Heading into EICMA, we were expecting Bimota to announce a new motorcycle based off an existing Kawasaki model. After all, that has been the pattern since Kawasaki acquired a stake in the Italian brand in 2019. Last year, we saw the debut of the Ninja 1000SX-based Bimota KB4 and KB4RC in Milan, and so this year, we expected another new mode.
Kawasaki’s November 2019 acquisition of a 49.9% shareholding in Bimota has brought the Italian boutique manufacturer back from oblivion, to the point that despite a slowdown caused by component supply issues, it’s now constructed all 250 examples of the its limited edition kickoff model unveiled at the 2020 EICMA Milan Show, the supercharged hub-centre Tesi H2 now being shipped to its dealers around the world – but mainly in Japan. As Bimota’s strapline for the bike succinctly puts it – “The Revolution Continues!”
Just as Valerio Bianchi, Giuseppe Morri, and Massimo Tamburini started doing in Rimini in 1973, Bimota is still cranking out exotic motorcycles to make us swoon, clutch our pearls, and check our 401k balances. If it starts with “K,” then this one must contain an inline Kawasaki engine, and that the KB4 does. This 77 x 56mm, 1043 cc Four is lifted from the current Ninja 1000 SX, which churned out 124 rear-wheel ponies and 75 lb-ft of torque when we had the pleasure of testing one last year. These two, really, since, there’s a standard KB4 and a “Vintage-Inspired” KB4-RC (RaceCafe’).
After skipping last year because of the global pandemic, the world’s largest motorcycle show is back for 2021. EICMA returns to Milan, Italy, on Nov. 23-28, and we’ll be providing full coverage on Motorcycle.com. Every year the Italian Trade Agency invites editors and distributors from around the world to attend the show so, for 2021, Ryan Adams will be reporting live from the Fiera Milano exhibition grounds.
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.).
The Bimota YB5 was tagged as the fastest, maddest, most expensive hyperbike on the planet when it was rolled out in 1987. With 130-horsepower from the amazing FJ1200 engine, the YB5 was what the Hayabusa is now, only with the flair and exclusivity that comes with a bike that is hand built and one from a run of only 208 units.
Motorcycle companies like to return to their roots to draw inspiration. Kawasaki did it with the Ninja H2 and Ninja H2R models, BMW with the R nineT, and this year Yamaha did it with the XSR900. Well, Bimota is also looking to its past too, but unlike many other manufacturers, however, that past only goes so far as to produce a rolling chassis. With the Bimota BB3 kit, now customers can re-live Bimota’s early days.
Recently, Bimota gave us a preview of the new models and technologies it would be unveiling at EICMA 2015. Among them was a new Tesi 3D RaceCafe model utilizing the famous hub steering seen in the rest of the Tesi line. Now we finally have photos of the Tesi 3D RaceCafe to go along with the specs revealed earlier.
Why did the Tesi never make it big? For one thing, its $40k list price made it the most expensive motorcycle going at the time, and for another it was just too different and probably also too complex. Then again, the whole point of being a Bimota is that none of them ever make it big.
Last week we introduced you to Neale Bayly and his new vintage bike video series, Retro Rider. In that inaugural video, Neale gave Kawasaki’s first four-stroke superbike, the Z1, a shakedown, and spoke to the bike’s owner, Kenneth Germain. This week’s edition of Retro Rider focuses on a far more rare two-wheeler: Bimota’s SB2.
I’m often asked which motorcycle is my favorite, which is actually impossible to answer without a for-what-purpose addendum. But during a conversation last week, an acquaintance put a different spin on the question by asking: Which motorcycles are most memorable to you?
In this week’s Church Of MO feature, we pay homage to the legendary Massimo Tamburini, who passed away one week ago due to complications from lung cancer. Those who are familiar with his work need no introduction, but to those who don’t understand the significance of his passing, close your eyes for a moment and think of the most beautiful motorcycles you’ve ever seen. Chances are at least one of those is a Tamburini design. After creating Bimota with two friends, he moved on to Cagiva, then Ducati, and finished his career at MV Agusta. Along the way he designed, or had a say, in bikes like the Bimota SB2, Cagiva Mito, and of course the iconic Ducati 916.