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What a crazy fever that has been unleashed at the Milan Motor Show with carbon fiber. We knew that Ducati would present its exaggeratedly attractive 1299 Superleggera and we thought they would be the only ones to satisfy the cravings of the most fetishists, but BMW Motorrad has surprised us with a version of its S 1000 RR that could overshadow the Italian.
The BMW HP4 Race is another motorcycle dementia that uses just like Borgo Panigale saddle fairing, rims and chassis! carbon fiber. They might look like similar bikes but they are not at all. The design scheme of both European superbikes is completely different and that is precisely where the beauty of this lies. virtual showdown packed with lightweight materials.
Carbon duel in the old continent
In one corner of the ring, the Ducati 1299 Superleggera it was perhaps the least surprising of the carbonara sneakers. We could expect something like this from the Italian manufacturer, usually close to a very premium customer profile, a collector, who loves special and exotic editions.
In fact, the motorcycle presented at the Milan Motor Show has a direct antecedent that is very well received by the public: the Ducati 1199 Superleggera. If you remember, that Panigale was also a version lightened to the maximum and enhanced.
The monocoque chassis and tires were made of magnesium to add just 155kg on the scale, the self-supporting Superquadro engine was amphetamined up to 205hp with parts from the WSBK. The twin cylinder used in the 1299 Superleggera is based on that of the 1199, it also uses magnesium and tungsten parts to reduce weight, but is tightened even more for raise its maximum power figure to 215 hp.
The leap forward has also come from the hand of the price, going from 70,000 euros to 92.000, a money that even if you had it would be of no use to you if you are not one of Ducati's best customers.
In the other corner of the ring, a mysterious German motorcycle awaits us. Using as a basis the well-known BMW S 1000 RR in its latest version from 2015, the propeller brand's engineers have developed the HP4 Race, a motorcycle that would occupy the space left by the previous HP4 and go one step further into the little-explored world of carbon fiber.
By little explored I mean when it comes to street bikes, because this HP4 Race inherits a good part of the experience that BMW Motorrad has acquired during its last years in the races of the World Superbike Championship.
There is no more data beyond the announcement that will be in spring 2017 when we know all the details and plans for the final production version. Come on, it's a prototype but a version with headlights and license plate is on the way.
Now the question is: do these motorcycles what are they worth? Indeed, they could not be more fascinating, mystical and attractive. Their varnished black fiber charms shine without shame and make us want them with every beat of our heart. But do they make sense?
I mean, for the use of a private person they are not worth that fortune. Nobody in their right mind would spend almost 100,000 euros on a motorcycle to make curves on Sunday, expose yourself to accidents between traffic or the greedy glances of other people's friends. Or if? If you have that money and want to indulge yourself, go ahead! To me, the happiness that having a motorcycle of this size would give me would be directly proportional to the atrocious fear that something could happen to it.
The second option is that they had a sporting justification, that they were motorcycles intended for get approved to compete with its base in the World Superbike Championship. WSBK regulations tell us that before the start of the championship each model should be manufactured (and homologated) 125 units and have 250 at the end of the year.
So far so good, because Ducati has announced that it will make 500 jewels under the name 1299 Superleggera (we don't know how many will be made of the BMW HP4 Race). The problem comes when the regulation asks that at the end of the following year there have been another 1,000.
Well badly. We already saw how Bimota had to stay out of the Superbike World Championship as it did not get enough motorcycles for sale (although the FIM even modified the regulations to make it easier for them). So both Italians and Germans will continue to contest the championship with the Ducati Panigale R and BMW S 1000 RR. In addition, and in case you had missed the detail, the Superleggera the displacement of the new Superleggera is higher than that allowed by the regulations.
And so? How are these motorcycles so valued that they are not worth too much? You will be with me in that you have to have the very healthy accounts to buy one of these motorcycles and start doing batches. There will be people who will do it and smell for them, but a fall can annihilate a piece that borders on art.
The main justification for these bikes is simply the money. It is a shame, a lot, but these very special versions are very difficult to see, not only because of the few units manufactured, but also because they will spend their days locked in a garage, in a private showroom or, simply, put in a box waiting that time passes and they revalue.
Money calls money. If you have 100,000 euros to spend on a motorcycle that you are not going to use, then better if in 10 years that investment has multiplied its value by a few percent. In the automotive industry this has been happening for many years, but in the last decade the number of factories developing ultra-short or even one-off runs for a particular customer has exploded.
This is starting to happen with motorcycles, and the clearest example we had quite recently with the MV Agusta F4Z. A generalist brand will not launch into this type of operation, but small manufacturers can be loved by the more affluent collectors and do the august in much less time than selling their affordable models.
And this is wrong? No, but it's very angry. Well yes, and envy too. But you have to be happy for the manufacturers because they get cash injections that allow them to continue delighting us with new creations. Taking the example of the Superleggera, if they make 500 at a price of 92,000 euros each they add up to a total of, wait, 46 million euros.
I don't know about you, but it seems to me almost 50 million reasons to build a motorcycle. Although among the 500 meetings they will not even cover the mileage for the first service.