Forkless cafe racers, supercharged streetfighters and kit superbikes: Bimota's bizarre EICMA selection
Ultra-exotic Italian brand Bimota laid on a superb selection of eye-popping goodies at EICMA 2015 in Milan. For starters, this bizarre hub-steered cafe racer, a retro take on the ultra-futuristic Tesi range. Then there's the Diavel-powered Impeto streetfighter with its optional supercharger, and finally the kit bike to end all kit bikes, a build-your-own Bimota BB3 superbike kit.
Back in the 1970s, the story goes, motorcycles were fairly decent at going, but not so great at stopping or turning. Most of the wildly bearded motorcyclists of the day had no problem with this situation, being man's men, but a select few Italians saw a business opportunity in taking the great engines of the day and putting them in chassis designs that would go around corners without bending themselves into pretzels.
Thus, Bimota was born. Its bikes still didn't brake very well, but then, brakes only made you go slow, so that wasn't a problem. Remember, performance motorcycling was really only for wild-eyed maniacs in the 70s anyway.
Nowadays, of course, you'd be hard pressed to find a production bike that doesn't handle and brake very nicely indeed, opening the motorcycle world up to all sorts of genteel folk like you and I who have things like personal hygiene and regard for common law, allegedly.
Either way, Bimota is still around, still sticking with the policy of using the top engines from other manufacturers in increasingly exotic frame designs. And the Italian brand's expo stand at EICMA 2015 is home to the wackiest production bike we've seen in a long time: the Tesi RC (race cafe).
2016 Bimota Tesi RC (Race Cafe)
Just look at that thing. It looks like something Willy Wonka would rock up to a town meeting on, just to make an entrance. Like the "standard" Tesi 3D, it has a swingarm and a monoshock at the front as well as the rear, turning by means of hub center steering that is said to do an excellent job of separating braking and turning forces, controlling corner entry geometry and providing excellent rigidity compared to traditional forks.
Unlike the Tesi 3D, however, those front and rear swingarms are made from lightweight carbon fiber tubes, which should help that sweet Ohlins suspension react quicker and more responsively. They also allow you to raise and lower the ride height by up to 23 mm through the use of eccentric adjusters.
The engine appears to be the same 1078 cc dual spark Ducati L-twin used in the Tesi 3D. Its comparatively gentle power delivery would appear to suit a cafe racer styled bike more than the racier Tesi models. But let's talk about style for a minute. It doesn't look retro, it looks like some kind of headlight-faced robot on its elbows and knees. If you've got trouble getting your head (and stomach) around the looks of the other Tesi bikes, this is really gonna spook you. Attention is guaranteed. I can't wait to ride one.
2016 Bimota Impeto
Next up is the ultra-exotic Impeto, which is Italian for impetus, and not impotence. Impotence would hardly be the right word for a naked bike that uses the current 1200 cc Diavel engine, with an optional supercharger kit for those times when 160 desmodromic v-twin horsepower just isn't enough. Twist the throttle and this thing will rear up or burn rubber like it's on its honeymoon.
The electronics package is improved with the addition of ride-by-wire throttle control, traction control and ABS, and the options list is pretty crazy. You can go for a composite frame and/or swingarm package using lightweight alloy plates and carbon fiber tubes. You can go for a fancy upgraded TFT dash that does things like datalogging and in-built GPS.
And yes, you can get a supercharger kit put on to boost power and torque somewhere between 15-20 percent on what's already a genuine bun-toaster of an engine. The blower runs off a geared drive train in the clutch cover to achieve a high enough RPM to force-feed the motor. The supercharger kit should work with all Bimota bikes using a liquid-cooled Ducati engine. That's a heck of a bolt-on upgrade.
Bimota BB3 kit bike
There exists, in the Bimota mindset at least, a class of superbike enthusiast that would prefer to assemble their own exotic road/race machine in the comfort of their own spotless white garage. I am not one of these mythic creatures, my garage being an untidy jumble of leaves, tools, half finished streetfighter projects and an electric elderly person hoist I found on the side of the road one day. By the way, does anyone need to hoist any elderly people? I have no idea what I ever intended to do with that thing.
Either way, for those with the knowledge, the drive and the wherewithal, Bimota is now offering a kit version of its gorgeous BB3 superbike. It's BYO engine and electronics, which need to come from a BMW S1000RR, but Bimota will supply you with a complete rolling chassis ready to plonk it all into and start grazing your knuckles and banging your thumbs.