BMW R 18 Maintenance Schedule and Service Intervals

This is the maintenance schedule for the BMW R 18, BMW’s new cruiser launched for the 2020 model year.

It is also the maintenance schedule for the variants of the BMW R 18 line:

  • BMW R 18 Classic – windshield, lockable fuel cap, headlight pro, hill start, heated grips. Classic Deluxe gives floorboards, and a reverse gear
  • BMW R 18 B (2021+) – cruise control, touring windshield, luggage, TFT display
  • BMW R 18 Transcontinental (2021+) – cruise control, touring windshield, luggage, top box, TFT display
  • BMW R 18 Roctane (2023+) – a stripped-back bagger with high bars.

The centerpiece of the BMW R 18 is the new, massive 2-cylinder boxer engine, which BMW is calling the “Big Boxer”.

The “Big Boxer” engine is an air/oil-cooled 1802cc two-cylinder 8-valve engine. It makes a peak of 67 kW (91 hp) @ 4,740 rpm with a mild compression ratio of 9.6:1.

But more impressively, the R 18’s engine makes over 150 Nm (over 110 ft-lb) of torque all the way from 2,000 to 4,000 rpm, meaning it has stomping, hard-accelerating pull, and easy burn-outs if you turn off traction control.

Final drive is via a dry clutch, six-speed gearbox, and a shaft drive with an exposed drive shaft.

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BMW R 18 Service Intervals

Maintaining the BMW R 18 is quite like maintaining most other classic air/oil-cooled BMW boxers with shaft drives, like the BMW R nineT. Service intervals for the BMW R 18 are every 6000 miles / 10000 km or annually.

The core of the maintenance for the R 18 is you have to

  • Do a series of basic checks and change the engine oil and oil filter every 6000 miles / 10000 km or annually
  • Change the air filter and and check the valve clearances every 6000 miles or 10000 km, but with no time-based interval. Change the spark plugs every two valve inspections.
  • Change the oil in the bevel gears every 12 000 miles / 20 000 km, and the oil in the transmission every 24 000 miles / 40 000 km, and
  • Regularly change the brake fluid

There’s no coolant fluid to change, luckily.

The regular valve inspections are a bit of a downer on a big, modern cruiser, especially when motorcycles like Harley-Davidson cruisers have no regular valve inspections due to having self-adjusting hydraulic lifters.

But luckily, valve clearance inspections and adjustments on the Big Boxer motor are very easy. The cylinder heads are easy to access, and the adjustments are via screw and lock nut. The whole operation can be done in under half an hour.

What you need to service the BMW R 18

Servicing your R 18 is just like servicing your other giant boxer twin bike! OK, it’s not the same, and you need some unique maintenance parts and tools.

Here’s what you need to service your R 18.

PartBMW R 18 spec
Engine oilSAE 15W-50, API SJ/JASO M2. BMW recommends BMW Advantec Pro 15W-50.
Oil filterPart number for the oil filter is  11 42 7 673 541. You’ll need an oil filter wrench.
Air filterPart number is 13 71 8 411 061.
Brake fluidUse BMW DOT 4 brake fluid.
Hypoid axle oil (rear wheel)SAE 70W-80 / hypoid axle oil G3. BMW part number is 83 22 2 460 128.
Spark plugNGK MAR8AI-10DS. BMW part number is  12 12 8 396 344.
Keyless key batteryCR2032 (it’s annoying when these go flat)
Battery spec12V 26Ah absorbent glass mat
BMW R 18 part spec

Maintenance schedule for the BMW R 18

The maintenance schedule table is below. It’s adapted from the manual’s table to make it easier to read.

Follow the earlier of the time- or distance-based intervals. For example, change the oil every 6000 miles / 10000 km or year, whichever is earlier.

Note — in original manuals for the BMW R 18, BMW didn’t recommend the standard service checklist to be done on a distance and time interval. They added the distance interval in recent years. However, it is still a good idea and a fairly simple list of things to check over.

‘000 km0.5-1210203040
‘000 miles0.3-0.756121824Every
BMW running-in check (including oil change)
Normally performed by dealer
BMW standard service checklist (see below)Year
Change engine oil and filterYear
Replace air filter insert
Check valve clearance
Replace all spark plugs
Change oil in rear bevel gears2 years
Change transmission oilAfter 1 year, then every 2 years
Change brake fluid in the entire systemAfter 1 year, then every 2 years
Maintenance schedule for the BMW R 18

BMW Standard Service Checklist (R 18)

The “standard scope of service” (i.e. the standard annual service) is below.

Items marked [D] are those normally done by dealers, unless you have the tools.

BMW R 18 – Standard service checklist / annual service
[D] Perform vehicle test using the BMW Motorrad diagnostic system
Visually inspect the clutch system
Check steering-head bearing
Visually inspect the brake lines, brake hoses, and connections
Check the front brake pads and brake discs for wear
Check the front wheel brake fluid level
Check the rear brake pads and brake disc for wear
Check the rear wheel brake fluid level
Drain the oil condensate hose
Check the tire pressure and tread depth
Check side stand for ease of movement
Check the spoke tension and tighten as needed
Check the lighting and signalling system
Check function of engine starting suppression
Check charging state of battery
Perform final inspection and road safety check
[D] Set the service date and remaining distance using the BMW Motorrad diagnostic system
[D] Confirm the BMW service in the vehicle literature
Standard annual service — BMW R 18

Wheels and Tires on the BMW R 18

The different variants of the BMW R 18 have different wheels and tires.

Base model / Classic

The BMW R 18 base model and classic has spoked wheels and tubed tires. Standard it’s issued with either

  • Bridgestone Battlecruise H50F Tubeless tires
  • Michelin Commander 3 Touring Tubeless/Tube type tires

The rims are tubeless types, and even some tires are tubeless type, but they’re fitted with inner tubes.

WheelTyre sizeTyre pressures (cold)
Front120/70 R19 (54)36 psi (2.5 bar)
Back180/65 B16 (73)42 psi (2.9 bar)
BMW R 18 recommended tire sizes and tire pressures

R 18 B / Transcontinental

The BMW R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental has cast wheels.

WheelTyre sizeTyre pressures (cold)
Front120/70 R 192.9 bar / 42 psi
Back180/65 B 163.2 bar / 46 psi
BMW R 18 B / Transcontinental recommended tire sizes and tire pressures


The BMW R 18 Roctane has a larger 21-inch front wheel and 18-inch rear tire.

WheelTyre sizeTyre pressures (cold)
Front120/70 B 21TBD
Back180/55 B 18TBD
BMW R 18 Roctane tire size / recommended pressure

The tire pressures for the R 18 Roctane will be updated once the motorcycle’s manual is released.

About the BMW R 18

BMW R 18 riding position
BMW R 18 – riding position

The BMW R 18 is BMW’s re-entry into the cruiser market after abandoning it a while ago — the last model being the BMW R 1200 C (which now has a modern equivalent in the BMW R 12 middleweight cruiser).

That bike is now a fan favourite (well among some people) despite being quite low powered for its weight.

The R 18 has a bigger claim to fame though — it houses the biggest boxer engine that BMW has ever made.

The 1802cc 8-valve boxer twin is old-school in nature. It’s air/oil-cooled, which is something BMW stopped using in its top-end bikes in 2013 — the BMW R 1200 GS, for example, has been liquid-cooled since that year. Only the other “heritage” motorcycle, the R nineT, is still air-cooled.

There is also a distinct lack of tech on the engine. The suspension is deliberately not electronically adjustable. And while there is ABS, stability control, and riding modes, cruise control was originally optional (standard on the higher-end Bagger/Transcontinental), and cornering ABS isn’t available.

The BMW R 18 is marketed as a “cruiser”. Its engine is cruiser style — torque-forward and low-revving, encouraging (well, requiring) short-shifting.

The R 18 also lacks the cornering clearance of standard bikes or sport bikes, so it won’t let you lean too hard without scraping floorboards — this is common on cruisers.

But the BMW R 18 lacks some things you might expect on cruisers. Firstly, the floorboards aren’t very far forward, as the cylinder heads stop you from stretching your legs out.

Secondly, the R 18 is inevitably refined, in contrast with large capacity cruisers from most manufacturers, including non-Harley Davidson ones, like the similar-displacement Suzuki M109R.

2021 Updates to the BMW R 18 (New models)

In mid-2021, BMW released two new versions of the R 18 — the R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental.

Here are the new features that the BMW R 18 Transcontinental and BMW R 18 B get on top of the standard BMW R 18:

FeatureBMW R 18 TranscontinentalBMW R 18 B
10.25 inch TFT colour displayYY
Standard cruise controlYY
Active cruise controlOptionOption
Front fairings with shield(taller)Y
Marshall sound systemYY
Larger 24 litre fuel tankYY
Pannier luggageYY
Top case luggage with back restY
Additional headlampY
Engine guardY
Heated seatsY
Blacked out engineY
Additional BMW R 18 Transcontinental and R 18 B features

None of these impacts the maintenance schedule.

BMW also released some new paint schemes and options for the R 18 but nothing changed mechanically.

BMW R nineT 2022 colours
BMW R 18 in Manhattan metallic matt, Mars Red metallic, and Option 719 paint finish Galaxy Dust metallic/Titanium Silver 2 metallic

Aside from releasing the new models, BMW also slightly updated the maintenance schedule, as noted above.

BMW also released the R 18 Roctane in mid 2023 (see press release). It’s a stripped back bagger, intended to compete with the likes of the Harley-Davidson Road King Special.

BMW R 18 Roctane RHS studio image
BMW R 18 Roctane

Reference — Manual Screenshots for the BMW R 18

The above maintenance schedule comes from the BMW R 18’s user manual, a screenshot of which is below.

In the original 2020 manual, BMW didn’t prescribe the standard service checklist to be done every distance interval — there was only a time interval. But BMW updated its manual in recent years to prescribe this checklist for distance as well as time.

See checklists below.

The manual for the BMW R 18 (all variants) is available on BMW’s website.

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