New metal – BMW HP4 RACE


Meet the BMW’s HP4 RACE carbon superbike – the first BMW motorcycle to feature a full carbon fibre frame.

The HP4 RACE will be strictly limited, and just 750 bikes will be produced.

BMW’s engineers have gone to town making the bike as light as possible, and to this end the bike uses a monocoque construction frame which weighs just 7.8kg and has carbon wheels, which BMW says are 30 per cent lighter than those made of conventional materials.

This weight saving programme means the bike weighs just 171kg fully-fuelled – about the same weight as a MotoGP bike – no mean feat for a bike making 212bhp.

This bike has been designed solely for the track and it shows in its impressive spec, much of which is the same spec as the BW WSBK machines: Öhlins FGR 300 upside-down forks and TTX 36 GP rear suspension, Brembo GP4 PR monoblock brake calipers, 320 T-type racing steel brake disks, Dynamic Traction Control DTC (programmable for selected gears at 15 levels), Engine Brake EBR (programmable for selected gears at 15 levels) and Wheelie Control (programmable for selected gears).

Then there’s the 2D dash complete with data logger, a weight-optimised electrical system featuring light lithium-ion battery with 5 Ah, and self-supporting carbon fibre rear frame with three-stage height adjustment function.

This is a very trick bike, essentially a customer version of the BMW WSBK machine, and this is reflected in the price tag; the HP4 RACE will cost £68,000 when it hits the market in September. Bikes will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and can be ordered at all BMW Motorrad Centres in the UK.


Used test: BMW S1000RR

BMW’s litre bike took the class by storm when it was introduced in 2009, effectively reinvigorating sportsbikes and moving the game on substantially.

The bike was updated in 2012, and this is the bike we’re testing here. It’s well specced – Race ABS, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) and Gear Shift Assist comes as standard, and this one even has heated grips. Heated grips on a sportsbike? Yes, don’t knock them until you’ve tried them– toasty hands make a huge difference to your comfort and concentration levels this time of year.

The original bike was launched in a range of colours, including a very pale yellow and a lurid ‘piss’ green, but BMW reigned back the colour palette and this bike looks stunning in its red, white and black paint. Other subtle changes that show this is the ‘updated’ bike include minor changes to the asymmetrical side panels, the two winglets on the top part of the panels and the side aperture grills on the centre airbox cover.

This is a bike that looks rapid, even stood still, and it has a menacing, purposeful edge to its styling. Yes, it’s a rocketship on the move, but it’s also a comfortable bike you could ride every day.

The sophisticated electronics and rider aids mean it has never been easier to ride a 193bhp sportsbike. The engine is silky smooth, but accelerates rapidly, brutally even, with the twist of the throttle. And the dynamic traction control (DTC) works faultlessly, seamlessly adjusting engine torque to the current level of grip for optimum traction out of every corner.

This bike feels fresher than the first generation bike, and this is because BMW’s engineers tweaked its powerplant to provide a punchier power buildup and a more sensitive response. This, when combined with changes to the handling have created a bike that is even more precise and agile than its predecessor. A lot of this is down to the new suspension – the upside down fork and the spring strut feature a new internal structure, which provide an even wider range of damping forces from comfort to performance. This, when combined with changes to the suspension’s geometry – steering head angle, offset, position of the swingarm pivot, fork projection, and spring strut length – allow this RR to steer accurately, predictably holding a line through corners, time after time.

But the changes don’t stop there, and on the move your eyes will be drawn to the updated clocks, which are intuitive and easy to read. There’s now a “Best lap in progress” function, and if required, “Speedwarning” can inform the rider when he exceeds a particular speed.

Living with this bike for a week has proved just what a capable all-rounder it is. The fairing is effective at keeping the elements at bay, and it’s all-day comfortable. This BMW has that Honda feeling about it – everything fits and falls to hand easily and it just feels right.
It will happily sit on the motorway all day, grinding out the miles, and you know full well that the electronics will be working overtime to keep you safe. Yet, get to your destination, leave the motorway and hit the good stuff and it will suddenly come alive, urging you to attack the bends with ever greater confidence. It’s so easy to tip in, and it’s so precise, that it feels like the bike is part of you, and that it’s being guided by your thoughts alone. It’s awe-inspiring.

And the build quality seems flawless. This has been ridden hard in some shitty conditions – rain, snow, mud strewn roads – and has covered 1200 miles in our short time together, but after a thorough going over with the jetwash it’s come up as good as new.

In fact the only downside to any potential buyer is that it seems to be holding its price well. Try one for yourself and you’ll quickly discover why. This may be the greatest all-rounder ever. Fact.



Road racing – Farquhar replaces Martin at Tyco for TT


Three-time TT Race winner Ryan Farquhar will ride a Tyco BMW S1000RR Superbike for TAS Racing at this year’s Isle of Man TT races.

The Dungannon racer will partner 11-time winner Ian Hutchinson on board and this formidable line-up must make the Northern Ireland based team serious contenders for both Superbike and Senior races.

A delighted Farquhar said: “Having purchased a Superstock BMW with support from TAS Racing for this season, I got chatting to Philip Neill and from there the Superbike ride on the Tyco BMW came about. It’s one of those situations that just seems like it was meant to be.”

“I never thought at this stage of my career I was going to get the chance to ride a competitive Superbike at the TT again. So to be riding for Tyco BMW with full support from BMW Motorrad and a great team of people around me, is a great opportunity,” said Farquhar, who has recorded thirteen TT podiums during his TT career, which began in 2002.

Team Manager Philip Neill was equally overjoyed. He said: “Barring one or two years in the past fifteen, we’ve always represented a manufacturer in an official capacity at the TT with a two rider team. This year we were tempted to run with just Ian Hutchinson after Guy decided to sit it out, but there was always a desire, should a suitable rider come along, to have two riders on Tyco BMWs at the June event.

“Initially Ryan contacted me about the potential of some support on a deal to purchase a BMW Superstock bike for this year, which we were happy to get involved with at TAS Racing. The racing conversation and consequently a Superbike deal stemmed from there, and with his talent, experience and ability; not to mention his technical knowledge, he will be an asset to us on the Tyco BMW Superbike. Taking all of that into consideration made it an easy decision to include Ryan in our plans.”

Farquhar will get his first taste of the Tyco BMW S1000RR Superbike during some private testing in the coming weeks, but will make his BMW debut over Easter at Donington Park on his own S1000RR Superstock machine.

Flashback – a legend is born

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A legend was born 35 years ago this month when BMW tested its first prototype production GS model in Ecuador in January 1980.

The German manufacturer chose Ecuador due to its huge diversity of terrains, road types, climates and altitudes in a relatively small geographical area.

The trip was inspired by the motto “from the rainforest to the endless ice” and the bikes had to prove their ability in extreme climate and road conditions – the route took the riders from the hot and humid Amazon basin up to 5000m above sea level to the glaciers of the Andes, with the icy, thin air. Both the men and their machines survived this massive tour with just minor bumps and bruises.

The BMW engineers’ development work had paid off. By that autumn, just 21 months after the initial approval of the concept, BMW’s first production enduro was ready to be released to the public. The bike combined parts from the R80 road bike with a lighter rear end and larger front wheel for off-road performance.

News – TAS Racing to race BMWs on the roads


TAS Racing has confirmed that it will will join forces with BMW Motorrad for the 2015 road racing season, becoming the German manufacturer’s official representatives for the 2015 TT and the other international road races.

Experienced pilots Guy Martin and William Dunlop have been retained by the Northern Ireland-based team and will spearhead Tyco BMW’s assault at the big three international road racing events – the NW200, the TT and the Ulster GP – as well as selected national races on board the new BMW S1000RR.

Guy Martin, who finished second in the Superbike race and third in the Senior TT this year, said: “Moving to BMW Motorrad machinery is the reason I’m still racing next year and not retiring. I’ll always give it my all and to be with a quality manufacturer like BMW is mega. I’m looking forward to getting on the bikes as soon as possible. It’s a new bike and I’ve never ridden it before, but we all know its pedigree. TAS are the best team I’ve ever ridden for; they get me and I get them and we meet in the middle, which is why we’ve been successful and this new venture with BMW is just what we need going into next season.”

William Dunlop, who won his maiden international superbike race at this year’s NW200, was equally enthusiastic about the switch to German machinery. He said: “Moving to BMW Motorrad is an exciting change and one I’m looking forward to. We all saw what the BMW S1000RR was capable of achieving this season, so with the expertise of the guys at TAS Racing, I’m pretty sure we can do a good job in 2015. I got my first international Superbike win last year and I’d really like more next year as it’s the class to do it in. We have a top team and I’m happy to be working with Guy again at the TT, where I think together we can be even stronger with this exciting new package.”

Team manager Phillip Neil confirmed the team would get full factory support from BMW. He said: “Although our agreement is with BMW Motorrad in the UK, the support we have received from BMW in Germany is already very encouraging. We will have full support from the factory both technically and personnel-wise next season to help us achieve our goals.”

On the rider line-up for 2015 season he added: “We put a lot of thought into our rider line up for 2015 and as always the goal is to win races on the roads –  I’ve every confidence that William and Guy will also benefit from riding top class Tyco BMW machinery.

“I don’t want to build all our expectations around Guy and a TT win, although it is fair to say 2015 will give him a great chance of achieving his goal on the Tyco BMW. TT races are not easily won these days so I know Guy will be applying a one-hundred percent effort just as he does every year. Fingers crossed 2015 will be his year. On the other hand William has come of age on a Superbike and I wouldn’t bet against him either at the TT next June.”

In this year’s races Michael Dunlop clinched a hat-trick of TT victories in the Superbike, Superstock and Senior races on board Hawk Racing’s S1000RR.

WSBK – Elias signs for BMW

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Former Moto2 World Champion Toni Elias has signed a deal for 2015 with the new JR Racing Team BMW.

The 31-year-old Spaniard will run the new BMW S1000RR Superbike for 2015 with JR Racing Team BMW, the Dominican Republic funded effort led by 1995 and 2006 WSBK champion Troy Corser.

Toni, who finished ninth in the standings this season racing for the Red Devils Aprilia team, said:  “I’m very happy to be joining the JR Racing Team and to be riding a BMW machine. It’s a great opportunity for me to grow as a rider in this championship and to make another step closer to the front of the field. It is a new squad entering the series, which is really good, the bike is very competitive and I’m happy to be working with a double World Champion and WSBK icon such as Troy Corser. I cannot wait to get started.”

EICMA – BMW S1000XR unveiled

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The long-awaited S1000XR is far from a S1000R with clothes on – featuring a detuned version of the S1000RR’s inline four, the bike boasts a new frame, swingarm and geometry to help it deliver all-day comfort in its role as a long-distance sporty mile muncher.

The engine produces 160bhp and 83lb.ft of torque for plenty of low down grunt and the bike features a wide range of rider aids – two riding modes, automatic stability control (ASC), traction control and ABS. optional extras include an additional two riding modes (Dynamic and Dynamic Pro) touring and dynamic packages, and a higher-spec cornering ABS system.

Price and on-sale dates are still to be confirmed.

2015 TT: Dunlop out, Suzuki out


So it looks that 11-time TT winner Michael Dunlop is without a ride for the 2015 season, as the Northern Ireland-based TAS squad looks set to be confirmed as BMW’s officially supported team for next year’s BSB and road campaigns, breaking a long and successful partnership with Suzuki.

What that means is that Michael’s elder brother William, and the enigmatic Guy Martin, will be riding the Moneymore team’s S1000RRs, effectively leaving 25-year-old Michael out in the cold. It seems that winning BMW’s first title for 75 years and crushing all around him is no longer enough to guarantee a seat – Michael won the 2014 Superbike, Senior and Superstock TTs riding for the Buildbase Hawk BMW team, while Guy Martin landed second place in the Superbike race and third place in the Senior on the TAS Suzuki.

This isn’t the first time Michael has lost his place within a winning team – in 2013 Michael effectively priced himself out of a deal at Honda, despite dominating the TT and winning the Superbike, the Superstock and both Supersport races.

So where does this leave one of road racing’s fiercest competitors? One intriguing option could see him switch manufacturers yet again and compete aboard the all-new R1 for 2015. Mar-Train Racing announced at Brands that they were turning their back on BSB and have signed a two-year deal as Yamaha’s official road race team for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The team will consist of one rider and will campaign the three main classes, Supersport, Superstock and Superbike in the three international road races plus selected national road races.

Another option would be to compete under his own banner, but one thing is certain; there’s no chance he’ll take a year’s sabbatical, like he threatened after losing his Honda deal. “I have 11 TT trophies on my mantelpiece and only three were won on a BMW, so I plan to be back with another manufacturer. I will wait and see what happens, but I can assure you I will be back to win lost more TTs and North West 200s next season and beyond.”

Any angry Michael Dunlop with a point to prove? BMW, Honda and Bruce Anstey had better watch out…Ian Hutchinson’s haul of five victories might just be equalled, and we might also see the first sub 17-minute lap. 2015’s TT promises to be spectacular…