You know that it is a big deal when BMW themselves call it ‘the most exclusive BMW motorcycle of all time’. At this year’s EICMA, BMW Motorrad revealed to the world an initial glimpse of the most exclusive model in its history to date: the sinister looking BMW HP4 RACE. The Germans have now showcased the production version of the same at the ongoing Shanghai Auto Expo 2017.

It will be a purposefully limited edition hand built motorcycle by the blokes at BMW, which will itself be a notch higher than the brand’s superstar, the S 1000RR-HP4. With a full carbon fibre twin-spar main frame and rims that are made in the same factory that makes carbon fibre components for BMW’s iconic ‘i-series’ and 7 series of cars.

STYLING

When the full black carbon fibre model was pronounced at the EICMA, the only definitive information provided to us was that the HP4 would feature the world’s first full carbon fibre main frame monocoque construction and carbon fibre rims. The tail section, passenger footpeg brackets and the fuel tank of the RACE are also constructed entirely from Carbon fibre. And now, we are in all new light about this Halo spec machine that will stare down the Aprilia RSV4 R FW-GP or the Ducati-1299 Superleggera in a bitter battle for the Top Gun.

As the tagline says, this is also the most exclusive regarding looks. The German brand is renowned for making motorcycles which are simply too quirky, and by that, BMW purists know that it was that very stigma which pulled them into the motorcycle brand. In contrast, this RACE is BMW’s attempt at breaking those very shackles and not giving a damn about critics. In doing just that, the German has achieved in churning out a scintillating design that could get subtle and scorchingly loud at the same time.

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Of course, you wouldn’t find headlamps or turn indicators as this is a track only bike. But what you get is aerodynamic lines running across the entire length of the motorcycle which purely means business and nothing else. Although bits seem faux, they are totally not. Everything on this bike is purpose meant and is there for a reason. Including the tall windshield, shark fins on the fairings and the large air-vent on its face.

This handpicked factory racing motorcycle is finished to the last detail with the folks at BMW not making any compromise on the equipment list. All the surface is finished with a carbon fibre look underneath a brushed and clear varnish coating. The carbon fibre parts including the intake silencer cover and the seat hump get the BMW HP Motorsport colours. A hand-brushed aluminium fuel tank sealed with a clear finish underscores the bike’s high-quality racing look.

As a matter of fact, its configuration is spec-to-spec similar to the German’s MotoGP bike that they have run the championships for them. The handlebar too is the same one used in the brand’s WSBK motorcycle which has coloured buttons (red, blue and black) allowing you to operate kill switch, riding mode switch and the Pit Lane Limiter/starter button on one side. The buttons on the other side do the Dynamic Traction Control DTC and Engine Brake (EBR).

Showing off the consistent racing designs is the 2D dashboard of the HP4. A wealth of information is available on the 2D dashboard with transferable data memory (2D logger). It has two sides to it – so-called mechanic side for use in the pits and the rider side. The mechanic side is available during idling only, and as soon as the rider switches gear, the instrument cluster also switches to the rider side. Lap timings, gaps, best lap, DTC, EBR, map settings and many other functions can be played around with this by the rider. While on the mechanic side, you get Brake pressures, spring travel, throttle position, wheel speeds, banking position, etc. This truly is a serious level information centre.

Overall Dimension

ModelBMW Motorrad HP4 RaceDucati 1299 SuperleggeraAprilia RSV4 R FW-GP
Wheelbase1440mm1456mmN/A
Seat height816mm – 846mm830mmN/A
Wet weight171kg167kgN/A
Fuel Tank17.5L17L18.5L

POWERTRAIN

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The HP4 gets its soul from the brand’s superstar, the S 1000RR developed for the Endurance and Superbike World Cup. Like the entire motorcycle, this engine is also crafted by the most experienced chaps at their engine division who follow the very highest level of technical expertise and attention to detail.

The powertrain on this machine is an engineering feat and is handcrafted by the same chaps who work on the WSBK motorcycle. The water/oil-cooled, 4-cylinder, 4-stroke, in-line engine can develop a staggering 215 bhp at 13900 rpm and a max torque of 120 Nm at 10000 rpm. This RACE screams at the top of her voice at 14500 rpm. Now, to tickle your mind, think about this – the mad supercharged Ninja H2 carbon will give you 207 bhp. Go figure.

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They have tweaked the camshafts and valves for larger strokes of the intake and exhaust valves creating the necessary requirement for increased power. The intake funnels fitted can be electronically varied in length over two levels and achieving the best possible running smoothness and stability. All of this makes the compression ratio range from 13.7 – 13.9:1. Also, the intake silencer is combined with optimised air funnels and control levers.

To ensure homogenous material selection, the cylinder barrels integrated with the upper half are hot isostatic pressed (HIP) and are polish-honed so as to reduce friction. The pistons and connecting rods used too are of the standard light alloy to offer and are weight selected to minimize differences in the oscillating masses between the four-cylinder units. Apart from this, the connecting rods are milled by high strength forged steel, and a finely balanced crankshaft meets race track demands.

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The race required oil supply system operates at higher pressures matched precisely to the technical requirements of the engine during racing. The 6-speed close-ratio HP racing gearbox with optimised transmission ratios pull all that power into the rear wheels through a Multi-plate anti-hopping wet clutch, and the remains go to the 4-in-2-in-1 exhaust system made of light titanium.

The special feature on this gearbox is that it now gets reversed shift pattern and HP Shift Assistant Pro for perfect up and downshifting without using the clutch, thanks to a double-declutching function. This allows upshifting without activating the clutch that enables the optimum acceleration without any torque interrupt. Less load on the clutch action and minimal impact on the rear wheel helps maintain better directional stability.

Engine Specification

ModelBMW Motorrad HP4 RaceDucati 1299 SuperleggeraAprilia RSV4 R FW-GP
Capacity cc9991285999.6
Bore/ Stroke mm80/49.7116/60.8N/A
Output215 bhp @ 13900 rpm215 bhp @ 11000 rpm250 bhp
Torque120 Nm @ 10000 rpm146.5 Nm @ 9,000 rpmN/A
TypeWater-cooled, DOHC, in-line 4-cylinder engineSuperquadro: L-twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder, Desmodromic, liquid cooledAprilia longitudinal 65° V-4 cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid cooling system, double overhead camshafts (DOHC), four valves per cylinder
Clutch typeMulti-plate anti-hopping wet clutchHydraulically controlled slipper/self-servo wet multiplate clutchMulti-disc oil-bath, with mechanical slipper system
TransmissionConstant-mesh 6-speed racing gearbox (EVO) with HP Shift Assistant Pro6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS)6-speed cassette type gearbox

RIDE AND HANDLING

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The world’s first carbon fibre monocoque mainframe weights at only 7.8 kilos, 4 less than the aluminium counterparts. They have better stability and stiffness and in turn providing the ideal basis for a perfect ride response for the new HP4 RACE. The wheels on this bike are also made of the exquisite component and weigh 30 percent lighter than any alloy wheels, once again fundamental requirements for fast lap times on the racetrack.

The carbon fibre rear frame allows adjusting the rider’s seat height for up to three levels and the HP footrest system made up of aluminium footpegs can be adjusted to eight levels to suit the rider’s needs. There makes no sense talking about the comfort of the riding positions or the cushioning for the rider because, here, all of them are just like a moo point. It holds no practical value as the bike is only meant to go around the track fast and nothing else.

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In that sense, you will also not find any compromise made on the equipment list on this purebred racing bike. Suspension units on the HP4 are undertaken by the top of the line titanium Öhlins FGR 300 upside down fork offers a full adjustment range, and this is where you will find a carbon-fibre badge on the upper fork bridge showing the production serial number from 1 to 750. At the rear, Öhlins TTX 36 GP spring strut on the light alloy swingarm makes the scene, and both have a selective adaptation of the suspension geometry according to racetrack layout and riding style.

The new HP4 comes equipped with the 320 mm Brembo GP4 PR monoblock fixed callipers with titanium brake pistons and friction reducing coating at the front and a 220 mm floating discs at the rear. The kinds of stuff used in the Superbike World Cup and even the MotoGP. The high-performance brake pumps are also Brembo Racing derived.

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There are, of course, an extensive package of electronic control and assistance system to keep the rider safe and confident. They are indispensable given the output levels of 215 hp. All of them can be operated by robust colour switches on either side of the handlebar. The new HP4 gets 4 riding modes (Wet, Intermediate, Dry1, Dry2), 7 mode Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), 7 level Engine Braking (EBR), 5 level Wheelie Control, Pit Lane Limiter, engine brake torque (drag torque) and Launch Control. All of this can be viewed and operated through a multifunctional 2D dashboard. The 2D data recording system offers the possibility of recording lap times using GPS. WOW

Additionally, you get fittings to adjust the ride to suit the race track and enable optimum configuration for racing use. Inserts for the fork bridge, steering head angles, swingarm adjustments, pinion with 15 and 17 teeth and chainrings with 41 -45 teeth are available.

Chassis Specifications

ModelBMW Motorrad HP4 RaceDucati 1299 SuperleggeraAprilia RSV4 R FW-GP
FrameCarbon fibre monocoque RTM frame with adjustable steering head angle and swingarm centre of rotation, load-bearing engineMonocoque in carbon fibreAluminium dual beam chassis with pressed and cast sheet elements
Suspension / FrontÖhlins FGR 300 Superbike World Cup fork, adjustable rebound and compression damping, adjustable spring preload, adjustable Öhlins SD052 steering damperFully adjustable 43mm USD Öhlins FL 936 forkÖhlins NIX fork with TIN surface treatment. Forged billet aluminium radial calliper mountings. Adjustable spring preload and hydraulic compression and rebound damping. Wheel travel: 120 mm
Suspension / RearAluminium underslung double-sided swingarm, Öhlins TTX 36 GP central spring strut, adjustable rebound and compression damping, adjustable spring preloadFully adjustable single Öhlins TTX36 shock with titanium spring, adjustable linkage between progressive/flat. Carbon fibre single-sided swingarmDouble braced aluminium swingarm. Öhlins TTX monoshock with piggy-back, fully adjustable in: spring preload, wheelbase and hydraulic compression and rebound damping. Wheel travel 130 mm
Brakes / FrontBrembo Racing twin disc brake, T-floated racing brake discs, diameter 320 x 6.75 mm, 4-piston monoblock Superbike World Cup fixed calliper GP4-PR with titanium pistons2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Evo M50 4-piston callipers with Cornering ABS, Brembo MCS 19-21 adjustable-ratio front brake master cylinder, remote lever adjusterDual 330-mm diameter floating stainless steel disc with lightweight stainless steel rotor and aluminium flange with 6 pins. Brembo M50 monobloc radial callipers. Bosch 9.1 MP ABS with cornering function
Brakes / RearBrembo Racing single disc brake, 4-piston Superbike World Cup fixed calliper with titanium pistons, brake disc diameter 220 x 4.0 mm245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper with Cornering ABS220 mm diameter disc; Brembo calliper with two 32 mm separate pistons. Bosch 9.1 MP ABS with cornering function
Tyres / Front120/70 ZR 17 Pirelli Diabolo Superbike Slick SC2120/70 ZR 17 Pirelli Diabolo Supercorsa SP120/70 ZR 17
Tyres / Rear200/60 ZR 17 Pirelli Diabolo Superbike Slick SC2200/55 ZR 17 Pirelli Diabolo Supercorsa SP200/55 ZR 17

PRICE

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As for the price of this goes, let’s just say “If you had to ask, you probably can’t afford it.” Of course, that will be synonymous for 99% of humanity. Be very sure that the HP4 will be ludicrously priced for an exotic machine dripping with carbon fibre radiant beauty and only a handful of 750 will be built by the German technocrats. Goosebumps.

BMW here looks to be getting it with a seven-figure price tag of € 80000 (appx ₹ 56 lakh) and be sure that this motorcycle will not receive any road approval; it is only intended for closed racetracks. It’s got to. Else some lunatic will succumb to its calling!. Trust me, it sure can do that.

COMPETITON

This segment is for the faint hearted only. Being the best product of a company does not come with any competition as such. Nonetheless, there are a couple of Italian blokes who think they deserve to be called the outright king of speed, handling and everything under the sun.

Ducati 1299 Superleggera

1.

Ducati always have had this insanity in them to time and again bring up machines that push the boundaries of two-wheeled glory, a boundary that will make every other manufacturer look like a speck of dust. For this alone, we must hand it to the Italian with all pomp and flair that they can pull off a true bloody special edition. And this time we are talking about a 215 bhp of carbon fibre, the Ducati 1299 Superleggera. Which by the name itself means “simply light”. This is ladies and gentlemen, the world’s first factory built superbike that is equipped with frame, swingarm, subframe, bodywork and the wheels made out of carbon fibre.

Calling this ‘The quintessence of Ducati’ is no shortcoming. Dripping from every angle, curve or side is carbon fibre lust that, to ensure structure integrity, underwent three forms of non-destructive tests that have been until now seen only in aerospace construction. These include Active Transient Thermography, Ultrasonic Phased Array and Computed Axial Tomography. This should be enough to tell you how serious were the blokes at Ducati when they thought of churning out the ultimate.

There is nothing unlike the whopping Superquadro twin-cylinder engine on the face of this planet or any planet for that matter. Like a hidden gem under the fairings, the Desmodromic EURO 4 engine is prancing with 215 bhp at 11,000 rpm, ten more than the standard 1299 engine, and 147 Nm of peak torque at 9,000 rpm. This, my friends, makes 1299 the most powerful twin-cylinder ever produced, representing the best of Ducati technology. And is street legal. I think it is inhumane to unleash so much on the streets.

Bosch 6-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (6D IMU), DTC EVO, Ducati Slide Control (DSC), Ducati Wheelie Control EVO (DWC EVO), Ducati Power Launch (DPL), Engine Brake Control (EBC) and Ducati Data Analyser+ GPS (DDA+ GPS) makes a scene here. It costs ₹70-90 lakhs when if and when got to India by someone.

Aprilia RSV4 R FW-GP

A couple of years ago Aprilia Racing christened its ‘Factory Works’ project which allowed customers to get access to their exclusive, high-performance machines. It is the most advanced development, innovation and experimentation platform that began life as the extraordinary RSV4. For 2017, they have updated their ultimate offering with a 250 bhp Aprilia RSV4 R FW-GP. The nearest one can get to the MotoGP experience.

The FW-GP is a motorcycle that is fully loaded with the technology developed in MotoGP. As a matter of fact, its configuration is spec-to-spec similar to the RS-GP 15, the 2015 MotoGP bike that Aprilia Racing had running the championships for them. This makes Aprilia the first manufacturer to make all the technology developed in MotoGP available to anybody with a deep pocket loaded with high denomination bills. Once you get the FW-GP for yourself, you will be treated as the King. Aprilia will shower you with a complete range of exclusive services, before, during and after the sale, that aim not only to make this experience truly unique and unrepeatable but also to allow the customer to take maximum advantage of the RSV4 FW-GP’s full potential.

The Hand built engine is run on a test bench, and Aprilia has given the special engine with Aprilia Racing mods pneumatic valve timing that takes the rpm redline of the 65° V4 engine sky-scraping. All of this gives the FW-GP a mind-bending power figure of more than 250 bhp. The race spec bike gets Race Pack Ohlins suspension system, forged aluminium alloy and APRC System (Aprilia Performance Ride Control), which includes Traction Control (ATC), Wheelie Control (AWC), Launch Control (ALC), cruise control (ACC) and speed limiter (APL), all of which can be configured and deactivated independently. It also gets Aprilia Racing instrumentation and an electronic gearbox with an auto-blipper feature that assists in quick downshifts.

Apart from this, the customers will receive everything Aprilia has to offer. They will be personally invited to the Aprilia Racing headquarters in Noale so that they can specifically get in touch with Aprilia Racing engineers and select the ideal configuration for their needs and budget. They will be provided with a live feed of the build and have a telephone line and address available for any support, request or information required. Aprilia puts it somewhere at around € 80000 – 90000 which when you get it to India, you’ll see six digits there. Go figure!

VERDICT

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I fail to understand myself on how to begin wrapping up this article. The HP4 is an exemplary showcase of cutting-edge technology, exotic materials, skilled craftsmanship, design and creativity. This tells us all about the experience, skillset and state-of-the-art know-how the folks at BMW have that make them raise above and beyond.

A machine making use of all exotic and opulent items kept away for track-focussed hooning that spares no expense. It is a sensual experience to only a select few who can afford such an extravagant phenomena. How they did this is making me scratch my brains out. Wizardry, Witchcraft and everything I suppose. I might need some time out to absorb all of this and return to normalcy.

If we were to pretend I could afford one, was I convinced of its value being worthy of the price tag? Yes, if I also owned a racetrack or had one at my disposal. If and when it comes to India, expect to see an eight-figure price tag. For the rest of us, sticking onto our mopeds for the grocery run suits.