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First Ride: 2022 BMW R18 Bagger and Transcontinental

First Ride: 2022 BMW R18 Bagger and Transcontinental
Autos
Active cruise control makes long, mundane stretches of highway easier, since it maintains a preset distance from vehicles ahead. It works fine if you’re following a car or truck, however the system’s radar won’t detect a motorcycle if it’s off to one side of the lane; it has to be directly in front of you.

Switching to the Bagger for the afternoon ride revealed that despite being nearly identical in spec, it feels like a completely different motorcycle. The Bagger is almost 30 kilos lighter, and most of that weight left with the top case, which on the TC incorporates lighting, speakers, and mounting brackets, all placed high and rearward. The Bagger feels nimbler and much more responsive than the TC, but its lower seat isn’t as comfortable, and it doesn’t offer the superb wind protection, since it lacks the lowers and the wind deflectors.

My one big gripe with either bike was with the brake pedal; using it wedged my boot under the right cylinder, so much so that I often resorted to using only the front brake lever. The good news is that the bike has fully integrated ABS, so using either the brake lever or brake pedal individually will apply both brakes. Squeeze hard enough at the softish lever, though, and it brakes quite hard.

2022 BMW R18 Transcontinental Photo by Costa Mouzouris

The first batch of BMW R18 touring cruisers will be in dealers in September, and will be dubbed “First Edition” models. They will come with special badging, chrome trim, and a “welcome box” that includes copper coloured tank emblems and screws, work gloves, a screwdriver, “First Edition” cap and belt buckle, and a book about BMW’s 100-year history. The ideal setup for me would be the R18 Bagger with the taller windscreen and seat (both options), and the fairing lowers and deflectors. It would be a nimbler, lighter version of the TC, while offering the TC’s level of long-distance comfort.

So far, BMW has done exceptionally well in every segment in which it offers a motorcycle. It now has its sights on the North American touring-cruiser market, a category dominated by Harley-Davidson and Indian. I don’t think either American bike maker should be worried that their sales will take a hit from this German-made touring cruiser. But the 2022 R18 Bagger and Transcontinental offer a unique blend of touring capability, individuality, and character that require a look.
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