Carbon Racing.

How the HP4 RACE revolutionises automotive engineering.

It is the first stock motorcycle in the world to have fully carbon chassis and rims: the HP4 RACE. 750 of them are being crafted by specialists in the BMW Motorrad plant in Berlin. Each individual machine embodies the passion for two-wheelers, pushes boundaries and makes innovation history. 

"The HP4 RACE is the most exclusive bike that BMW Motorrad has ever made", says head of project Christian Gonschor. The excitement at the Auto Shanghai motor show is correspondingly high. Here, the HP4 RACE is unveiled to the public for the first time. Since BMW Motorrad presented an "Advanced Prototype" of the special edition bike at the EICMA in November 2016, the whole scene has been clamouring for more details. This is precisely what they get in China. The HP4 RACE number 001 takes centre stage. One of a total of 750, handmade in the BMW Motorrad factory in Berlin. With fully carbon chassis and rims, the HP4 RACE High Performance is on a new level and projects the future of the superbike into the here and now. 

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Light Ride

146 kilos of power.

146 kilos of power.

With the HP4 RACE, BMW Motorrad relies on carbon drive technology and is the first motorcycle manufacturer in the world to enter industrial small-scale production of a fully carbon chassis. Firstly, carbon entails a weight saving. As the HP4 RACE, which arose on the basis of the Double R, only weighs 146 kilos. Fully fuelled at 171 kilos, it is lighter than the latest factory racing bikes currently used in the Superbike World Championship and only slightly above the MotoGP factory racers in terms of weight. The reason for this is firstly the carbon chassis in monocoque design, which contributes a mere 7.8 kilos to the total weight. The carbon rims also have a big impact on the low weight: they are around 30 per cent lighter than light alloy forged wheels while maintaining the same level of rigidity. Combined with 158 kW (215 HP) of power, this makes the HP4 RACE the pulse generator on the track.

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40 per cent less gyroscopic force.

40 per cent less gyroscopic force.

As well as the machine's weight, carbon also changes the riding sensation and handling. With the HP4 RACE BMW Motorrad relies on "Carbondrive" technology. The category includes non-woven bonded fabrics with continuous fibres produced using the RTM process. The gyroscopic force in a set of manufactured carbon wheels is around 40 per cent less than in light alloy forged wheels. This, coupled with the lower total weight, thereby improves handling, faster changes of direction, acceleration and braking performance. "A carbon chassis allows optimal relationships between rigidity, torsion, bending, transverse rigidity and weight, which has a direct impact on the ride dynamics", product manager Josef Mächler explains. "With an aluminium chassis, you are considerably more restricted". Even with years of continuous load, the chassis remains firm and is therefore superior to the vast majority of racers when it comes to durability. 

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Carbon in the endurance test

Hard as steel.

Hard as steel.

Carbon fibres, ten times thinner than a human hair, are the basic component of carbon. They are wrapped into bundles and processed along with resin into rigid components. Carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) is produced, or carbon for short. It is as rigid as steel, but its density is around 80 per cent lower. The BMW Group recognised the significance of carbon in vehicle manufacturing at an early stage and joined the world's leading producer, SFG Carbon, who provide the raw material for the HP4 RACE. As early as 2003, carbon was being used on a large scale at the BMW Group. Back then, the company was industrialising the carbon fibre manufacturing process for large-scale use with the market launch of the BMW M3 CSL. The BMW i3, BMW i8 and BMW 7 Series also includes carbon fibre as part of an intelligent mix of materials.

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The HP4 RACE is the most exclusive bike that BMW Motorrad has ever made.

Christian Gonschor

Head of Project HP4 RACE

Tried and tested crash behaviour.

In order to test the safety of the high-tech material, the engineers subjected the HP4 RACE to three long years of brutal testing: the wheels were repeatedly driven against high kerbs and the crash behaviour was optimised. The result is that the energy of the impact is transferred to the rim base, and subsequently the material is bent back into its original shape. "There is no sudden air loss like with the light alloy forged wheels", says Mächler. "The rider can even return to the pits with reduced speed". In the interior of the monocoque, bulkhead partitons prevent damage from spreading in the chassis. Long before the functionality of the chassis becomes threatened, visible components would yield, making the problem self-evident. This means the damage chain with the HP4 RACE is designed in such a way so that the chassis and wheels are the last components of the motorcycle to fail in the case of a fall. 

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Passion knows no boundaries

On a World Championship level.

On a World Championship level.

The HP4 RACE has no reason to fear a comparison with the latest superbike factory racers. Drive, electronics, and spring elements are on a par with World Championship quality. The Öhlins upside-down fork type FGR 300, the Öhlins spring strut type TTX 36 GP, the light alloy underslung swingarm made of milled and sheet metal parts - the equipment of the exclusive motorcycle is at the professional sport level in many regards. In terms of the suspension, the HP4 RACE even goes one step further with the "Carbondrive" technology. Because more racers are still built by hand today. A chassis like the one on the HP4 RACE would have kept four workers busy for a full week. Whereas with modern automation technology, it only takes a few hours to make the chassis, without this having any impact on the quality. 

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Handmade in Berlin.

The HP4 RACE is made in the BMW Motorrad plant in Berlin. A small team of specialists builds and inspects the engine. The same applies for the entire motorcycle. The team ensures that the HP4 RACE is produced with the minimum tolerances and the highest level of precision. Passion knows no boundaries – this value has been upheld by the HP4 RACE development and production team and bequeathed to the special-edition bike. "Never before has a standard-production motorcycle been equipped with high-quality materials to this extent", Reno Reppin states, project manager at the plant in Berlin. In this way, the HP4 RACE meets the requirements demanded by high performance and uncompromisingly pushes the boundaries of motorsport technology into the future. 

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Increased Safety. Improved Riding Experience.

Innovative all along.

To the BMW Motorrad innovation hub
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