In a bid to show the upcoming BMW R18’s customizability, BMW Motorrad has tapped custom bike designer, Roland Sands, to create a stunning custom using the R18 as a base. The result— the R18 Dragster — is a drag bike made from stripping down the cruiser and turning its iconic boxer powerplant into a centerpiece.

Designer turns 2020 BMW R18 into drag bike image

“With an engine that’s so visibly the center piece, I immediately thought of muscle cars,” Sands shares. “My family has always been into going fast and my dad was a drag racer, so I thought it made sense to strip the bike down to the essentials and shape it to go fast on a straight track.”


Custom friendly

Designer turns 2020 BMW R18 into drag bike image

More than any other motorcycle, the new R 18 offers a highly customizable design. It features an easily removable rear frame and a simple-to-dismantle painted parts set. This gives the customer a high degree of freedom for easily converting the rear end of the new R 18 to suit personal preferences. In addition you can also change the paint finish to suit your personal taste.

Designer turns 2020 BMW R18 into drag bike image

This ease of customizability is thanks to the R18’s purist, no-frills technology and the boxer engine as the center of riding pleasure. It is based on illustrious models such as the BMW R 5. The “Big Boxer” continues the line of traditional air-cooled boxer engines that have offered inspiring riding since BMW Motorrad first began production in 1923.

Building the bike

Designer turns 2020 BMW R18 into drag bike image

For the R 18 Dragster, the team retained the stock neck geometry of the R 18, removed the bike’s rear end and turned it into a drag racer. Moreover, they chose to modify the front and rear fender to fit the modified frame.

The frame has been modified, completely removing the rear suspension for drag racing. The fork has been taken from the BMW R nineT. The front braking system has been taken from the BMW S 1000 RR superbike. The hydraulic front brake and clutch master cylinders are from Roland Sands Design. The standard exhaust has been replaced with a hand fabricated Stainless Steel twin megaphone system utilizing the exhaust tips from the milled aluminum parts.

Front and rear fenders have been slightly modified utilizing the stock sheet metal parts in order to keep the classic R 18 silhouette. The headlight has been taken from the original R 18 and is highlighted with the headlight bezel from the design collection of milled aluminum parts. The tank has been carried over from the original R 18. The paint finish is a two-tone metallic blue with classic white BMW pin-stripes by Roland’s long time painter Chris Wood. The seat has been built from scratch and is a RSD custom seat by Saddlemen.

Designer turns 2020 BMW R18 into drag bike image

The whole customizing process took about three and a half months. The bike then headed to the workshop for final assembly and a day at a drag strip.

Aside from the R 18 Dragster custom bike, Roland Sands also created two different design collections of milled aluminium parts for the launch of the R 18 Cruiser: “Machined” and “2-Tone-Black”. The “Machined” and “2-Tone-Black” ranges include front and rear wheels available in different dimensions than the standard sizes. In addition, the range of these exclusive milled parts includes speedometer housings, handlebar clamps, risers, handlebar grips, hand levers and mirrors as well as engine housing trim elements, filler caps, intake silencer covers and much more.

For the R 18 Dragster, Roland Sands used the milled parts design collection “2-Tone-Black” to customize levers, wheels, valve covers, breast plate, headlight and gauges. The front end was taken from the BMW R nineT. The seat as well as the exhaust were created from scratch.

Who is Roland Sands?

Designer turns 2020 BMW R18 into drag bike image

By his own account, Roland Sands basically grew up on a motorcycle and motorcycling is in his blood. His dad was a drag racer who built custom bikes and parts. As a result, Roland was brought up surrounded by cool bikes. It wasn’t long before he, too, was riding dirt bikes, taking them apart and rebuilding them. He had a racing career of his own that spanned ten years.

Today Roland is a world famous designer of custom bikes and motorcycle apparel with customers in all corners of the world.