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Bimota DB5 Mille – Taking On Japans Big Four Superbikes

The Bimota DB5 Mille was a new project, a road weapon to take on the big four Japanese manufacturers who by the mid 2000’s were producing sports bikes that dominated in both the showroom and on the track.

They were simply excellent and if Bimota were going to compete with a flooded market of race-winning machines that street riders were loving, they needed to change direction. 

The Bimota DB5 would see 5 variations and run alongside the naked DB6 Delirio with production running for 6 years. 

Let’s take a look at the DB5 Mille.

Bimota DB5 Mille Review

Bimota DB5 Mille on show
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Bimota DB5 R photographed by Rical

In 2004 Bimota Motorcycles had new owners and the man put in charge of leading the charge design wise was Sergio Robbiano. 

Robbiano would work on the DB5 and DB6 designs alongside each other, heading up the team of designers and engineers. 

Sergio had worked under Massimo Tamburini, one of the founders of Bimota and the iconic designer with several famous motorcycles under his name including the Ducati 916 and MV Agusta F4

For 15 years Robbiano worked under Tamburini in various places before finally settling at Bimota. It is safe to say he learnt his craft under arguably the best motorcycle designer of all time. 

Big shoes to fill, but Robbiano wasn’t deterred and knew he was up to the task. 

The engine selected for the new design was the Ducati 992cc Desmodue DS, this would in later iterations be swapped for the bigger 1078 DS and later the 1078 Evoluzione. 

Although not a full 1000cc in the beginning the DB5 got the title ‘DB5 Mille’ with Mille translating to ‘thousand’.

The engine was nothing new, in fact it was an unusual move for Bimota. Instead of taking the most cutting edge engine and tuning it to the maximum, they used an older two valve per cylinder, V-twin. 

It wouldn’t compete with the Japanese in terms of top speed or raw power but it had a great character with plenty of torque at low revs.

The only modification that Bimota made to the Ducati engine was with the Magneti Marelli injection, which would suit the new exhaust system, along with a new bigger air box. 

Compared side by side the two finished models using the same motor, the Bimota was the one that pulled smoother over the Ducati. 

Paired to the motor was a composite chassis, which consisted of a welded chrome-moly trellis with machined-billet swing arm plates and a swing arm which used welded steel tubes with machined-billet axle plates. 

The swing arm mimicked the main frame which gave an aesthetically pleasing look to the chassis, while also being a huge technical feat of design. 

Alberto Strada was the engineer working alongside Robbiano; Strada needed to take Robbiano’s paper drawings and turn them into a physically possible design. 

This was no easy task, with many metals and weights gone through in order to achieve the end product. 

So elegant the finished design was that it was instantaneously decided that the chassis would be used as a naked bike, which is how the DB6 was born. 

What was great about the DB5 is that it took all the track knowledge that Bimota had attained and it was turned into a brilliant road bike. 

Suspension and brakes were selected and were of the finest options available, paired with the exquisite chassis, the DB5 handled exceptionally, as well as any track bikes of the era. 

At only 163kg the DB5 was lightweight, agile, nimble and flickable perfect for the bends, stable on the straights at speed, and confidence inspiring.

Ohlins suspension was fully adjustable so could be made to suit both circumstances and the rider’s style of riding.

Brakes were more than suitable to provide the stopping power as would be expected.  

The bodywork was future driven, with a near full-fairing that had sharp angles not dis-similar to today’s MotoGP bikes; the fairing ended quickly so that the engine was on display along with some of the chassis. 

At the 2004 Intermot Munich Show, the DB5 won the Motorcycle Design Award which was voted for by the public, a year later it also won the most beautiful new motorcycle award at the Milan show. 

Robbiano appreciated the latter award the most as Italian riders were notorious for favouring the Japanese sportsbikes. 

Bimota DB5 Specifications

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine – Four-stroke, 90 degree, L Twin cylinder, SOHC, Desmodromic
  • Capacity – 992cc
  • Bore x Stroke – 94 x 71.5mm
  • Compression Ratio –  10.0:1
  • Cooling System – Air-Cooled
  • Starting – Electric
  • Induction – Fuel Injection, 45mm Throttle Body
  • Transmission – 6 Speed
  • Final Drive – Chain
  • Max Power – 85.5 horsepower at 7,750rpm
  • Max Torque – 87.5Nm at 5,750rpm

Chassis and Dimensions

  • Frame – Tubular chrome molybdenum steel trellis with lateral plates in aircraft alloy
  • Front Suspension – Ohlins upside-down fully adjustable forks with TiN surface treatment
  • Rear Suspension – Ohlins fully adjustable mono shock
  • Front Brakes – 2 x 298mm discs, 4 piston calipers
  • Rear Brakes – Single 220mm single disc, 2 piston caliper
  • Seat Height – 790mm
  • Dry Weight – 156kg
  • Wheelbase – 1425mm
  • Fuel Capacity – 17L

Variants

Bimota DB5 S

The DB5S moved on from the DB5 Mille into a more sports tourer category with the S model. 

It was built to keep the leanness of the sports heritage of the original design, but featured a pillion pad and pegs, a taller windscreen, and less aggressive rider ergonomics. 

Bimota DB5 R

The DB5R was the most extreme of the DB5 line, with the R standing for Race. 

It featured a dry clutch, taller riding position which gave it a more track oriented focus.

The bodywork was completely carbon fibre which made the R even more lightweight that the base model, along with forged aluminium OZ wheels. 

Another addition was the slipper clutch and clutch/brake levers that bend in a crash which prevents them from snapping off.

Bimota DB5 S Borsalino

The DB5S Borsalino was produced as a limited edition model to celebrate Borsalino’s 150th Anniversary.

The normal bright paint schemes were switched out to an all black and gold affair including gold anodized forks. 

Some components were also switched to carbon fibre including the cam belt covers and Marchesini wheels were used. 

Bimota DB5 S E Desiderio

The Desiderio was the first of the DB5 models to get the new Evoluzione engine.

It followed suit with many of the previous models, with a slightly different seating position that placed the rider further down into the bike, into a comfortable sporty position that gave the rider full control. 

Bimota DB5 RE

The DB5 RE was the ‘Race’ version using the Evoluzione engine, it featured all the previous ‘R’ model upgrades including carbon fibre components and upgraded wheels. 

Bimota DB5 Top Speed

The DB5 had an estimated top speed of 143mph

How much is a DB5 worth today?

On their release the DB5 had a price point of $39,999, today they are more affordable, however, they are few and far between as is the nature of most Bimota motorcycles. 

Prices in the US seem to be between $14,000-$20,000 and in the UK prices are on average around £15,000. 

Iconic Motorbike Auctions sold one for $13,375.

RareSportsBike has one advert in the archives where the seller wanted $19,999. 

The Parking Motorcycle has two DB5 RE models with one advertised for around £11,000 and the other £15,000; both of these are in Italy. 

Verdict

The DB5 Mille was a future-driven motorcycle using traditional Bimota values of quality and precision. 

Sergio Robbiano proved in his design of the DB5 and DB6 that not everything comes down to power. Quality of the ride, quality of the components and style are equally important in a motorcycle.

The DB5 was an important bike for Bimota Motorcycles and remains an important one today. If you can find one, it is well worth getting hold of. 

After all, the DB5 is one of the few Bimota bikes that are affordable for many everyday riders that just might want to see what a Bimota feels and rides like. 

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