2008 BMW HP2 Sport - First Ride

DOHC, Radial Valves And 133 Horsepower Make This The Sportiest Boxer Ever

By Alan Cathcart, Photography by Courtesy of BMW, Kel Edge

The shift lights on the 2D data-logging dash start flashing at 8200 rpm and are fully lit by 9000 rpm, reminding you that there's no need to rev it to the 9500-rpm rev limit. Indeed, it's actually counterproductive to do so-the spread of power is so wide it pays to ride a gear higher than normal, surfing the waves of torque that are the number-one weapon in this bike's armory.

The one time it does pay to rev the engine hard is when you want it to hold a tight line, like when going around the long left-hander at the top of the hill or the fast right-hander leading onto the main straight at Ascari. Taking either of these turns one gear higher made the HP2 Sport push its front end on part throttle, understeering toward the outside of the corner. This is a bike that likes to be driven hard in turns; besides, having to back off the gas and tighten your line mid-corner would just make you more likely to touch down a cylinder head.

The most important function of the 2D dash might be the gear indicator. Backshift too many gears under hard braking and you risk chattering the rear end in the absence of a slipper clutch. Otherwise, the HP2's close-ratio gearbox helps contribute to exceptional shift action, whether accelerating or slowing down. Full-throttle upshifts are allowed by the factory- fitted quick-shifter, though I noted slightly abrupt action between first and second and any time I shifted at part throttle. It's best to use the clutch at anything less than wide-open throttle.

"Exclusivity is never cheap. nor is track-ready performance. luckily, the HP2 Sport is brimming with both."
Handling is mostly excellent, though it's important to remain aware of the longitudinal crank when tipping the bike into slow turns, because this sometimes slows down the speed at which the bike lays over. That's honestly the only time you notice the lengthways engine layout, and you soon forget you're riding a shaft-driven bike thanks to the Paralever rear end. One thing that surprised me was that the streetbike is lighter-steering than the racebike, turning in better in fast and slow corners alike, perhaps a result of its lower overall weight and/ or different-profile street tires.

The HP2 Sport is scheduled to enter production this spring. Although it isn't an individually numbered, limited-edition model, BMW intends to keep production down to around 1000 examples per year. "We want any HP2 model to be quite exclusive," says BMW's product development boss, Peter Mller. "You shouldn't see one on every corner. We want people to sit up and notice it."

Likewise, the price is not yet confirmed, but we have been told to expect a figure well north of $20,000. Exclusivity is never cheap. nor is track-ready performance. luckily for potential owners, the HP2 Sport is brimming with both.

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