Is The 2018 BMW HP4 Race About to Debut in China?

04/11/2017 @ 2:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

After this year’s April Fools hijinks, we have a whole new respect for the cunning that resides at BMW Motorrad, and the Germans seem to be honing that trait even further today.

Announcing its plans for the upcoming Auto Shanghai 2017 later this month, BMW lists a number of four-wheeled news items for the Chinese auto show, and then casually slips-in at the end of the press release that we should expect a big unveil from BMW Motorrad.

The statement reads that “the highlight of the BMW Motorrad stand is the world premiere of one of the most exclusive models ever offered by BMW Motorrad,” which is terse, though given what we know about the Bavarian brand, it should be easy to guess what they are hinting at.

Spy shots of the BMW HP4 Race – the all-carbon fiber superbike that debuted at last year’s EICMA show – have begun to circulate the internet already, and the machine is surely about to move from prototype to production machine in the coming months.

BMW Motorrad told us as much last November, saying to expect the bike’s debut in the second-half of 2017 , so the timing is right for us to see the production-ready version of the 2018 BMW HP4 Race.

Naturally, we can expect the bike to come with a substantially higher sticker price than the BMW S1000RR street bike, and to be built in very limited quantities.

Why debut it in China though? You might ask. Surely a large part of that equation is timing, of course, with there being relatively few venues to debut a new model during mid-April, but the Chinese market is also very strong for ultra-premium products, such as halo bikes like the BMW HP4 Race.

No doubt, BMW Motorrad expects more than a few wealthy Chinese collectors to snatch up the handful of HP4 Race superbikes it produces, with Shanghai also having a strong affluent expat population as well.

The BMW HP4 Race features an all-carbon fiber chassis, which includes carbon fiber wheels, fairings, and a carbon fiber frame. The prototype debuted at EICMA featured a carbon fiber swingarm as well, though spy photos show a bike with an aluminum piece instead.

It’s not clear if that photo was from an earlier testing period, or if the final machine specs have changed since November. Either way, we would expect some tuning to the HP4 Race’s inline-four engine to be on the cards, not to mention an update to the electronics package.

There is of course the chance that we are wrong about our prediction of the BMW HP4 Race debuting in the next couple weeks, in which case BMW Motorrad certainly has an interesting surprise for us in terms showing “one of the most exclusive models ever offered” from the brand.

However, our money is on the HP4 Race though, and it should be quite the treat.

Source: BMW Group

  • Nick

    This motorcycle is only interesting from a design and function standpoint. There is very little hopes of carbon fiber tech making its way down the food chain. BMW would be the only company to do it though. Most companies would never even spend the money on adding quality suspension components to their bikes, let alone full carbon pieces.

  • PierreLaPierre

    I guess for most folks they would be rather perplexed at what I write here but I could sit and stare at that frame and wheels for quite a long time.

  • Mike Flynn

    who would ever ride that?? it’s a waste of money unless you are zuckerburg or gates
    i wouldn’t want this even if i could afford..I ride my bikes

  • coreyvwc

    Are you familiar with the Ducati 1299 Superleggera ? They kinda beat BMW to the punch on that…

  • n/a

    There’s a reason MotoGP don’t use carbon frames, right?

  • Superlight

    Yes, so far that’s true. The design variations possible with CF layups also mean you can get lost there. If bicycles are any indication it won’t be too long before CF becomes the mainstay in frame materials.

  • Nick Moore

    That frame has to be very time consuming to manufacture let alone those wheels. The mold for the frame must be very large and quite expensive to say the least. This type of tech is Mclaren and Boeing level construction and design. I can only imagine that they have some type of plans to introduce this for other models down the road as the R&D cost alone would require thousands of these bikes to be sold to recoup the cost.

  • coreyvwc

    The frame design actually seems like a pretty half hearted attempt. They made it nearly identical in design to it’s normal aluminum counterpart. Carbon fiber and Aluminum behave very differently, so why would you make them exactly the same? It’s seems a lot like they did this just to show everyone that they could.

  • Nick Moore

    Not trying to argue here but as someone who works for a manufactuerer that produces carbon components in house there is more to it than just what’s on the outside. That is kind of an arm chair comment.

    Carbon is not an easy material to work with and from the images it looks very well done as I’m sure BMW has some know how in this department with the I8 and i3. They are making a big push for carbon manufacturing.

    Of course they may look the same on a computer screen (even though these are some awesome hi rez images) but that doesn’t mean they act the same.

    Also, there are only so many ways to mount and engine between the wheels and there is no way they are going to redesign the motorcycle with this type of tech until it progresses.

    Just sayin’

  • coreyvwc

    I totally agree that the manufacturing process for carbon composites is extremely intensive, and that this particular example seems to be very well done! I’m just saying that it literally looks like they made the molds from the standard aluminum chassis. I definitely know much less than you about the actual manufacturing process, but I do work with a lot composite aviation components which are always shaped very differently than similar aluminum components which perform the same function. That’s why this looks so strange to me.

  • Jeram Mallis

    As CF construction and manufacturing techniques improve continually, the cost is reduced considerably.
    Yes it will never be as cheap as the same part made from metal but it is close. Just compare the price of forged magnesium wheels to carbon fiber.

    Additionally, Carbon Fiber structural components are beginning to enter the ‘affordable sportscar’ market. Ford Mustang has a contract with Carbon Revolution in Australia to supply mass-produced carbon wheels for their official performance parts catalog.

  • Johnny Five

    I would only buy this bike if BMW used the exact same carbon fiber weave on of the parts. All these mix-matched carbon patterns are very off-putting. I equate this to wearing a brown leather belt with black shoes. Yuck.

  • mikstr

    I would be more inclined to call it a tie as both the SL and the HP4 were introduced at the same show last fall IIRC (though the SL may have beat it slightly to production)

  • mikstr

    any idea on the weight of this thing? With that monster motor and the significant weight loss, this thing would be a rocket…

  • Kenny

    There is a solution to your problem. It’s a rather new invention called paint.

  • Tau Editing

    If any of the carbon fiber bits crack, could you fix it with epoxy putty and a nail for reinforcing? It’s ok, I’ll let myself out ….

  • awwshucks

    not sure how the carbon frame compares to the aluminum one, but it looks like absolutely bonertown.

  • mikstr

    The decision to offset the weaves is not to cut corners or to give a Woodstock-carbon look, it`s to get the rigidity characteristics they need. Unlike metal, the rigidity of carbon fibre is directional, determined by the orientation of the strands. A frame constructed as you say would be a showpiece only

  • Nick

    Clearly carbon fiber is making its way into what some would consider affordable, just look at the cycling world. It would clearly further reduce weight and affect rideabilty. It would be up for the market to determine if riders are ready more than just your bolt on pieces.

  • Vladimir Pushkin

    A few years ago, BMW and Boeing entered into a contract for carbon fiber research and development. I am certain, this development is what has allowed BMW to streamline more carbon products into their lineup of vehicles.

  • madchilli

    Ducati tried.

  • madchilli

    Can’t stop dribbling.

  • Alam R

    Very informative. great post.

  • Alam R

    a great and informative post.

    Can you explain why they haven’t chosen ‘forged carbon’ as used on bicycles? I was told that this process was the next evolutionary step away from having to align weave and ‘lay up’ the carbon?

    I admit I know little.

  • PaulF

    They were both beaten to the post by the excellent Norton V4 RR – AND at a significantly cheaper price and possibly better performance

  • mikstr

    The V4RR doesn`t have a carbon frame, however, so it doesn`t qualify IMO. Now, if we`re speaking of carbon excluding the frame, the Tamburini T12 Massimo beat the Norton to the punch anyhow (and likely some other low-volume “cottage” builds in turn beat it….) That aide, the Norton is a beautiful and very desirable bike, no doubt…

  • PaulF

    Indeed you are correct when talking about a full composite chassis.
    The Norton SS sold out all 250 bikes in a week with nothing but Facebook advertising! Norton have recently had to temporarily halt taking orders for the V4 RR as demand has far outstripped supply. Nice place to be in…….
    It’s true, but also a great shame, that BMW have chosen to launch in China where most of these HP4’s will be bought as ‘trophies’ by in-capable owners. I say this as someone who lives and rides in China and works here as a composites engineer. In 10 years I’ve yet to see any local who can handle more than an e-push bike.