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

A True Race Replika From The Bayerische Motoren Werkes
First we got the Enduro, then the Megamoto and now the Sport, the latest-and for many, the most anticipated-member of BMW's exclusive HP2 range. And what a machine it is! A surprisingly faithful replica of the factory's world endurance racer, the HP2 (for High-Performance Twin) Sport promises performance heretofore unheard of from a road-going BMW. Think of it as a two-wheeled version of the company's seriously sporty M-series cars.

The HP2 Sport was first revealed to the public at the Paris Motor Show this past September, and we had an opportunity to put some laps on the all-new model just a few weeks later at the posh Ascari Race Resort in Spain. This ride came just a few months after I'd sampled the factory's world endurance racer at Magny-Cours in France (see page 80), and I was shocked by how similar the two bikes performed, lending credibility to the company's claim that the HP2 Sport is essentially a street-legal version of the racebike.

A quick look at the spec sheet confirms this, as the HP2 Sport boasts the same DOHC engine layout and similar performance (133 horsepower, compared to 140 bhp for the catalyst-free racebike). What's more, the streetbike is actually 7 pounds lighter than the racebike, owing to the latter's heavier quick-change wheel setup and oversized fuel tank. The bikes even look similar, thanks to sharp styling by young Swedish designer Ola Stenegard (one of David Robb's protgs), replete with carbon fiber and other high-end, race-derived components. Bravo, BMW.

The sense of dj vu continued after I settled into the saddle. The spacious, comfortable riding position is exactly the same, giving lots of room to move about the bike and especially to hang off it in turns to minimize the chance of dragging the carbon-fiber-clad cylinder heads. The adjustable clip-ons and eccentric mounts for the footrests and controls allow the riding position to be tailored to suit any stature, resulting in a balanced riding stance without excessive weight on your wrists. There's plenty of legroom because the cylinder heads touch down before the rider's toes do.

With fully adjustable hlins shocks front and rear, handling is reminiscent of the racer as well. The Telelever front end feels different from other sportbikes until you get mentally dialed in to it. The front shock's sophisticated damping delivers good feedback from the Metzeler Racetec tire, allowing you to trail-brake deep into a turn.

Indeed, braking stability is one of the chief advantages of Telelever. The front end dips only slightly after braking is initiated, and then stays level no matter how hard you squeeze the lever. That initial hint of dive is dialed in on purpose to give a clear indication that deceleration has begun, a sensation often absent from alternative front ends. This feedback encourages the rider to take full advantage of the magnificent Brembo Monobloc radial front brakes, which stop the HP2 hard and fast but with plenty of feel.

Once unleashed on Ascari's main straight, the HP2 Sport gained speed improbably fast for a boxer-twin, and with minimum vibration. The engine has lots of personality and sounds great, with a delicious, distinctive drone issuing from the underseat silencer. It's extremely torquey in nature, and the light-action, singleplate clutch delivers strong acceleration as soon as you crack open the equally light-action throttle. Precise, clean mapping of the Bosch ECU allows the flat-twin to pull cleanly away from as low as 2500 rpm in sixth gear without any transmission snatch. Response at cracked throttle is just as impressive, aided by a variably progressive butterfly linkage, in spite of just a single injector per cylinder.

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.

2008 BMW HP2 SportHard Parts A Look Under The Skin Of The Sportiest Boxer Ever
Wheels/Brakes
Ultra-light PvM forged-aluminum wheels, with the same spoke pattern as the endurance racer, carry Metzeler Racetec tires and Brembo brakes. Twin 320mm front discs are gripped by four-piston, two-pad Monobloc calipers that are radially mounted (for the first time ever) to the Telelever sliders. The 265mm rear disc, meanwhile, is paired with a twin-piston caliper. BMW's signature ABS is an option, with the ability to switch the system off for racetrack use.

Engine
The fuel-injected, 1170cc flat-twin is essentially identical to that of the company's world endurance racer, with the same 101 x 73mm cylinders and DOHC, four-valve heads that do away with the boxer's venerable pushrods. The cams are chain driven and operate 39mm intake valves (3mm larger than before) and 33mm exhaust valves (2mm larger), which are arranged radially at an angle of 11 degrees. The improved breathing, optimized combustion and enhanced mixture swirl that the radial valves deliver mean that the standard R1200S Twin Spark ignition is no longer needed. Forged Mahle high-compression (12.5:1) pistons paired with uprated steel connecting rods round out the upgrades to the reciprocating parts. On the fueling front, a Bosch BMS-K ECU controls a single injector in each 52mm Dell'Orto throttle body, actuated by the same variably progressive butterfly linkage as on the R1200S. Twin, stacked oil coolers mounted in the nose of the bike control temperatures and a deeper, finned sump minimizes sloshing under heavy braking or acceleration. Twin, gear-driven counterbalancers smooth out the secondary imbalance of the 180-degree crankshaft and the complete engine weighs just 101 lbs.-much lighter than any water-cooled v-twin. A Euro 3-compliant, stainless steel, underseat exhaust (with single catalyst) is now routed beneath the sump to provide additional cornering clearance. An ECU-controlled, cable-actuated power valve broadens the torque curve, and twin oxygen sensors (one in each head pipe) help regulate the mix. This street-legal engine delivers 133 bhp at 8750 rpm-just 7 bhp down on the racer (due to the more-restrictive exhaust) and a useful 11 bhp up from the 122-bhp R1200S.

Suspension
The Telelever front end consists of Marzocchimade telescopic struts held in special triple clamps milled from aluminum billet, acting on a fully adjustable hlins shock that now includes the compression-damping adjustment lacking on the R1200S. The single-sided, shaft-drive Paralever rear end is identical to that of the R1200S, and works on a fully adjustable, cantilevered hlins shock. Both suspension units are 20mm longer than the R1200S's WP components to increase cornering clearance.

Frame
The flat-twin engine acts as a fully stressed chassis member. The main frame section and the front subframe are constructed from tubular steel; the rear subframe is a selfsupporting carbon-fiber component that weighs just 4.9 lbs.-4.4 lbs. less than the aluminum rear subframe on the R1200S. Sophisticated ducting incorporated into this subframe/seat unit assists with heat dispersal around the underseat muffler.

Transmission/Clutch
The close-ratio, six-speed Getrag tranny utilizes slightly higher first- and second-gear ratios than the standard R1200S. Helical-cut gears are retained for slicker, quieter operation, and a Formula 1-derived sleeve-and-roller selection system replaces conventional shift forks. For the first time ever on any production streetbike, a quick-shifter is fitted to the HP2 Sport to allow wide-open, clutchless upshifts by momentarily cutting both spark and fuel supply when the shift lever is loaded. The rider retains the option of changing gears conventionally, simply by using the clutch lever to hydraulically operate the single-plate dry clutch.

Tech Spec
Evolution
BMW's standard R1200S roadster, tricked out with the best bits and pieces from the company's successful world endurance racer

Rivals:
Other cost-no-object European sport-twins such as Ducati's $39,995 1098R and Aprilia's $17,999 RSv 1000 R Factory.

Tech Spec

TECH
Price: na
Engine type: a/o-c opposed-twin
Valve train: DOHC, 8v
Displacement: 1170cc
Bore x stroke: 101.0 x 73.0mm
Compression: 12.5:1
Fuel system: Bosch EFI
Clutch: Dry, single-plate
Transmission: 6-speed
Claimed horsepower: 133 bhp @ 8750 rpm
Claimed torque: 85 lb.-ft. @ 6000 rpm
Frame: Tubular-steel trellis
Front suspension: Telelever with hlins shock adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Paralever with hlins shock adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake: Dual Brembo four-piston radial calipers, 320mm discs
Rear brake: Single Brembo two-piston caliper, 265mm disc
Front tire: 120/70-ZR17 Metzeler Racetec
Rear tire: 190/55-ZR17 Metzeler Racetec
Rake/trail: 24.0/3.4 in.
Seat height: 32.7 in.
Wheelbase: 58.5 in.
Fuel capacity: 5.3 gal.
Claimed dry weight: 392 lbs.
Color: Black/White
Available: Spring 2008
Warranty: 3 yrs., 36,000 mi.

Verdict
Though it can't match its liquid-cooled competition, the HP2 Sport is one capable sport-twin and the baddest Beemer ever. www.motorcyclistonline.com

HOTBOX
BMW of north America
300 Chestnut Ridge Rd
Woodcliff lake
NJ  07677
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