BMW’s HP2 Megamoto is all about taking the brand in entirely different directions.
Smoking The Gun
Sliding to a stop on the rear brake with smoke billowing off the rear Michelin and the hot engine pinging following a session of sustained high rpms, my behaviour is bordering on the barely restrained anti-social. Must have something to do with the bike I’m sampling, BMW’s HP2 Megamoto.
Appropriately named, the Megamoto is the monster truck of SuperMoto bikes. It’s what you get when BMW’s sometimes quirky engineers stuff a potent 1170cc air/oil-cooled HP2 Boxer engine in an oversized dirt bike chassis with 17-inch rims.
Tipping the scales at a claimed 439 pounds (199 kg) in full operating trim, the Megamoto also produces substantially more power than its HP2 Enduro cousin: BMW claims 113 hp at 7,500 rpm. A potent motor, to be sure, especially when mated to fully adjustable Ohlins rear suspension strapped onto a robust-looking cast aluminum paralever single-side swingarm. A fetching blue multi-spoke rear rim completes the look.
At the sharp end, adjustable inverted Marzocchi forks straddle the front wheel, which is slowed by four-piston calipers gripping 320mm discs.
Serious kit for any BMW, especially one that weighs much less than most of its BMW relatives. The R1200S, for example, is a lightweight by BMW standards yet it is some 31 lbs. (14 kg) heavier than the Megamoto with considerably less power.
This weight is distributed across a 63.6-inch (1615-mm) wheelbase and though the bike looks very narrow, particularly the tail section, it sports a width of 36.2 inches (919mm), but this factors in the flat-lying cylinders jutting out each side of the bike.
There’s an industrial sound as the starter spins the opposing Twin to life and, as the internal components begin to rotate, torque twists the bike. A counterpoint to all this thrashing is the sweet sound emitted by Akrapovic exhaust. The system produces an intoxicating bass tone from the lower rpms and I found myself consistently blipping the throttle just to get a few more notes. At higher revs the bike has a snarl that certainly turns heads, and on deceleration the system “pops,” making the package seem just that much more performance oriented. It certainly adds to the Megamoto experience and makes me wish every BMW accomplished this sound despite the incorporation of a closed loop three-way catalytic converter, which all too often stifles mechanical noise and character.
Though the Megamoto seems a bit reluctant to nab the first ratio at times—even forcing me to play with the clutch to actually make the shift stick—actuation itself is excellent, considering the clutch is comprised of a large single plate with a very easy and predictable pull from the lever.
Set in motion, the HP2’s weight savings are apparent and the bike responds like no other BMW I have ever ridden. You can’t help but play with the engine’s abundant torque and the relative flickability of the bike’s nature.
Once the cold-blooded Michelin Pilots came up to temperature I started to ride more aggressively, though I must confess I’m not a a raving fan of these tires.
The initial sense of stiff rear suspension abated as the Megamoto came into its own. The harder I rode the bike the better it felt—to the point where my antics weren’t appropriate for public roads.
Obviously, I would love some track time with the Megamoto to fully explore its potential. The torque curve is altogether addictive as the bike rushes from one apex to the next. Occasionally, when things are really rolling, the front end will loft in perfect form exiting second gear tighter corners. A Sunday morning Kodak moment if you will. Perhaps worth remembering is that this is a BMW Boxer we’re talking about here! Hauling the unit down from speed in the turns, the exceptionally powerful brakes demand your attention. At speed the package works well but the initial bite is rather aggressive at lower speeds. Ham-fisted operators would do well to pay extra attention. Despite my initial fears, the Megamoto’s flat seat is actually very comfortable and there’s a natural feel to the ergonomics. The large dirtbike oriented footpegs are extremely aggressive but provide sure footing. The consequence may well be quickly worn-out riding boots.
Don’t be surprised though by an appalling range limit. Claimed is a paltry 3.4-gallon (15.4-L) fuel capacity yet I couldn’t get 10 litres poured in with the fuel light on. I was shocked to observe I’d traveled less than 100 kms from fully-filled to fuel light. Factor in the reserve supply and an optimistic rider could anticipate about 140 to 150 kms per tank. This low cap certainly places limits on where you can take the Megamoto.
A miserly fuel supply, an exclusive nature and a sobering price tag (MSRP $22,250), lead me to ponder where the bike fits in the scheme of motorcycles. In many ways it’s fair to conclude that the Megamoto, like Yamaha’s 2009 V-MAX, is more than anything else a performance-oriented styling exercise designed to draw attention to the brand.
In BMW’s case, the prime directive now is to change the widely-held public perception of its motorcycle lineup as being filled with technically excellent somewhat staid offerings that are long on safety and comfort but short on excitement. The HP2 Megamoto certainly helps take the marque in other directions.
– Oliver Jervis