2008 BMW R 1200 HP2 Megamoto Road Test
July 9, 2008
Filed under BMW Motorcycle Road Tests: Reviews on BMW Motorcycles, Road Tests, Sport Standard + Standard Motorcycle Reviews
[This review of the 2008 BMW R 1200 HP2 Megamoto was originally published in the August 2008 issue of Rider]
We all know First Adopters, folks who stay on the bleeding-edge of the latest and greatest. They are willing to endure remarkable levels of inconvenience to be the first person to have the New Thing. Then there are Exclusives, well-heeled aficionados who strive to have the Special Thing. Being a member of this club normally requires parting with large sums of money.
When BMW says the R 1200 HP2 Megamoto–one of three in its HP2 “high-performance twin” line, along with the Enduro and Sport–is aimed at “motorcycle connoisseurs who want an exclusive, limited- production Supermoto motorcycle,” its sweet spot is the nexus of First Adopters, Exclusives and Motorcyclists. Price of admission? $20,520 ($21,520 with ABS).
Do a little comparison shopping and you realize the Megamoto is in a league of its own, at least pricewise. Ducati Hypermotard 1100S: $14,495. KTM 990 Super Duke R: $15,598. Aprilia Tuono 1000 R Factory: $16,999. None of these exclusive bikes is cheap, and the weak dollar doesn’t help, but all three are European so the playing field is level in that respect. What do those extra few thousand dollars get you?
More power? No. By official at-the-crank specs, the BMW’s 113 horsepower ranks Number 3 behind the Aprilia’s 139 and the KTM’s 118, but ahead of the Ducati’s 95. Better specs? No. High-end components, light weight and sporty geometry abound in this rarefied group. On paper at least, the Megamoto is not a hands-down winner.
Perhaps the premium price is for a cloaking device? I wish.
To get a sense of things, I snooped around online motorcycle forums. Folks were duly intrigued by the Megamoto; most were gobsmacked at the price. Some debated whether a liter-class supermotard bike is the wrong tool for the job, like bringing a tank to a gun fight. Too big, too heavy and (perhaps) too powerful. One guy (OldRoadToad) coined a name for this too-much-growth-hormone class: SuperMoLards.
The Megamoto certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. Nor the limited of inseam. Throwing a leg over the 35-inch-high seat is akin to the high jump. The narrow, dirtbike-style saddle is firm but not uncomfortable. Onboard, the pilot is greeted by a spacious cockpit. Handlebars are wide and require a long reach. The instrument panel, tucked into the carbon fiber headlight shroud, is Teutonically tidy, just like on the R 1200 GS. But on the GS you get features, most notably fuel level, that are inexplicably missing from the higher-dollar Megamoto.
Aesthetically, the Megamoto reminds me of a running shoe: sleek, aggressive, purposeful. The Aura White/ Magnesium Metallic paint scheme, with the splash of blue for the frame and wheels (elegantly spoked in a pinwheel design), would inspire a marathoner. From the white racing stripes to the carbon fiber extras to the Olympic gold-colored components, this bike screams fast.
The HP2 idles with a rumbling lope. The growl from the Akrapovic exhaust is tough but restrained, with the 2-into-1-into-2 pipes silenced by a single, bulbous canister with dual outlets. BMW’s venerable 1,170cc Boxer twin engine got beefed up for the Megamoto. The Jett Tuning Dynojet dynamometer recorded 107.5 horsepower and 81.3 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel on a bike that tipped our scales at 449 pounds wet. Compared to the R 1200 GS, the Megamoto churns out 11 more horsepower and 8 more lb-ft of torque in a package that is 92 pounds lighter.
Motocross-style handlebars provide intuitive turn-in. The firm suspension can be jarring going over bumps, but at a brisk pace it remains well composed. Carving precision lines is the Megamoto’s bailiwick. But when one apex unravels into four as you dodge troublesome tarmac, line changes are accommodated with reassuring efficiency.
Go fast, turn, stop; you know the drill. Here’s where things get interesting. The Megamoto’s brakes have a split personality: grabby up front, comfortably numb out back. Very light pulls on the front brake lever bite quickly, like a dog that snaps at you when provoked. BMW claims the Megamoto’s Brembo-made brakes are similar to EVO systems found on other models. The once-bitten, twice-shy feeling never really went away, but I learned to live with it.
Perhaps it is to be expected for a limited-production, narrow-focus model, but the Megamoto has some quirks. The exhaust interfered with the heel of my left boot. There is a carbon fiber shield on the exhaust, but it is small and I left melted boot rubber on the pipe. With plenty of room and no pillion thighs to broil (since no passenger accommodations are provided), this is the perfect bike for an underseat exhaust.
The Megamoto is not a long-distance machine. We recorded an average of 37.8 mpg over our 1,500-mile test, which included plenty of freeway commuting. With a 3.4-gallon fuel tank, the estimated range is only 128 miles. When ridden more aggressively, fuel economy fell to as low as 30 mpg, which truncates the range to just over 100 miles. Stay on the lookout for the next gas station.
Still, this bike is a real hoot. With a torquey motor, an invigorating exhaust note and top-shelf components, illicit fun begins with a twist of the throttle. Even though the Megamoto happily runs at supra-legal speeds, the flyswatter fairing leaves you hanging on for dear life (which is kinda fun).
Is the Megamoto for you? Well, that depends. Do you like lightweight supermoto machines that you can back into corners with the rear tire slidin’? Then something more diminutive, like the 450cc thumpers normally found in this class, probably makes more sense. Do you have the expertise and hypergonadism of a racer? Then you might be like Fred Lejeune, who scored the Megamoto’s first international victory at the Belgian Moto Tour, and feel right at home on this large, no-compromise machine. Are you a BMW enthusiast who would love an exclusive, sporty version of the R 1200 GS? Then the lighter, more powerful, narrowly focused Megamoto is the answer to your prayers, if not your 401k.