Roland Sands Design turns BMW R 18 into a straight line dragster

The renowned custom bike designer Roland Sands has got his hands on BMW’s new slider R 18, the brand’s first cruiser motorcycle, and the result is the R 18 Dragster, a unique masterpiece built around the impressive 2-cylinder Big Boxer.

Roland Sands drew his inspiration for his work on this bike from his personal story. “With an engine that’s so visibly the centerpiece, I immediately thought of muscle cars. 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,” the designer explains.

Sands says he always starts by sketching his ideas on paper. This allows him to discover the basics of the shape and what the bike’s posture and geometry would be like. “In the end, the real magic happens when we bring the sketch to life,” Roland explains.

Introduced in April 2020, the new R 18 is the brand’s first series-production bike for the cruiser segment. Like no other BMW motorcycle before it, this model stands entirely in the tradition of historical BMW motorcycles – both technically and with regard to its design.

The objective of the exercise being of course, for BMW to highlight the possibilities offered in terms of customization, thanks in particular to the easily removable rear frame and to the removable trim parts.

The Ronald Sands team thus kept the basic geometry but changed the entire rear frame to adapt a drag racing element. Front and rear fenders have been modified to suit the new frame. The front headlight is dressed in the accessories catalog. The electronics were definitely the most challenging task since the team added nitrous, stripped the stock exhaust, and changed the intake drastically.

As you can see, the rear suspension has also been removed. The standard exhaust has been replaced with a hand fabricated Stainless Steel twin megaphone system. The front braking system has been taken from the BMW S 1000 RR superbike. Also, the seat of R 18 Dragster has been built from scratch and is an RSD custom seat by Saddlemen.

The paint finish is a two-tone metallic blue with classic white BMW pin-stripes by Roland’s long time painter Chris Wood. All in all, the whole customizing process took about three and a half months. The bike then headed to the workshop for the final assembly and a day at a drag strip.

In addition to this preparation, RSD also created two different design collections of milled aluminum parts for the launch of the R 18 Cruiser: “Machined” and “2-Tone-Black”. These milled part ranges include front and rear wheels available in different dimensions, 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.

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