First Ride: 2008 BMW HP2 Sport

BMW finally go for the jugular with their most focused sportsbike ever. It looks stunning and sounds glorious, but does it have any teeth?

Posted: 17 February 2008
by John Hogan

Nobody is releasing more new models at the minute than BMW. They are making no bones about the fact that they don’t like the image, perceived or otherwise, that BMW owners are older, wiser and usually richer than the average bike buyer. Who can blame them?

If you managed to make it to the NEC show this year you would have seen that the BMW stand, and the bikes on it looked as up-to-date as any of the other manufacturers there. In one corner was the 1200 GS Adventure pointing funnily enough at the KTM stand, and in the other was the new HP2 Sport, pointing at and directly opposite the GSX-Rs on the Suzuki stand. Coincidence? I don’t think so. BMW want in and they will push if they have to.

The HP2 Sport started life as a race bike. So from the off it immediately has the heritage to represent itself in the right company, and it is also dripping with race-derived technology and gadgetry. Just looking at a row of them lined up trackside at Spain’s super-exclusive Ascari circuit was all it took to banish thoughts of touring and MPG figures, The use of carbon fibre in a classy but purposeful style made a great first impression, as did seeing a couple of quality names like Brembo and Öhlins in all the right places. If this bike rides as good as it looks then we are all in for a treat. And it looks really, really good.

Any race bike needs to have a high performance engine, and the HP2 Sport doesn’t disappoint. A boxer twin is never going to make as much power as an in line four, but BMW made the most of what they had by completely redesigning their existing HP2 motor. The bottom end is the same as other HP2 models, but the top end is all-new. The 1,170cc motor has chain driven DOHC, to allow a higher rev ceiling which is still less than 10,000rpm but impressive all the same.

Each chamber uses a four-valve set up mounted at an angle to the face of the piston with a single injector rather than the multi injector systems used previously on the R models. The heads are 10mm narrower than last years, and are housed in carbon covers with easy to replace plastic sliders on them. The engine also uses all-new forged pistons with adapted con-rods. Does any of this sound like the type of stuff that will help eek extra mpg out of your bike? Thought not. The engine is finished off with a stunning underseat exhaust system that guarantees you will never have to carry a pillion.

On track, the Sport performed better than any previous boxer twin I’ve ridden. The exhaust has a gas flap built into it that not only increases torque but has also been utilised to improve the sound of the bike.  It burbles and hunts expectantly on tick over, just like a proper race bike. Claimed power is 128bhp at 8,750 rpm so expect a rear wheel 115-ish, but BMW have really made the most of it. The rear tyre doesn’t scrabble for grip exiting corners and nor does the front wheel leap into the air without provocation, and you won’t read about 1,000cc sportsbike-rivalling levels of acceleration or top speed because the Sport doesn’t have them.

Continue the BMW HP2 Sport Review

SEPP MAECHLER - PROJECT MANAGER - BMW HP2 SPORT

When did development start on this bike?

The road bike project only started in March last year. When we were endurance racing we decided to split the team working on the race bike and develop one for the road.

What was the main aim with the project: to build a bike to compete with litre sportsbikes, or the fastest BMW ever?

We knew we could never extract a reliable 180bhp out of a boxer engine,  or build the world’s fastest bike, but we knew we could build a bike that would handle, so we built the best boxer engine we could and housed it in the best chassis we could make. The focus was more on making the best BMW available.

As you were building the roadbike did you have a level of competition in mind?

There was no benchmark, we just wanted to paint a good picture for BMW.

So how important is the HP2 Sport in comparison to the rest of the range?

Incredibly important, we want to take BMW in a different direction. RT and GS owners are very important to us but we want more, more from the sportsbike sector of the market.

So who do you want to buy the bike?

We hope to appeal to BMW owners and sportsbike riders, that are around 30/35 years old, this would be their second bike in the garage. They would use this to do trackdays as well as commute. Image conscious buyers who want to stand out.

What has been your proudest achievement with the project?

That you can sit on the bike, feel comfortable riding it all day, but at the same time have the track presence that this bike carries.



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