BMW Motorrad presents Shinya Kimura’s custom R 18


In a recent press release, BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle division of the German automotive brand, shared a unique, different, and yet completely BMW R 18 dubbed “The Wal.”


  • What are the features of Kimura's R 18?

    Kimura's R 18 features a custom handlebar, fuel tank, saddle, fairings, and a special paint finish.
  • What is BMW Motorrad's SoulFuel series?

    It is a collaboration between BMW Motorrad and selected customizers.
  • The custom bike is the creation of Shinya Kimura, a Japanese custom motorcycle builder.


    Kimura is the third builder to transform the BMW R 18 after Roland Sands and Dirk Oehlerking for the marque’s “SoulFuel” series — a collaborative initiative between BMW Motorrad and selected custom bike builders.

    “The basis is the R 18, powered by the latest and greatest engine I have ever worked on. It all started with a visit to the BMW Motorrad R 18 development team in Germany. I got to know the unbounded passion and innovative power that prevails at BMW Motorrad. Finally, in February 2021 in California, I rode the standard R 18 for a few hundred kilometers to get to know the character of the bike. Following a whole series of conversations, this eventually led to my personal interpretation of the R 18, in which I applied the entire range of my activities as a customizer,” said Kimura as he recounted the initial phase of building ‘The Wal.’

    Kimura mainly worked on older bikes but has recently shifted his focus to projects involving modern motorcycles.


    “I built the R 18 entirely for myself,” Kimura explained.

    “When I rode the production R 18, I thought it might suit my build and riding preferences better if I designed it to be a little more front-facing with a fairing. I decided to adopt the frame, wheels, and tires as well as suspension elements and brakes because I didn't feel the need to change them after I had ridden the bike. I also wanted to be able to ride for long distances with my R 18 while feeling and enjoying the legendary boxer engine. It was very important to me to preserve the two characters of the R 18 as I experienced them when riding. Thanks to its mighty engine, the bike is wild and has almost inexhaustible power on the one hand, yet it is completely good-natured on the other. Just like a whale, hence the German animal name for this R 18, which for me is something like a ‘Sports Endurancer’,” he added.

    Kimura’s R 18 features a larger and completely differently designed fuel tank compared to the original; an elongated, harmoniously rounded seat hump; and a half-shell fairing.

    It boasts a semi-shell fairing that houses two asymmetrically arranged headlights that not only complement its custom handlebars but also give the impression of being the bike’s eyes. Incorporated underneath the headlights are a set of teeth that give the R 18 a menacing look.

    The Japanese custom builder also finished The Wal with a coarsely textured paintwork to match the bike’s theme: powerful, mighty, but always good-natured.

    “I also moved the footrests back about two inches to have more flexibility for positioning the legs. At the same time, I lowered the handlebars and changed the seat to my liking. The seat cushion was also designed by me and then handmade by Backdrop Leathers in Japan. It all added up to the very natural posture that I like,” continued Kimura.


    “What I like best about my version of the R 18 is that I was able to change the style and seating position to my liking without destroying the excellent original functionality of the R 18. But drastically changing the seating position and adding my own style and the taste was a big challenge in my interpretation of the BMW Heritage. Besides, all these computerized systems and wiring were quite new to me and I learned a lot,” Kimura said, pleased with his craftsmanship.

    Photos from BMW Motorrad

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