The R18 One Eight “C” takes the already outlandish BMW Boxer cruiser and turns it into an all-out custom big-wheel bagger.
Custom motorcycle visionary Paul Yaffe has raised the bar by unveiling his latest masterpiece, a one-of-a-kind customisation of the BMW R 18 Transcontinental. Melding classic hot rod aesthetics with the distinctive BMW essence, this project is a testament to Yaffe’s excellence as a designer.
A legend of the US customising scene:
Since 1991, the custom motorcycle world has known Paul Yaffe as one of the elite creators of motorised masterpieces. That’s because Paul is more than a builder or fabricator, he is truly a designer.
Beginning with the establishment of American Legend Motorcycle Company, which later evolved into Paul Yaffe’s Bagger Nation, he has earned accolades such as three “World’s Most Beautiful Motorcycle” awards from the Oakland Roadster Show, two “Builder of Year” and three “Trendsetter of the Year” awards from Easyriders Magazine, as well as becoming an inductee into the Sturgis Hall of Fame in 2015. His custom bikes have been featured in over 300 magazine articles worldwide as well as on the Discovery channel, the History channel, and other television shows. His products, distributed through a network of partners in six countries, continue to inspire a generation of customisers.
Preserving BMW Essence and Hot Rod Inspiration.
Before getting started, Paul spent time getting to know the
BMW R18 Transcontinental, riding 3800 miles across the USA, and additional 2600 miles to Sturgis and back.
Once the customisation process began, Paul knew he wanted to create a big wheel bagger like no one had ever seen. Crucial to the project was retaining as many original BMW components as possible. Paul wanted his custom creation to remain authentically BMW and knew that it should not be made from or look anything like parts from his existing product line.
He commissioned a 26″ x 5.5″ front wheel cut from a 200kg block of solid aluminium, which holds a handmade 180mm wide front tyre. The frame had to be stretched and raked to accommodate the new front wheel and special triple trees had to be engineered to correct the trail measurement and optimise handling.
Embracing the look of an iconic 50’s Mercury Lead Sled, the team crafted several one-of-a-kind components and modified existing R 18 elements. The steel front fender was made from scratch. The original R 18 fairing was cut into several pieces and restructured to correct headlight position and flow into the new front wheel. To address the gap between the fairing and the fuel tank a unique chin spoiler was developed, strategically concealing the radiator. Additionally, an exclusive set of Yaffe Monkey Bars was crafted to complement the overall design.
“The team wanted to retain the saddlebag lids, latches and speakers, so a new set of ‘skins’ was created to give the bags a completely new and unique stretched profile while retaining the excellent engineering and functionality that BMW had created for them.” Paul’s team extended the original rear fender by crafting a second R 18 rear fender, ensuring it seamlessly matched the profile of the new saddlebags.
As the build began to take shape, Yaffe rearranged the original
R 18 taillights into the handmade filler panels and worked an area for the license plate into the fender in classic hot rod styling. He also stretched the original R 18 side covers to retain their original shape and cover more area to help the eye flow into the bags.
Classic Lead Sled Look.
Staying true to the classic Lead Sled aesthetic, Yaffe prioritised two crucial components: air suspension and side pipes.
Paul and his team designed a sophisticated air tank and distribution system as well as a dedicated frame beneath each side of the saddlebags to accommodate essential components, including the necessary air storage tanks, a sizable air compressor and all the controls, valving and solenoids necessary for the effective support and operation of the system.
Turning their focus to the side pipe design the fabrication team aimed to preserve the distinctive “BMW feel” that sets this build apart. Retaining the classic Boxer head pipes was non-negotiable in Paul’s vision. The catalytic converters were removed from the head pipes making way for a bespoke perforated high-flow baffle system. This innovation not only replaced the restrictive emissions system but also retained essential back pressure for optimal performance. To further enhance the auditory experience, a precision-crafted 3-step muffler system was introduced for reversion. The final touch was a wide-open megaphone, delivering that quintessential classic hot rod sound.
It all comes down to cosmetics.
Shifting focus to cosmetics, Paul wanted a classic hot rod feel without any distracting graphics, highlighting the bike’s elegant new stance and profile. The emphasis was on simplicity and allure. “We went to work perfecting all the fabricated body panels and smoothing everything to a glass-like finish.” After settling on a timeless deep gloss black finish, the team’s attention turned to achieving perfection for the body. Paul tasked his dedicated painter Hector Martinez, with applying the flawless gloss black paint. Recognising the need for contrast, Paul decided on a classic ochs blood red interior. The art is in finding the perfect balance. “The trick is not to overdo it!” Guys Upholstery created the contemporary-style saddle and dash console and Hector mixed up a colour for the front callipers to match. “We think it came out spectacular!”