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BMW’s latest custom R 18 is a big wheel bagger inspired by hot rods

Paul Yaffe’s Bagger Nation took inspiration from 1950s lead sleds to build this custom bike

Published: 19 Jan 2024

BMW Motorrad is no stranger to custom bikes. In fact, ever since it launched the R 18 cruiser in 2020 it has been sending them out to bike builders and fabricators for them to have a play. Heck, check out these seven Motorrad Poland projects from back in 2022.

And the latest build is one that we felt needed some attention too. It was put together by Paul Yaffe and his company Bagger Nation, and we’re told that the inspiration was classic hot rods and – rather specifically – 1950s Mercury lead sleds. Very cool.

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Apparently, Paul rode 3,800 miles across the USA just to get to know the standard R 18 Transcontinental, and he then set about turning it into a big wheel bagger using as many BMW parts as possible. That front wheel is actually 26-inches and was specially commissioned and fitted with a handmade 180mm wide front tyre. The frame had to be stretched and raked to fit, new fenders were created and the original fairing was chopped and reshaped to get that wild raked look. There’s a new bit of bodywork just up ahead of the twin-cylinder four-stroke boxer engine too, plus rearranged taillights in new handmade panels and stretched side covers that flow into the bags.

To properly pay tribute to modified lead sleds, Yaffe also fitted air suspension and a side-exit exhaust with the catalytic converters removed for maximum noise. Is this big wheel BMW giving you hot rod vibes?

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