BMW cranks the already impressive S1000RR up a few notches with the new HP4 version. The latter stands out with revised geometry and more comprehensive electronics, helped by two years of racing experience in the FIM Superstock, IDM, and WSBK championships.
Beyond its breathtaking styling, the 2013 BMW HP4 has all the weapons necessary to strike fear in any competitor, and even make some race-spec variants jealous, including:
- Forged aluminum wheels;
- Brembo/Bosch ABS;
- Four engine modes;
- Fifteen-level Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) adjustable on-the-fly;
- Wheelie Control;
- Adjustable foot pegs;
- Retractable brake and clutch levers in the event of a fall;
- Combined ABS in Rain mode; front-only ABS in Slick mode;
- World's first standard belly pan;
- World's first Dynamic Damping Control (DDC).
To learn more about these systems and more, please read our 2013 BMW HP4 Preview
Entering corners with the 2013 BMW HP4 is easier thanks to the new geometry up front, lighter allow wheels, and marvellous DDC system that work beautifully together. While the inertia from its big 4-cylinder engine still makes the BMW HP4 physically challenging to ride, reaching the apex demands about 20% less effort (not enough to best the RSV4
The comprehensive and easy-to-read instrument panel on the 2013 BMW HP4 deserves nothing but praise. Managing the various menus and settings proves fairly intuitive. Likewise, the ABS and DTC indicators are clear and sharp.
In terms of ergonomics, the multi-way adjustable foot pegs of the 2013 BMW HP4 allow a decent riding position on the road and an ideal stance for attacking corners on a track. As for the seat, it's arguably the best in the segment when it comes to the overall combination of grip and comfort.
Learning with the right mode
|Entering corners with the 2013 BMW HP4 is easier thanks to the new geometry up front, lighter allow wheels, and marvellous DDC system that work beautifully together. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
After testing the 2013 BMW HP4 on a track in both Rain and Sport modes (the LED indicators of the intrusive ABS and DTC blinked like the lights on a Christmas tree), I was very anxious to try the Race mode. Here, the front wheel has more bite and the whole chassis feels sharper. The suspension becomes much stiffer and works great during hard braking manoeuvres. ABS also kicks in later so you can delay brake activation; however, DTC remains too aggressive.
Slick mode at last!
|On Sport mode, the front wheel has more bite and the whole chassis feels sharper. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
In Slick mode, the 2013 BMW HP4 turns into a real track monster: Never have production forks and shocks felt this sharp, rigid, and stable. On a fantastic track like Circuit Mont-Tremblant, it's like the machine can read your thoughts, adjusting damping just ahead of the braking point (stiffer up front) or at the apex when you twist the throttle again (stiffer in the rear).
Designed for the top European tracks, the manufacturer's DDC system unfortunately becomes quite confused on a short, tight course with bumpy stretches: It doesn't seem to be able to keep up and make adjustments at the right time.
With the Slick mode on, ABS and DTC allow maximum rider intervention. As previously mentioned, the latter offers 15 levels so it's easy to find the one that best matches your riding style. Honestly, the -3 to -5 range will perfectly suit track day enthusiasts, while -6 and -7 should be reserved for professional racers and other fearless riders. In this setting, DTC feels like too little, too late when the rear wheel starts to slip (some might even wonder if it's disabled).
Using a -5 setting, every single horsepower hammers the ground and catapults you out of corners. At full throttle, the 2013 BMW HP4 is a wild, furious steed that seemingly can't be contained. Serenity only returns when you lean in corners; past the apex, the orgasmic sprint resumes and you'd better hold on tight until the next turn. If you're somewhat new at this game, consider yourself warned!
|In Slick mode, the 2013 BMW HP4 turns into a real track monster: Never have production forks and shocks felt this sharp, rigid, and stable. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
While the 2013 BMW HP4's engine is identical to the S1000RR's, the revised maps result in a much fatter power curve, especially at medium revs, with peak power (193 hp) coming at 13,000 rpm. What's more, the transmission is sharp and very well calibrated to get the most out of the engine. It uses a slightly shorter final drive, too.
With so much power on tap, one of the best chassis ever designed happens to defy many common laws of physics. At full throttle, the front wheel takes off with each gear shift, while the burdened rear tire drifts and leaves a long, black mark across the end of the corner. It's all very exhilarating, yet relatively scary for the average rider.
Luckily, the excellent Brembo brakes on the 2013 BMW HP4 always come to the rescue. Powerful and easy to modulate, they use a pair of 320mm floating brake discs on nine rings with 4-piston callipers up front, and a single 220mm brake disc in the rear. However, I noticed a slight vibration following a series of hard braking manoeuvres, so despite their increased endurance, the brakes still have room for improvement.
|While the 2013 BMW HP4's engine is identical to the S1000RR's, the revised maps result in a much fatter power curve, especially at medium revs, with peak power (193 hp) coming at 13,000 rpm. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
BMW is taking the lead with advanced technologies derived from the auto industry, as well as its expertise from F1 racing. It sets a new standard that only the F4RR, 1199 Panigale R
, RSV4 Factory, and ZX-10R
can hope to achieve.
According to former world champion Troy Corser, the 2013 BMW HP4's performance matches that of WSBK bikes from just five years ago. Impressive, don't you think?
- Ultra-powerful engine and brakes
- Comprehensive and rider-friendly electronics
- Breathtaking styling and finish
- Able to maintain a fantastic pace on the track while remaining safe
- Unprecedented levels of equipment
- Still physically challenging to ride