BMW is slowly and steadily expanding its presence in the cruiser world. It already has four interactions of the R 18 and a fifth one has just been revealed for 2024. Dubbed the R 18 Roctane, it brings an American touch to the otherwise vintage cruiser lineup and sets eyes on the much-sought-after bagger segment. But to succeed, the Bavarian bagger will need to beat some dominant names in this category–a particular mainstay being the Harley-Davidson Road King Special. So it’s only fair we pit these two against each other, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. However, you should know we haven’t ridden either cruiser, which is why this solely revolves around the specifications.

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2024 BMW R 18 Roctane vs Harley-Davidson Road King Special - Engine

Specification BMW R 18 Roctane Harley-Davidson Road King Special
Engine 1,802cc, twin-cylinder, boxer engine 1,848cc, V-twin engine
Horsepower 91 horsepower at 4,750RPM 93 horsepower at 5,250RPM
Torque 116 pound-feet at 3,000RPM 118 pound-feet at 3,250RPM
Drive Shaft Chain
Gearbox Six-speed Six-speed
Claimed efficiency 5.6 liter/100km 6.1 liter/100km
Fuel tank capacity 15.9 liter (4.2 gallon) 22.7 liter (6 gallon)
Tank range ~175 miles ~230 miles
2023 Harley-Davidson Road King Special
Press photo of the 2023 Harley-Davidson Road King Special

Both baggers are neck and neck in the engine department. But it’s the Road King that comes out on top in the end. Credit here goes to its more powerful and torquey Milwaukee Eight 114 powerhouse, with two extra horses and pound-feet over the Beemer. Not only that, the HD has a better tank range, so you’ll go longer without fuel stops. However, the R 18 Roctane claws back some points, as its peak power and torque both kick in earlier than the Harley. This, in theory, should mean harder acceleration and more tractability. In addition, it features an easier-to-live with shaft drive, rather than a chain like the Road King.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane vs Harley-Davidson Road King Special - Underpinnings And Dimensions

Specification BMW R 18 Roctane Harley-Davidson Road King Special
Chassis Double cradle Double cradle
Front suspension 49 mm telescopic forks 49 mm telescopic forks
Rear suspension Monoshock Hand-adjustable monoshock
Front wheel 21-inch cast aluminum alloy wheel 19-inch spoke wheel
Rear wheel 18-inch cast aluminum alloy wheel 18-inch spoke wheel
Front brakes 2x 300 mm disc brakes 2x 300 mm disc brakes
Rear brakes 300 mm single disc brake 300 mm single disc brake
Seat height 720 mm 695 mm
Tire size 120/70 (F) 180/55 (R) 130/60 (F) 180/55 (R)
Curb weight 825 pounds 807 pounds
2024 BMW R 18 Roctane 1
The Roctane brings a fresh urban bagger feel to the old-school R 18 family

Again, the two heavyweights are quite similar. Both feature 49 mm telescopic forks, double-cradle frames, 300 mm disc brakes, and identical rubber sizes. But as always, it’s the nitty-gritty making all the difference. For instance, the Road King Special has a lower seat height and weighs 18 pounds less, which will make it easier to maneuver at a slow pace. Plus, its rear shock is hand-adjustable, unlike the BMW. Whereas, the R 18 makes its case with more modern cast aluminum alloy wheels–the front being a chopper-inspired 21-inch unit.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane vs Harley-Davidson Road King Special - Features And Design

Feature BMW R 18 Roctane Harley-Davidson Road King Special
All-LED lights Yes Yes
Keyless ignition Yes Yes
Cruise control Yes Yes
Dual-channel ABS Yes Yes
Ride modes Yes (Three) No
Linked brakes Yes Yes
Instrument cluster Semi-digital Semi-digital
Rear-cylinder deactivation No Yes
Saddlebag capacity 54 liters 70 liters
2024 BMW R 18 Roctane Cockpit
This is how the R 18 Roctane's cockpit looks like

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This is where the R 18 Roctane shines over the Road King. As you can see, it not only matches up to Harley-Davidson but even has extras like three ride modes and stability control. However, the Road King does feature bigger saddlebags to loop in some points. Similarly, the R 18 Roctane looks fresher in our opinion. Its dark chrome exhaust, sleeker turn signals, and slimmer tank all make it a cut above the Road King. Plus, that mammoth boxer engine is a sight to behold in itself.

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane vs Harley-Davidson Road King Special - Price And Verdict

BMW R 18 Roctane $18,695
Harley-Davidson Road King Special $23,990
2022 Harley-Davidson Road King Special

BMW USA has priced the 2024 R 18 Roctane at $18,695, whereas sells its 2023 Harley-Davidson Road King Special for $23,999. Though that’s a sizable $4,696 difference, extra money is somewhat justified, as the Road King promises an authentic American experience. This, along with the aforementioned points, makes it the better all-rounder bagger here. But if it’s the utmost value for money you want, it’s safe to say the new R 18 Roctane is worth considering. Regardless of your pick, do tell us in the comments below!