Bimota to Replace Kawasaki in WSBK

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

New Bimota superbike to be powered by ZX-10RR engine

Today is April 24.

That’s important to note, as it was the very first thing I checked after Kawasaki announced its pending departure from World Superbike racing for the 2025 season, transferring its factory team under the brand of its partially-owned subsidiary, Bimota. The news was the kind of surprise you would expect for an April Fools gag, but as I checked several times, April 1 was several weeks ago.

The official press release (included below) doesn’t completely come out and say it, but phrases such as “Kawasaki transfers its efforts into the Bimota racing program,” “we will spare some time to reflect on and celebrate the heritage of Kawasaki in Superbike racing,” and “an evolution for Kawasaki’s approach to the top level of production racing” all but confirm Kawasaki is leaving in favor of Bimota.

Kawasaki isn’t going to be completely absent from WSBK. The Ninja ZX-10R and ZX-10RR will still be eligible to compete until 2029 and 2031, respectively, for any private teams to race, but as a full factory effort, Team Green is throwing its resources behind a new joint venture with Bimota under the name Bimota by Kawasaki Racing Team. Much of the current KRT staff are expected to remain with the new team, along with two riders to be announced.

The announcement brings up several questions, the first of which is what motorcycle the team will be fielding in the production-based series. All we know officially is it will have a Bimota chassis with a ZX-10RR engine, plus other related Kawasaki technology.

As per Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) regulations, eligible superbikes must be in production for sale for public use, have a maximum retail price of 44,000 euros (about US$47,000), and meet several production thresholds: 125 units by the date of the homologation inspection, 250 units by the end of its first year of racing, and 500 units by the end of its second year of racing. Bimota will also need to have an FIM Manufacturer License.

The next question that comes to mind is why Kawasaki is doing this. From the official press release, the stated goal is to reestablish Bimota as a global brand, as it seeks to expand across Europe and beyond.

Kawasaki acquired a 49.9% stake in Bimota in 2019, and since then, Bimota has been introducing various Kawasaki-engined models. First came the Ninja H2-based supercharged Tesi H2, followed by the KB4 sportbike and KB4RC café racer powered by the Ninja 1000SX engine, the KX-based BX450 enduro concept, and most recently, the Tera adventure-bike concept powered by the H2 engine.

The Bimota superbike will no doubt be the next member of this lineage, but we suspect it will be joined by several more production streetbikes, as it seems unlikely Kawasaki would shutter its ZX-10RR factory racing program just to support a single Bimota.

The final question we have that remains unanswered is what this means for the Ninja ZX-10RR or the ZX-10R. If this is truly it for a factory Kawasaki WSBK effort, will the Ninja remain in production for much longer? You wouldn’t think so, considering how important the bike is to the brand, but we’ve already seen Yamaha stop offering the R1 in European markets.

At this point, we have more questions than answers, but hopefully we’ll get some clarity in the months ahead.

Bimota Returns To WorldSBK In 2025

The iconic Italian motorcycle manufacturer Bimota is set to return to the world racing stage in 2025 competing in the Motul FIM WorldSBK Championship.

Winners of the 1980 350cc World Championship fielding Jon Ekerold on a two-cylinder, two stroke Bimota YB3 machine, success was also achieved in TT Formula 1 with legend Virginio Ferrari aboard a YB4R taking the Championship honours in1987. No strangers to four stroke machinery, Bimota won no less than seven races in the very first World Superbike Championship year of 1988 thanks to Davide Tardozzi (5) and Stephane Mertens (2). Even as late as the year 2000, Bimota were still able to achieve a WorldSBK race win thanks to the late, great Anthony Gobert aboard an SB8R machine mounting the top step of the podium at a wet Phillip Island race weekend.

For the 2025 season, Bimota is partnering with Kawasaki in a joint venture which will result in a Bimota chassis with Kawasaki engine (plus allied technology), competing in WorldSBK. Not only will the donor Ninja ZX-10RR powerplant be familiar, but also many of the team staff as Kawasaki transfers its efforts into the Bimota racing program marking a landmark moment in the journey of the Kawasaki Racing Team after nearly four decades in the premier global racing series based on production machines that can be purchased at dealerships.

Recognising not just the legacy of Kawasaki in Superbike racing, but also the close cooperation and synergies between majority Bimota shareholder, Kawasaki, and the Rimini based Italian manufacturer, the new team will operate under the title of Bimota by Kawasaki Racing Team.

Fielding a machine jointly developed by Bimota and Kawasaki, the new team will play a pivotal role in the wider global recognition and market presence of the Bimota brand as well as being crucial in highlighting the hand built craftsmanship and care that goes into the creation of every Bimota product. This wider appreciation of the Bimota brand and its core racing DNA is also expected to create increased demand and sales of Bimota street motorcycles.

Speaking about the new direction for Kawasaki in WorldSBK, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kawasaki Motors, Ltd. Hiroshi Ito, stated: “Bimota has an enviable reputation for excellence in motorcycle design and manufacture. As part of our vision for the evolution of this world famous brand we see racing as a logical next step in terms of both product development as well as brand exposure on the global stage. Our commitment to WorldSBK is as strong as ever and we hope that this new racing project will energise fans of both Bimota and Kawasaki. The passion for race success remains and we look forward to the presence of the Bimota by Kawasaki Racing Team on the 2025 WorldSBK grid”.

On behalf of Bimota, COO, Pierluigi Marconi, commented: “The engineering, technology and day to day business support already offered by Kawasaki has put Bimota firmly back into the consciousness of the media and potential customers, now it is time to take a next step in our evolution.

Bimota has had racing as part of its DNA from day one and to compete in WorldSBK alongside developing our new product range, while expanding the European and global dealer network, has an undeniable logic to it. With the unparalleled experience of the existing Kawasaki racing team experts plus the full support and cooperation of Kawasaki Motors, Ltd. in Japan fills us with pride and optimism. The Bimota by Kawasaki Racing Team will surely form the foundations of the next chapter in the Bimota story”.

KRT Team Manager, Guim Roda, concluded: “In the past thirteen years, myself, and all of those at the KRT workshop in Granollers, have dedicated ourselves wholeheartedly to the Kawasaki Superbike project and garnered seven WorldSBK rider titles in that time plus numerous team and manufacturer awards. Now – after Kawasaki competing for nearly four decades in the Superbike championship – we are proud to be part of a new era forming the infrastructure of the new Bimota by Kawasaki Racing Team. For sure we will spare some time to reflect on and celebrate the heritage of Kawasaki in Superbike racing, but we are also extremely excited to be a core component of this new Bimota and Kawasaki joint venture. This is an evolution for Kawasaki’s approach to the top level of production racing and we are honoured to play our role in this new project. I am confident we have the technology and human resources necessary to succeed and it will be a fresh, energising experience fielding an impressive two rider team in the 2025 Motul FIM WorldSBK Championship.”

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Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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2 of 5 comments
  • Mad4TheCrest Mad4TheCrest on Apr 30, 2024

    Is another sign of the big-bore superbike market fully shifting towards the "premium" end. If their "Rivermark" imprint doesn't grab the attention of wealthy enthusiasts, perhaps they believe Bimota will.

  • Imtoomuch Imtoomuch on Apr 30, 2024

    Bimota = Kawasaki engine with a different chassis. Bimota used to be cool, but since Kawasaki purchased them, I have zero interest.