Is BMW’s HP2 Sport the ultimate Boxer, or just an over-priced showman? We spent a day on the road with the £15,000 BMW that floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee
While waiting for the lights to go out I cast an appreciative eye over the BMW. Although it’s not really a bike, it’s a moving work of art and technical excellence, an example in milling billet aluminium to the finest degree. Rumour has it BMW has a man locked away in the factory whose sole job is to create beautifully machined aluminium top yokes out of lumps of solid metal. Well he’s earned an extra round of boiled pig’s knuckle and sauerkraut because the Sport’s top yoke is, to a slightly techy eye like mine, stunning. But that’s not all. The same man, I presume, has also been busy making perfectly-machined eccentric footpeg adjustors, allowing the rider’s peg as well as the lever’s tip to swivel through a 360-degree range of heights.
It’s techno porn of the highest order and the kind of touches that you usually only find in aftermarket catalogues. Look further and an Öhlins shock nestles under the headstock, matching the similar unit holding up the rear end. Despite being a proper sportsbike BMW has kept the Telelever front end, so no traditional forks, only a centrally-mounted shock supporting the trailing link. And it doesn’t stop there, the Brembo brake calipers are monoblock units, the same as used on Ducati’s 1098. And then there is the piéce de résistance, the self-supporting carbon seat unit with the sculpted stainless steel exhaust system poking its head out and barking retorts at the road behind. I don’t think I have ever found myself admiring a BMW before, but the HP2 Sport is truly beautiful. But the best is yet to come, because hidden under the carbon cylinder head protectors is a very special Boxer engine.
You don’t notice it at first. Below 6,000rpm the HP2 Sport feels like any other Boxer twin, just a bit keener to rev and with a rawer exhaust note. But then your eye is drawn to the rev limiter. The red line (well mark on the digital dash at least) is set up at 9,500rpm, and it’s in this last 3,500rpm that the motor really takes off. I admit that in the past I’ve not been that complementary about the Boxer engine. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great touring engine, but whenever BMW has seen fit to put it in a ‘sporty’ bike it feels out of its depth. The R1200S was, in my opinion, a great sports tourer, not a sportsbike as BMW claimed simply down to the fact the engine is, well, a bit of a slug. Yes, it has lots of lovely torque, but it delivers it in a slow, methodical plodding fashion, rather than an exciting rush. Well not any more, because this engine has double overhead camshafts.
This isn’t exactly earth-shattering new technology, but it’s a first for BMW’s Boxer engine and revolutionises the motor, allowing the use of larger valves and an increased rev limit. What this means to the rider is that this is a Boxer that really flies. The HP2 is a fast motorcycle, not fast in comparison to other BMWs, but fast in comparison to other sportsbikes.
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