BMW HP2 Sport, KTM 690 SMC/690 Enduro, Triumph Speed Triple, And More! - Euro Notes - Up To Speed

Paris Show-Stoppers Bmw gets sportier yet!

By Roland Brown, Photography by Roland Brown

BMW stole the Paris Show this year with the HP2 Sport-not just the most powerful and exotic boxer ever, but the first one that looks capable of giving rival sport-twins a bloody nose. The lean, 128-horsepower twin is related to the R1200S and more closely to the factory-backed Sport Boxer prototype that was raced successfully in several European endurance events this year (see test, page 70).

The Sport follows the HP2 line by being an exclusive model of which relatively small numbers will be produced. It features a DOHC, radial four-valve-per-cylinder layout, plus carbon-fiber bodywork, a MotoGP-style digital dashboard and a quick-shift-equipped, close-ratio gearbox. No more pushrods!

The 1170cc twin incorporates chain-driven overhead cams that allow a 9500-rpm rev limit, with peak output arriving at 8750 rpm. Twin oil coolers and a deep sump help control the air-cooled motor's temperature. Although the engine is smaller than the R1200S unit, its carbon-fiber cylinder-head covers incorporate replaceable plastic skid pads intended to prevent damage during hard cornering.

Serious lean angles should be a regular event given the Sport's high-quality chassis, based on a frame that combines the R1200S's steel main section with a self-supporting carbon-fiber rear subframe. The front Telelever and rear Paralever suspension systems use multi-adjustable -hlins shocks. Lightweight chassis parts include forged-aluminum wheels, the rear carrying a 190/55 radial. Brembo's Monobloc four-piston radial front brake calipers can be ordered with an optional ABS system optimized to prevent rear-wheel lift.

Other neat touches include the 2D Systems dashboard, which can transfer recorded data to a PC, plus the adjustable footpegs which, like the clip-ons and triple clamps, are machined from billet aluminum. Dry weight is 392 pounds-competitive with most open-class supersport bikes. Predictably another key figure, the price, is contrastingly high: The HP2 Sport is likely to cost about 15 percent more than the HP2 Megamoto when it goes on sale in limited numbers next April. Take that to mean mid-$20s.

BMW Motorrad boss Dr. Herbert Diess also announced that the firm would enter the World Superbike Championship in 2009-with a 1000cc four-cylinder! No further details were disclosed, although Diess promised three more new models would be shown at the Milan Show in November.

BMW wasn't the only European firm making headlines in Paris. KTM predicts its 2008 sales will break 100,000 units for the first time, and a sizeable portion of those sales will be of the four new single-cylinder models introduced in Paris. All of them are based on the 654cc, fuel-injected LC4 powerplant introduced earlier this year.

Most distinctive is the new-generation Duke, whose 65-bhp engine is the most powerful single the Austrian firm has built yet. The typically edgy Duke styling is revised, with stacked twin headlights and the muffler now living under the engine. The thin-walled chromoly frame holds high-end WP suspension, with the 48mm inverted fork and shock each giving 5.5 inches of travel. A single Brembo front disc with radial four-piston caliper stops the bike, which weighs a claimed 326 lbs. without fuel.

KTM's passion for off-road competition results in two closely related new models, the 690 SMC and 690 Enduro. The SMC supermoto combines a slightly less powerful, 62-bhp version of the LC4 engine with an ultra-lightweight chassis featuring a self-supporting rear subframe that incorporates the fuel tank. Its Brembo brakes and WP suspension are similar to those of the Duke, but it has 10.8 in. of travel at each end, along with wire-spoked wheels and a dry weight of just 306 lbs. The Enduro model is very similar but has conventional WP forks, 9.8 in. of travel front and rear, and off-road wheels and tires. It also weighs fractionally less, at 304 lbs. dry.

Finally there's a new 690 SMR model, also supermoto-based and very sporty. The R stands for Race but the SMR's more conventional chassis is based on that of the existing 690 SM, with twin upswept silencers. At a claimed 337 lbs. dry, the SMR is heavier than the even more focused SMC. Upgraded cycle parts include cast five-spoke wheels and revised WP suspension with 8.3 in. of travel at each end.

But even those ultra-sporty singles seemed conservative alongside KTM's 690 Stunt concept bike. This featured a host of neat details including a beefy aluminum swingarm and bicycle-style stunt pegs on the front axle. These are unlikely to make it into production, but the idea of an even lighter and more radical single clearly appeals to KTM, whose supersport RC8 V-twin is likely to be unveiled in production-ready form in Milan.

Triumph was the most prominent of the other European manufacturers, notably with a revamped version of the Speed Triple. The 1050cc, 131-bhp engine and aluminum frame are unchanged, but the ST gets a new rear subframe and bodywork, plus lower passenger pegs. Chassis mods include Brembo four-pad, four-piston radial front brake calipers with radial master cylinder, a black-anodized 43mm Showa fork, new wheels and a tapered Magura handlebar.

The Hinckley firm was proud that its other main Paris Show novelty was virtually impossible to detect: The Bonneville family of parallel-twins is now fuel-injected, and Triumph has made much effort to ensure that the injectors look just like the carbs they replace. The twins also feature a fuel tank cap that is "60 percent easier to open," though exactly how that figure was measured is unclear. Triumph's other main newcomer, the Touring version of the Rocket III, was not at Paris as it was due to be unveiled shortly afterward at the British firm's U.S. dealer conference.

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