In 2020, BMW’s motorcycle-building division began working with independent designers to prove that its R 18 is an ideal starting point for a one-off build. Roland Sands notably transformed the bike into a dragster created to go flat-out. Kingston Custom took it in a completely different direction by building a model it calls Spirit of Passion.
Based in Germany, the shop added parts to the R 18 instead of stripping it down, which is the path builders often take. It installed a full front fairing with tall kidney grilles that have a 1930s vibe and a hole for the headlight to shine through. Out back, the rear wheel is surrounded by a two-piece fairing with a small round light mounted on a fin. All of the extra panels are made by hand, and they’re painted black with white accents to match the bike.
The end result is a fascinating motorcycle that blurs the line between a work of art and a mode of transportation. On one hand, the fairing puts an almost art deco-like spin on the racing motorcycles built during the first half of the 20th century. On the other hand, there’s a futuristic side to the design. It looks like it belongs in a movie.
Kingston’s attention to detail didn’t stop at the fairing. It customized the handlebar, modified the exhaust system, and replaced the saddle with one it designed in-house. It also put Kellerman turn signals on the handlebar, and it mounted a small windshield on the top of the fairing. It made no major mechanical changes, however.
“The BMW R18 is so perfect that I left the technology as-is. The frame is 100% original, and it’s so sophisticated that nothing should be changed here,” explained Kingston Custom founder Dirk Oehlerking.
Power comes from BMW’s vaunted Big Boxer, which is the most powerful flat-twin engine it has ever built. It’s a 1.8-liter unit that makes 91 horsepower and 116 pound-feet of torque in its basic configuration. It’s air-cooled, and some of its external parts are shaped to echo the company’s past twins. Most modern motorcycles are fitted with a chain or a belt, but the Big Boxer spins the rear wheel via an external driveshaft.
Nothing suggests the Spirit of Passion will be added to the BMW motorcycle range, either as a regular-production or as a limited-edition model. It’s a one-off, so if you want it, you’ll need to talk Kingston Custom into selling it. We don’t know how much the build cost, but remember that the standard R 18 starts at $17,495.