New HP4

WORLD FIRST TEST Car­bon frame BMW HP4 Race gives you the full World Su­per­bike ex­pe­ri­ence… and then some

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Michael Neeves CHIEF ROAD TESTER

MCN gets to test awe­some new, car­bon-fi­bre BMW

BMW’S new £68,000, 215bhp, lim­ited-edi­tion HP4 Race is achingly close in feel and speed to a fac­tory su­per­bike. BMW have taken their S1000RR, scooped out the bulk, and in­jected it with steroids. The re­sult­ing HP4 Race is a raw track-only bike that’s an as­sault on the senses.

Pinched and squeezed by trac­tion con­trol, anti-wheelie, quick­shifters, auto-blip­pers and engine brak­ing con­trol, it makes an ear-spit­ting, gur­gling racket ev­ery inch of the way.

And it’s so light. Tip­ping the scales at 171.5kg, with its brushed alu­minium 17.5-litre fuel tank brimmed with su­per un­leaded, it’s ac­tu­ally lighter than a WSB ma­chine. The bike is 36.5kg lighter than a road-go­ing S1000RR.

Strip the HP4 Race of a flu­ids and it’s a barely-be­liev­able 149kg dry, mak­ing it 10kg lighter than the Du­cati 1299 Su­per­leg­gera and 4kg lighter than a KTM 390 Duke!

Car­bon-fi­bre is the HP4 Race’s dark se­cret and its high-strength, one-piece, mass-produced car­bon frame is 4kg lighter than the RR’S cast alu­minium ver­sion. Car­bon wheels are 30% lighter than forged alu­minium rac­ing items and the fair­ing, self-sup­port­ing three­way ad­justable seat unit, mud­guard and hug­ger all help shed weight.

Ra­bid ac­cel­er­a­tion

Power de­liv­ery is as smooth as a big­cammed, blueprinted 215bhp mo­tor can ever be and pick­ing up the power from a closed throt­tle at full lean is per­fec­tion. The HP4 Race pings through its close-ra­tio box to 14,500rpm revlim­ited heaven, the 2D dash rev dis­play strob­ing from left to right like a hy­per-speed Pacman. It ac­cel­er­ates through the up­per gears with the same un­bri­dled anger as the 196bhp S1000RR does in first, sec­ond and third.

Trac­tion, wheelie and fire-spit­ting engine brak­ing con­trol are ad­justable cor­ner-by-cor­ner. They’re more re­fined than the al­ready su­perb, but silent RR’S sys­tem, but the big change is now you can hear them work­ing.

When the HP4 Race’s rear tyre slips or front rises the ig­ni­tion cuts rather than re­tards, as be­fore. It pops and gur­gles, let­ting you know the elec­tron­ics are do­ing their thing. This loads you with con­fi­dence, so you lean more on their ca­pa­bil­i­ties and the chances of you fling­ing your £68,000 car­bon master­piece into the scenery di­min­ish.

Anti-wheelie is a big step for­ward from the RR. All the new-gen­er­a­tion su­per­bikes (ex­cept the Blade) have su­perb wheelie con­trol, but the HP4 Race is firmly in WSB ter­ri­tory. With the elec­tron­ics tak­ing con­trol the HP4 Race takes off with such en­ergy, all you have to do is fig­ure out how to hang on.

Brak­ing force is bru­tal. It has gen­uine WSB/BSB Brembo calipers, brake discs, pads and mas­ter cylin­der. Ini­tial brak­ing feel is gen­tle, but as you squeeze the lever harder the front drills into the tar­mac.

Light on its feet

You’d imag­ine a su­per­bike with a 7.8kg car­bon frame to be overly stiff, but the HP4 Race is more com­pli­ant than the cast alu­minium-framed road bike.

It has all the sta­bil­ity of the RR, but there’s feel pour­ing out of it at full lean. The Wsb-in­spired ali swingarm might not be car­bon-fi­bre, but it’s been cre­ated us­ing the lessons learned from rac­ing.

Add in the high­est-level rac­ing Öh­lins sus­pen­sion you’ll find on any pro­duc­tion bike and the un­wa­ver­ing grip of the Pirelli slicks and you’ve got a ma­chine that has lim­its way in ex­cess of all but the very tal­ented few.

Work of art

Ev­ery inch of this ma­chine is milled alu­minium, high-gloss lac­quered per­fec­tion. To get a su­per­bike to weigh this lit­tle with a metal frame has al­ways needed a healthy race bud­get, but BMW have man­aged it with the clever use of mass-produced car­bon, which means in the fu­ture we could see this tech­nol­ogy on more af­ford­able ma­chines.

Low weight is good for ev­ery­one. Light bikes are fun. They ac­cel­er­ate more vividly, stop and turn bet­ter and give you more feel and in­volve­ment. They’re more fuel ef­fi­cient, too.

BMW’S jaw-drop­ping HP4 Race might give the lucky 750 a WSB thrill when it hits deal­ers in Septem­ber, but it of­fers a glimpse into the fu­ture of bik­ing and that’s as ex­cit­ing as ex­it­ing Es­to­ril’s fi­nal third gear cor­ner in a rag­ing, blood-spit­ting power drift on to the front straight. Well, nearly…

‘It takes off with such en­ergy, all you have to do is fig­ure out how to hang on’

COVER STORY

Project leader Chris­tian Gon­schor talks Neeves through the HP4 Race

Alu­minium The BMW’S deeply braced, girder-stiff swingarm is fab­ri­cated from alu­minium, with a de­sign in­spired by the World Su­per­bike ma­chine. Car­bon frame The de­sign has vary­ing lev­els of stiff­ness and flex. Steer­ing off­set, head an­gle, swingarm pivot and ride height are all ad­justable.

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