For those who are in the custom bike scene, the name Fred Kodlin definitely would ring a bell. Kodlin has been customizing bikes for more than 40 years, and also holds the distinction to be the first non-US citizen to be inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame.
For the first time, Fred Kodlin has now set about customizing a BMW together with his son Len - the BMW R 18 B. “The R 18 B Heavy Duty was a real father-son project. There was a lot of creative input from Len which also goes to show that the next generation at Kodlin Bikes is already in the starting blocks,” says the boss of Kodlin Bikes during an interview in Borken, Germany.
BMW R 18 B Heavy Duty
The biggest challenge in customizing this year's crowd puller at the Daytona Bike Week in Florida was undoubtedly the frame.
“We have completely remanufactured the upper tubes to lower the fly-line and thus the seat height of the R 18 B. We also redid the steering head and the triple clamps so that the caster fits despite the changed steering angle and so that the bike rides well,” explains Fred Kodlin.
The result was the R 18 B Heavy Duty, a bike in the typical Kodlin style. Viewed from the side, the fly-line drops sharply to the rear from the chopped windshield taken from the Original BMW Motorrad Accessories range and finally runs harmoniously into the side cases made by Kodlin out of glass fiber-reinforced plastic and the low rear end. From the top, the R 18 B Heavy Duty is characterized by a strong waistline in the seat area and a flowing connection to the side cases.
Finally, the technical chassis highlight is an air suspension system at the front and rear, supported by a compressor placed barely visibly behind the left side case. This allows the R 18 B HEAVY DUTY to be lowered and raised in a fraction of a second. This is both as useful as it is spectacular: To park, lower the chassis, and it rests on hidden support points letting the bike crouch just a few centimeters above the asphalt, waiting for the next ride.
Elaborate paintwork by tattoo artist Marcel Sinnwell
While the R 18 B Heavy Duty received a lot of body modifications for this project, one of the highlights worth mentioning is the paintwork done by renowned tattoo artist, Marcel Sinnwell.
For this project, the color gradients were completely airbrushed with translucent paint. The inspiration for this was the mixing of color pigments in the paint and especially the way form streaks in the milky basecoat when first stirred. The result goes along very well with the Daytona bike week, where complex and colorful paint schemes are more than just good form.
Additional design touches on the R 18 B Heavy Duty are provided by hand-painted pinstripes and an airbrushed pattern on the rear mudguard that combines Kodlin and “100 years of BMW Motorrad”. The brake calipers, gearshift, and foot brake levers and footrests, however, are BMW Motorrad standard components that have been color-matched.
BMW R 18 B: The perfect bike for customizing
But Fred Kodlin by no means laid his hands on all the assemblies and parts. What was a particularly positive surprise for him: “The bolts. They are all made of stainless steel, with a nice Torx head. That’s not the way it is on other bikes. The basic bike and especially the engine are very, very cleanly finished. All the electrical cables are already nicely hidden, so we didn't have to do anything to the engine,” he explains.
For this reason, numerous R 18 B components were deliberately not replaced, but at most modified. For example, the shortened hand levers and handlebar end weights. Likewise, the engine remained unchanged from a technical point of view. Only the cylinder head covers, belt cover, and intake snorkel were painted in metallic black.
Cruise control with distance control, reverse gear, and eCall have remained unchanged. These are absolutely unique features of the BMW R 18 B in the Cruiser world, where these functions are not offered by any other manufacturer.