Engine builders from all over the world still take it in turns to give the BMW R 18 their personal touches. The latest one-off made with the blessing of the German company is a striking helicopter called Magnifica that was built by hand with using materials such as wood, brass and aluminum.
Andrea Radaelli of Milan-based Radikal Chopper created the Magnifica at the request of an Italian collector. Starting with the R 18, he was inspired by motorcycles and cars built between the 1920s and 1940s. At that time, wood was widely used; some vintage bicycles had wooden grips, and many classic cars (including BMW models) were equipped with wood-rimmed handlebars. Radaelli expressed this by making the seat out of mahogany – which sounds completely uncomfortable until you realize there’s a padded leather cover for it.
The fork is built with billet parts, all fairings have been removed to provide an unobstructed view of the air-cooled “Big Boxer” engine, the exhaust system has been redesigned and the fuel tank has a more tapered shape. Vintage-looking trim and polished parts add a finishing touch to the overall look, creating a motorcycle that blurs the line between a work of art and a form of transportation.
Although the term “one-off” is used regularly and sometimes loses its meaning, the R 18 Magnifica is truly one of a kind. Nearly every part added during construction was made by hand; the only exceptions are the wheels, which are milled from billet.
It doesn’t sound like Radaelli made any mechanical changes, so power comes from a 1.8-liter air-cooled flat-twin with 90 horsepower and 111 pound-feet of torque. It spins the rear wheel via an open drive shaft, which is a cool and unusual feature – most modern motorcycles come equipped with a chain or belt. BMW notes that Radaelli’s modifications reduce the weight of the R 18 from 760 pounds to about 562.
Unveiled in June 2022 at the Top Marques show in Monaco, the Magnifica joins an impressive list of BMW-backed uses based on the R 18. Kingston Custom built the Spirit of Passion, which wins parts rather than sells them. losing, Roland Sands turned the R 18 into a dragster designed to go full throttle, and Japanese customizer Shinya Kimura gave the bike a new look that borders on steampunk territory. Not all tuners waited for BMW’s hallmark to rebuild the R 18 to their liking: the Russian Zillers Garage made it look like it came from outer space.