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This wild, custom BMW R18 B 'Heavy Duty' bike has air suspension

Yeah, you’ve seen hundreds of café-ready customs; how about one for upstaging choppers?

Published: 14 Mar 2023

When we say ‘modified motorbike’, what does your mind immediately conjure up? Some kind of featherweight café racer, perhaps a stripped-down scrambler, or maybe even something that pays homage to the frippery-free flat-trackers of old? Well, welcome to the other side of that coin. 

The BMW ‘R18 B Heavy Duty’ harks back to an age where motorbike customisation wasn’t so much a case of removing everything that’s not entirely essential to utility and legality, but rather a rolling platform onto which evermore outré and overt shapes and shades could be built. 

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And it’s been a good while since we’ve seen anything quite so outre and overt as Kodlin Bikes’ creation. It could be the teal paintwork, the psychedelic ripple that runs through it, or the fact that it’s painted on a bike that’s been chopped like a Julienned carrot; in any case, it couldn’t ask for attention any more if it stood up and said ‘like and subscribe’. 

As befits a true cruiser-to-chopper conversion, the seat height is getting on for kid-friendly. To achieve the lowrider seat (yes, we have entered that in the office ‘Pun of the Year’ competition), father-son team Fred and Len Kodlin cut and remade the top frame rails, allowing space for that massive fuel tank but also requiring a rethink (and redo) of the steering head (i.e. the bit that the handlebars attach to) and triple clamp (the bit that clamps onto the forks). Apparently, this means the bike “rides well”, which presumably means it rivals a La-Z-Boy for comfort and only requires a Harley-sized turning circle. 

Because you’d really not want to scratch those gigantic fibreglass rear panniers (also called side cases, if you must) which feel like they’d rival a Yaris for storage space. However, secreted behind the left pannier is a compressor, which inflates the... air suspension. Oh yes. If you looked at these pictures and couldn’t get past the fact that the ride height is just enough to maroon yourself on a speed bump, you can rest easy. 

And taking things easy really does seem to be the Heavy Duty’s metier. While it can do zero to 60 in about the time it takes to say, “OK, Boomer”, you get the feeling that it’s meant for a more relaxing experience. There’s a proper stereo, with speakers in the front fairing and another pair (with an amplifier) in the panniers, while the seating position splits the difference between Business Class and a GI Joe figurine. And, as per the R18 B donor bike, there’s cruise control with distance control and a reverse gear.

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Because this is the other side of bike modification. One that doesn’t think perfection is found when there’s nothing left to take away; rather that a bike is merely an iron canvas to paint your own persona. And with that in mind, they’re not exactly shrinking violets over at the Kodlins, are they?

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