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.

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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.

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