Bombing Around With The HP2
What would you do with a $20,000 dirt bike?
Earlier this year, BMW introduced its new HP2 -- a limited production, dirt-worthy version of the fantastic 1200GS. The good news... with killer suspension and a dry weight less than the KTM 950, the HP2 is extremely capable off road. The bad news... it costs about $20,000. That's a lot of money for any motorcycle, let alone a really big dirt bike. So the question becomes, if you were able to pick up one of these trick bikes, would you be willing to truly test the limits of its off-road capabilities and risk beating the crap out of such a costly investment? If your name is Dieter Von Hexhead (aka, Bruce), the answer would be yes.
I just picked up a Honda CRF450X, and was eager to try it out. As I was planning for a great day of trail riding, Bruce called up and said he wanted to ride this weekend. So what better way to see what the HP2 was capable of then hitting the trails with a little bike like the 450X.
The ride got off to a rough start... about five miles into it, Bruce's rear tire rolled off the bead and went flat. Because it's tubeless, there was no easy way to re-seat the bead with a little bicycle pump. So I rode back to the house, picked up an air compressor, and drove back out to where Bruce was waiting. A quick blast with the compressor and we were back in business. I then drove back home, hopped back on the bike and met him once again.
After that little hiccup, it turned out to be a fantastic day of riding. The weather was absolutely perfect (gotta love Arizona in December).
Recent rains meant that a lot of the trails had quite a few deep ruts, which made for some fun riding. A quick review of the 450X -- while it doesn't have the top end of the 525, this bike certainly rips! The front wheel definitely has an aversion to staying on the ground. It weighs about the same as the 525, but it feels a lot lighter. And the Showa suspension is absolutely incredible. (Even better than the KTM's WP setup, IMHO.) On the downside, it is noticeably buzzier than the 525. I wouldn't necessary recommend the 450X for any stretch of highway riding, but it is without a doubt a killer trail machine! I was very impressed.
Back to the ride... what impressed me even more than the 450X was how Bruce was riding the HP2. He never hesitated to take that bike on some truly gnarly trails, and went everywhere the 450X went. While a lot of guys wouldn't dream of putting this nice (re, expensive) of a toy in harm's way, he's out there making full use of the bike's capabilities and riding it the way it was built to be ridden.
Here's a great series of photos from one nasty downhill section. The ruts are about twice as deep as they appear in the photos.
About this time, we were both a little spent from riding all day, so we started looking for a trail that would lead us back to the main road. My mad navigating skills paid off once again (didn't have my GPS with me), and we ended up taking a trail that became progressively more difficult. At one point, the ruts were so deep that Bruce had to find an alternate way down for fear of banging up the pontoons hanging off his bike. He really showed some impressive riding skills on that big beast.
Once at the base of that last section, the trail opened up and we headed back for town. It's days like this that make you realize just how fun this sport can be.