If Massimo Tamburini had not crashed his Honda 750 Four at
the Misano racetrack in September 1972 the legend that is now Bimota might never
have existed. After recuperating from three broken ribs he sets about the
construction of a tubular steel frame to cope with the horsepower being produced
by the engines of the big Japanese manufacturers. This frame both reduced the
weight of the original Honda and lowered the centre of gravity and so with the
HB1, of which only ten were made, the story begins.
The name Bimota derives from the initials of the three
founders, Bianchi, Morri and Tamburini, but it was the passion and engineering
excellence of Tamburini that was the driving force behind the company. The
racing frames Bimota started to produce, such as the YB1, YB2, YB3, HDB1, HDB2
and SB1 became a "must have" for all serious racers and quickly altered the
perception of what a motorbike should be.
In 1977 Bimota identified a new market niche and started
producing exclusive high performance bikes such as the SB2. Some of these models
are sold in kit form, but it is the development of the now legendary KB1 that
creates the major turning point in the commercial success of the Company.
The eighties provided major success for the small Rimini
based factory both on the track and through the development of a range of dream
machines for the road. But it was also a period of transition with Tamburini
leaving the company in 1983 to be eventually replaced by the talented young
engineer Federico Martini who proceeded to write a whole new chapter in the
legendary story of Bimota. His experience working with Ducati, leads to the
development of Ducati 750 powered DB1 as well as the innovative aircraft alloy
frame "SCATOLATO", so far ahead of its time that its basic concept is used by
Bimota throughout the nineties.
The other models produced during this decade include the
HB2, HB3, SB3, SB4, SB5, YB4ei, YB6, YB6 Exup, YB6 Tuatara, KB2, KB3, DB1se and
DB1rs. But it is on the racetrack with two World Championships that Bimota and
Martini really make their mark. The first in 1980 for Jon Ekerold in the 350cc
championship and the second in1987 for Virginio Ferrari on a Bimota YB4 R in the
TT F1 World Championship.
Federico Martini leaves Bimota at the beginning of the
nineties and is replaced as Technical Director by Pierluigi Marconi whose close
collaboration with Martini started when he was still a student. Under his
technical supervision Bimota concentrates mainly on the manufacture of models
with aircraft alloy frames "SCATOLATO" such as the YB8, YB8e, YB8 Furano, YB9
Bellaria, YB9sr, YB9sri, YB10, YB10 biposto, YB11, DB2, DB2sr, DB2ef, DB3 Mantra
- SB6, SB6R, SB7, SB8R Supermono, Supermono biposto and the 500 Vdue. The model
however, that characterises the genius and innovation of Pierluigi Marconi and
Bimota during this period, is the hub steered TESI 1D created in various
versions including the 1/D, 1/D SR, 1/D ES, 1/D EF.
The nineties also see the departure of the last remaining
Bimota founder when in 1993 Giuseppe Morri leaves to be replaced as General
Manager by Walter Martini. Under Martini the company doubles production and in
1995 produces 1,250 bikes. In 1996 Bimota commemorates its 25 anniversary with a
major event at the Santamonica track in Misano where "bimotisti" flock from all
over the world to join in the celebrations. Towards the end of the nineties the
first all BIMOTA bike goes from the drawing board into full production the 500
Vdue. Designed by Robbiano and engineered by Marconi, this bike was created as a
Moto GP bike for the road. Powered by a 500 cc twin-cylinder Bimota engine,
customers were immediately clamouring for delivery. Such intense demand leads
Bimota to start delivery before full development is completed ultimately leading
to a complete recall of all bikes and a financial crisis for the company.
The new millennium begins well for Bimota with the company
under new management and new models well-received at the most prestigious bike
shows worldwide. The top model during this period is the SB8R produced in the
two versions, fibreglass and carbon fibre. With the SB8R, Bimota returns to its
roots with an innovative frame constructed in aluminium and carbon fibre
encasing a powerful Suzuki engine.
After many false dawns Bimota is finally resurrected in
2003 and a new management team installed with the aim of building on the
heritage of the Bimota name and restoring the great traditions that have made
the company a legend in motorcycle design. The first positive results of this
endeavour can be seen with the "Motorcycle Design Award" in the Supersport
category at the Intermot Show being won by the new Bimota model, the DB5.
Another award to add to the many others that grace the walls and trophy cabinets
of the company's historic Rimini factory.
Bimota is back and with its return comes the romance and
history of a very special marque.
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