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Brief encounter: 2008 BMW HP2 Sport

P0038583

In 2007 BMW Motorrad Motorsport busied themselves running a ‘special’ BMW R1200S in selected rounds of the World Endurance racing series. Under the spotlight of the world’s media this boxer-engined sportsbike competed against the likes of YZF-R1s and GSX-R1000s in the championship. It was an unlikely contender and most sportsbike fans didn’t get it, but the results really didn’t matter. It was the reason BMW were there and what was hidden behind those protruding rocker covers that was interesting…

Having launched the HP (High Performance) range in 2005 with the HP Enduro, followed up with the unfaired HP Megamoto in 2007, BMW extended its range of limited edition specials in 2008 with the HP2 Sport. Based around the endurance racer, this new bike contained no ordinary boxer engine, this was the boxer engine of the future, destined to power the next generation of BMWs. Track testing had pushed the new motor to its limits and having survived the rigours of endurance racing, BMW were now ready to unveil it to the world.

 

2008-BMW-HP2-Sport-on-road

 

Featuring a double overhead camshaft design, the HP2 Sport’s motor marked the first time BMW had used this arrangement in a boxer (it later appeared on the GS in 2010) and signalled that the firm were no longer looking at making fairly under-powered, low-revving, models. Remarkably, with a claimed 130bhp and 85ft.lb of torque, the HP2 Sport was actually the most powerful boxer-engined BMW until the 2019 R1250GS – which had liquid-cooling as well as a bigger capacity! How did they achieve this? As well as bigger valves, the HP2 Sport’s motor came with lightweight forged pistons, precisely machined and balanced internals, a close-ratio gearbox and more. Sadly this resulted in it requiring a full engine strip and measure at 50,000 miles, but very few HP2 Sports ever hit this figure so we will brush over this slight (and rather expensive) annoyance...

Away from its engine, the HP2 Sport is dripping in exotic components. The tubular steel frame is a modified R1200S unit, but attached to it is a self-supporting carbon subframe and seat unit, while the wheels are lightweight forged items, radial brakes come from Brembo (ABS was an optional extra) and both shocks (Telelever front and Paralever rear) are by Öhlins.

And it doesn’t stop there, dig deeper and you spot the carbon bodywork, milled aluminium top yoke, adjustable footrests and much, much more. It is a no-compromise bike that is beautifully built with no expense spared. And it feels special to ride.

Turn the key and the 2D digital dash lights up like a Christmas tree, a row of LEDs go from green through amber to red while the LCD display looks like the kind of thing you find on a superbike. There is a reason why it looks like the real deal, and that’s because it is. This is a pukka race set up and, in 2008, most MotoGP and WSB teams used the very same spec of dash. As well as programmable shift lights it has different display modes and can be fitted with GPS tracking, datalogging and lap timing – but the coolest part is the way the LED lights indicate the engine’s temperature and put a limit on the revs until it is suitably warm. How cool is that? And it even has a quickshifter as standard, quite a novelty back then, which rewards you with a beautiful ‘pop’ on every upshift.

 

2008-BMW-HP2-Sport-dash

 

On the road, the HP2 Sport remains the right side of focused to be enjoyable yet still sporty. The Telelever front end gives you bags of feel while the chassis is good and the engine fantastic, especially if the bike has a cheeky aftermarket exhaust fitted (the Akrapovic item cost an eye-watering £2500 back in the day). Just watch out for cracked fairing panels and paint around the lugs as they are a bit brittle and ensure the cool rocker cover sliders aren’t scraped (although they are replaceable).

Although not particularly rare, as it was made until 2011, the HP2 Sport remains an incredibly special motorcycle that still turns heads today. With a price tag of between £14,000 and £16,500, it is an affordable slice of exotica which seems to resist depreciation, if anything they are going up in value, mainly as it is not only gloriously built but also very significant in the history of BMW Motorrad.

The HP2 Sport paved the way for BMW’s move from a ‘pipe and slippers’ company who were renowned for their touring models to a forward-thinking and exciting brand. The HP2 Sport preceded the S1000RR, with which the German brand would take on the World Superbike Championship to prove their new-found dynamism.

 

BMW HP2 Sport specs:

Engine: 1170cc, air-cooled, 8v, DOHC, boxer twin

Power: 130bhp @ 8750rpm

Torque: 115ftlb @ 6000rpm

Seat height: 830mm

Weight: 199kg (wet)

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