BMW HP4: a “factory” S1000RR

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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.

  • Tony T.

    All of that and only a 2kg reduction? I’d love to see where all the control equipment for the suspension is living.

  • Kevin

    Dig the paint

  • motronics

    Classic German calculated incremental response to fast things from Italy, in this case the Panigale S. If/when there is a Panigale R we will probably see an HP4 with more power to counter that. Methinks this gives them an excuse to match the price also. BMW vs. VW/Audi/Porsche on two wheels is going to be exciting!

  • dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

    I like the bold new graphics.

  • Sentinel

    I wonder if this one has that awesome “engine blowup” feature like the standard version has since introduction?

    • mugget

      Awww… *boo hoo*
      Have a tissue for your issue…
      Don’t want to be an early adopter and have to deal with those kind of issues, then you don’t get to be on the cutting edge!

      And here’s a tip: if your engine starts making strange noises, don’t keep riding it!

      • Sentinel

        It’s been out for 3 years now, and is still blowing engines genius…

        • austin_2ride

          BMW has by far the best warranty coverage of any manufacturer in the industry, 3 year 36,000 miles including roadside assistance. BMW also requires trained technicians with actual schooling. Any idea of Aprilia’s warranty? Maybe 2 years (info not on their site) and you would have needed it for the RSV4 paperweight. The new Aprilia dealer in town sent a Yamaha “set-up” kid to Italy for two weeks and he is now factory certified!

          • BMW11GS

            I want to go to Italy for two weeks to learn how to wrench!

        • Mugello Fire

          I have a 2010 and use it only on race tracks. I had never a problem and have neither seen any with somebody else. I don’t know from which source your information is “genius”.

    • austin_2ride

      Having seen several S1000RR bikes I’ve never heard of any with a “engine blowup” issue. Perhaps you a refering to the new 2012 model year that has a recall for a select VIN range and not the entire model year. The recall is for replacing the connecting rod bolts. Last I heard no bike in America has had any engine failures related to the recall.

      • Sentinel

        You guys really don’t get around much, do you?

        • austin_2ride

          I’m curious as to what your insight is in this realm?

      • Mugello Fire

        Yes “Sentinel” knows something, nobody in the world knows…..

        • CCarey

          It said so on the forums, duh

  • Gene

    Still uglier than shit on a toothbrush.

    BMW need to hire some Ducati stylists. And Ducati needs to hire some BMW engineers.

    • Rick

      Or the Audi guys!

    • rndholesqpeg

      Why on earth would Ducati want to hire some soulless BMW engineers?

      • Gene

        I was saying perhaps so they could start winning some MotoGPs again, but then I remembered the state of the BMW CRT machine. My bad.

    • Roman

      The looks have really grown on me over the last couple years. This version looks fantastic, imo.

  • Rick

    Eine Maschine ohne Seele.

  • Sean Smith

    Ha, seems that literally no one has read the pdf.

    “It’s not totally real time and it’s not in response to what the suspension is actually doing”

    Actually, it is. Says so on pages 8, 9 and 10. Dynamic means “right now” in this context.

    This is a huge fucking step forward in motorcycle suspension. Damping actively changes in the same way as on the M3, Corvette, and numerous other cars. The system on the 1199 doesn’t even come close (all it does is turn the clickers for you).

    Will it work great (or fail miserably like anti-dive forks and 16″ front wheels)? Who knows. But this much is certain: it’s unlikely that DDC will get the development attention it needs to be the “next big thing” if active suspension continues to be banned in racing.

    Look at picture 12 to get an idea of how nice the HP bikes really are.

    • Racetrack Style

      A BMW 1000RR weighing in the 350-355 lb. range could be possible based on the numbers listed above & James Parker’s GSX-RADD. Parker’s latest design dropped 22 pounds from the stock GSX-R. However, will BMW and Parker work together considering the history between BMW and Hossack?

      Let’s hope so because tuned, anti-dive has yet to get the development attention it needs. (the RADD not only works better than its predecessors but also looks better too, which plays a role in market success).

      The Panigale’s drastic weight reduction might be the catalyst that alt. front-ends need for a 2nd go at production. As others have commented the rivalry between Ducati (Audi) & BMW will be fun to watch. What OEM has the most experience in funny front-ends? And, what is the best way to drastically cut weight?

    • Mugello Fire

      Amen! True 100%.

      The Panigale system is just a motor who is doing the clickers. That’s all. The BMW system is like rocket science compared to this.

      Seems Sean is the only guy who is capable to read.

  • the_doctor

    BMW vs. Ducati (Audi/VW) should be a fun rivalry.

  • mugget

    Looks horn. DDC sounds awesome… I’d have one!

  • filly-fuzz

    I’d rather have the HP2

    but this is pretty awesome

  • Brad

    2Kg? What would it be if they left the mirrors on?

  • Murat

    It says 2.4kgs saving is from forged wheels and sprockets. An additional 4.5kgs comes from the full Akrapovic exhaust system…
    I remember reading somewhere that the total weight saving was 10kgs, so perhaps there are other weight saving measures elsewhere on the bike.
    And I am probably one of the very few, but I just love the way S1000RR looks, especially with the asymetric headlights…

    • Eben

      BMW’s website shows a 169kg dry weight for the HP4, versus 178kg for the S1000RR. Wet weights with ABS are 199kg and 202kg, however. So the HP4 would seem to gain an additional 6kg between the wet and dry measurements?

      Of course, those numbers might be completely made up.

    • SamuraiMark

      Agreed on the headlights. Seen a lot of asymmetric lights that look like shit, but on the S1000RR they look great. Makes me think of skynet / terminator / singularity / machine overlords.

      • Racetrack Style

        the asymmetry will look even better once they re-style the left one to better compliment/contrast the round, right one.

  • Anders

    Can’t see the bike for all the graphics

  • Coreyvwc

    I just want to know who designed that HORRID fish gill thing on the r/h fairing? further more, who hell let that go into production? Instant japanese cheap/ tack factor…

  • QBert Thornton

    I have one and I ride it on both track and street. I also race, but since I road my HP4 competition on the track I have a very hard time even getting on my race bike. I can tell you that whatever the weight savings actually is, that is very noticeable from the S1000rr. The suspension does feel completely different than anything that I have ever ridden before in my life. Having upgraded my suspension to Ohlins on my race bike, I still am able to save 1.5-2 seconds a lap with the DDC, but I have also added the front sensor to my HP4 as well, thus unlocking a bit more fine tuning. It does not come ready to rock and roll like many think, but with some saddle time and tuning you can get there.