BMW Dragster R 18 by Roland Sands Design

 BMW Dragster R 18 by Roland Sands Design

We have been talking about multiple collaborations and partnerships in the motorcycle world.

Now we do see another crucial partnership between BMW and Roland Sands Design to build the BMW Dragster R 18.

In the past, Roland Sands and BMW together had built various customs, and this is one advantage which has build trust. 

However, Roland now gets an exclusive opportunity to build something from the BMW 1802 cc two-cylinder engine.

Of course the boxer 1802 cc engine is one of the highest displacement boxer engine made by BMW.

Making of the Dragster

When BMW Folks requested to build something’ Dragster’ was the first word uttered by Roland.

And we never doubted the result looking at the past builds from Roland.  

As he has gained trust, confidence and authority to build some fresh builds like recently, he had made custom Superleggera which was stripped to naked and then we also saw this on the bike on the track.

With his long list of achievements last year, we were also lucky enough to talk to Roland.

Coming back to BMW Dragster. Roland’s objective was to strip down and build the drag bike to carry essential components necessary for going fast on a drag strip.

Racing DNA

The racing DNA comes from Roland’s father, Perry, so it’s a homegrown inspiration.

The BMW R 18 is the brand’s first series-production bike for the cruiser segment.

This model stands entirely in the tradition like no other BMW motorcycle before. Similar to old BMW motorcycles – both design and technology.

Based on a well know models like the BMW R 5 plus gets the focus on the essentials of motorcycle for the purists and centre gets the boxer for all the riding contentment.

Since 1923 the Big Boxer continues to be one of the most critical engines in BMWs arsenal and has helped riders to feel the riding pleasure.

As with all of our builds, Roland starts by sketching his idea. Sketching allows him to figure out the basics of shape and stance, as well as what the geometry of the bike could look. 

“In the end, the real magic happens when we bring the sketch to life,” Roland explains.

The very cool thing about the new R 18 is it’s a highly customizable design. It features an easily removable rear frame and simple-to-dismantle painted parts set. 

Degree of Freedom

This design allows the customer a high degree of freedom for quickly converting the back end of the new R 18 to suit personal preferences.

 For the R 18 Dragster, we retained the stock neck geometry of the R 18, but removed and modified the bike’s rear end and turned it into a drag racer. 

The bike retains all of the original sheet metal with slight modifications to the front and rear fenders for aerodynamics and to accept the massive rear drag slick. 

The electronics were the most challenging task we had to deal with as since we added nitrous, stripped the stock exhaust, and changed the intake drastically. 

It was an experiment, but we dialled it in! Every bike needs different sources depending on the build, unique materials, or parts.

Each new bike concept is a bit of a learning process even after having built over 200 bikes. 

We always want to understand the genre of the bike we are creating in; it’s the key to keeping it authentic and functional. The whole customizing process for the R 18 Dragster took about three and a half months.

 Aside from just building a custom Drag Bike for BMW, we also created two different design collections of milled aluminium parts for the launch of the R 18 Cruiser: “Machined” and “2-Tone-Black”. 


The “Machined” and “2-Tone- Black” ranges include front and rear wheels available in different dimensions than the standard sizes.

Besides, the scope of these exclusive milled parts includes handlebar clamps, speedometer housings, handlebar grips, risers, mirrors and hand levers, as well as engine housing trim elements, filler caps, intake silencer covers and much more. 

On the R 18 Dragster, we used the milled parts design collection “2-Tone-Black” to customize levers, wheels, valve covers, breastplate, headlight, and gauges. 

The front end was taken from the BMW S 1000 RR, while the seat and exhaust created from scratch.

 The final product is impressive and characterized by a high level of craftsmanship. Right from the beginning, the platform lent itself to creativity, and Roland couldn’t wait to get customizing!

 The R 18 Dragster custom bike in detail

  • The frame has wholly modified, removing the rear
  • Suspension for drag racing.
  • Front and rear fenders are slightly modified utilizing the stock sheet metal parts to keep the classic R 18 silhouette.
  • The headlight has been taken from the original R 18 and is highlighted with the headlight bezel from the design collection of milled aluminium parts.
  • The standard exhaust has replaced with a hand fabricated.
  • Stainless Steel twin megaphone system utilizing the exhaust tips from the milled aluminium parts.
  • The hydraulic front brake and clutch master cylinders are from Roland Sands Design.
  • The tank has taken over from the original R 18.
  • The paint finish is a two-tone metallic blue with classic white BMW pinstripes.

By Roland’s long time painter Chris Wood.

  • The fork has taken from the BMW R nineT.
  • The front braking system comes from the S 1000 RR Superbike.
  • The seat has been built from scratch and is an RSD custom seat by Saddlemen.


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Akash Dolas

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