Coffee & the Cruiser

Coffee & the Cruiser | The weekend coffee ride with the BMW R 18

What's better than spending a weekend with the BMW R 18, and sipping your favourite coffee at the best coffee shops in town?

Words by: Harshit Srinivas
Shot by: Aniket Koli and Anup Lakra for Just Urbane 

No, not at all, it's a review! That's what I kept in mind while taking the handover from BMW of the R 18. And, you have read the review already. Haven’t you? So, what was next? Well, we had the R 18 to ourselves for the second time. If BMW Motorrad can experiment with the twin-cylinder boxer engine for the second time, then why can’t we do the same? And, yes the experiment was a success. Why? Because, for the first rides you have the motorcycles for a limited period, but this time it’s different. I don’t have to do the rigorous test or a whole day shoot, but instead had time to be one with the motorcycle. And, that's what I did.

So, here I am with the R 18’s key, heading out to the finest coffee shops of Pune. Now, I could have got someone to accompany me, but as much as I do, BMW also hated the fact of having a pillion on the R 18 and I just loved it. The first destination of course was my go-to place in Pune – The French Window Patisserie. Now, this cafe is unique in its way as the BMW R 18. As the BMW R 18 appeals to those who love choppers and enjoy a relaxed ride, just like that, this cafe also appeals more with its Parisian decor and antique furniture in the age of modern cafes. And, oh god what a vision it was while slurping your first dose of caffeine with the R 18 parked right in front of you. Now, there is a lot to relate. As said, the cafe has its antique ambience and decor, but with some advanced tweaks. And, the same has been applied to the R 18 as well. How? Let me tell you that first. The R 18 draws its styling cues from the 1930s BMW R5, making it unique for now at least. Whether you consider the neatly integrated LED headlamps in a vintage headlamp shell, the teardrop-shaped fuel tank, the exposed shaft, the low seating arrangement, or the fishtail-shaped exhausts. Everything is inspired by the R5, with some tweaks making it look distinct. And, something similar can be seen at this cafe as well, that’s cocooned in an old bungalow with modern machinery serving you the best brews.

Next up, awaiting me was the moment to go for the most anticipated weekend ride. Now, of course, I had in my mind that the transverse layout or the low height of the R 18 may bother me a lot. But, surprisingly not even once, did I face an issue while swaying it through the city traffic, thanks to the 964mm wide handlebar which I used as a reference for the width of the R 18. And, not even once did I have to stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic to check if the R 18’s boxer engine had enough space to pass or not. Even at the bumps the R 18 crossed smoothly without scraping the chassis. Also, I should have told you this on priority, but as said it's never too late to say, and that is the BMW feels light once in motion. The 345 kg weight never bothers you at all. And, you realize the colossal weight only while taking it out of parallel parking or while stopping it from lurching forwards on traffic signals. Rest assured, never a concern. Why am I saying this? Well, I am convinced about this fact because Ashraf, a friend of mine, took it for a quick spin when I met him at the cafe. And, he agreed too that the weight can be felt when you lift it off the stand only.

And, things only turn a bit troublesome once you crank up the twin-cylinder boxer engine. Well, in a fun way. Because not only everyone around will notice you but soon start appreciating the booming exhaust note. I felt a bit awkward, with all the eyeballs at me, but still, I headed out to another cafe in Pune - the Cafe Al-Forno. Now, this cafe offers the best atmosphere to chill, with a dose of calmness and comfort. But, things turned chaotic when I reached. Not with the R18s rumble, but by grabbing all the eyeballs of people around. And, that's what the R18 does best. Turning heads around. So does Cafe Al-Forno, which has stuck to some traditional ways of cooking. Just like the R18 stuck with its traditional boxer engine with modern tech upgrades, with a 901cc-power mill in each cylinder. What next made the R18 seek more attention was the thump that it made when I cranked it up, making the eardrums numb for a moment. Secretly, I enjoyed that, won’t you do the same? But, at the same time I had to be a little cautious about its side-to-side movement on every rev, yes it moves. Insane! Also, what follows next is the 158Nm of torque that can be felt just under the 2500rpm mark. It's torquier, and on paper, the power figure won’t be appealing to all of you prospective buyers for such a BMW motorcycle with a hefty price tag. But, it should because not even once you feel the 91bhp less in propelling the cruiser. And, then comes three driving modes Rock, Rain and Roll which alter the throttle response. 

So, that was all for the weekend experience riding the R18 and now lastly I would like to address the elephant in the room. And, that's the R18’s practicality and value-for-money proposition. So, if you are one of those prospective buyers, having a garage full of high-end cars, and eyeing a cruiser that compliments your premium parking, which is not American of course, then the R18 is an ideal pick for you. And, when I say an ideal pick, I do consider the R18’s practicality. That said, it does take time to get used to the motorcycle but once you are done, then surely it won’t be a concern. Of course, it isn’t a motorcycle that would serve as a daily driver to you, but once you get one, trust me you aren’t getting away without being smitten by its charm.