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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, so I'll start with the first of the line:
Bimota HB1:

So the story goes, Massimo Tamburini rode and raced a Honda CB750 back in his youth. He crashed at Misano and decided that he could build a better handling chassis than a production Honda. So he built the frame for the HB1 while still recuperating from his crash. The result was a lighter bike with a lower center of gravity. Two things which would become the hallmark of all future Bimotas.

Bimota itself is a "portmanteau" of the initials of the three founders, Valerio Bianchi, Giuseppe Morri and Tamburini. Of them, Tamburini would go on to great acclaim as the designer of the Ducati 916 and then the MV Agusta F4. He would leave Bimota in 1983. Giuseppe Morri would follow in 1993. Bimota is pronounced as each set of initials of the founders is said. So Bi, from Bianchi is pronounced as "Bee". mo for Morri isn't too hard to figure out and ta for Tamburini is also not hard to figure out. (Bee-moh-tah)

After leaving Bimota, Tamburini was hired by Claudio Castiglione in 1985 as he acquired Ducati. Tamburini would work with Massimo Bordi to design first the Ducati Paso, then the 851, 888, and 916 as well as the naked Monster for Ducati. Ducati was on the verge of bankruptcy when Cagiva took over and the pairing of the two Massimos turned Ducati around from bankruptcy to a profitable company in a matter of just a few years. After a decade, Ducati was financially stable enough to be floated on the stock market. Bimota on the other hand, was facing bankruptcy itself. The V-due was a 500cc two stroke of Bimota's own construction built to take on the best of the Japanese in 500GP. The project was an abysmal failure both in Grands Prix racing and as a commercial venture. The bike never lived up to expectations. Forced to recall the entire production run of the V-due was a financial disaster. Then just prior to the 2000 WSBK season, the factory team's main sponsor pulled out while still owing Bimota a significant amount of money. The two events were too much and Bimota closed their doors for several years.

In 2003 a group of investors bought the company and resurrected the name. The Tesi 2D and 3D were among the models unveiled to the public. Using a Ducati engine was natural yet the companies greatest successes came from using Japanese engines. All of their WSBK wins came from using Yamaha, then Suzuki engined bikes. Their last win came at Philip Island with Anthony Gobert riding the SB-8R. Grands Prix racing yielded several titles, two with Harley Davidson powered bikes and two with Yamaha powered bikes.

Bimota was originally an air conditioning and heating company founded in 1966. The company operated in that capacity until 1972. The accident which started Bimota's entry into motorcycle production forced Tamburini to miss work while he recovered and Valerio Bianchi decided he'd had enough and left the company. Morri and Tamburini decided to relaunch the company as Bimota Meccanica the same year. Initially Bimota made racing frames as kits for Japanese engines. It wasn't until the late 1970s that they began making and marketing road legal motorcycles. When they did, their formula for making lighter weight and better handling chassis was a huge hit. The company began to be profitable but spent as much or more than the commercial side made on their racing. What they did was, establish a philosophy that was later copied by the Japanese. In particular, one Tadao Baba who introduced Honda's legendary CBR900RR or "Fireblade" in 1993. Once that occurred there was no longer a real need to spend great sums of money to have a Bimota to get that light is right philosophy. Over the long term likely contributed to the demise of the original company.


The first Yamaha powered Bimota, the YB1:

The YB1 was powered by a TZ250 two stroke race engine.

The first Suzuki powered Bimota, the SB1:

The SB1 was powered by a two stroke Suzuki TR500 engine. It was built for Grands Prix racing rather than for street use and is representative of early Bimotas. They were race bikes first.

The first Kawasaki powered Bimota, The KB1. Powered by a Z1 900 engine:


The first (there were 3) Harley Davidson powered Bimota, the HDB1:

The HDB1 was powered by 488cc Harley Davidson/Aermacchi engine. There was only one, just one produced of this model frame.

The first Ducati powered Bimota, the DB1:


Since we covered the BB1 in David's snapshot photography thread, I won't rehash it here. I'll return later and fill in details on the bikes pictured to give a brief history on them and what engine was used to give some kind of an idea of performance.......sean
 

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Oh my......this is fantastic.

Thanks for the pics and write up apriliarider. I just can't get enough of Bimota's. Your knowledge and insight on these amazing machines is unparalleled.

Somebody, sticky this thread......please.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Notice the DB1 which is powered by a 750 Ducati Paso engine looks really similar to the Paso?

I find this somewhat interesting given that Massimo Tamburini left Bimota in 1982, and the DB1 was produced between 1985 and 1987. The Paso started production in 1986. It is actually not coincidence in the least. Cagiva commissioned the DB1 from Bimota in 1985. Later that same year is when Cagiva bought Ducati.
 

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How bout the forkless concept?

 

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Apriliarider said:
Notice the DB1 which is powered by a 750 Ducati Paso engine looks really similar to the Paso?
No I hadn't till now.

I am loving the education though.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
mangosmoothie said:
How bout the forkless concept?
I actually did write about that already. In the thread that inspired this one. That is the Tesi 3D. Both the Tesi 2D and 3D came after the company was restarted from bankruptcy. Like the BB2 and BB3, they represent the modern company rather than the historic one. I'll get to them but they belong at the end of the thread rather than the beginning.....The Tesi 1D though, it belongs here nearer the beginning than the end...but actually more like the middle. Because it is the first of it's particular breed though I'll put it here.

Bimota Tesi 1D:


The Tesi was so named because it means thesis in Italian.

Bimota’s remarkable alternative motorcycle started out as a combined effort between the company’s then-chief designer Federico Martini, and two Bologna University postgraduate students, Roberto Ugolini and Pierluigi Marconi.

They spent six months during 1981-82 working in the Rimini factory as part of a work/study program.

The hub-centre Tesi design they created there, represented the design thesis for their mechanical engineering doctorate course. Their university’s computer was employed in the preliminary design work, on what was the world’s first motorcycle with hydraulically-operated centre hub steering.

There were teething problems with the original engine chosen for the project, a Honda 400cc engine. When that engine dropped a valve, there was an initial attempt to carry on using a VFR engine but it was too bulky.

A Suzuki RG500 Grands Prix engine was fit next but with undesired results. Jettisoning the Tesi 3’s boat-derived hydraulic steering in favor of a mechanical system, Marconi had an all-new Tesi prototype running in just two months. This time fit with a Yamaha FZ750 engine, but employing the same essential architecture as the original Tesi.

The following year the Ducati-engined Tesi 1D debuted to a season of racing in the Italian Superbike series prototype class. It was launched as a series production streetbike at the October 1990 Cologne Show.

The front end, was radical when it was released. From a motorcycle perspective, it was really a carry over from the early 1980s when there was push among manufacturers to address fork dive.

For some reason, it was considered an undesired function of telescopic forks. Once the anti-dive devices went away, Yamaha partnered with RADD and Dr. James Parker to build the GTS1000 with its alternative front end.

The Tesi 1D was racing at around the same time, and one could be purchased for street use at a staggering $40K. Remember, this was in the early 1990s.

Once telescopic forks were advanced to the level we enjoy today, there was little need, or interest in alternative front ends for production motorcycles.

Credit to Sir Alan Cathcart for much of the background information. He was to race a Tesi 1D in its inaugural race in 1991 at Daytona but crashed out breaking his wrist in practice.

NOTE: I intentionally did not include BMWs Tele-lever front end in discussions about alternative front ends. Mostly due the fact that it still incorporates telescopic sliders, though the springing and damping is done with a shock mounted in an automotive style uper/lower control arm affair.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I did a little more research and found that the HDB2 is a post resurrection model rather than an early race bike. Expecting to find a rebadged Aermacchi engine, I instead found a V-Rod powered Bimota.

Also, rather than an expected bike, I found this to only be a concept. Apparently it was never built. Not surprising really....no doubt the Motor Company would hesitate to sell a block of production engines to Bimota. Then I found that there was a previous HDB2 and an HDB3 even back in 1976 and 77. The HDB2 was a 250cc version of the HDB1 and the HDB3 was a 350cc version. Both were Aermacchi powered but rebadged as Harley Davidson. So.....the resurrected Bimota can't really call the concept an HDB2 but rather it would appropriately be called an HDB4 instead. The HDB2 and HDB3 below:

According to the Portuguese page on which I found these, there were some 35 of these 250cc bikes produced.

On the same page (Bimota Portugal) the information is that there were just 2 of the 350cc version produced.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Bimota SB2:

The SB2 was produced in 1977 and there were 140 built. It was powered by a GS750 engine. It was air and oil cooled in typical for the day Suzuki fashion. With two valves per cylinder it made 75 HP and 42 lb/ft of torque.

Yamaha powered YB2:

The YB2 was powered by a 350cc two stroke TZ engine or a TZ250 like the YB1. There were just 15 of them made. I found no data on how many of each displacement were built.

Bimota KB2:

Powered by a GPz 550 engine, it made 65 hp at 10,500 rpm. It weighed just 410 lbs back when a GPz 550 weighed 460 lbs with a half tank of gas. Light makes right....that was the message. 177 KB2s were built.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Bimota HB2:

Powered by the engine from a CB900F but over 70 lbs lighter. It made 95 hp at 9K rpm and 57 or so lb/ft of torque at 8K rpm. It was built in 1982 and there were fewer than 200 built.

The DB2 is a different animal. As indicated by the letter D, it is Ducati powered. The DB2 though uses a later 900SS engine rather than the 750cc Paso engine. By later, I mean it used the belt driven 900SS engine rather than the bevel gear and tower shaft earlier 900SS. It made 86 hp at just 7K rpm and a massive 67 lb/ft of torque at just 5700 rpm. Another feature Bimota incorporated was the use of an under seat exhaust something Ducati never did with the 900SS. The DB2 was made in 1993. There were a total of 408 built, 285 of which had a full fairing. The remaining 123 had a half fairing like the 900SS CR.
 

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Aprilia,

That DB1 gave me a flash back to the BMW K1. I have never ridden a "flying brick" although have had an R75 and an R1100RSL over the years. Loved them beemers when they ran, hated having to disassemble damn near the whole bike to change the clutch or something simple.

Thanks for the write up on the Bimotas! Thats some great knowledge! Thanks for passing it on! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
CheezDad said:
Aprilia,

That DB1 gave me a flash back to the BMW K1.
Could be that they are from the same era so the synapses kinda go haywire!

CheezDad said:
Thanks for the write up on the Bimotas! Thats some great knowledge! Thanks for passing it on! :)
Thanks but...google is your friend....and mine. The only knowledge I actually retain is the names and what phrases to put into my google search bar to take me to the pages that present the information that I want to share. Much of it is not actual knowledge. For instance, I knew that Walter Villa rode for Harley Davidson in Grands Prix road racing. I also knew that the Aermacchi that he rode was just rebadged as a Harley because they owned Aermacchi at the time. I didn't know that the frame Villa used was a Bimota built frame. From 1974 to 1978 he raced for Harley Davidson's Factory team. He won he 250 title three consecutive times from '74 to '76 and the 350 title in 76. He rode the Bimota framed bikes in '76. No words on whether anyone actually raced the 500cc bike as there was only one ever built.....sean
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Bimota BB1 was built using BMWs F650 "Funduro" engine. It is a 650cc single which was actually built for BMW by Aprilia.




The F650 power plant made 48 hp at 6500 rpm and 43 lb/ft of torque at 6000 rpm. The BB1 was manufactured in 1995 and there were 524 built. Some (148) were pumped up to 725cc and branded "Supermono" or Supermono Biposto if they were equipped with passenger provisions. The frame was used on several other model using different engines. Those will be detailed in following posts......sean
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The Bimota HB3 used Honda's CB1100F engine and is essentially the same bike as the HB2 but with more power. The 1100 engine made 115 hp at 8500 rpm and 74 lb/ft of torque at 7500 rpm. Only 101 were built. It was heavy for a Bimota at 457 lbs but the CB1100 weighed in at 527.

Funnily enough, looking at this image of the HB3 one can't help but see a first gen CBR.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The DB3 is a bike of a completely different character. By the time of its release most of the prominent designers associated with Bimota had left the company. That's how Bimota produced this:

Pretty easy to see that the frame is almost identical to the one used on the DB2. This thing though....I hesitate to call it ugly but that's what it is. Easily the ugliest Bimota ever produced. It was produced from 1995 to 1998 and 450 or so were produced. It too used a 900SS engine, the same as the DB2. Apparently this bike was designed by French designer Sascha Lakic. Also, apparently Mantra means "tool for thought" in sanskrit. I don't know about that. I do know that if you look at some of Honda's new offerings there is a glaring similarity if you glance quickly at them both....sean
 

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why on earth would they use a 650 single?
 

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So much great info and pics. Apriliarider, I'll get caught up when I get home from my business trip.
 

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Re:

Great write up. My Brother is a big Italian bike fan. He has several Aprillia's, Duc's and Cagiva's. He also put a down payment on the V-Due and even had a CA personalized lic plate made up V-DUE.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
mangosmoothie said:
why on earth would they use a 650 single?
I can think of two reason right off the top of my head.....simple to produce and maintain, and you can ride them at full throttle most of the time and not get into too much trouble. Seriously. Not only that but the production run was done in 1995. Ducati just two year prior released the Supermono which was not only a thing of beauty but a serious race bike. It spawned a race series of its own. In some countries it was called SOS for Sound of Singles. It was meant to be a highly competitive class but also a relatively cheap on to compete in. IIRC, the Ducati Supermono made something like 75HP at the crank. It used an innovative vibration damping system they called "Doppia bielletta" which also IIRC means double connecting rod. Ducati used a crank case from one of it's V-twins but left off one cylinder. In its place Ducati engineers installed an eccentric and a double con rod configuration to roughly equal the moving mass of a piston. By doing so, they preserved the perfect natural balance of the 90° V-twin and produce a rather significant amount of power for a single. Only 67 were ever built. Supermono below:

The "Doppia bielleta" engine:


You can clearly see the double con rod balancer above.

The chassis was essentially an 888 frame with a different swingarm. The body work was sculpted by Pierre Terblanche who went on to design the 999/749s and a few others. Even the 1098/848 line. What he got right with the Supermono, IMHO Ducati got wrong trying to "modernize" the 900SS. I loved the older body style from the early 1990s. Sometimes referred to as the "slab sided" version. The later one with the Supermono influence just left me feeling "meh"

If you really want to know the whole story you'll have to either get a subscription to cycle world to view the Septembner 1993 issue with the supermono story in it on their archive, or know someone with an impressive collection of old cycle world magazines. Alternatively, you could always buy that specific back issue on ebay.

This is an entertaining read too. Explains a few things about singles racing:
http://www.sigmaperformance.com/racer_road_2.htm

This link has a riding impression from cycle world editors Burns and Canet:
http://www.cycleworld.com/2007/09/17/cw-classics-ducati-supermono-first-look/
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Re:

1256day said:
Great write up. My Brother is a big Italian bike fan. He has several Aprillia's, Duc's and Cagiva's. He also put a down payment on the V-Due and even had a CA personalized lic plate made up V-DUE.
I've been a near life long fan of Ducati and Cagiva myself. I never even heard of Aprilia before I moved to Europe. I can't ever forget the first one I saw. It was at the Kawasaki dealer in Aylesbury outside of London. It sat on a plinth sort of making it stand out from all the other bikes in the showroom. It caught my eye as soon as I walked in. I was smitten. The thing just looked like sex on two wheels. My girlfriend at the time asked what exactly that meant....and I could not summon the words. It was gorgeous. I remember it being purple and white and it had a hand stamped top triple. Forks were upside down 42mm while my ZX7 still had 39mm right side up's. There was no indication of what displacement it was. Just the Aprilia logo on the tank and a larger one on the side fairing. Also the words "Extrema" and "OZ" on the side. I had to ask the saleman what displacement it was. When he told me it was a 125, my jaw almost hit the floor. Been a drooling fan ever since.

What Cagiva does your brother have? I don't remember them making too many bikes that made it stateside. Maybe the Elephant did or possibly a gray market Mito. Not many others did though. As for Bimota, I also had never heard of them before moving to Europe. Fell in lust as soon as I saw my first one, a YB11 parked outside a pub in Oxford. Saw a number of them, including a Tesi 1D and SB6 at the bike show in 1994. Then when I got here to California, I'd see several every year down on Cannery Row. At least I did before the neon and extended swingarm crowd showed up. Not been the same there since......sean
 

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Discussion Starter #20
KB3:

The KB3 looks very similar in appearance to the HB2 and 3. It is however, powered by a KZ1000 engine which also powered the CHP bikes of the day. One only need to watch CHiPs once to get a feel for what the engine looked like in its natural habitat. In the Bimota though, it resides in a trellis type tube frame with billet aluminum pivot plates for the swing arm. Something the more modern company uses prominently in their revision of the Tesi. It was built in 1983 and only 112 were built.

SB3:

The SB3 is a bit of a different animal. It was produced from 1979 to 1982 and 402 were made in that time. It was powered by the GS1000E engine but weighed some 80 lbs less. That's a good thing, as the GS1000 engine only made about 87 HP.

YB3:

THe YB3 was powered by a two stroke TZ350 engine. As with other early Bimota/Yamaha combinations it was a complete race bike with no concessions or compromises. Thing is, aside from Suzuki, the majority of Bimota's road going motorcycles were built using Yamaha engines. Bimota started building road bikes in the late 70s and early 80s. Today, they're back to building race bikes again. I'll cover those when I reach the last of the original firms bikes, the V-Due and SB8 Santa Monica.
 
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