Historic Motorcycle Brands
Bimota is an Italian manufacturer of specialist high-performance custom and production motorcycles. It was founded in 1973 in Rimini, Italy by Valerio Bianchi, Giuseppe Morri, and Massimo Tamburini ; hence Bi-Mo-Ta. The company is now controlled by Kawasaki.
1973 Bimota Honda HB1 – Galpalu
The Bimota founders could see where improvements weren’t needed in motorcycle chassis, in the 1970s. Bimota concentrated initially on building high-quality motorcycle chassis, with top-shelf suspension and brakes, around existing engines.
From the beginning they built Bimota models around engines from Suzuki, Honda and Kawasaki. During the later 1970s, Bimota added Harley-Davidson owned Aermacchi and Yamaha and, in the 1980s, Ducati, followed by BMW (F650) and Gilera.
Bimota’s model nomenclature indicates the installed engine: BMW-powered have a Bimota ‘BB’ prefix; Ducati power is in ‘DB’ models; Gilera, ‘GB’; Aermacchi ‘HDB’; Honda, ‘HB’; Kawasaki, ‘KB’; Suzuki, ‘SB’ and Yamaha, ‘YB’.
Bimota first experienced international racing success in 1980 when Jon Ekerold, a privateer, won the 350cc World Championship on a Yamaha-powered Bimota. They also experienced success in the early years of the Superbike World Championship.
Bimota YB3 – Jano2106
Virginio Ferrari won the 1987 Formula TT title aboard a YB4 EI, partnering with Davide Tardozzi. Tardozzi won five races in the inaugural 1988 world superbike championship, more than any other competitor, but inconsistent results relegated him to third place in the final standings.
Bimota’s co-founder and long-time chief designer, Tamburini, was also influential in the development of other Italian brands; most significantly his work on the popular Ducati 916, the Ducati Paso and the MV Agusta F4.
Bimota’s Tesi (Thesis) model was officially announced for production as the 1/D 851 in late-1990, but that followed six years of development and testing of three successive prototypes. Variously-powered Tesi models continued until 1994 and were reintroduced under new management in 2009. The latest Tesi variant, the H2, was launched in late-2020, following Kawasaki’s takeover in 2017.
The Tesi was most notable for its centre-hub steering, originally hydraulic and later, mechanical.
Bimota’s successful formula had been wrapping proved powertrains in unique frames and bodywork, but in the early-1990s Bimota decided to build a race bike to compete in the GP1 class that was dominated by 50cc two-stroke engines. Bimota had two-stroke expert company, Franco Moto Morini, come up with a V-Due (V-twin) engine design.
Bimota Tesi P1 Honda 400 V4
When the final sums were done on GP race budgets it became obvious that Bimota was way short the readies, so, rather than waste all that engine development money, the company came up with the idea for a road bike that combined this lightweight, high-output engine with a top-shelf frame and bodywork.
V Due engine
The Bimota V Due was launched (and we mean launched) in 1997.
To meet emissions laws, the road-bike engine was given fuel injection and pressurised lubrication, to lessen the amount of oil that needed to be pre-mixed with its fuel.
As you’d expect, it went like hell, but the power band was difficult to control and so was piston lubrication, given the restricted amount of oil that could be added to the fuel. Oi leaks, piston failures and weird power delivery caused many buyers to return their bikes.
Bimota V Due
By 1999 Bimota managed to fix most of the initial faults, but some bikes were obviously high-emitters and not road legal. In 2001 Bimota gave away the problematic electronic fuel injection and fitted carburettors, first producing the ‘Evoluzione Corsa’ race model of which only 14 were produced and the road legal ‘Evoluzione’ model of which 120 were sold.
The final V Due bikes were 30 racing models.
Adding to the Tesi and V Due lost-money pits, one of Bimota’s main sponsors disappeared during the 2000 World Superbike season, owing the company a great deal of money.
It was the last link in a chain of events that forced Bimota to file for bankruptcy and close its doors. The irony was that after many years without racing success, Bimota’s Australian rider Anthony Gobert caused a major shock in 2000 by winning a wet race at Philip Island on a Bimota SB8R.
Bimota SB6R – Ian Lancaster
A group of investors purchased the rights to the Bimota name and designs and restarted the company. However, the brand damage had been done by the V Due, to the point when the Alstare team entered a Bimota package into World Superbikes in 2014, the bike initially had not sold in sufficient numbers to pass the championship’s homologation rules and the team could not score points until sufficient numbers were sold.
By 2017, the factory at Rimini had reportedly closed.
In October 2019, Kawasaki Heavy Industries purchased a 49-percent stake in the company and soon after announced an intention to manufacture Bimota bikes using parts from the Kawasaki supply chain.
Bimota Tesi H2
Kawasaki-controlled Bimota’s first release was the new Tesi H2 in late-2020.
Centralised mass, adjustable rider position and steering separated from the suspension – the ingredients of the innovative Tesi concept – were incorporated into the Tesi H2.
Ample performance was guaranteed by 242hp and 141Nm, from a supercharged Kawasaki 998cc, four-stroke, four-valve-per-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled engine.