Words and photography: Phillip Tooth
The first Bimota wrapped a Honda CB750 engine in a classy Italian chassis. Sold as a kit, only 10 were produced… and we’ve managed to track down No. 4.
Bimota is the builder of ultra-expensive, exclusive and beautifully built motorcycles that are way beyond the bank balance of many motorcycle enthusiasts.
But that has never stopped anyone drooling over the Italian exotica whenever they saw one parked up, or dreaming of owning one after being overtaken through a series of curves just a little too easily.
But although Bimota has a formidable reputation thanks to the way its motorcycles handle, the company only came into being because Massimo Tamburini crashed when he found out that the engine of his Honda CB750 had more performance than the chassis could cope with.
In 1966 Valerio Bianchi and Giuseppe Morri joined forces with Tamburini to form a company to make air conditioning ducting systems. But what could they call the new enterprise? Using the first two letters of their family names they came up with Bi-Mo-Ta.
There wasn’t much spare time for Tamburini to indulge in his passion for motorcycles but he still managed to transform one of the ugliest MVs of all time into a racer with lights.
He took a 1968 600cc Four and threw away the frame, forks and cable-operated twin discs, built his own frame and fitted Ceriani forks, Fontana brakes and glass fibre tank and seat unit. And to maximise the power output he converted it from shaft to chain drive.
He also modified bikes for local riders around Rimini, where Bimota was based, making them faster, lighter and better handling.
When Honda brought out the CB750 he had to have one. But the best that Japan had to offer didn’t perform as well on the track as his MV and he dumped it on the fast Quercia bend at Misano in September 1972.
Tamburini decided to build a frame that would do the single overhead cam four cylinder justice.
Instead of Honda’s full cradle frame, he used the engine as a structural member. Two tubes ran back from the bottom of the fully triangulated headstock, following the lines of the petrol tank, before dropping to the swingarm and rear engine mounts.
Read more and view more images in the May 2019 issue of CBG – on sale now!Enjoy more Classic Bike Guide reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.