Fred Kodlin and his son Len have rebuilt the BMW R 18 B into a stunning custom bike called "Heavy Duty," with extensive chassis and bodywork modifications and a spectacular paint job by tattoo artist Marcel Sinnwell. The project was a father-son endeavor, with Len's creative input playing a crucial role.

If you think of the US customizing scene, you can’t avoid Fred Kodlin.  He has been active in customizing motorcycles for over 40 years, creating sophisticated new creations as well as radically modified bikes.  Kodlin has won various major competitions at Daytona Bike Week and was the first non-U.S. citizen inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame.  This year, Kodlin and his son Len rebuilt a BMW R 18 B to his specifications for the first time.


Heavy Duty project: father-son project with creative input.

“The R 18 B HEAVY DUTY was a true 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.  The result is a typical Kodlin bike with massive intervention in the chassis technology.  The frame was completely rebuilt to lower the flyline and reduce the R 18 B’s seat height.  Still, the caster fits due to new steering head and triple clamp designs and the bike rides appropriately well.


Spectacular air suspension and extensive bodywork modifications

Another highlight of the bike is the front and rear air suspension, which is supported by a barely visible compressor.  The bike can be lowered and raised in a fraction of a second, which is very handy for parking and already looks impressive when the bike is standing on the hidden support surfaces.  The Kodlin team has also done extensive bodywork and fabricated many sheet metal parts themselves.  The sheet metal tank is longer than the original and features indentations on the sides, while the side covers form a smooth transition to the side cases.  The nose spoiler, front fender and rear fender were also made.  The seat with covers made of Alcantara, an instrument cover and the exhaust system were also specially made.


Elaborate paintwork by tattoo artist Marcel Sinnwell

Marcel Sinnwell, a well-known tattoo artist, painted the R 18 B HEAVY DUTY with elaborate color gradients.  He was inspired by the way different color pigments in the milky basecoat mix when first stirred.  He now skillfully uses this technique via airbrush to conjure up a unique look.  The hand-lined pinstripes and the airbrush pattern on the rear fender form the formal conclusion of the customizing work.  The pinstripes as well as the airbrush pattern symbolize a connection between Kodlin and “100 years of BMW Motorrad”.


BMW R 18 B: The perfect basis for a custom bike

Fred Kodlin was particularly impressed with the clean finish of the base bike.  The bolts are stainless steel with a nice Torx head, which is uncommon on other bikes.  The electrical wiring is also already nicely hidden, which meant that nothing at all had to be done to the engine.  For this reason, many R 18 B components were deliberately not replaced, but at most modified.  The engine remained technically completely on series level.  Only cylinder head covers, belt cover and intake snorkel were painted in black metallic.

In the opinion of the customizers, the BMW R 18 B is the perfect basis for a custom bike, as it is already equipped ex works with some unique selling points such as cruise control with distance control, reverse gear and eCall, which are not offered by any other manufacturer in the cruiser world.


Bottom Line

Fred Kodlin and his son Len have created an impressive custom bike with the R 18 B HEAVY DUTY.  Massive intervention in the chassis technology, extensive bodywork modifications and an elaborate paint job by tattoo artist Marcel Sinnwell make the bike a real eye-catcher.  In their opinion, the BMW R 18 B was a perfect basis, as it is already equipped with some unique selling points ex works and also has a clean finish.


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BMW Motorrad - R 18 B HEAVY DUTY (2)
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