BMW R 18 Transcontinental and R 18 B expand the big-bike family

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BMW opened its new foray into big cruisers with last year's R 18 and R 18 Classic. This year the R 18 tree branches in two more directions with the R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental; the B is for "bagger," the Transcontinental is for iron-butt sunup-to-sundown days in the saddle. Their hearts, naturally, remain the 1.8-liter flat-twin boxer engine cradled in a tubular steel double-loop frame. The "Big Boxer," as BMW calls it, rolls up with the same 91 horsepower and 116 pound-feet of torque. That shove starts low down, with 111 lb-ft available from 2,000 rpm through to 4,000 rpm.

The R 18 Transcontinental puts on a big fairing with three lights and a high windshield. The engine's been finished in silver metallic, gets standard chromed protection bars, and standard running boards hung astride for driver and passengers. Three bags add bulk to the backside, two side cases and a top case riding a vibration damper behind the pillion seat. That seat, by the way, comes heated as standard.

The bagger sticks to genre with a sleeker fairing, shorter windshield, and single headlight. The boxer mill's finished in matte black, rider and passengers here using footpegs but are able to fit optional running boards. Two side cases hang next to the rear wheel, framing a rear seat that's a little narrower and a lower than that on the R 18 Transcontinental.

The cockpits for both step up from last year's bikes with a 10.25 high-definition infotainment touchscreen joining the four analogue gauges. Behind that, both models get a larger fuel tank than the R 18 and R 18 Classic, 6.3 gallons instead of 4.2 gallons. The larger tank hides a storage slot with wireless charging for cellphones. The side cases on both bikes come in at 27 liters of storage when paired with the standard Marshall audio system that places two speakers in the front fairing. Optional Marshall Stage 1 and Stage 2 systems steal case space for more speakers and a subwoofer, reducing volume to 26.5 liters. The R 18 Transcontinental's top case normally swallows 48 liters, dropping to 47 liters with the Stage 2 audio.

Dynamic Cruise Control maintains a preset speed even going downhill, optional Adaptive Cruise Control uses radar units in the fairing to maintain a preset distance from moving vehicles ahead. BMW cautions that if vehicles ahead aren't moving, however, the rider needs to brake for himself. Speaking of which, integrated braking when using the handlebar lever or the foot control works on twin 300-millimeter discs on the front wheel and a single 300-mm disc out back, BMW's ABS system fitted standard. Three driving modes adjust throttle, stability control, and cornering control in Road, Rain, and Rock settings. That Rock mode isn't for geology, it's the first part of rock 'n' roll — this is the bike's sport mode.

As with the R 18 and R 18 Classic, there'll be a couple of First Edition trims first. The standard models are priced at $22,140 for the R 18 B and $25,635 for the R 18 Transcontinental, those prices inclusive of the $645 destination charge.

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