Last But Not Launch
After a full day of DTC adjustments and DDC fine-tuning, the final piece to the HP4 testing puzzle came down to switching the bike over to launch mode. Doing so proved as easy as BMW staff made it out to be, with a simple push to the start button setting me on the course to propulsion heaven. I gave the bike around 60 percent throttle and let the revs bounce off the (launch-control-specific) 8000 rpm rev limiter, then at a moment’s notice began slipping the clutch and driving forward. I managed to get out of the box well for my first attempt and let the revs fall only slightly in first gear, proving how idiot-proof the system really is. Wheelies were non-existent through second gear, yet the bike pulled with enough grunt to easily match a decent non-aided race start. For a first attempt at building a launch control system for a production bike, I’d say BMW hit the nail on the head, which really doesn’t come as much of a surprise when you look at the S 1000 RR package as a whole.
The Best Money Can Buy
But as good as the standard S 1000 RR is, the HP4 is better. Every gripe I could come up with during this year’s literbike comparison has been addressed, from the RR’s heavy steering to its intrusive electronics. What the HP4 will retail for has yet to be announced. Put it this way though: If BMW can keep the pricing even remotely close to the retail of the Panigale S or Apilia RSV4 Factory APRC, then I’d easily label it the best money can buy. Leave it to BMW to make the best, better. SR
BMW Dynamic Damping Control
New technology has a funny effect on consumers; some are scared of it, while others appreciate it. What’s amazing about the HP4’s new DDC system, however, is that it utilizes the exact technology that BMW’s M series automobiles have been using for years. The electromagnetic valve inside both the shock and fork for instance, can be found in your neighbor’s M3, M5 and beyond. Even more, some of the equipment can be traced as far back as BMW’s 1997 7 series car.
The system itself is fairly simple; both the fork and shock use an electromagnetic current to open or close orifices in the valve and effectively stiffen or soften damping rates. How stiff or how soft the damping rates become are based on suggestions from the DDC control unit, which crunches data from a number of sensors throughout the bike. According to BMW, the primary parameters for the front fork are lean angle and lean angle rate of change. The shock, in comparison, is adjusted primarily based on the rate at which you open the throttle and shock travel as indicated by BMW’s spring travel sensor.
Unlike the rear shock, the front fork is without a spring travel sensor. BMW claims this is because they don’t have a proper guard to shield it from road debris, which would ultimately damage it. You can purchase one separately however, and the HP4’s electronics are preprogrammed so that upon plugging the sensor in the bike’s control unit will fully understand which part of the stroke the fork is in, ultimately granting you access to front rebound and compression adjustment.
While all this is exciting and new, what’s perhaps more thrilling are the capabilities of BMW’s system when paired with the company’s HP race calibration kit II. Because the system works off GPS signals, you can go into the calibration program and signify what percentage of damping you’d like at a certain part of the track based on meters traveled. Say for instance the bike works really well everywhere on the track, but it feels stiff over a bump in turn two at your favorite track. With the HP race calibration kit, you can go into your computer and manually change the damping percentage for that section of track alone, ultimately designing the perfect suspension setup for a given track.
New technology can indeed be a bit frightening, but in reality BMW’s DDC is more a sign of things to come than a sign of things to be scared of.
HP Race Data Logger
BMW’s HP4 is, in many ways, a racebike with mirrors and headlights. That being said, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to find that much of BMW Motorrad’s accessory catalog is filled with the same components you’d find in the World Superbike factory BMW team hauler. The HP Race data logger is just one of these high-end “tools of the trade,” and a unit that’s become increasingly popular at various BMW press launches. During the HP4 launch in particular, we had some time to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the unit from the BMW engineers who know it best.
The most important thing to consider when it comes to the HP Race data logger is that it was developed in-house by BMW with the help of MotoGP suppliers 2D Datarecording. More specifically, the unit was designed specifically for the S 1000 RR and HP4. It uses GPS and “connects to between 12 and 20 satellites depending on the track location,” says BMW. What’s more, the unit ships with BMW’s very own analysis program, which can be downloaded directly to your computer for plug-and-play data acquisition fun.
While not as truly in-depth as the data logging system found on the WSBK-spec S 1000 RR, the HP Race data logger can measure around 33 channels, providing enough insight to literally dizzy you between sessions. In an attempt to not completely fry your brain, BMW has built into the program a handful of templates that give you a quick overview of what’s going on with your riding. The important channels are clearly highlighted, including speed, rpm and lean angle at each corner.
An added bonus of the HP data logger is that it can connect to Google Maps — provided you have an internet connection. Once paired, the program can accurately depict variations in your line from one lap to a next. Compare that with your corner speed, lean angle and other parameters, and you can pinpoint what lines may or may not be working in your favor.
The system may not be for every S 1000 RR or HP4 owner, but there’s no denying its potential to help you as a rider at the track. You can’t beat the fact that it’s developed by BMW, for BMW, either.
2013 BMW HP4
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse DOHC inline four, 4 valves/cyl.
Bore x stroke: 80 x 49.7mm
Compression ratio: 13.0:1
Induction: BMS-KP EFI, single-valve 48mm throttle bodies, dual injectors/cyl.
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Rear tire: 200/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Rake/trail: 24.0 degrees/ 3.9 in. (98.5mm)
Wheelbase: 56.0 in. (1423mm)
Seat height: 32.3 in. (820mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.6 gal. (17.5L)
Claimed wet weight: 439 lb. (199kg)