custom BMW R 18 Transcontinental front quarter right

Custom motorcycle visionary Paul Yaffe has raised the bar once again with the revelation of his latest masterpiece, one-of-a-kind customization of the BMW R 18 Transcontinental. Melding classic hot rod aesthetics with the distinctive BMW essence, this project is a testament to Yaffe’s excellence as a designer.

The Designer

Since 1991, the custom motorcycle world has known Paul Yaffe as one of the elite creators of motorized masterpieces. That’s because Paul is more than a builder or fabricator, he is truly a designer. His custom bikes have been featured in over 300 magazine articles worldwide as well as on the Discovery channel, the History channel, and other television shows. His products, distributed through a network of partners in six countries, continue to inspire a generation of customizers.

custom BMW R 18 Transcontinental front quarter with rider

Now, Paul Yaffe reveals his latest masterpiece — a one-of-a-kind customization of the BMW R 18 Transcontinental, which will debut at the MBE Show in Verona, Italy.

Preserving BMW Essence and Hot Rod Inspiration

Before getting started, Paul spent time getting to know the BMW R18 Transcontinental, riding 3800 miles across the USA, and additional 2600 miles to Sturgis and back.

Once the customization process began, Paul knew he wanted to create a big wheel bagger like no one had ever seen. Crucial to the project was retaining as many original BMW components as possible. Paul wanted his custom creation to remain authentically BMW and knew that it should not be made from or look anything like parts from his existing product line.

custom BMW R 18 Transcontinental top quarter view

He commissioned a 26” x 5.5” front wheel cut from a 400lb block of solid aluminium, which holds a handmade 180mm wide front tire. The frame had to be stretched and raked to accommodate the new front wheel and special triple trees had to be engineered to correct the trail measurement and optimize handling.

Embracing the look of an iconic 50’s Mercury Lead Sled the team crafted several one-of-a-kind components and modified existing R 18 elements. The steel front fender was made from scratch. The original R 18 fairing was cut into several pieces and restructured to correct headlight position and flow into the new front wheel. To address the gap between the fairing and the fuel tank a unique chin spoiler was developed, strategically concealing the radiator. Additionally, an exclusive set of Yaffe Monkey Bars was crafted to complement the overall design.

As the build began to take shape, Yaffe rearranged the original R 18 taillights into the handmade filler panels and worked an area for the license plate into the fender in classic hot rod styling. He also stretched the original R 18 side covers to retain their original shape and cover more area to help the eye flow into the bags.

custom BMW R 18 Transcontinental rear quarter left

Classic Lead Sled Look

Staying true to the classic Lead Sled aesthetic, Yaffe prioritized two crucial components: air suspension and side pipes.

Paul and his team designed a sophisticated air tank and distribution system as well as a dedicated frame beneath each side of the saddlebags to accommodate essential components, including the necessary air storage tanks, a sizable air compressor and all the controls, valving and solenoids necessary for the effective support and operation of the system.

custom BMW R 18 Transcontinental materials

Turning their focus to the side pipe design the fabrication team aimed to preserve the distinctive “BMW feel” that sets this build apart. Retaining the classic Boxer head pipes was non-negotiable in Paul’s vision. The catalytic converters were removed from the head pipes making way for a bespoke perforated high-flow baffle system. This innovation not only replaced the restrictive emissions system but also retained essential back pressure for optimal performance. To further enhance the auditory experience a precision-crafted 3-step muffler system was introduced for reversion. The final touch was a wide-open megaphone, delivering that quintessential classic hot rod sound.

It All Comes Down to Cosmetics

Shifting focus to cosmetics Paul wanted a classic hot rod feel without any distracting graphics, highlighting the bike’s elegant new stance and profile. The emphasis was on simplicity and allure.

custom BMW R 18 Transcontinental engine

After settling on a timeless deep gloss black finish, the team’s attention turned to achieving perfection for the body. Paul tasked his dedicated painter Hector Martinez, with applying the flawless gloss black paint. Recognizing the need for contrast, Paul decided on a classic ochs blood red interior. The art is in finding the perfect balance.

Guys Upholstery created the contemporary-style saddle and dash console and Hector mixed up a colour for the front callipers to match.

What do you think of this fantastic custom build?