Two years after his untimely passing, Massimo Tamburini's family has unveiled the motorcycle project the great Italian designer devoted his last years to. Built around a superbike-spec BMW engine, the T12 Massimo features an array of elite equipment in a unique hand-made frame.
Tamburini made a reputation for himself by transforming standard MV Agustas into amazing sport or race bikes, an ability that eventually led him up to GP racing level in the mid-eighties. Massimo Tamburini had already added his name permanently on the world atlas of motorcycling in 1973 when the first two letters of his surname supplied the last syllable in Bimota – the other two coming from Valerio Bianchi and Giuseppe Morri.
In his post-Bimota years Tamburini rose to legendary status with his most iconic design, the Ducati 916, before embarking on a new adventure with MV Agusta; the F4 750, F3 675 and Brutale all hail from his design genius. After leaving MV Agusta in 2008, Tamburini went into a contractual three-year hiatus. This gave him time to focus on his dream bike, a pure track racer, freed of the legal and financial restrictions of mass production.
Handled by a close-knit team of experts, the project T12 evolved around the four-cylinder powerplant of the BMW S 1000 RR. Factory equipped with the HP race engine kit 3 to World Superbike spec, it unleashes an excess of 230 hp (171.5 kW) – compared to the 199 hp of the road-legal BMW.
Decades' worth of experience in designing motorcycles for the road and race track forged Tamburini's belief that sport bikes do not need excessive power; low weight and its optimal distribution are far more influential in delivering the best results. All his motorcycles revolve around the steel trellis frame design, consistently featuring very narrow silhouettes.
At first glance the T12's frame appears to be a typical stainless steel trellis, bound with the swing arm by two aluminum alloy side plates – Tamburini's signature MV Agusta design. Hand-welded by the man himself in the first prototype version, it has all the perks a motorcycle racer would ask for, being adjustable in steering angle and offset – but there's also a twist. Via a patented mechanism, you can adjust the degree of frame flex without the need to replace any part.
There's no shortage of rare and expensive metals in the T12 Massimo - which incidentally means Maximum in Italian. The swing arm, inner steering tube, triple clamps and rear wheel hub, as well as both Marchesini wheels, are made of magnesium alloy. The custom-made Arrow exhaust system adds a touch of titanium, and the rest of the bike's gear (levers, footlegs, handlebars etc) is CNC machined from billet aluminum.
The target for this motorcycle was minimal weight and dimensions, and apparently the result is spot-on. Although its spacial dimensions are not disclosed, visually the T12 looks very compact. The dry weight is 154.5 kg (340.6 lb), which indeed constitutes a very generous leap from the 180 kg (397 lb) of the stock model's claimed dry value. Actually it's a leap right into World Superbike territory.
The T12 is equipped with the best gear that money can buy, including Ohlins suspension and Brembo Monobloc brakes straight from the Grand Prix or Superbike paddocks. A lightweight Motec digital display adds minimalistic functionality to a track bike stripped down to its essentials.
Just like the frame, the fairings of the T12 were developed personally by Tamburini. Carbon fiber is employed exclusively, including the airbox with its inlets, and the fuel tank (of unknown capacity). This last item is based on a very interesting self-supporting design, incorporated in the frame structure and providing the support for the tail section.
It goes without saying that this motorcycle is not meant for the masses. With a starting price of €300,000 (approximately US$341,000) the track-only T12 aspires to become either the weapon of choice of a professional racing team, or a very rare collectible toy for those with a fervent disposition for high-speed entertainment. Plans for a road-going version do not exist ... for now at least.
Hear the T12 Massimo howl in the following video.