The 2013 BMW HP4 is the fourth offering from BMW’s High Performance line of motorcycles and is largely identical to the standard BMW S1000RR except for technological advancements that vault the HP4 into a very, very special class of high performance sportbike.
The standard S1000RR was launched in 2009 with a production run of 1000 units, the minimum number needed for BMW to compete in Superbike World Championship racing which uses motorcycles that are technically available for sale to the general public. BMW was out to prove that it could build motorcycles that are engineered to comparable standards as their sports cars and 2010’s S1000RR garnered the top spot in more than one comparative shootout. The pace has not waned, and the 2013 BMW HP4 shows that the company is investing heavily in research and development and again; this top-shelf sport bike threatens to sweep the awards.
With forged alloy wheels, an Akrapovic titanium exhaust, a lighter sprocket carrier and battery, and many, many carbon-fiber parts, the 439-pound HP4 is 15 pounds lighter than the standard S1000RR. Weight and parts aside, BMW’s selection of technological advances on the 2013 HP4 are the real story. The 2013 HP4 has traction control, wheelie control, launch control, anti-lock brakes and the first dynamically adaptive, auto-adjusting electronic suspension ever available on a production motorcycle: Dynamic Damping Control (DDC).
Dynamic Damping Control was adapted from electronic damping systems used on BMW’s high-end automobiles and adjusts the suspension for the rider with electromagnetic valves in the front fork and rear shock. These valves can open or close 100 times per second, producing damping which can deliver the optimum response, and thus keep the tire's contact patch as large as possible, over any bump, big or small. The sensing is done via both a throttle-position sensor and a spring-travel sensor on the rear shock which indicate to the DDC control unit if the motorcycle is accelerating or braking, and the control unit continuously samples lean angle data from the traction control sensor to ascertain whether the motorcycle is entering or leaving a turn. In short, the 2013 BMW HP4 has been designed to know where it is and where it is going at any given time and set its suspension accordingly; then it does it again, 100 times per second.
Traction control has been available on previous versions of the S1000RR, but the Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) on the 2013 HP4 is further improved. There are four traction control modes: Rain, Sport, Race, or Slick. The first three have one factory-selected traction control preset, the Slick mode has 15. Clicking through each of the 15 individual traction control settings in the Slick mode provides slightly more perceptible traction control for the rider who has a strong sense of the conditions and how he feels the bike should behave.
The 2013 BMW HP4’s Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and wheelie control almost seem like afterthoughts in the face of such engineering as DDC and DTC, but they add to the overall ride and help complete the electronics package. BMW has left no area of motorcycle dynamics unstudied and has delivered a solution for them all.
The 2013 HP4 engine specs are the same as the standard S1000RR, but BMW have given the HP4 more mid-range power and a smoother throttle response. With a claimed 193 horsepower at 13,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) and 83 ft-lbs. of torque at 9750 rpm, the HP4 provides more than enough power for the street, and certainly enough for serious track day riders, as well.
Ergonomics are pure sportbike, with tight angles between the seat, handlebars, and footpegs, a race-inspired seat, and a small windscreen. It is likely that few riders will notice any lack of comfort for the first few outings, however, as the assistive technology on the 2013 HP4 will be front and center in the rider’s experience.