Whoa, the BMW R18 has gone all steampunk

Courtesy of Japanese customizer Shinya Kimura. Say hello to ‘The Wal’
by Stephen Dobie | Nov 11, 2021
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PHOTO: BMW Motorrad

BMW launched the R18 ripe for some custom reinterpretation. And indeed, they’ve come thick and fast. We’ve seen the graphic novel-inspired R18. The long-grilled R18.

Now it’s time for some steampunk. Meet ‘The Wal,’ the latest modified R18 and the creation of Japanese customizer Shinya Kimura, the third person to concoct their own boxer-engined bike as part of BMW’s ‘SoulFuel’ series.

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Kimura has been fully welcomed into the BMW fold, spending time with the R18 and its development team in Germany before an elongated Californian road trip on one back in February 2021 “to get to know the character of the bike.”

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BMW says his customization is fully hands-on, claiming The Wal came about without the use of sketches, drawings, blueprints, or mockups. “I built the R18 entirely for myself,” adds Kimura. “I thought it might suit my build and riding preferences better if I designed it to be a little more front-facing with a fairing.

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“I decided to adopt the frame, wheels, and tires as well as suspension elements and brakes because I didn’t feel the need to change them after I had ridden the bike. I also wanted to be able to ride for long distances with my R18 while feeling and enjoying the legendary boxer engine.” A torquey 1.8-liter flat-two engine that he describes as the greatest he’s ever worked on, in fact.

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“Thanks to its mighty engine, the bike is wild and has almost inexhaustible power on the one hand, yet it is completely good-natured on the other. Just like a whale, hence the German animal name for this R18, which for me is something like a ‘Sports Endurancer,’” he continues.

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He has lowered and narrowed the handlebars, lengthened the fuel tank (both to increase its touring range and draw the seating position rearward), moved the footrests back, and added a more bucket-esque seat swab, then applied a bronze powder-coated paint finish—as well as additional design flourishes—to lend The Wal its own unique look. Named after a whale, the intention is that it has its own teeth sat below its lights and screen.

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“The Wal R18 is an ‘animal’ of a bike,” we’re reminded. “Powerful, mighty, but always good-natured.” You can see how it compares to a regular R18 below. Like what Kimura has done?

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NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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PHOTO: BMW Motorrad
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