Motorbike

BMW R 18-based ‘Magnifica’ Custom by Radikal Chopper


Milan’s Radikal Chopper shop gives us this BMW R 18-based stunner, called “Magnifica.” (BMW Motorrad/)

Although BMW began showing custom versions of its R 18 cruiser well before its official launch and we’ve seen plenty of one-off iterations to date, the sole example out of Italy (that we can remember) was the R 18 M at the Verona Motor Bike Expo back in January. But now there’s “Magnifica”—an outrageous, steampunk-ish build that made its debut at the Top Marques show in Monaco earlier this month, courtesy of Milan-based Radikal Chopper. Given the massive footprint and clean lines of the stock Big Boxer from Bavaria, it’s hard to believe this sculptural, lavishly detailed creation even shares the same foundation.

Designed and built mostly by hand, the custom creation draws on visual cues from the bikes of the ’20s and ’30s, using traditional materials like wood and brass as accents.

Designed and built mostly by hand, the custom creation draws on visual cues from the bikes of the ’20s and ’30s, using traditional materials like wood and brass as accents. (BMW Motorrad/)

Featuring insane detailing with handcrafted billet, brass, wood, and aluminum components, the idea for Magnifica came from a brainstorming session between BMW Motorrad Italia and hardcore bike nut Raffaello Polchi, who also happens to be owner of Officine Riunite Milanesi, an exclusive cocktail lounge-slash-workshop in Milan. If you’ve seen the meticulously appointed throwback interior of that place, you’d also know that he happens to be obsessed with old-world craftsmanship and design.

Related: BMW Motorrad Unveils New R 18 M and Aurora Customs

Is that intricate billet aluminum girder front end vintage or modern? Both, says designer Radaelli.

Is that intricate billet aluminum girder front end vintage or modern? Both, says designer Radaelli. (BMW Motorrad/)

Which is probably why Andrea Radaelli, award-winning creative headmaster at the Radikal Chopper shop, was called in to actually design and produce the motorcycle. If Polchi was looking to celebrate the old-school artistry, then Radaelli clearly went above and beyond the call, conjuring up a build that’s almost fantastical. According to Radaelli, “The bike has to be my own creation, I don’t feel like dredging up or modifying a concept already set up and done very well by others.” Mission accomplished on that point, though Radaelli also points to classic bikes of the ‘20s and ‘30s—the BMW R37 in particular—as the inspirations for Magnifica.

The 1.8-liter air-cooled flat-twin engine made it onto the custom build basically unchanged.

The 1.8-liter air-cooled flat-twin engine made it onto the custom build basically unchanged. (BMW Motorrad/)

In keeping with the feel and inspiration of those earlier models, Radaelli even went old-school when penning the design, literally sketching out the bike on paper rather than using CAD or renderings in the early stages of the process. In fact, on Magnifica, almost  everything was thought out and built by hand; the foundation may have been a bone-stock R 18, but aside from the front of the chassis, the swingarm and 1.8-liter engine, very few original parts made it onto the final product.

The R 18’s exterior fuel tank was reshaped and, according to Polchi, now holds two fuel cells underneath, with screw-down caps up top.

The R 18’s exterior fuel tank was reshaped and, according to Polchi, now holds two fuel cells underneath, with screw-down caps up top. (BMW Motorrad/)

Radaelli says he had to rethink the proportions between the front and the rear of the bike to achieve a harmonious flow, but the 1,802cc powerplant was “pretty much” left alone, as were the fully functioning electronics and transmission—though Magnifica does employ a foot clutch and a hand shifter—and even the standard wheel sizes of the stocker were retained.

Fin detailing with brass stripe accents on a front piece lodged between the frame tubes.

Fin detailing with brass stripe accents on a front piece lodged between the frame tubes. (BMW Motorrad/)

But after that, all of Radaelli’s imagination and creativity were brought to bear on Magnifica, with the builder using old-school design and manufacturing techniques. That mindset carries over to the bike’s aesthetics, where you see traditional materials—such as the wood seat and parts of the grips—swapped in as references to motorbikes of the past. The carved, waspish one-piece seat and tail unit uses mahogany on top and a thin supporting stainless steel center section, giving it a jewellike effect as it floats above the rear wheel.

A bespoke speedometer perched on the handlebar hovers above the lavishly detailed console, and is the sole instrumentation.

A bespoke speedometer perched on the handlebar hovers above the lavishly detailed console, and is the sole instrumentation. (BMW Motorrad/)

The beautifully curved billet fork, too, may look like it’s straight off a vintage bike, but it’s built from completely modern billet parts (except for the up-to-date internals, of course). In fact, if you dig beneath the otherworldly detailing and handbuilt sections, you’ll find for the most part a technologically modern motorbike, with (most of) the same running gear as the series production R 18.

As gorgeous as Magnifica is, BMW assures us that the bike is a runner, though to be honest, we’re not sure we’d want to experience that wooden seat out on the road.

Magnifica retains the same tire sizes as the stock R 18, though the billet wheels are custom machined.

Magnifica retains the same tire sizes as the stock R 18, though the billet wheels are custom machined. (BMW Motorrad/)

The R 18’s signature open drive shaft also appears on Magnifica, putting power down to a rear wheel wrapped in Michelin rubber.

The R 18’s signature open drive shaft also appears on Magnifica, putting power down to a rear wheel wrapped in Michelin rubber. (BMW Motorrad/)

That mahogany seat appears to float thanks to the stainless steel center section. Comfort probably takes a back seat in this case.

That mahogany seat appears to float thanks to the stainless steel center section. Comfort probably takes a back seat in this case. (BMW Motorrad/)

From above, you get a better idea of the level of details and craftsmanship. The flat-twin engine still manages to dominate though.

From above, you get a better idea of the level of details and craftsmanship. The flat-twin engine still manages to dominate though. (BMW Motorrad/)

Unique monoshock rear arrangement is another eye-catching detail.

Unique monoshock rear arrangement is another eye-catching detail. (BMW Motorrad/)

The only pieces to use modern manufacturing techniques are the wheels, which are machined from billet (though from a Radikal Chopper design). Even the brake discs and calipers were specially created.

The only pieces to use modern manufacturing techniques are the wheels, which are machined from billet (though from a Radikal Chopper design). Even the brake discs and calipers were specially created. (BMW Motorrad/)

Yup, those grips are custom-made too.

Yup, those grips are custom-made too. (BMW Motorrad/)

Radikal branding and screw-down cap details on the center console.

Radikal branding and screw-down cap details on the center console. (BMW Motorrad/)


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