Mansell Custom R 18

Il Leone Edition

In dedication to Nigel Mansell, the custom R 18 ‘Il Leone Edition’ - customised by his son, Greg Mansell, and Steve Burt (a.k.a. Custom Bike Steve) - is a nod to the authentic, gritty 80s and 90s of Formula One. Il Leone - “The Lion” in Italian - is the nickname Mansell adopted during his Ferrari glory years. The bike is an expression of what it was like to live through this era, what the true characteristics of a champion are.

The custom build harks back to the racing BMWs of the 1930s and 40s. It’s a modern take: if we were going to race a R 18 now, what would we change? The ergonomics, riding style and attitude of the motorcycle have been altered without losing any of BMW’s modern innovations and aids. More grit. Same incredible torque, reliability, impressive handling and stopping power.

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Inspired by the 1930s racing BMWs, aluminium side mounts have been added, blacked out and custom hand-painted with the infamous Il Leone Red 5. 

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The handlebar has been altered; the new setup encourages the rider to stretch forward in that sportier, retro way. We’ve made a billet handlebar clamp with bars that wrap around the front forks. 

The seat started life as a single, but now welcomes a passenger. The dual seat is fabricated from a custom seat tray, with a new slimmed-down rear-end, custom C&C aluminium foot pegs, and a raised fuel tank, following the lines of the R 18’s monster 1800 cc engine.

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We chose a BMW M-sport pearlescent white to paint the tank, along with the front mud guard. The slimmed down rear mud guard has also been painted a pearly white and is looking classy with the double black BMW pinstripe.

The bike was totally chromed, which we’ve sanded back to give that aged patina look with a bit of brass shining through.

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We were inspired by the gear stick of my father’s old Williams and the wooden chassis of the 1930s. That’s when we started rolling with the retro theme of handcrafted timber throughout the design. The timber is Utile, solid with a nice grain, and it features on the:

  • Bar ends
  • Fuel filler cap
  • Front mud guard
  • Both sides of the passenger seat
  • Grill for the oil regulator
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Like an old F1 car, the R 18 has a sequential hand shift and foot clutch. This is a challenge for the brain. You'll feel intimated at first and a little afraid, but once the bike is under load it glides with huge grip, power, and performance. Trepidation turns to Joy.

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'Il Leone Edition'