BMW R18 ROCTANE (2023 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Impresssive ergonomics
  • New 21” front wheel and 18” rear wheel
  • The most dynamic R18 model to ride

At a glance

Power: 91 bhp
Seat height: Low (28.3 in / 720 mm)
Weight: High (825 lbs / 374 kg)

Prices

New £21,750
Used £16,900 - £18,200

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Although the BMW R18 cruiser motorcycle isn’t new by any means, the Roctane version does offer something that is new, with a different riding experience to every model that came before it. In essence, the Roctane comes with bigger wheels and is a hybrid of different iterations, using the front frame of the normal R18, and the rear frame of the BMW R18B Bagger, in order to utilise the hard panniers.

BMW are quick to point out that the larger wheels are mainly due to appearance, but in reality its something that makes a huge difference to the ride quality, vastly improving the ground clearance, stability and the general riding characteristics.

It means that the Roctane has more cornering usability, and its general capabilities as a sporty cruiser has improved by a huge amount. In terms of the pure riding experience, this is by far the most engaging R18 that you can buy.

2023 BMW R18 Roctane

Ergonomically, the R18 Roctane seems to hit the best of all worlds. The updated seat unit works a treat on the rear end, while the newly positioned, higher bars are easy to reach for the shorter rider. Yet even so, according to fellow riders the Roctane still remains comfortable for the taller riders among us.

On the flipside, it would be nice to see to some improvements in terms of componantry; the brakes don’t offer us much stopping power as I’d like, and as a whole it still isn’t quite the perfect package, as the side-stand is hard work and the suspension is still very much on the firmer side when bumps are thrown into the mix.

The same story goes for the technology too, as although BMW are quick to express that the R18 Roctane needs to be a raw and bare beast, the fact that you need to pay a fee for luxuries such as heated grips is a hard sell… especially when you consider the £21,750 price tag.

 

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Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

In terms of comfort, the R18 Roctane hits a really balance of a relaxed riding position, with an impressive level of comfort thrown in. The new, upright handlebar position works a treat for feel and control while being at good level for riders of all heights, while the comfort offered from the new seat unit is improved. Sure, after a few hours it starts to get slightly hard, but it does a grand job, especially compared to the standard model.

But the most impressive improvement comes in the form of the actual quality of riding. Although it may seem relatively small on the surface, the Roctane comes equipped with a 21” front and 18” rear wheel, rather than the usual 19” front and 16“ rear on the other models within the range.

In turn, this means that the head angle has been altered slightly from 57.3 degrees to 55.3 degrees too, which has given the Roctane far more stature not only in its cornering stability, but also in terms of its ground clearance.

BMW R18 Roctane reviewed by MCN

These changes mean the Roctane’s ability to corner far surpasses that of the previous R18s, which had a sense of vagueness about their front end feel in comparison. It drops far more confidently into corners and it actually offers a decent amount of ground clearance too, which makes a huge different on wide, sweeping roads.

On the flipside, this means that you can ride the Roctane in a more spirited manner than you could with the other iterations, and the only thing left to be desired comes in the form of braking power. As with a lot of other machines in this sector, the front brake offers very little in terms of both general lever feel and actual bite. Sure, they do a ample enough job on the standard R18, but you can feel it a bit more from that additional 29kg that the Roctane carries.

It's worth noting that the suspension offers an impressive amount of feedback that inspires bucket-loads of confidence, but it does feel fairly solid when the road surface is anything other than perfect. The Roctane is a hefty beast, and it isn’t a big fan of bumps.

BMW R18 Roctane cornering

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The real jewel in the R18’s crown undoubtedly comes in the form of its 1802cc boxer engine. As we touched on so many times with the previous generations, the 89bhp and 117ft lbs of performance offers an incredibly engaging riding experience, with the pounding motor just oozing a historic sense of quality.

The Roctane produces peak torque at just 3000rpm and in turn it feels like there’s a waterfall of punch available from the very first twist of the throttle, which makes using the motor a truly exhilarating and addictive experience. This is especially evident when using the ‘Rock’ riding mode that gives the most direct throttle response with the least amount of Automatic Stability Control engaged, unleashing the might of that monstrous boxer engine. It’s a boxer by name, and it’s a boxer by nature by the way it punches out corners.

Perhaps the only slight niggle comes in the form of neutral being sensitive to select, but it is by no means something that would put me off if I had my heart set on the Bavarian beast.

BMW R18 Roctane engine

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

If there’s one thing to note about the R18 Roctane (and with all R18s in fact) it has to be the incredible attention to detail and the impeccable build quality of the machine.

Everything has been well thought out and is finished to an impeccable standard, from the welds on the chassis to the usage and integration of the panniers.

In terms of reliability, the R18 range has an incredible reputation among owners and has done little wrong since its release back in 2020.

BMW R18 Roctane from above

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

In terms of value, the R18 Roctane does hit a stumbling block with an RRP of £21,750 (or £22,685 in the Manhattan metallic matt colour scheme that we tested, with heated grips, hill start control and tyre pressure control).

To put that into perspective, a Harley-Davidson Sport Glide equipped with panniers starts at £17,895.

The Indian Chief Dark Horse comes in at £18,204.56 with a set of saddlebags (albeit not hard luggage), and you can find out whether we prefer that or the Roctane in our bagger twin test.

BMW R18 Roctane front on the road

Equipment

2 out of 5 (2/5)

Like with other models in the R18 range, the Roctane has learnt a little from the lack of equipment on the R18 and BMW R18 First Edition, but if you’re hoping to be laden with a host of clever tech, you’re going to be disappointed.

To BMW’s credit, you do get cruise control as standard but additional features such as Heated Grips, Hill Start Control and Reverse are all costly additional extras, which is a bitter pill to swallow on a machine that’s already £21,750.

You get three rider modes as standard that all offer a notably different riding experience, and each have their place on the Roctane.

BMW R18 Roctane panniers

The switchgear makes changing modes and settings a doddle but even after two days in the saddle I did find myself having to look for the indicator switch as it’s easy to catch the horn instead too, and if you opt for the heated grips, the button is just above the ‘Off’ button but in the same shape which can be slightly confusing.

As standard, the Roctane comes equipped with a fairly simple instrument clutter that only shows one piece of information at a time, and doesn’t have a fuel gauge which is a frustration on long journeys. It’s also worth noting that if you’re a smaller rider (I’m 5”7) then the dash is at a fairly steep angle, which makes it fairly difficult to read in glaring sunlight.

It’s also worth noting that although it has keyless ignition, you still need to use the key in order to open the panniers or set the steering lock.

BMW R18 Roctane dash

Specs

Engine size 1802cc
Engine type Air/water-cooled 2-cylinder 4-stroke boxer engine
Frame type Steel double-loop tube frame
Fuel capacity 16 litres
Seat height 720mm
Bike weight 374kg
Front suspension 49mm telescopic fixed forks
Rear suspension Cantilever
Front brake 2 x 300mm discs with four piston fixed calipers
Rear brake 300mm disc with four piston fixed caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 B 21
Rear tyre size 180/55 B 18

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 50.9 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost -
New price £21,750
Used price £16,900 - £18,200
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 91 bhp
Max torque 116.5 ft-lb
Top speed 110 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 179 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

New model introduced in 2023.

Other versions

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