In 2008, BMW launched a bike called the HP2 Sport. It cost $25,500 and was arguably the most exotic, unique motorcycle on sale for a few years there. Based on the R1200S, it was essentially a completely different motorcycle, with a different cam and valve design in the engine, Ohlins shocks on the Paraleverl/Telelever suspension and a self-supporting carbon subframe. Most importantly, it was signifigantly lighter and signifigantly more powerful than the donor bike. This new BMW HP4 is not. Based on the S1000RR, it makes the same horsepower and sheds 2.4kg. But, it is the first use of semi-real-time, variable damping on a production bike.
Unlike that old HP2 Sport, this new HP4 is basically just an S1000RR with some parts bolted on. Albeit some very nice parts. In addition to that suspension (dubbed Dynamic Damping Control), there’s lightweight forged aluminum wheels, a Ti exhaust system, a lighter sprocket carrier and lithium battery bring dry weight down to just 169kg/372lbs. That makes the HP4 the lightest four-cylinder liter bike on the market.
And that impressive list of bolt-ons continues: a 200-section rear tire, launch control is added to the electronics package and Brembo Monoblocs combine with BMW’s awesome “Race ABS” for probably the best brakes out there.
All those parts will offer seriously tangible performance upgrades, but its that DDC that’s the real story here. Know how it’s hard to get suspension set up to handle both big impacts (ie bumps and potholes and curbing), but be stiff enough to keep the bike planted in high speed corners? Sensors supply an ECU with braking, acceleration and turn rate data, then “electrically controlled regulation valves” alter damping rates to maps suited to different riding conditions. That happens in both the shock and forks. It’s not totally real time and it’s not in response to what the suspension is actually doing, but it is automatically adjusting the suspension based on how the bike’s being ridden and which mode you have the bike in (ie rain, sport, race, slick). Preload remains manual. You can read more about its operation in the attached PDF, we’ll crunch the data and bring you a more detailed analysis soon.
No word on price.