transportation.
While the term "one-off" gets thrown around on a regular basis and sometimes loses its meaning, the R 18 Magnifica is truly one-of-a-kind. Nearly every part that was added during the build is made by hand; the only exceptions are the wheels, which are machined from billet.
It doesn't sound like Radaelli made mechanical changes, so power comes from a 1.8-liter air-cooled flat-twin rated at 90 horsepower and 111 pound-feet of torque. It spins the rear wheel via an open driveshaft, which is a cool and unusual feature — most modern motorcycles are fitted with a chain or a belt. BMW notes that Radaelli's modifications lower the R 18's weight from 760 pounds to around 562.
Unveiled in June 2022 at the Top Marques show in Monaco, the Magnifica joins an impressive roster of BMW-backed customs based on the R 18. Kingston Custom built the Spirit of Passion, which gains parts rather than losing them, Roland Sands turned the R 18 into a dragster designed to go flat-out, and Japanese customizer Shinya Kimura gave the bike a new look that borders on steampunk territory. Not all tuners waited for BMW's seal of approval to remodel the R 18 to their liking: Russia's Zillers Garage made it look like it comes from outer space.
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