BMW continues to astonish the motorcycling community by pulling ever more impressive rabbits out of its engineering hat. The latest creation from the Munich-based company, and relatively hot on the heels—in engineering and marketing terms—of the revolutionary K bike, is the all new HP2. Designed with the latest off-road technology and engineering, the HP2 (High Performance 2-cylinder) is a serious enduro machine which, as with the introduction of their GS bike some years ago, has BMW setting the bar in a whole new category of motorcycling.
At first glance, the HP2 is similar to its adventure-based brother, the BMW R 1200 GS. In reality, the only DNA the two machines share is the proven Boxer-twin engine—and even that has been pumped up to 105 horses, compared to the GS’s 100. Essentially everything else is new or radically redesigned. (Click image to enlarge)
In the off-road realm, nothing is as important as suspension, and BMW was intent on imbuing the HP2 with components that would deliver competition-level performance. In a dramatic departure from their tradition, engineers traded the company’s innovative Telelever front suspension system for a conventional 45mm inverted telescopic fork that controls over ten inches of front wheel travel.
For the rear, a modified and lengthened Paralever system similar to that used on the GS is employed for increased stability in the rough. A unique (industry-first) adjustable air bladder shock was designed specifically for the HP2 with spring preload and damping adjusted solely with air pressure. The shock modulates nearly ten inches of rear-wheel travel with a plush ride on the street and easy trails. Still, it is fully capable of soaking up serious hits in severe terrain and landing from airborne sojourns.
All of that suspension travel comes at a cost. The HP2 is extremely tall and will catch some potential new owners off-guard with a saddle height of 36.2 inches. Anyone under six feet tall will have to stretch to touch the ground. Some of this height can be bled off with the adjustable air shock and tailored to the individual rider by using the bubble-level zip tied to the frame.
As with any off-road machine, saving weight was a high priority and BMW engineers managed to get the HP2 down to a remarkable 386 pounds dry. To reach that mark, the engine’s vibration-reducing balance shaft was jettisoned, and it’s not missed on this serious enduro machine. The frame is sturdy steel tubing with plenty of heavy-duty gussets at critical, load-bearing junctures. Wide, aggressive footpegs with jagged-edges for boot grip are direct carryovers from the enduro/dual sport world and are designed to reduce fatigue by spreading the rider’s weight over a large area.
In contrast to the BMW GS series—road-going motorcycles built with an off-road capability—the HP2 is bred with the reverse approach: one of a serious off-road machine that can handle pavement. Whereas the R 1200 GS and its brother, the Adventure, travel down the highway content in the knowledge they can handle the occasional fire road snaking off into the hills. The HP2 goes hunting for rutted, rock-strewn single-track trails and dried-out riverbeds and, though you cannot disregard the fact that you’re not on a 225-pound off-road-only bike, in general, the rougher the better. Although quite capable on a variety of paved roads, canyons, freeways, and surface streets, the HP2 is happiest cutting loose in the backcountry. And when it is cut loose, the rider had best be paying attention. With a 1200cc Boxer-twin powerplant situated between knobby tires and serious suspension, the HP2—though quite manageable and well-mannered—can very quickly get the less-experienced rider into trouble. (Click image to enlarge)The tall seat height of the HP2 results in potentially awkward situations on failed hillclimbs or getting stuck in choppy terrain. Very quickly, you can find yourself frantically flailing your legs looking for a foothold that is a critical few inches beneath your boot. Fortunately, BMW built the HP2 to shake off low-speed tip-overs with nary a scratch and riders planning to test the HP2’s off-road worthiness are well advised to bolt-on the BMW accessory plastic hand and engine valve cover guards before you even start the bike.
(Click images to enlarge)
The abundant torque of the Boxer-twin results in a tractor-like pull with the HP2. This is most useful in slow-speed situations off-road, especially in muddy conditions. Just drop the clutch and the HP2 digs in and motors ahead. The 6-speed transmission is a nice touch for the highway, but in off-road situations (save high-speed desert runs), first through third will suffice. With 105 hp, it is exceedingly easy to spin up the rear tire. In fact, most riders will never come close to using the available power of the HP2 in an off-road situation. But it’s nice to know it’s there. The HP2 is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but for off-road enthusiasts looking for a unique, capable machine, the HP2 is going to be very hard to ignore.
Rawhyde Off-Road Adventures
With the increasing popularity of adventure bikes, Jim Hyde saw a need to provide instruction in the various nuances of off-road riding encountered with larger, heavier machines. Getting some basic instruction can make the difference between an enjoyable day on the trails or a ruinous calamity of mishaps. Knowing how to stay out of—as well as get out of—the many challenging situations that can arise in the wilds of the off-road can be learned at Rawhyde Adventures.