Heels & Horsepower Magazine

RIDER REVIEW: Zanele McMurray renews her love for cruisers thanks to the BMW R 18 Cruiser

Zanele McMurray, aka Leidee Zee, has a long standing love for cruisers but only one machine had alluded her, the BMW R 18. When the opportunity arose for her to ride it, she didn’t hesitate to pull on her leathers and take it for a spin.

I had the pleasure of riding the eye-catching BMW R 18 at the 15thInternational Female Ride Day on the 1stof May 2021.  I knew I would enjoy it but boy oh boy was I in for a treat! 

Steeped in the tradition of historical BMW motorcycles in terms of technical features and design cues, the R 18 is an undeniably beautiful piece of mechanical artwork. 

As my eyes greedily gobbled up my first up-close sighting of the BMW R 18, the first feature they rested upon, was the BMW R 18’s sleek chrome exhaust pipe closely followed by its strikingly large LED headlight. 

Thereafter my gaze took in the epicenter of my ride for the day, the BMW R 18’s newly developed 2-cylinder boxer engine that is both intimidating and attractive at the same time.  Finally, I paid attention to the big comfortable seat which I appreciated very much.  

As a lady standing at 1,64m tall, the BMW R 18’s 690mm seat height gave me further confidence that I would be able to easily handle the cruiser, even though it has a wet weight of 345kg.

– Zanele McMurray

As a lady standing at 1,64m tall, the BMW R 18’s 690mm seat height gave me further confidence that I would be able to easily handle the cruiser, even though it has a wet weight of 345kg.  Assured by a combination of the cruiser’s seat height and its low suspension I channeled my inner “Boss Lady” and felt a charge of excitement for the ride ahead.

Another feature I liked about the BMW R 18 is that It has a keyless start function


The BMW R 18 comes standard with three ride modes – Rain, Rock, and Roll, which, depending on the terrain, greatly assist with stability control and throttle response.   

Another feature I liked about the BMW R 18 is that It has a keyless start function. This takes away the panic of losing the key, which I can attest is be a big plus among female riders as we need to fit countless other things into our small bags and pockets. 

When it comes to power the BMW R 18 does not disappoint.  Fitted with a 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, horizontally opposed engine the cruiser holds its own in terms of speed, ride quality, stable and comfortable. Powered by its 67kW, 158Nm 1802cc engine I found myself gliding effortlessly amidst the numerous motorcycles commandeered by the hundreds of women bikers participating in the South African leg of the international ride.  

Astride my brutish ride, the BMW R 18 felt much lighter in motion than when stationary.  I found that the cruiser’s wide tyres (Front: 2.5 x 19 / Rear:  5.0 x 16) also helped maintain the bike’s traction.  Other key highlights about the R 18 include Hill Start Control and Reverse Assist, both of which make maneuverability much easier and convenient.  

As a female rider, I would recommend this beautiful beast of a bike. It is a dream to ride and if affordability isn’t an issue, I would go as far as saying this cruiser is a must-have.  As gigantic as the R 18 looks it is just an adorable and playful puppy that offers an exciting yet cultivated riding experience. 

That said, the only black mark I have against the BMW R 18 is the fact that it does not have a fuel gauge indicator, something I sincerely hope BMW Motorrad sees fit to add in the updated models of these otherwise impressive bikes.

Price:  R 319 900-00

Thanks to BMW Motorrad Fourways for the bike loan

About Zanele McMurray Zanele

McMurray is a female motorcycle rider and mother of two teenage girls, with 15-years riding experience to her name.   Her first bike was a Honda VFR 400cc and over the years she has and ridden various motorcycles including a Honda 750cc Shadow, Thunderbird 1700cc, 2 Suzuki Hayabusas, a Suzuki Boulevard 800cc, a Honda CBR 1000 and a Sukuzi B-King.  Zanele is passionate about cancer awareness and has been part of cancer awareness groups such as Journey of Hope and Cancervive.

Bike Review: Bongiwe Didiza ticks the BMW R NineT Pure off her bucket list at the 15th International Female Ride Day

Motorcyclist journalist Bongiwe Didiza took part in the 15th International Female Ride Day astride a bike she had long wanted to ride.

I had marked the 1stof May on my calendar as International Female Ride Day (IFRD), the only day in the year which celebrates women motorcyclists from all walks of life. For me, the 2021 Ride was going to be particularly exciting because the motorbike I would be riding, the BMW R nineT Pure, is one I have been drawn to for quite a while.

First introduced in 2013, the R nineT range has grown to include the R nineT Urban G/S, the R nineT Scrambler, and the R nineT Pure.  Sporting a combination of classic design meets modern technological invention, the R nine T derivatives carry the signature BMW roadster styling cues, reminiscent of early BMW Motorrad days. 

Also fetching their rides at the same time were Zanele McMurray and Crescentia Ndimande

– Bongiwe Didiza, motorcycle journalist, DRIVING IN HEELS

I collected my loan motorbike from BMW Motorrad Fourways, two days prior to the Ride.  I wanted a bit of time to get used to its features ahead of the big day. Looking at it, I was struck by its stylish vintage design, which complement its seemingly playful look. 

At first glance, the air/oil-cooled, 1170Cc boxer engine of the R nineT Pure didn’t look like much, which made it all the more difficult to believe it could produce 81kW of power and 116 Nm of torque.   

Also ferching their rides at the same time were Zanele McMurray who would be riding the BMW R 18, and Crescentia Ndimande who had chosen the the BMW F 900 XR.

Following a brief meeting with the dealer principal – Rodney Serfontein,  and a bike orientation, we took possession of the keys for our respective bikes and rode out of the dealership. 


As usual when I am on a bike, I have a gigantic smile under my helmet but while I was cheerfully enjoying my ride home a warning light came up on the circular instrument cluster.

When I arrived at home, I gave it a quick check, hoping I might spot the problem.  Satisfied that everything looked fine to me, but opting to err on the safe side, I made arrangements to take it back for an assessment the following day.

I had not known that the R nineT Pure did not have a fuel gauge indicator.


Arriving at Motorrad Fourways, Sales Executive Gift Gumbi whisked the motorbike into the workshop but returned almost immediately.  He was in stitches, laughing hysterically and between bursts of fresh laughter he spluttered that the warning light was the fuel light indicator and that the bike was very low on fuel. 



When he had calmed down reasonably enough to hear me, I tried – with little success – to explain why I had misinterpreted the fuel icon.  Of course I know what a low fuel icon light looks like but the R nineT Pure does not have the standard icon we are familiar with in a car.  

Added to that, I had not known that the R nineT Pure did not have a fuel gauge indicator; instead, its warning light is a simple triangular orange light.  

The more I tried to explain my rationale to Gift, the more he laughed and teased me


If there was a fuel guage I would probably have noticed that the fuel was low and may have made a connection between the warning light and the low fuel indicator.  

The more I tried to explain my rationale to Gift, the more he laughed and teased me.  Suffice to say, the experience taught me 2 things; the first being just how basic the R nine T Pure is and the other being that I will probably never live down this ‘oopsie’.

On a positive note, the blunder taught me that the R nineT Pure has a 17-litre tank and consumes 5-litres per 100kms. As I rode home, still chuckling to myself in disbelief, I was immensely grateful that the bike had not completely run out of fuel, leaving me stranded and bewildered at the side of the road.

Arriving at our meeting venue, I couldn’t help but notice how stunning the ladies looked, most of whom wore gear matching their rides.


From then on, I became acutely aware of just how basic the R nineT Pure is and soon realised it does not come standard with my favourtie creature comforts being riding modes, heated grips, and cruise control. That said, heated grips and cruise control are available as optional extras which customers can fit at will. 

Putting the humbling moment firmly behind me, I eagerly awaited IFRD.  Organized by The Lithas , the 2021 Ride comprised of two routes, on an on-road.  Had I not chosen to ride the sexy little roadster, I would have elected to ride on gravel.

The long anticipated day arrived, uncharacteristically accompanied by light winds and drizzle.  Undettered, I  headed out and arrived at Triumph Motocycles, Sandton, our meeting venue.  The ladies looked stunning on their machines, most wearing riding gear that matched their bikes.

Excited to be reunited with female riders I had not seen in a long time due to lockdown regulations, we mingled, enjoyed the delicious welcome refreshments, posed for photos, and signed the event day banner. 

The formalites and safety briefing dispensed with and the weather clearing up, the ladies got into formation and rode to our first stopover – Fire it Up in Randburg, then onto ROC Harley Davidson in Alberton where we were received with excitement, refreshments and gifts.  

Even in the sea of other beautiful motorcycles, I was aware of motorists admiring my R nineT Pure as they drove past us.


The Ride was leisurely and the ladies maintained a steady pace.  I was amazed at how smooth my bike rode even at such low speeds.  It cornered beautifully and maintained its balance. 


Even in the sea of other beautiful motorcycles, I was aware of motorists admiring my R nineT as they drove past us. It had already caused a stir from the start of the day, and at each stopover.  My fellow lady Pure riders truly appreciated it, commenting on its unique and classical good-looks.  A few ladies who own more than one bike expressed a desire to add it to their existing motorbike collection because of its sassy beauty.

The R nineT Pure is a no-frills, “shut-up & ride” sort of bike.


At our final destination, Bikers Warehouse in Randburg, a stunning high tea had been setup for us to mark the close of a safe and successful Ride as well as recognize and celebrate the Biker Queens we all are. 


The R nineT Pure is as its name suggests a no-frills, “shut-up & ride” sort of bike. As basic as it is, it offers absolute riding pleasure and is aimed at anyone on the market looking for an uncomplicated motorbike. 

That said, it is a very capable machine and is suited for leisurely trips to scenic destinations or unhurried rides around suburbia for a coffee meeting with the girls.  It is the type of bike I ride to attend a vintage motorbike show.  Similarly, I would pack it onto a train for use to tour the Garden Route in summer.

The R nineT Pure I was riding is powered by a four-stroke, two-cylinder horizontally opposed boxer engine and is available at BMW Motorrad Fourways at R145 000. It is a 2018 model wrapped in Option 719 colors.  

If however, you are looking to buy a newer R nineT Pure, the 2021 derivatives come with the following standard features:

  • 80kW power, 116Nm of torque
  • Road and Rain riding modes
  • ABS Pro with Dynamic Brake Control (DBC)
  • LED headlight and white LED indicators
  • New suspension strut with travel-dependent damping (WAD)

Priced from R203 400-00

About Bongiwe Didiza

About Bongiwe Didiza Bongiwe Didiza is a motorcyclist with 10 years riding experience on various type of motorcycles; ranging from superbikes and cruisers to dual-purpose and adventure bikes.  She is the first Black female motorcycle journalist registered with the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists. Bongiwe is the  biking contributor for Driving In Heels where her test ride reviews and bike travel articles are published. She currently rides an R 1200 GSA but has owned a Suzuki GSX-R 750 and a BMW F 800 GS in the past.