Not TestedLaunch Report September 2005The long-term significance of the HP side of the HP2 (High Performance 2-Cylinder) may take some time to emerge, equally its merit as part of the Motorrad model line-up will need time to clarify. For now though, there are two issues that are curiously apparent. Firstly, as we know, the famous 'M' Division services the desires of the four-wheel BMW fraternity, as inevitably will 'HP' for two-wheelers, so I'm in sunny Valencia to test the very first of a kind. It's been a long time coming so here's hoping BMW will have the balls (we know they have the ability) to produce bikes that emulate the accomplishments of the car boys. Secondly, this also happens to be the first off-road bike that BMW has made for public consumption. Forgive me, but as successful as they are, I consider BMW's GS range to be very large touring bikes with chunky tyres. The fact that BMW has chosen to dip its toe into the water with a giant mud-plugger is quite courageous - big weight and big power are not the first things that spring to mind when designing a dirt tool. But nobody is trying to kid us that this is a freestyle jump bike or a substitute for anything made by Montessa. It's a giant enduro tool for those who wish to ride 70 miles to their local desert without loss of fillings, traverse it and be home in time for pre-dinner drinks. At least that's how I see it.While getting acquainted on the move, I note how relatively skinny and minimalist the bike appears. BMW has jettisoned the GS's Telelever front end and chassis in favour of proper USD forks and the ex-Dakar R900R race frame. Just shy of 200kgs with a full tank, the HP2 disguises its weight with the help of a low C of G and very neutral balance. Our playground is Enduro Park Aras Rural - a huge national park which is home to one of BMW's GS 'schools' as well as a few sheep and horses. A head-on collision with a fat sleepy horse would be regrettable, so I proceeded with some caution.My prudent approach, due to the standard road legal tyres and a claimed 105bhp from the 1200GS motor (a claim that feels optimistic to the tune of 20bhp) soon wore off. After about 30 minutes of teetering around rather gingerly, my first and lasting impression is just how easy the HP2 is to ride, both at pace and through the twisty stuff too. ABS-free progressive braking, a gentle power delivery with nice and low torque and smooth clutchless changes make for a relaxed ride.The ride is very soft, and the tendency is to glide and float effortlessly over obstacles with less feedback than you might be accustomed to, but it does work. The all new rear air shock is half the weight of a conventional unit and is adjusted via a wheel-type valve and a bicycle pump - an effective blend of old and new technology with the primary advantage of consistency, as there is no overheating issue. From high-speed cinder tracks to messy steep climbs and rocky trails, there was nothing the HP2 couldn't cope quite easily with. A steady hand is needed though, as my new found confidence soon had me on my arse with a large bruise to show for it. Unlike the press bikes, customer bikes will come with hand guards and cylinder head protection as well as a few optional extras. HP stands also for High Price. At around £11,750 the HP2 will be available in limited numbers to customers in September. Who the customers will be remains to be seen, as this bike was designed for countries with the kind of off-road space that the UK no longer has. It's a big tool and a hoot to boot - plenty of comfort and refined on tarmac, a gentlemen's express on the rough. For the Brits who can afford it, I reckon this would also make a trendy inner city commuter, distinctive and uncommon (with a nice noisy can). Now that's entertainment.Simon Bowen
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