Kawasaki is acquiring a stake in Bimota, breathing new life into the Italian brand best known for its hub-steering motorcycle designs. Once the deal is completed and passes regulatory approval, Kawasaki Motors Europe, through its subsidiary Italian Motorcycle Investment, will purchase a 49.9% share in Bimota, with the controlling 50.1% being retained by its current owners (formerly Bimota S.A. but officially renamed B and Motion S.A.).
Hiroshi Ito, Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ general manager of planning for its Motorcycle and Engine business, spoke at EICMA, explained that a prospective deal has been in the works for three years. Ito met with Marco Chiancianesi, president of Bimota, in November 2016 about working together.
Chiancianesci says Bimota received several offers but Kawasaki ultimately stood out.
“As you know, I am a motorcycle enthusiast, and I love this Italian-born brand. In fact, I love it too much to have bought the company itself,” says Chiancianesi. “But riding a motorcycle, and running a motorcycle business is different. As you are aware, Bimota has been facing some difficulty. We received many offers, but I thought that Kawasaki’ was the best. Through the communications with Mr. Ito, (Kawasaki Motors Europe Manager Masanori) Kinuhata and other Kawasaki staff, I understand we may share the same passion, emotion and values.”
Ito stressed that Bimota will remain an Italian company, based in Rimini and employing Italian designers and craftsmen. In the past, Bimota licensed engines from different manufacturers, but moving forward, all Bimotas will be powered by Kawasaki engines.
To mark their new partnership, engineer Pierluigi Marconi designed a new Bimota Tesi model equipped with the Kawasaki H2 supercharged inline-Four engine. The Tesi H2 uses bodywork and a chassis designed by Bimota, including the front swingarm and hub-steering system. On close inspection, it looks like the only parts retained from the H2 are the engine, mirrors, handlebars, steering damper, switchgear, exhaust and instrumentation. Marconi says the Tesi H2 offers electronic suspension, traction control ABS and other electronic systems, likely inherited from the H2. Marconi also hinted about being able to film outings with friends on video, perhaps suggesting an onboard camera.
Bimota’s front end design separates steering and suspension. Two Öhlins shocks are mounted to the back of the frame, with one connected to a linkage system that runs along the left side to the front swingarm. The front brake caliper is hidden under the fender which looks neat, but must be a pain to maintain.
At the moment, there’s no indication the Bimota Tesi H2 is anything but a one-off creation to celebrate the new partnership with Kawasaki.