The BMW S 1000 RR is already acknowledged as one of the best litre-class bikes around but BMW Motorrad has upped the ante with the HP4.
HP stands for BMW High Performance so you could equate the sub-brand to the M badge BMW uses for its fastest and wildest cars. Thus far the HP badge has only been used on the Boxer-engine bikes with the HP2 Sport, HP2 Enduro and HP2 Megamoto all showing what is possible with a highly focussed approach.
The HP4, as the name suggests, is the first HP model to use a 4-cylinder BMW bike and uses the S 1000 RR superbike as a starting point. The standard machine is already one of the best litre-class superbikes you can buy but going the HP route makes it even better.
Instead of making it even more powerful than the standard machine (the HP4 has the same 193hp and 112Nm as the standard S 1000 RR) BMW has instead given their bike a new electronic suite as well as put it on a diet. The company claims the HP4 is the lightest machine in the class with a ‘wet-weight’ of 199kg including a 90 per cent full tank of fuel.
Changes to the engine start with a performance-orientated set-up. There is an increase in mid-range torque and unlike in the S 1000 RR, the total output is the same across all engine modes – “Rain”, “Sport”, “Race” and “Slick” – with an identical throttle curve and thus the same response.
Other electronic trickery comes in the form of a CAN bus (controller area network) electrical system which networks the instrument cluster, and engine controller as well as the electronic immobiliser and the anti-theft alarm system which are available as optional equipment. The instrument cluster not only has a newly designed dial face but also provides an extended range of information and functions such as the Dynamic Damping Control set-up menus as well as the figures for Dynamic Traction Control fine adjustment and Launch Control Activation.
Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) is a first on any motorcycle and allows for active adaptation of compression and rebound stage damping to suit riding conditions. It also reacts automatically to manoeuvres such as braking, accelerating and cornering on various road surfaces and sets the correct level of damping by means of electrically actuated damping valves.
Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) has also been optimised for the HP4. While riding in “Slick” mode, the adjustable DT provides riders with the option to respond flexibly to environmental conditions such as air and asphalt temperature, changes in tyre grip and road surface states.
Track day enthusiasts will be happy to note the HP4 is fitted with Race ABS with IDM setting. In the “Rain”, “Sport” and “Race”, the Race ABS operates on a part integral basis where the brake on the rear wheel is automatically applied when the front wheel brake is activated. This ensures the motorcycle maintains its stability in the braking phase, permitting very short braking distances. The new IDM setting offers refined control impulses and allows for maximum deceleration at the grip limit of the tyres. Activated during “Slick” mode, both the rear wheel lift detection and ABS function are deactivated on the rear wheel, allowing skilled riders to control the HP4 using the rear wheel brake to perform brake drifts.
The HP4 is also the first BMW motorcycle to have Launch Control as well as the adapted wheelie detection, supported by shift assistant for optimum acceleration and perfect starts on the track. When activated, engine torque is reduced as soon as the system detects a lift on the front wheel to help prevent unwanted wheelies when accelerating. The HP4 also allows riders to perform instant gearshifts with virtually no interruption courtesy of the shift assistant, which is fitted as standard.
Visually, the HP4 gets unique blue and white graphics to set it apart. It also gets a wider 200/55 R17 rear tyre as well as a tinted screen and an elongated engine spoiler. Weight saving measures includes new wheels and a lighter sprocket carrier, which result in a 2.4kg weight reduction. The exhaust system is also entirely made up of titanium, which reduces weight by a further 4.5kg.
Overall, the BMW HP4 should prove to be a much more focussed performance machine than the S 1000 RR, but the greater ability comes at a higher price tag. BMW Motorrad Malaysia has set a price of RM144,444.00 for the HP4 and RM158,888.00 if you opt for the Competition Package variant (which gets more HP carbon parts and a sticker package). Despite this, interest has been sky high and of the 55 bikes they have to sell in 2013, 42 have already been snapped up so if you want one, get your order in right now.