German motorcycle builder Dirk Oehlerking has turned the BMW R18 into a stunning one-off called The Crown to celebrate the firm’s 100th birthday. While this isn’t his first R18-based build (one of his earlier creations even featured kidney grilles), it’s one of the most distinctive.
“It’s the essence of my creations to date,” Oehlerking said. That’s a strong statement coming from a highly respected customizer with over 30 years of experience. Drawing inspiration from what he labels as “industrial culture,” he gave the big bike a completely new design that’s as head-turning as it is aerodynamic. The Crown features fairing made of aluminum sheetmetal, a redesigned front suspension system with a double-sided swing arm and a central strut that completely changes the R18’s proportions, and Champagne Platinum paint.
Surprisingly, many of the components under the sheetmetal come from the R18 parts bin. Oehlerking kept the regular production bike’s rear suspension system, headlight, instrument cluster, and switches, among other parts. The rider sits on a new-look leather-upholstered saddle.
Oehlerking kept the drivetrain stock as well, so power comes from BMW’s Big Boxer air-cooled flat-twin engine. It’s a 1.8-liter unit that develops 91 horsepower and 116 pound-feet of torque, figures that make it the most powerful flat-twin the German brand has ever built. The engine sips fuel from a custom-made aluminum fuel tank, exhales through a hand-made exhaust system, and spins the rear wheel via a metal driveshaft rather than a chain or a belt. BMW’s first motorcycle, the R32 released in 1923, was fitted with a driveshaft as well.
“I started with a new BMW R18 which I then stripped down. As always, I worked with hard foam and cardboard to create the shape, the lines, and the design. The aim was for it to look powerful, elegant, and fast combined with an innovative look,” Oehlerking summed up.
Nothing suggests The Crown is headed to production, so you’ll need to make Oehlerking an offer he can’t refuse to add it to your collection.