When Ducati’s new-generation Multistrada 1200 S made its debut in 2010 with the DES (Ducati Electronic Suspension) system, it opened up a new era in sportbikes. Instead of being forced to manually change suspension settings externally with tools, now a rider could simply change them electronically via a dashboard menu.
But that wasn’t the real change ushered in by the Multistrada’s DES system. By allowing electronic alteration of the suspension, this opened the door for real-time adjustments via those electronics —an actual semi-active suspension that can make changes as you ride. This can provide soft suspension settings for comfort when you’re cruising on the superslab, then changing to sportbike firm when you hit the twisties —all without requiring any input from the rider.
That sportbike has arrived in the form of the 2013 BMW HP4.
The fourth in the line of HP (High Performance) models in BMW’s history —five if you count the K1300S HP option that was available for that model in 2012 —the HP4 gains its distinction by offering the most sophisticated electronics package ever available on a mass production machine, in this case the base platform being the company’s superb S 1000 RR. Actually, “mass production” isn’t completely correct; BMW was being coy about actual production figures, but we’ve been told that at least 2500 will be built worldwide to satisfy FIM World Superstock racing homologation regulations. And of those 2500 or so, approximately 400 units will be making their way to American shores…with all of that allotment reportedly already presold (in fact, our test unit allegedly is destined for a customer…).
Bradley already covered all the details of the HP4 in his First Ride story (“Dynamic Development”) in the December 2012 issue. A brief recap of the BMW’s electronics package includes the Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) semi-active suspension system that can adjust the fork and shock up to 100 times per second; a revised Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) system that now features 15 different levels of traction control in Slick mode that are also adjustable on the fly; a revamped Race ABS that now has IDM German Superbike Championship-developed settings in Slick mode; and a Launch Control setting that holds rpm and wheelies off the line. Other upgrades include forged aluminum wheels wrapped with Pirelli’s Diablo Supercorsa SP tires, Brembo monobloc calipers, and a titanium Akrapovic full exhaust complete with catalyzer.
This linkage connects to the...
This linkage connects to the potentiometer that measures rear wheel travel for the DDC, just one of the many parameters it analyzes hundreds of times a second to determine what damping settings are required.
Our test HP4 was equipped...
Our test HP4 was equipped with the Premium Package, which includes these folding/adjustable brake and clutch levers, as well as fully adjustable footpeg/brake/clutch control assemblies.
The HP4 is so focused on performance...
The HP4 is so focused on performance that if you want to carry a passenger, you’ll need to pay for the optional seat and footpeg assemblies.
Even with those accessories included, that all of the U.S. allotment of HP4s are presold is pretty impressive, considering the state of the economy and sportbike market — as well as the HP4’s sticker price. Like most BMWs, the HP4 is available in a variety of option packages. The base model retails for $19,990 which includes the DDC, DTC, Race ABS, Launch Control, forged aluminum wheels in gloss black, Akrapovic exhaust, and GSA (Gear Shift Assist) quickshifter. The “Standard Package” adds a Pillion Rider Package that includes a passenger seat and footpegs/brackets, plus heated grips, for $20,525. And the “Premium Package” (which is what we tested) adds numerous HP carbon body pieces, folding/adjustable HP brake and clutch levers, folding/adjustable HP brake and shift levers, forged aluminum wheels in Racing Blue Metallic, and a sponsor decal kit, for a cool $24,995.