BMW confirm 212bhp carbon-framed £68,000 superbike

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BMW Motorrad have revealed the full production version of the concept bike we were teased with at the end of 2017.

Dubbed the HP4 RACE, it's the first BMW to feature a full carbon fibre frame and the firm says it "epitomises the brand's reputation for innovation, pioneering technology and class-leading performance."

BMW HP4 RACE highlights

  • Carbon fibre main frame in monocoque construction weighing just 7.8 kilograms
  • 212bhp @ 13,900 rpm and 88.5lbft @ 10,000 rpm
  • Self-supporting carbon fibre rear frame with three-stage height adjustment
  • Carbon fibre wheels
  • Öhlins FGR 300 fork
  • Öhlins TTX 36 GP shock
  • Brembo GP4 PR monoblock brake calipers
  • Close-ratio racing gearbox
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • 2D dashboard and 2D data recording including logger
  • Dynamic Traction Control DTC (programmable for selected gears at 15 levels)
  • Engine Brake EBR (programmable for selected gears at 15 levels)
  • Wheelie Control (programmable for selected gears)
  • Launch Control & Pit Lane Limiter
  • Paint finish in BMW HP Motorsport colours
  • Production run of 750 units, each individually crafted
  • UK price of £68,000 and available from September 2017

Revealed in all its glory last night at the Auto Shanghai 2017 show in China, the HP4 RACE's big claim to fame is that carbon frame. Weighing just 7.8kg, it's joined by carbon fibre wheels that are claimed to be 30% lighter than the equivalent alloys.                

BMW say that the engine, electronics, brake and suspension technology on the HP4 RACE take it to the same spec level as current factory superbike racing machines. Weighing just 171kg when fully-fuelled and track ready, the HP4 RACE is actually lighter than the current World Superbikes.

The one big downside is the HP4 RACE's singular purpose - this is a track-only bike, and not homologated for road use. The upside is that you get a World Superbike spec engine, producing 212bhp, Öhlins FGR 300 inverted fork and TTX 36 GP monoshock – the same as used in both World Superbike and MotoGP racing series. Brembo GP4 PR monoblock brake calipers also come straight from the world stage and ensure optimal braking performance.

An extensive package of electronic controls are viewed and controlled through the 2D dash, with data logger included. Dynamic Traction Control, Engine Braking and Wheelie Control can be programmed for each gear, according to rider preference.

While BMW's HP-series bike have always pushed the boat out when compared to the underlying machinery that spawned them, the HP4 RACE is in another league altogether – but that comes at a price. £68,000 to be precise. The obvious comparison for this German 'Super-leicht', is Ducati's sublime Superleggera. The parallels are clear, too – with Ducati claiming an equal 212bhp @ 11,000rpm a dramatically more stomping 108lbft @ 9000rpm and 4kg less kerb mass, at 167kg. The Superleggera is another £4000 on top of the HP4 RACE, but you can use it on the road, too.

The new HP4 RACE will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and can be ordered from any BMW Motorrad dealer in the UK.


MILAN SHOW: Say hello to the carbon-framed BMW HP4 Race

First reported 09 November 2016 by Jon Urry

"The concept behind the HP4 Race is to introduce the idea of a main frame and wheels made from carbon fibre into a production motorcycle," explains Christian Gonschor, the project leader behind BMW’s new prototype. "It is a deeper look at this new technology and also the opportunity to offer customers a very advanced machine that certainly won’t disappoint them."

Somewhat annoyingly for BMW, the fanfare of the HP4 Race’s debut at the Milan Motorcycle Show was muted by Ducati and its Superleggera being revealed the day before. However, while both of these bikes use carbon fibre technology, they do it in very different ways. And for different ultimate goals.

"The technology for the construction of the wheel rims and frame is very important," says Gonschor. "We have many patents and innovations in the construction of these components. When our carbon parts leave their mould, they are ready to go, much like an aluminium part would be, and have very little, if any, variations in their construction. We have simplified the whole construction procedure to the point it is ready for mass production with precise tolerances in flexibility and with none of the variations in construction you get with hand built one-off carbon parts."

While this may not seem very radical, what BMW has done is effectively open the doors to using carbon fibre in the same was as metal is currently used, something Gonschor admits is a target of the HP4 Race project. And it’s a field of technology that BMW’s car division is already very experienced in doing.

Vehicles such as the BMW i3 and i8 already use carbon body structures. Lighter and stronger than metal, BMW actually went as far as buying 49% of carbon fibre manufacturer SGL Group to give them a head start in this new technology. But what does it bring to the motorcycle world?

"As well as being lighter, a carbon chassis allows you to play with every geometrical item – stiffness, flex, everywhere – if you know what you want, you can achieve it. With an aluminium frame you are far more limited," says Gonschor. "For sure it will always cost a premium, but like our car colleagues have done with the i3 and i8, we are moving to the next step." But does it work in practice?

"If you want to show the performance of the frame and wheels, what is the best thing to put it around? A current world superbike-spec bike! An S1000RR is ready to go close to the limit, but to really reach the limit you need to use a complete superbike spec bike and that involves the best components on the market," says Gonschor.

In the HP4 Race prototype this means top if the range WSB-spec Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes and an engine that is also very close to WSB-specification. Will these components make their way onto the production version? While Christian Gonschor wouldn’t be drawn on the precise specification of the final version of the HP4 Race, it is believed to be very similar to the prototype and be a track only machine with a price tag that reflects its high specification. A fact backed up by BMW’s President Stephan Schaller’s confirmation that the final version HP4 Race will be an exclusive limited series machine when it arrives in the second half of 2017.

"With the HP4 Race advanced prototype, we want to show the world that we are ready to mass produce a carbon mainframe and that it is not just a hand-built prototype,” concludes Gonschor. “The bike is a kind of taste of the future and in the first half of next year we will reveal more information about the bike such as weight, specification, production volume and of course, price."

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Richard Newland

By Richard Newland