So now you know what Hicky makes of it, here’s what our tech guru Neil made of the HP4 dur­ing the model’s tech­ni­cal launch near Munich…

Fast Bikes - - UPFRONT -

Un­for­tu­nately, a cou­ple of ob­sta­cles lay be­tween the HP4 Race and a man­tel­piece full of com­pe­ti­tion tro­phies for the Bavar­i­ans. First of all, BMW have de­cided not to ho­molo­gate the HP4 Race for road use, which means that we can’t fairly com­pare it to other road-le­gal litre sports bikes. This also means that well-heeled pri­va­teer rac­ers won’t be al­lowed to cam­paign the bike in most pro­duc­tion bike race classes.

Sec­ondly, mem­ber­ship of the HP4 Race ‘owner’s club’ is lim­ited to 750 mem­bers and club en­try costs a cool £68,000. The bike’s eye­wa­ter­ing cost ex­plains why BMW haven’t sub­mit­ted the bike for ho­molo­ga­tion – FIM rules stip­u­late that pro­duc­tion road bikes must cost less than €33,000 (£28,700) to qual­ify for WSBk. As BMW be­lieve it some­what un­fair to sell bikes at a loss to duck un­der this rule, the other man­u­fac­tur­ers on the grid can breathe easy, for now… State­ment of in­tent If the BMW team were clear about any­thing at the bike’s tech­ni­cal launch, it was that the HP4 Race rep­re­sents a ‘state­ment of in­tent’ from the Ger­man bike maker: BMW Mo­torad in­tend to prove that car­bon fi­bre is at least as safe and ro­bust as tra­di­tional ma­te­ri­als like alu­minium and steel. And de­spite be­ing 34% lighter than the S 1000 RR’s alu­minium frame, BMW as­sert that the spe­cial man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­niques de­vel­oped for the HP4 Race’s car­bon fi­bre chas­sis make the bike eas­ier than the glob­ally praised S 1000 RR to ride fast. BMW be­lieve the elim­i­na­tion of vari­ables in the man­u­fac­ture of the HP4 Race’s struc­tural car­bon fi­bre com­po­nents have not only al­lowed them to pro­duce an in­cred­i­bly light and strong bike, but also a com­mer­cially vi­able one.

De­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with car­bon fi­bre spe­cial­ists SGL, BMW’s fully au­to­mated Resin Trans­fer Mould­ing (RTM) process has re­duced man­u­fac­tur­ing time for a struc­ture with the size and com­plex­ity of a bike frame from around 20 ‘man-days’ to just two ‘ro­bot’ hours. The pro­ject’s car­bon fi­bre ad­vanced de­vel­op­ment en­gi­neer and ex-For­mula 1 car­bon fi­bre spe­cial­ist El­mar Jaeger in­sisted that these mass pro­duc­tion tech­niques have also en­abled BMW to build a car­bon fi­bre chas­sis with equal or su­pe­rior rider feel to one made from alu­minium or steel. Mass pro­duc­tion The Resin Trans­fer Mould­ing process con­sists of load­ing a fully au­to­mated mould of the HP4 R’s frame with pre-formed car­bon fi­bre sec­tions and var­i­ous alu­minium lugs and bosses. The mould then clamps shut and resin is in­jected into it. An hour later, a fully formed car­bon fi­bre bike frame is ready to have its alu­minium engine and swingarm mount­ing bosses ma­chined in yet an­other fully au­to­mated process.

Ac­cord­ing to Herr Jaeger, an all in one ‘mono­coque’ car­bon fi­bre perime­ter frame pro­duced like this gives su­pe­rior rider feed­back to an alu­minium frame. In­ter­faces like welds and joints be­tween frame sec­tions that can in­ter­fere with chas­sis feed­back to the rider have been elim­i­nated. Along with tight qual­ity con­trol stan­dards that come along with au­to­ma­tion, the BMW pro­ject team be­lieve the HP4 R is go­ing to be the first car­bon fi­bre race bike with chas­sis feed­back that will be in­stantly fa­mil­iar to rid­ers and rac­ers.

Au­tomat­ing the process means that each frame, wheel or mount­ing bracket can have iden­ti­cal prop­er­ties to the next, so un­like a car­bon fi­bre frame that has been made by the hand lay-up method – man­u­ally lay­ing one layer of car­bon weave over the other – each HP4 R

You can own this for just £68k. BMW has cre­ated a thing of beauty.

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