MOBILITY/MOTORBIKES: The BMW R 18 converted by Fred Kodlin into the BMW R 18 B HEAVY DUTY
Anyone who talks about the US customizing scene mentions Fred Kodlin almost in the same breath. For more than 40 years, he has dedicated himself to customizing motorcycles, resulting in radically modified creations and even sophisticated new designs. He has been successful with his custom bikes since the 1990s and has regularly won the most important competitions at Daytona Bike Week. It is not without reason that he was the first non-US citizen to be inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame.
For the first time, Fred Kodlin has now joined forces with his son Len to customize a BMW – the BMW R 18 B.
„The R 18 B HEAVY DUTY was a real father-son project. There was a lot of creative input from Len and that also shows that the next generation at Kodlin Bikes is already getting ready,“ says the boss of Kodlin Bikes in Borken happily.
Massive intervention in the chassis technology of the R 18 B. Modified frame and air suspension.
The biggest challenge in customizing this year’s crowd-puller at Daytona Bike Week in Florida was undoubtedly the frame. „We completely remade the upper tubes to lower the flyline and therefore the seat height of the R 18 B. We also redid the steering head and the triple clamps so that the trail fits despite the changed steering angle and the bike rides well accordingly,“ explains Fred Kodlin.
The result was the R 18 B HEAVY DUTY, a bike in the typical Kodlin line. Viewed from the side, the fly line drops sharply from the chopped windshield from the Original BMW Motorrad Accessories program to the rear and finally runs harmoniously into the side cases made by Kodlin himself from fiberglass-reinforced plastic and the low rear end. From the top view, however, the R 18 B HEAVY DUTY impresses with a strong waistline in the seat area and a flowing connection to the side panniers.
Finally, the technical highlight on the chassis side is an air suspension system at the front and rear, supported by a barely visible compressor located behind the left side trunk. This allows the R 18 B HEAVY DUTY to be lowered and raised in a fraction of a second. The function is as useful as it is spectacular: To park, you lower the chassis, place it on hidden support points and thus leave the bike crouching, waiting, just a few centimeters above the asphalt.
Extensive body modifications up to and including winglets.
The Kodlin team also delved no less deeply into the subject of bodywork construction for a good three months. A completely new sheet metal tank was created – longer than the original, flowing in shape and with indentations on the sides. The connection between the tank and the rear frame was also modified. The original cell phone charger compartment, on the other hand, was taken over from the R18B.
Also made from sheet metal was a front spoiler with 3-color underfloor lighting – a feature also widely used in Daytona – and a front fender that fits tightly around the 21-inch front wheel. Finally, Kodlin created a corresponding counterpart for the rear wheel from two R 18 B rear fenders joined together, with tail and turn signal lights integrated in a very discreet manner. The two side covers made of sheet metal, which form a smooth transition to the side cases, are a complete in-house production. Speaking of the side cases, the R 18 B loudspeakers from Marshall are fitted inside, complete with amplifier. Kodlin’s love of detail is also evident in the aluminum milled hinge panels of the cases in the style of the original R 18 B components.
Another design element are the so-called winglets above the cylinders. They, too, are made of metal, but do not fulfill any function in the true sense of the word. Rather, they underscore the design of the R 18 B HEAVY DUTY in this area as well and make it appear unmistakable, especially when viewed from the front. Finally, the formal conclusion of the customizing work is formed by a seat made by Kodlin and an instrument cover with covers made of Alcantara and imitation leather, as well as a specially made handlebar and a self-created exhaust system.
Elaborate paint job by tattoo artist Marcel Sinnwell with ties to 100 years of BMW Motorrad.
Marcel Sinnwell has already painted other Kodlin showbikes in the past, but only rarely and only for very special jobs grabs the paint gun. For example, when he paints yachts or an R 18 B HEAVY DUTY.
For this project, the color gradients were completely airbrushed with translucent paint. The inspiration for this was the mixing of color pigments in the paint and thus the way in which different pigments in the milky basecoat mix together in the form of streaks when first stirred. The result is perfectly suited to Daytona Bike Week, where elaborate and colorful paint jobs are part and parcel of the event.
Additional accents on the R 18 B HEAVY DUTY are set by hand-lined pinstripes and an airbrushed pattern on the rear fender that combines Kodlin and „100 years of BMW Motorrad“. Meanwhile, the brake calipers, shift and foot brake levers and footrests are BMW Motorrad series components that have been color-matched.
BMW R 18 B: The perfect customizing base.
But Fred Kodlin by no means laid hands on all assemblies and parts. For him, a particularly positive surprise: „The screws. They’re all made of stainless steel, with nice Torx heads. We don’t know that from other bikes. In general, the basic bike and especially the engine are very, very cleanly finished. All the electrical lines are already nicely hidden, so we didn’t have to do anything to the engine,“ he explains.
For this reason, numerous R 18 B components were deliberately not replaced, but at most modified. For example, the shortened hand levers and handlebar end weights. Likewise, the engine remained technically completely at the standard level. Only the cylinder head cover, belt cover and intake snorkel were painted in metallic black.
However, the cruise control with distance control, reverse gear and eCall – absolutely unique features of the BMW R 18 B in the Crusier world, where these functions are otherwise not offered by any manufacturer – were adopted unchanged.
The vehicles shown may be modified and equipped with third-party accessories and/or proprietary parts that are not manufactured, distributed or tested by BMW. BMW assumes no responsibility for the modifications (including the installation, features and use of the accessories shown). CAUTION: Modification of production vehicles (including the attachment and use of third-party and proprietary parts) may impair driving characteristics! Driving our vehicles in modified condition is at your own risk.
BRAND: BMW AG
virtualdesignmagazine Michael Hiller