The Bimota Motorcycle Company got its name by using the first 2 letters of each of the three founders’ names – Bianchi, Morri and Tamburini.
The three men were actually in the air conditioning and heating equipment business based in Rimini, Italy from 1966. The three men shared a passion for motorcycles.
It was back in 1972 that the foray into all things two wheels first got started. The legend goes that Tamburini crashed his Honda CB750 Four at the Quercia, which is the fastest turn at the Misano racetrack.
Having broken three ribs, Tamburini got home and decided to build a completely new frame set for the CB750 which was designated the HB1.
The standout feature of the HB1 was that it weighed a huge 50kg lighter than the original CB750, weighing in at 155kg.
Little did Bianchi, Morri and Tamburini know at the time that they were about to head up one of the most infamous motorcycle companies of all time, producing quality premium motorcycles that will be desired for years to come.
Bimota Early Years
Valerio Bianchi decided to leave the company in 1972 just before Morri and Tamburini decided to take the business into the direction of building their own frames and components using their current facilities.
In 1973 Morri and Tamburini gave up the air conditioning business to focus solely on motorcycles.
The very first goal of Bimota entering into motorcycles was to create frames that were better than those on the original motorcycles.
The idea being that this would lead to Bimota built bikes that out-performed the original machines.
Even from the very beginning Tamburini was a visionary creative, whose personal goal was to create visually beautiful, hand built motorcycles, this would be a lifelong pursuit.
Bimota were always forward-thinking, trying to be the best, standing apart from what the Japanese competition were doing and trying to carve their own lane.
Passion and enthusiasm is what drove Bimota, but sometimes that just isn’t enough.
Let’s look a little deeper at the journey of Bimota through the years.
The chaotic ups and downs of Bimota
Numbers were very small of these runs, with an estimated 10-12 of the HB1 models produced.
This slowly started to increase by the late 70’s with the KB1 seeing production numbers of just over 300.
In 1983 Tamburini left for the Cagiva group. This is thought to have been an uneasy exit, with Morri forcing him out, although Tamburini would go on to thrive with at Cagiva Design Center creating several iconic machines such as the Ducati 916 and the MV Agusta F4 750.
Federico Martini took over where Tamburini left off. He was a young engineer having previously worked for Ducati, despite his youth, he was more than capable.
Martini would go on to increase production figures up to around 1200 bikes a year.
During the 90’s, Japanese manufacturers were producing excellent sportsbikes that were technically brilliant and were rendering Bimota somewhat obsolete, given their success rate was based on improving standard machines.
So in order to stay relevant they began to focus on an all new project the Tesi.
Initially using the Honda V4’s engine as a base, this was switched to the Yamaha 5-Valve before settling on the Ducati 851 engine.
All eggs were in the Tesi basket, but instead of being a huge hit it became a collectable motorcycle, not bringing in much needed funds to offset the costs of production.
It would however, be the 100% Bimota made, engine included, V Due that would lead to the first downfall of the company.
The V Due was a sad affair that unfortunately underperformed and was let down by a poor fuel injection system. All issues were later addressed but by then it was too late to save the day.
By 2001 Bimota hit bankruptcy largely because production costs of the Tesi and V Due models required a lot of investment with little payback.
However, not all was lost for a few years later Bimota was revived and came back swinging.
The 2004 Revival
An investment was made by Milan-based Roberto Comini and a new technical director was installed in the form of Sergio Robbiano.
Robbiano had served under Tamburini at the Cagiva group and has the same design passion as his mentor, pursuing exquisite design and mating it to technical wonders.
Opting to use Ducati engines and pursue greatness the revived Bimota would have an era of success with bikes such as the DB5 and DB6 with several variations for each model.
However, the setup didn’t last long with the DB7 powered by the 1098 engine being the last model before the company was taken over by Daniele Longoni and Marco Chiancianesi, a pair of Swiss contractors.
Longoni and Chiancianesi had the passion and financial backing to take Bimota even further in their desires.
The most notable Bimota bike to come out of this era was the BB3 which used the engine from the BMW S1000RR, it was the fastest Bimota ever produced.
However, it still didn’t skyrocket Bimota to meet the expectations they had set for themselves.
Roberto Comini still owned the factory and buildings Bimota were based in with Londoni and Chiancianesi paying rent, to use those buildings.
Soon enough the Court of Rimini had to intervene to ensure the rent was paid or business shut down. Bimota was in trouble again.
In 2017 the factory was shut down and any remaining models were shipped to Switzerland to be assembled, these were the last of the Tesi 3 models.
Not to give up hope Chiancianesi (as President of Bimota) eventually accepted a deal that had been 3 years in the making.
The deal was to split a 49.9% share of the company off and sell to Kawasaki Industries, the owners would retain a majority share (50.1%) of the company.
The most exciting motorcycle to come out of this union has been the Tesi H2.
Pierluigi Marconi the designer of the original Tesi remains on board for the new union and has had a defining hand in the Tesi H2.
With the craftsmen, designers and factory all remaining in Italy, Kawasaki will provide the components and engines for any new models to roll out of Bimota’s shop.
Bimota will not be able to use other manufacturers engines going forward as they have in the past, that is the main limitation that the Kawasaki partnership has enforced on the company.
There are exciting times still ahead for Bimota and while we all eagerly await what is to come, let’s take a look back at the comprehensive collection of Bimota models.
All Bimota Motorcycles to Date
YB4 R: /e.i/e.i. SP
V Due: Corsa
Tesi 1/D 851: J/904/SR/ES/EF
YB11: Superleggera/25th Anniversary
V Due: Corsa Evoluzione/Evoluzione/Racing Edizione Finale
DB6: Delirio Azzurro/R/Borsalino/Superlight
DB7: Oronero/Nero Carbonio
Tesi 3D Concept: 3D/Rock Gold
SB8 K/K Gobert/K Santa Monica
DB5 E Desiderio/RE
DB6 Delirio E/Delirio RE
DB9: Brivido S
Significant Bimota Motorcycles
The HB1 was the first ‘Bimota’ motorcycle, it had a short run of 10-12 units handcrafted by Tamburini himself.
Tamburini took the ‘World’s First Superbike’ in the form of the Honda CB750 Four and reduced the bikes overall weight significantly.
As a result the bike was faster than ever before, the chassis could now handle the powerful engine which is something the Honda struggled with.
It was sold to the lucky few buyers as a kit that they could put together themselves.
The Bimota V Due will forever be known as the motorcycle that killed the company, it drained them dry of funds and failed to claw back enough revenue.
It was an ambitious project and it’s a highly collectable bike today, it was the only 100% Bimota motorcycle with their very own engine.
Unfortunately the 2 stroke V Due was plagued with issues regarding the engine, specifically the fuel injection, so as a result the project drank more money than planned to fix such issues.
By the time Bimota switched to a traditional carb, fixing the issue, the moment had passed and the potential of the V Due was lost.
The Tesi 1D was another ambitious project that Bimota took on.
Pierluigi Marconi cut his craft on the Tesi and it would take several generations before it would become what it was always meant to be.
It was an aggressive, dominating sportsbike that stood out from the pack, unfortunately it failed to draw in the public’s attention and convert that to sales.
On the other hand today a Tesi 1D is highly collectable.
The DB1 took the Ducati Pantah engine and Dr Frederico Martini, an ex-Ducati engineer got to work on putting a fresh spin on the bike.
It was the first all-Italian Bimota and it had originally been commissioned by the Cagiva group.
The DB1 is notoriously hard to get hold of, largely because the majority of those produced (in small numbers) went directly to Japan as opposed to anywhere else.
The DB6 was a naked version of the DB5 sportbike.
Sergio Robbiano took the DB5 chassis and with help from a computer whizz and design and engineer team turned it into a mean, stunning naked street bike.
It stood out as something that Bimota had never done before, and had performance to back it up.
The fastest Bimota of all time (perhaps contested by the most recent addition of the Tesi H2).
Using the BMW S1000RR engine the BB3 unleashed 193 horsepower.
After 2015 the BB3 was sold as a kit with the BMW motor and wiring loom needing to be purchased separately by the customer.
A supercharged limited edition, groundbreaking partnership between Kawasaki and Bimota has been unleashed in the form of the Tesi H2.
What you have is a Kawasaki 228 horsepower motor (238 horsepower with ram-air) paired with a Bimota hub-steered chassis.
The bike comes in over 7kg lighter than the original H2 which is largely down to the use of carbon bodywork.
It is a stunning feat of design and engineering, Bimota have managed to build on the foundation of the H2 which lets face it was already pretty awesome.
If the Tesi H2 is a sign of things to come with Kawasaki backing up Bimota, we all have a lot to be excited about.