In releasing the HP4 version of its S1000RR sportbike, BMW is double-underlining its continuing leadership in bringing the electronic aids of world-championship racing to the street. European makers were the first to put traction control and engine-mode control on production models, while Japanese makers adopted them much more slowly and often under confusing names.
The HP4 also increases BMW’s grip on “most race-ready sportbike,” a title formerly held by Suzuki’s GSX-Rs. A look at national Superbike starting grids, along with conversations with riders, reveals that BMW is now the least-expensive machine to bring to race levels of power, handling and control.
The HP4 variant continues the S1000RR’s class-leading 193 horsepower at 13,000 rpm, reduces claimed dry weight from 398 pounds to 372 and adds the following cluster of new or updated features:
» Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) “adapts to the current riding maneuver or road surface by means of sensors and electrically controlled regulation valves.” Once a bike has computer and sensors, think of the questions that can be asked. Like, what is the mean suspension velocity during the past second (easily calculated from travel data)? Or, what was total suspension travel in the last 50 feet? With data like this instantly available, the system “knows” how you are riding and adjusts damping valves to suit.
Revisions include altered cam timing, compression and combustion chambers, plus, on the limited-edition HP4, an exhaust system made entirely of titanium with a “controlled acoustic valve” to boost low-end and midrange torque (all riders—touring, sportbike and racers—benefit from stronger bottom end and midrange).
» Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) allows the rider to choose the level of “control intervention,” permitting race-style throttle-steering. Press-kit language refers to lean-angle detection and suspension travel monitoring via a “sensor” box. Sounds like the sophistication of MotoGP is coming to a showroom near you!
» Brembo radial Monobloc calipers, 320mm floating front brake discs and “further developed and refined Race ABS.”
» Launch Control senses wheelies and triggers torque modulation for quickest starts.
» Torque “perceptibly increased in the 6000-to-9750-rpm range” sounds like changes made to BMW’s World Superbike engines described to me at Miller Motorsports Park this past May by BMW Motorsport Director Bernhard Gobmeier. BMW’s success this year in World Superbike indicates that the company now “gets it.”
» Although BMW’s language makes Shift Assistant sound like a helpful clerk in a green eyeshade, it’s actually a race-style shifter switch to enable clutchless upshifts.
» A “competition package” and listed race accessories increase value to racers and trackday users.
As MotoGP inches toward a more production-based formula, BMW is bringing the sophistication of GP racing to production machines, benefiting all varieties of riders.
Race on Sunday, sell on Monday.