The HP4 is offered with a...
The HP4 is offered with a competition package, complete with adjustable HP rearsets, hinged brake and clutch levers, blue metallic wheels, a sponsor sticker kit and multiple carbon fiber pieces. The tinted windscreen is standard.
Choose Your Package
Purchasing an HP4 will be freakishly similar to buying a new BMW car, since there are at least three different packages available, a standard, competition and passenger package — that’s right, the HP4 is so performance oriented that you actually have to purchase a passenger seat and passenger footrest system separately if you’re looking to take someone along for a ride! The competition package adds to the performance aspect of the HP4 and includes adjustable HP rearsets, hinged HP brake and clutch levers, carbon fiber paneling, a sponsor sticker kit and blue metallic wheels. In typical BMW fashion, the fleet of test bikes on hand during the HP4’s official launch in Jerez, Spain, were all outfitted with the competition package.
Next Level Performance
Every word you’ll read about the HP4 suggests that it’s more performance hungry than the already sadistic S 1000 RR, which can at first be intimidating considering the RR’s reputation for such in-your-face performance. But even with its limb-stretching 193 horsepower the bike is much more graceful than its RR sibling. Smooth, refined, tractable, all these terms perfectly define the HP4.
Hustling the bike through a tighter section of track is biggest evidence of its newfound feel. The HP4 steers into slow-speed corners with less effort and transitions from side to side without taxing your upper body the way the S 1000 does, a sure benefit of the forged aluminum wheels and nearly 20 pounds that have been lopped off the package as a whole. It feels lighter on its toes through the middle of a corner and more apt to make mid-corner line alterations — consider it a heavyweight fighter that just lost 20 pounds…but absolutely none of his strength. The HP4 feels much more manageable as you crack the throttle too, and its power seems to be provided in a more refined manner. Everything feels seamless in fact, allowing you to relax, breathe and drive through the corner without much excitement. The S 1000 RR, by comparison, feels more like riding a wild bull; it’s fun, but it’ll wear you out.
The HP4 feels more active through the middle of a corner thanks to the Dynamic Damping Control, which can make roughly 100 changes to the damping rate every second. The speed at which the system adapts is quick enough and its accuracy high enough that the bike always feels sufficiently set-up for the section of track you’re covering. Release the brakes and tip into a corner for instance, and the front end feels softer, allowing you to load the front tire and steer the bike better. Accelerate aggressively out of the corner in contrast, and the rear feels to stiffen up, allowing you to drive forward without excessive chassis pitch.
The HP4’s updated display depicts DDC settings, DTC settings and launch control activation. Front damping rates are adjusted as one, meaning no separate rebound or compression adjustment. Rear suspension can be adjusted on the rebound and compression side through 15 levels of damping. With launch control activated, the display shows your three allowable launches and revs are held at 8000 rpm. Notice also the DTC setting indicator.
While you can’t adjust front rebound and compression separately (you can if you purchase BMW’s fork travel sensor as an accessory), I manually stiffened up the damping rates throughout the course of my day aboard the HP4. The changes provided a more composed feel through the faster corners and at the entry of a turn, and were easy enough to make using the menu option on the HP4’s display. One thing I noticed, however, is that feedback from the single-valve fork is slightly different than the feedback from a standard fork, thus it takes some time to get a feel for what changes you want to make. The real test, of course, will come when we get a test bike stateside and can measure the bike’s adaptive performance on public roads.
The large range of suspension adjustment made possible by the DDC is mirrored by that of the new Dynamic Traction Control system, which makes tailoring the HP4 to tire — and road — conditions a relatively easy feat. The DTC feels much more refined in its intervention, even when ramped up to level +3, where torque is clearly restricted but not to a point where you feel the system cutting and returning power. If it weren’t for the yellow light on the dash in fact, I’d otherwise have been unsuspecting of the system’s intervention — it’s really that much better than in years past. Each level from 0 to -7 requires a bit more preparedness, and utmost faith in your skill as a rider. Not to be confused, the new 200/55-size Pirelli Supercorsa SP tire is well up to the task at hand, and a definite improvement over the Metzeler K3s that come standard on the S 1000 RR in terms of side grip, feedback and feel. Opposite the DDC system, DTC changes are made by means of a dedicated button on the left clip-on. Simplicity for the win!
The HP4’s DDC control unit...
The HP4’s DDC control unit is mounted behind the front cowl and analyzes data provided by a plethora of sensors. Lean angle, lean angle rate of change, shock travel, and acceleration are just the primary parameters that are evaluated.
The HP4’s wheelie control now feels equally as refined as the traction control system and no longer cuts power to the point that you’ll need to see a chiropractor. Down the back straight at Jerez the front wheel would even loft so high that I nearly decided to close the throttle myself. Just before the point of no return, however, the HP4 electronics would kick in (smoothly!) and gently pull the wheel back down to a point where the bike continued to drive forward. BMW really has improved these electronics.
The Race ABS with IDM-setting can be turned off via a button mounted near the DTC control, although the revisions made to the programming feel to have suppressed the need to do so. Granted I didn’t pull any Rossi-esque brake maneuvers into either of the braking zones at Jerez, but in neither Race nor Slick mode did I encounter any ABS cycling. And I was quite thankful for that, as I’ve yet to finish cleaning my underwear after having the system on the RR cycle last year heading into turn one at Valencia.
The HP4’s new brake pad compound complements the revised ABS system well, and while there’s still an aggressive initial bite, the overall braking performance feels less intimidating. Power through the pull is enough to get all 193 horsepower slowed down and there’s a good amount of feedback through the lever, despite the brakes requiring a bit of added force from your right hand. One of my main concerns with the HP4 brakes, however, is that the lever would work its way toward the bar at the beginning of each session. It would remain consistent after that initial movement, but confidence was mostly zapped for the time being.
Also related to getting into the corner, BMW has revised the HP4’s engine braking characteristics. When compared to the S 1000 RR, the HP4 freewheels much less into the corner, providing a better sense of control as you rush a turn.