Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Riding the Black Forest Cold Blood

This year BMW Motorrad have launch a few new bikes, along side of the F700GS, HP4 is available as a top up on the already brilliant S1000RR. We are lucky to be the first media to review this brand new bike which just being registered on March.
HP4 is the forth installment in the HP series, after HP2 Megamoto, Enduro and Sport. BMW has done very little cosmetic upgrade on the HP4 except the hardware and it really needs that. In short this is a beef up S1000RR but in a more controllable way. Weight saving has become the major job to be done on this bike. The full Titanium Akrapovic system save up a useful 4.5KG as opposed on the S1000RR stock system. The cast wheels has been replaced by forged and machine units, another 2.4KG lost; full carbon belly pan contribute to small portion of weight saving as well.  What BMW done on this bike is to squeeze up every spare drop from its sibling, to make it an elite.


With no doubt, a 194HP machine can punish you seriously if you did not pay enough respect on it. True enough but not completely applicable on the HP4; while comparing to other Japanese and Italian machines that I come across before, the beemer feels extremely smooth and mild on power delivery, even on Sport and Race mode. Wide open the throttle from start is not a problem unlike some Italian wild horse that will tear you apart if you do the same. By having a max hp at 13k RPM, the beemer will deliver the endless power across the power band. When other bikes started to feel their speed after pass the 10k RPM region, it still feels there is lot more room to punch forward.  BMW has done a very well job on the engine mapping, power delivery and throttle position is precise and instant, everything just happened in a smooth but fast manner. I can accelerate very early out from a corner without worry I got a wheel spin, unlike on a Brutale 1090RR which I tested few weeks ago, throttle control must be very careful else too much throttle you might end up at the other side of the road. There is a little vibration at low rev on the engines, it is noticeable but still under a reasonable state. Besides, it also has a launch control which will restrict the engine at a 8000RPM so you will not get wheel spin.


BMW has upgraded the electronics on this bike and made the already outstanding S1000RR electronics even better. The HP4 headline feature though is its motorcycle first semi-active suspension where they name it Dynamic Damping Control (DDC). The system changes the suspension setting rapidly, on the fly according to whole range of parameters. The front fork will firm up under heavy breaking and so as the rear while heavy acceleration to maintain stability and wheel traction. Besides, it also offers 4 modes for selection; sport, race, rain and slick, different mode provide a different throttle behavior but the fly-by-wire throttle systems just keep everything in a controllable manner. ABS and traction control is provided as standard but 14 stages of traction control can be choose only under slick mode. The forged and machine wheel keep the unsprung weight at minimum, thus improved suspension performance and grip, although the DDC and big piston fork may make the bike have a little reluctant-to-turn sensation, but putting a little hard work on the bars and alter line accordingly, you will discover how easy to turn into corner well, even for a novice. I am amazed that I can brake very late while entering corner thanks for the Brembo brakes and Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa S fitted on. The bike slows so hard that you can feel like going to vomit your heart out, yet the stability is astonishing. The HP4 is a slim down version of the S1000RR, with more then 7KG lighter, it is very easy to flick left and right, almost feel like a toy, even with a fully fuel 17.5 liter polymer made tank.


Sport bikes are never my favourite as most of they have the same look, fairing bikes fade off quite fast after some year, yet the HP4 is a little different. With a few color scheme available, I found that the white blue stripe combo is outstanding and BMW really do a very good work on designing the body work. Some sport bikes looks too bulky at the middle and tiny at the head but this just look right. I would like to point out the shark gill style side opening add up some points for its cosmetic design. The full Titanium exhaust system not only enhanced the performance but also contribute to its neat and tidy typical German feel, I think is something to do with the color of Titanium. The head lamps might be a little irritating for some folks but no doubt, it is very special kind of unsymmetrical design; in fact, I found it to be very different, maybe this is what BMW want all their bikes to be easily distinguished from others.


BMW always makes bikes which are easy to be control and so as this time. Never think that the HP4 is so easy to be handled when I first hop on it. I will put it in this way; a novice can ride fast like an expert without any professional training. It is like all the electronics has plugged into your neurons and act like part of your body, fast but obedient. In fact it is a bike you can make mistake on, yet without punishment imposed. I will say it is a technological masterpiece; it never threatened, only enhances and extends what you want to do. Oh yes, it’s got heated grips…….


Model tested: BMW HP4
Engine: four cylinder, liquid cooled, dohc 16v, 999cc
Power: 190bhp (142kW) @ 13,000rpm
Torque: 11.4kgm, 112Nm @ 4,750rpm
Tank/Range: 17.5 litres / 300km
Transmission: Six gears, wet multi-plate clutch, chain final drive
Chassis: aluminium twin spar
Seat height: 820mm
Wheelbase: 1422.7mm
Rake/trail: 24° / 98.5mm
Weight: 199kg wet, 90% full tank