BMW R 12 cruiser images emerge

Images of the BMW R 12 cruiser have emerged for the first time after the bike was homologated in Australia, showing similarities with the R 18

R18 Cruiser

The first image of the upcoming BMW R 12 cruiser motorcycle have emerged, following a homologation process for the bike in Australia.

The image, published by Motorrad, gives us our first look at the cruiser which is billed (not by BMW themselves, who have yet to officially confirm this model’s existence) as the smaller sibling of the established BMW R 18 cruiser.

Despite its relatively poor quality, the image shows that BMW has retained the shape of the rear of the R 18 for the R 12, while the handlebars take a flatter shape than is expected of a cruiser.

However, the R 12 takes many cues from the definitive cruiser manufacturer: Harley-Davidson, and particularly its smaller models. For example, Motorrad says the R 12 is set to weigh in at 229kg, which puts it 13kg above the lightest of Harley’s models, the Nightster (216kg); while the 19-inch front and 16-inch rear wheels feature tyres with the same dimensions as the Nightster, Street Bob, and Softail.

Additionally, BMW will use the 1,170cc boxer engine as is found in the existing R 12 NineT scrambler-style naked, producing 95bhp and 81lb ft (110Nm). 

Motorrad also reports that the R 12 will make use of dual front discs operating with ABS and EBV, while the weight will be almost identical to that of the R 12 nineT despite a slightly longer wheelbase for the upcoming cruiser.

We are still awaiting official confirmation from BMW about the existence of the R 12. As such, there is no information regarding its reveal, or when it can be expected to arrive in dealers.

BMW working on smaller R 18 sibling

WE are hearing unconfirmed reports that BMW is working on a smaller version of the R18 powered by the 1170cc R nineT engine.

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The move would seem to make sense to me, after riding the R18 for a couple of weeks. It’s a lovely bike, but for all those cubes, it isn’t the most powerful of motorcycles.

Yes, it’s true that the 1,800cc engine is strangled by Euro emissions regulations, although if you’re designing an engine and you know your going to have to clip its wings in this way, wouldn’t a smaller more efficient engine be more suited?

And that would very much seem to be the case here. The R nineT unit offers the kind of bang-per-buck you could never get from a massive unit like the R18's. It has more power, (110bhp compared to 90bhp) and only around 30lb-ft of torque less than the massive cruiser.

And it’s not as if those numbers are fixed any, as the 1170 unit has already proved widely flexible having previously seen service in the R1200 adventure and touring models of years gone by. It’s feasible to assume that BMW’s team of engineering wizards could wave the magic ECU wand and coax some more low-down torque out of the air/oil-cooled engine.

The use of the smaller engine would bring other benefits too, namely in reducing the size and weight of the machine. The R18 is a big old bike, with length, width, and weight that doesn’t help the bike make the most of the engine. Slotting a smaller, lighter, and more compact engine into a similarly retro frame could turn those numbers on their head, and make the BMW cruiser a real contender in the class.