BMWHP4 RACE... UNLEASHED!
If there’s one bike we would’ve liked at SBOTY, it’s the BMW HP4 Race. But as pigs don’t fly, we left it to racing superstar Peter Hickman to give us his take on the 212bhp king of carbon, having ringed it dry around the TT course.
It was all a bit of a surprise to me. I’d seen the HP4 Race being unveiled and I’d read all there was to know about it, but it wasn’t until I was on the Island that some BMW guys came and asked me if I wanted to take it for a spin around the Island. That didn’t take much thinking about.
While they were loading it up with cameras I was taking in its spec. It’s no parts bin special. Every inch of the bike was littered with the good stuff, like Brembo GP4 monoblocs and the same spec Öhlins FGR forks that I was racing on at superbikes just last year. And the BMW 6.2 Sbk-spec motor’s really something special. It’s identical to what my teammate uses right now at BSB, and that’d set you back £20,000 on its own. That’s before you take in all the 2D clocks and logging system, Hicky didn’t hold back. the RCK Pro-kit electronics or the multitude of other top of the range fixtures. I was nearly drooling before I got started!
I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from the actual riding experience because I’d never ridden a carbon fibre framed bike before. I guess I was expecting it to feel a little wooden, but by the bottom of Bray Hill I knew that wasn’t the case. The bike was literally brand new – even the discs needed bedding in – so I was taking it a little bit steady at first. But before long it was egging me in to riding it harder and faster. At the time I was riding it we were towards the end of practice week, but I was still getting up to pace and trying to dial in my actual TT superbike.
To be honest, it felt loads better than my own bike to ride because the chassis gave off such a plush feel – the exact same feel I’d been hunting for all week. Admittedly I wasn’t going flat-out, but I was still riding at a fair old lick. The bike was fantastically stable; it was unreal. And the way it turned was on another level. My BSB bike is 165kg wet, but my TT bike’s a fair few kilos heavier. It’s certainly heavier than the HP4 Race, and that showed everywhere because the carbon wheels made the bike ridiculously easy to pitch into bends.
It was better than my bike into corners, mid-corner, and on the gas coming out. I’d been pissing around pulling wheelies for a lot of the lap, but by the time I was at Glen Helen I was getting stuck in. I was knee down everywhere and the bike felt so effortless and planted. My bike’s about as good as you can get around the Island, but the HP4 Race just took things to that next level.
I came back from that lap absolutely buzzing and desperate to wangle another go on the HP4 Race. Whatever preconceptions I had about carbon framed bikes and a lack of feel got blown out the water. If anything, the ride proved it to be the other way round; carbon’s where it’s at. I’m going to be really interested to see where BMW goes with the HP4 Race and carbon fibre frames in general.
Okay, they’re not cheap, but logic suggests mass production could help see manufacturing costs fall. And even now I think it’s something of a bargain. You’ve only got to do a tally-up of its features to work out the cost of producing such a machine. I’m not saying BMW’s building the HP4 Race at a loss, but I can’t imagine there’s a lot of profit to be made, if any. If I had a spare £68k, I know how I’d be spending it.