I’ve just finished my second riding session on the new BMW S1000RR HP4 at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain.
As well as having lighter wheels, a titanium Akrapovic exhaust and improved electronic rider aids, it’s the first production bike to have electronically-adjustable rebound and compression damping (Dynamic Damping Adjustment).
You still need to manually adjust the suspension, albeit via the dash and buttons on the bar, but the ECU takes care of the rest when you’re moving.
To be honest the bike feels a little too soft for the track and I can’t really feel the electronic suspension do its thing – especially on a smooth, flowing track like this. It just feels nice and composed, unless you push it hard and then you can tie the bike in knots a little.
The real test (and the big advantage of electronic suspension) will be when we get to ride the HP4 on the road at a later date, but I’m going to adjust it more as the day goes on, so look out for the full report in MCN on sale 12 September.
The traction control is manually adjustable on the bar, which is a first for the S1000RR and it's good to be able to play with it on the move. It’s too intrusive at the moment, but I’m going to turn it down as the day goes on.
The new Brembo monoblocs are strong, but I’m getting a small amount of brake fade at the beginning of each session, but the lever travel then stays constant.
The engine is still ballistic S1000RR and the handling superb – the lighter wheels help direction changes, too. We’re on Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa SP road tyres at the moment, but we’ll get a chance to try Pirelli’s new Superbike 17” slicks later.
BMW are being tight-lipped here about how much the HP4 is likely to cost at the moment, but we’ll find out soon. It’s due to arrive in dealers in December.
Is the HP4 a huge leap forward over the standard S1000RR? Let me do a few more sessions to figure that out – the standard bike is still our superbike of the year and hardly a slouch!