Supersport, superbikes: The History of Bimota motorcycle company
In September 1972, Massimo Tamburini crashed his Honda 750 Four at the Misano racetrack. The accident left him with three broken ribs. If the accident hadn't occurred, Bimota may never have come into existence. While Massimo was recuperating, he constructed a tubular steel frame that could withstand the horsepower being produced by the big Japanese manufacturer's engines. The frame Massimo constructed lowered the center of gravity and reduced the weight of the original Honda. With the creation of the HB1, the Bimota was born. Only ten of these bikes were ever produced.
The Bimota Name
Bimota discovered a new market niche in 1977. The Company began to produce exclusive high performance bikes. Some of these bikes were sold in the form of kits. However, the development of the KB1, that is legendary today, marked the point where Bimota began the journey to commercial success.
The small Bimota factory located in Rimini was very successful during the 1980s, as was the Company's record at the track. Bimota also began to produce dream machines for the open road and streets during this time.
Tamburini Leaves Bimota
In 1983, Massimo Tamburini left Bimota. A talented young engineer by the name of Frederico Martini filled his position. Martini had worked with Ducati and brought with him a wealth of experience that allowed him to take Bimota to new heights. He led the Company to develop, produce and use basic concepts that he had developed at Ducati. These were used at Bimota during the 1990s.
Models Produced in the 1980s
Bimota produced several models during the 1980s, including the HB2, HB3, SB3, SB4, SB5, YB4ie, YB6, YB6 Tuatara, YB6 Exup, DB1se, DB1rs, KB2 and KB3.
Bimota at the Track
Martini took Bimota to new heights at the racetrack. In 1980, Jon Ekerold rode to victory in the 350cc championship. In 1987, Virginio Ferrari rode a YB4R to victory at the TT F1 World Championship.
Martini Leaves Bimota
When the new decade of the 1990s arrived, Frederico Martini left Bimota. Pierluigi Marconi took his place as Technical Director. Marconi had collaborated with Martini as a student and he had great technical insight. He directed Bimota to produce bikes with aircraft alloy frames.
Models by Marconi
Under Marconi's supervision, Bimota produced the YB8, YB8e, YB8 Furano, DB2, DB2sv, DB2ef, DB3 Mantra, YB9 Bellaria, YB9sri, YB10, YB10 biposto, SB6, SB6R, SB7, SB8R, Supermono and others. The model that showed Marconi's genius and innovation, as well as the superior quality of Bimota was the hub steered TESI 1D. It was created in a wide range of forms that included the 1D, 1DSR, 1DES and 1DEF.
Giuseppe Morri Leaves Bimota
In 1993, the remaining founder of Bimota, Giuseppe Morri left the Company. Walter Martini filled his position of General Manager. Bimota doubled its production under Martini's leadership. 1,250 bikes were produced in 1995.
Bimota's 25th Anniversary
Bimota celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 1996 at the Santamonica track in Misano. Fans from all over the world flocked to the track for the celebrations. As the 90s decade drew to a close, the first all-Bimota bike went from development to the production line. It was the 500 Vdue, designed by Robbiano. The bike, engineered by Marconi, was created for the road as a Moto G.P.
Customer's demands for the 500 Vdue that was powered by the 500cc twin-cylinder Bimota engine were high. This lead the Company to deliver bikes before the model had been fully developed. All of the bikes had to be recalled, which left Bimota in a financial crisis.
The New Millennium
By 2000, Bimota was under new management and the future of the Company looked promising. New models were popular at the most prestigious bike shows around the world.
During this time, the top model at Bimota was the SB8R. It was produced in both carbon fiber and fiberglass versions. Bimota had returned to its roots with an innovative frame that carried a powerful Suzuki engine. After being absent from the racetrack for eleven years, Bimota returned. It took part in the Super-bike World Championship. Virginio Ferrari managed the racing team. Technical Director was Franco Farne. Anthony Gobert rode the Bimota bike and was classified 12th in both the first and second race in Kyalami, South Africa. Anthony Gobert rode to victory again, two weeks later at the Australian GP on Philip Island - two great victories for Bimota.
Even though the results of these two races were amazing, Bimota found itself in dire financial straits once again. The Vdue engine project that had been started in the 1990s went terribly wrong. The Bimota factory went into bankruptcy. The factory closed. The first phase of Bimota ended abruptly at this time.
Fortunately, Bimota was able to regain its footing and get back into production in 2003, after many attempts to do so. Under new management, both the Bimota name and the Company traditions were revived. Today, Bimota is once again producing legendary bikes that have innovative design.
Bimota won the Motorcycle Design Award in the Supersport category at the Intermot Show. It was won by the Company's DB5 model. This is the latest addition to the trophy wall at the Remini factory.
By Mary M. Alward