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Morgan & Wacker BMW

R18 Roctane Review: How does it perform?


Review: The R18 Roctane HL cuts an impressive figure, but how does it ride?

R18 Roctane

The Bike

The R18 Roctane HL is BMW's fifth iteration of the R18, and the second one I have had the pleasure of riding. Back in August 2023, I rode the R18B which feels like a completely different motorcycle despite sharing the exact same engine. So what's different?

The Roctane is much more classic in its styling compared to the R18B, without all the bells and whistles of a large TFT display with stereo system, front fairing and windscreen, heated seat other luxuries. This results in a 30Kg weight saving which is definitely noticeable whilst riding. Distinguished by its sleek blackout finish, a larger 21-inch front wheel, mini apehanger bars, and robust hard-shell bagger luggage, it is best described as sitting between the R18 Standard and R18B as a non-fairing Bagger.

Drawing inspiration from the iconic 1936 R5, the Roctane pays homage to its heritage with a meticulously crafted instrument cluster seamlessly integrated into the apex of the the headlight. It features a classic analogue speedometer with an inset multifunctional digital display. Within the confines of the unassuming display, you still have access to information you would expect on a modern motorcycle such as rpm, trip meters, fuel economy, tyre pressure monitoring, 3 riding modes (Rock, Roll, Rain) and a digital speedometer. What is surprising however, is the lack of a fuel gauge to indicate how much fuel you have remaining, instead only a fuel warning light. Overall the simple and unadoring display works, I would just like to know how much fuel I have remaining.



The Trip

In order to put the Roctane through its paces, a longer road trip was in order. With sunny skies and the day to enjoy, I decided to ride to Kilcoy with a detour through the mountains, a 356 km round trip. I left Brisbane for the twists and turns of Mount Nebo and Mount Glorious, a beautiful natural mountain range which offers great riding roads and scenery, and a great place to stop for coffee. This provided the opportunity to test out the difference between Rock and Roll riding modes. Each mode regulates the throttle response, traction control and ABS system, whilst still giving the rider access to the bikes power requiring more throttle to get it.

First though, I had to navigate through the city streets of Brisbane and the constant traffic lights. As with the R18 Bagger, the massive 1802cc Boxer engine pulsates from side to side with a deep growl whilst stationery at lights. As such, you want to make sure your feet are planted securely although it was noticeably less off putting than with the Bagger, probably due to the weight difference and distribution.

Despite being a larger, heavier bike, the R18 Roctane was great travelling through the traffic with plenty of power for overtaking and nimble enough to navigate through stop start traffic. Testing out the Rock and Roll modes, I could see why some people would cruise around in Roll riding mode in the city but personally, I prefer to stay in Rock mode all the time as I found the bike more responsive with no hesitation once you roll on the throttle. I also found that the ride was more smooth with less engine vibration compared to Roll mode.


Once I escaped the hustle and bustle of the city, it was time to test the beast through the turns. It was surprising just how nimble the Roctane was through corners given it's size and weight. Sweeping bends were an absolute blast, and even through tighter turns, the bike felt at ease, particularly uphill corners where the weight of the bike naturally helped with deceleration going into the turns. Perhaps the only downside was in the braking department going down the mountain into tighter turns.

The R18 Roctane, just like other R18 models, includes the BMW Motorrad Integral ABS where the hand lever applies braking force to both wheels but the foot pedal applies braking force only to the rear wheel. With the weight and size of the bike, I found that I needed to apply more pressure than I would normally have to, even with the large dual front discs, in order to slow the Roctane beast down sufficiently going into tight corners when travelling downhill.


After grabbing a quick coffee at Mount Glorious Café, as is tradition, it was time to continue on my road trip heading north on Wivenhoe-Somerset Road past Somerset Dam before turning right onto the D'Aguilar Highway, heading west to Kilcoy. Cruising at highway speeds, the R18 is in its element. Overtaking was a breeze with plenty of torque at your disposal. The handling of the Roctane was a standout, with all the weight of the Roctane translating into a stable and comfortable ride.

BMW has done a remarkable job ensuring a top-notch experience with the non-adjustable setup. Unlike some cruisers where the suspension feels like an afterthought, the R18 bucks that trend. Whether cruising along major highways or tackling fast, sweeping turns, the ride remains plush yet impressively stable, even at high speeds. It's only when encountering rough backroads or sizable potholes in urban areas that any discomfort becomes noticeable. Even without any fairing or screen for wind protection, the R18 Roctane is comfortable travelling at highway speeds. The Roctane also came with cruise control which was easy to use and provides a nice relief to your wrist on longer rides along major highways with long straight stretches.

With 177kms now behind me, I arrived at Kilcoy for lunch. Despite being about 3 hours into the ride, the saddle still felt really plush with no noticeable discomfort. I arrived at Kilcoy Pub for lunch in amongst a group of Harley riders and it was interesting to note that a number of the riders commented on how good the Roctane looked.


The original plan was to return home via Woodford and Mount Mee but the rain gods had other plans. A short distance out of Kilcoy it became apparent that there was a massive rain cloud ahead and I decided to return the way I came to keep ahead of the clouds and as dry as possible.

On my way home, I couldn't resist going back up through the mountains one last time. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to avoid the rain, the weather decided to turn nasty as the rain and mist set in as I was heading up the mountain. Not to be too disappointed, I had to look at the silver lining. This gave the perfect opportunity to test out the Rain mode.

Rain mode made a noticeable difference to how the power was delivered of the bike. Twisting the throttle delivered a much smoother, dialled back response providing extra confidence in the wet conditions. This was further enhanced by the tyres that come standard with the bike, Metzeler Marathon Ultra tyres. These tyres performed great during the ride, in all conditions.

As mentioned, personally I was happy to ride around in Rock in dry conditions and switch to Rain when it rained. I couldn't see myself cruising around in Roll mode.

R18 Roctane


As mentioned, my first experience of the R18 line-up was riding the R18B Bagger, one of the larger models in the range with all the luxury comforts you can expect including a large windscreen, TFT display, speakers, heated seat, Bluetooth connectivity and so much more. The R18 Roctane is much more classic in its offerings and personally I think this gives a more authentic, raw and enjoyable riding experience.

The inclusion of apehanger bars, bagger luggage, and larger-diameter wheels elevates the R18 Roctane to new heights, offering improved long-distance comfort and enhanced cornering prowess. But beyond mere functionality, there's an undeniable charisma to this motorcycle that transcends words and visuals. It's a machine that demands to be experienced firsthand, leaving an indelible mark on both rider and landscape alike. In the realm of cruising coolness, the R18 Roctane stands as a true icon, representing the pinnacle of BMW's heritage and innovation.



Power is delivered by a air/oil cooled twin-cylinder four-stroke boxer engine with two chain-driven camshafts above the crank shaft.

1802 cc









374kg with fuel



r18 Roctane Engine


r18 Roctane Black Storm MetallicBlack Storm Metallic
R18 Mineral Grey Metallic MattMineral Grey Metallic Matt
r18 Roctane Manhattan Metallic MattManhattan Metallic Matt