BMW HP4 Race (2017 - 2018) Review
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
With its carbon fibre frame, wheels, bodywork, uprated electronics, WSB suspension and brakes the new BMW HP4 Race is achingly close in feel and speed to a factory superbike.
- Related: 2017 BMW HP4 Race - the story
It’s track-only, hideously expensive and only available in limited numbers, so it’s wholly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but it could be a tantalising glimpse into the future. If BMW ‘s new carbon technology filters down into its road bikes, our world will be a much happier place.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Agility in chicanes is like nothing a conventionally heavy superbike could ever muster and like the very best lightweight race bikes the HP4 Race can enter corners with devastating speed, which is the secret to its pace around a lap.
With such a beautifully set-up chassis it’s easy to place the HP4 Race exactly where you want, but the riding position helps even more. Big, wide clip-ons and spacious legroom (thanks to the height adjustable self-supporting carbon seat unit and rearsets) help even the tallest riders the space to get comfortable in the corners.
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 tyre drills into the tarmac and your body feels like its being crushed in an industrial press.
Manufactured on an industrial scale in a single piece, the high-strength 7.8kg carbon fibre frame is created with varying levels of stiffness and flex for stable handling and cornering feel. And of course it’s light, weighing 4kg less than the RR’s three-piece cast ali frame.
Unlike the new 1299 Superleggera the BMW’s deeply underbraced, girder-stiff swingarm is fabricated from good old-fashioned aluminium, with a design inspired by their WSB bike.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The way the BMW HP4 Race pulverises straights, dances through corners and beats you up under braking has WSB missile written through it like a stick of rock. Pinched and squeezed by traction control, anti-wheelie, quickshifters, auto-blippers and engine braking control, it makes the same ear-spitting, gurgling racket every inch of the way.
Based on BMW’s inline four-cylinder S1000RR motor, the World Endurance/WSB-inspired HP4 Race engine has weight-matched pistons, Pankl conrods and crank bearing shells. It’s fitted with hairier inlet and exhaust cams, longer and wider intake trumpets, a 200gram lighter crank and a milled ali sump. Compression ratio is up from 13.7 to 13.9:1, with maximum power up from 199bhp@13,500rpm to 215bhp@13,900rpm.
The motor is pre-run-in from the factory, so you can take your HP4 Race straight from the dealership to the track.
A new racing gearbox has a longer first and second and shorter higher ratios. Only third gear is the same as the S1000RR. An upside down ‘race shift’ gear pattern comes as standard (but can be converted to road-shift), as well as a quickshifter and auto-blipper.
A full 4-2-1 titanium Akrapovic race exhaust is topped off with a carbon can.
Actual WSB bikes make over 20bhp more, but they require an army of data technicians tweaking rider aids and the best riders in the world to keep them on the tarmac, so the HP4 Race’s power output is a little more sensible…in the loosest sense of the word.
Power delivery is as smooth as a big-cammed, blueprinted 215bhp motor can ever be and picking up the power from a closed throttle at full lean is velvety perfection.
The HP4 Race pings through its close-ratio box to 14,500rpm rev-limited heaven, the 2D dash rev display strobing from left to right like a hyperspeed Packman. It accelerates through the upper gears with the same unbridled anger as the 199bhp S1000RR does in the first, second and third.
Traction, wheelie and fire-spitting engine braking control are now all adjustable corner-by-corner. They’re slightly more polished and 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 friendly silicone cry loads you with confidence, so you lean more on their control and the chances of you flinging your £68,000 carbon masterpiece into the scenery diminish.
Anti-wheelie is a big step forward from the crudely-controlled RR. All the new-generation superbikes (except the Blade) have superb wheelie control systems, but the HP4 Race leapfrogs them all and places it firmly into WSB premier league. With the electronics taking control the HP4 Race takes off horizontally with such energy all you have to do is figure out how to hang on.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Up close the HP4 Race is a work of art. That deeply braced swingarm and stubbier tail tell you this is no ordinary RR. Every inch of this machine is milled aluminium, high-gloss lacquered carbon perfection. Just ogling it is a trouser-tightening thrill and taking it off its paddock stand (included) to push it around is as easy as walking with a pushbike. Although tuned, the motor won’t be any less reliable than the standard S1000RR and higher spec chassis parts should offer even greater durability.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
When you add up the value of all the special components the HP4 Race isn’t overpriced, but it’s still eye-wateringly expensive. Only Ducati’s 1299 Superleggera comes close to the BMW’s platinum-plated price tag. But if this carbon fibre frame technology ever filters down to a more affordable BMW road bike, we’ll be in for a treat.
As well as the carbon frame, WSB/BSB brakes and suspension, the HP4 Race has an uprated electronics package. Rider aids are tailored towards the track and an evolution of the current RR’s. Rider modes are now called Wet, Intermediate, Dry1, Dry2 and you also get launch control and a pitlane limiter. The traction control now uses an ignition cut so the rider can hear it pop when it activates. 15-stage traction and engine braking control and a five-stage anti-wheelie can be adjusted gear by gear.
A full digital racing 2D dash contains a bewildering amount of information and also logs lap by lap data, which you can download back in the pits. Road switchgear makes way for racing clusters with easy to use looking traffic light buttons.
Your £68k also buys you a clear-lacquered, brushed ali fuel tank, carbon fibre panels, a lithium-ion battery and a numbered (1-750) top yoke.
|Engine type||Liquid-coole, 16v, inline four|
|Frame type||Carbon fibre twin spar|
|Fuel capacity||17.4 litres|
|Front suspension||43mm Ohlins FGR300 forks fully adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Single Ohlins TTX36 GP rear shock with titanium spring, fully adjustable.|
|Front brake||2 x 320mm discs with Brembo GP-PR four-piston monobloc radial caliper.|
|Rear brake||220mm single disc with twin-piston caliper.|
|Front tyre size||120/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||200/55 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||-|
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||215 bhp|
|Max torque||89 ft-lb|
|Top speed||190 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
2012: BMW HP4. 9kg lighter than the S1000RR and featuring more refined electronics, it was the first production motorcycle to feature semi-active electronic suspension (shortly followed by the Ducati Multistrada).
2017: BMW HP4 Race. Carbon fibre frame, wheels, bodywork and self-supporting seat unit. Ignition cut traction and wheelie control, 215bhp, 171.4kg wet (146kg dry). Only 750 built.
Owners' reviews for the BMW HP4 (2017 - 2018)
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