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- Written by Carole Nash Editor
- Created: 17 June 2008
Bimota have launched a naked bike so user-friendly, that you could commute, tour or take a trackday on the DB6 Delirio. But this is still a Bimota of the old school; expensive, beautifully intricate and very much a personal vision of its designer, Sergio Robbiano.
Featuring a trick tubular steel chassis, DS1000 Ducati motor, a unique swingarm adjustment section, plus Marzocchi suspension and hand crafted pieces of carbon fibre, the Bimota DB6 is a bespoke roadster for someone who wants the exclusivity of the Bimota brand name, with the practicality of a Ducati Monster.
Alastair Walker took a spin along the Adriatic.
One question told me all I needed to know about Bimota´s revival and the build quality of the DB6 Delirio; I asked Sergio Robbiano,the Chief Designer on the DB6 project whether they used a CAD software program to design that exquisite swingarm, or did he fashion physical prototypes and bench/road test them?
The answer was simple, and spoke volumes about this small company´s belief in creating something a bit special.
"Both." Stated Robbiano, then he explained further, "We used a computer first, but the dream we had was to have a swingarm which could offer an alternative ride height, or wheelbase, with the simple replacement of the final alloy pieces which link to the tubes to the rear axle. In the end, no matter what the computer says, you have to ride the bike, and race it too, to try all the potential combinations and analyse the results - you must have practical tests to assess the feeling that the bike gives you in motion."
Out on the roads around Rimini, Bimota´s manufacturing base, we put some of that hard won development and engineering expertise to the test on gravel-strewn hairpins, through sleepy villages and sweeping bends galore, as the road switch-backed its way along the Adriatic coast.
In a nutshell, I was blown away by the sure handling, the sheer quality of the ride from the bike. The DB6 has that elusive mix of front end feedback, light steering and secure back end behaviour that every naked sportbike should have. The only question mark for some riders will be the DB6´s engine, which is the stalwart Ducati DS1000 unit, making a claimed 92bhp.
Now compared to bikes like the Triumph Speed Triple, the Aprilia Tuono or say the BMW K1200R, the Bimota lacks serious grunt, but you would have to decide how fast you really wanted - or needed - to go on a naked streetbike. Then balance the exclusivity of owning the DB6 Delirio, which will never sell in the Monster volumes of course. In some ways the Delerio´s relatively modest power output is a good thing, as I discovered when hurtling into a hairpin bend at an excessive speed, but in others, like for example impressing the hell out of spectators at a biker hang-out with the awesome grunt of your designer label Italian toy, it could prove a letdown. Maybe some Bimota buyers will expect more raw performance from the DB6, maybe they’ll love the overall balance of engine vs chassis?
At first, I was disappointed at the engine’s power, but later, when the road got really twisty and I began to relax, instead of trying too hard to push the DB6 into corners and fire it out, like you might ride the Speed Triple for example, I got a completely different perspective on the DB6. Thing is, `Naked’ streetbikes, or Roadsters if you prefer, are like decent wines; in the end, they all get you shedded, but sometimes you fancy a Rioja session, sometimes a massive bender on Marlborough Estates white instead...
So what exactly do you get for 16,500 euros plus tax? Well for starters, you get the cachet of exclusivity. That is worth something, especially in a crowded marketplace, where there´s no end of naked streetbikes vying for everyone´s attention. The DB6 Delirio looks sci-fi sexy, with its odd angles and sleek designer details. It has a distinct, unique stance which sets it apart from the Cagiva Raptors, Benelli TnT, or the myriad Monsters of the Italian biking universe. I also think it looks more restrained than the slightly `Goldie-Lookin’ Chain’ Aprilia Tuono, which is a good thing in the long run, as I think fashion dates motorcycles, but style morphs them into true classics. The Tesi for example, or the YB4 Bimota models from the past, are two of my favourite classic machines because they have a purity in terms of their engineering, and they’re just a bit crazy too.
The beautiful trellis frame of the DB5/DB6 machines, is fashioned and sculpted in-house by Bimota has echoes of the Ducati Monster for sure. But Sergio Robbiano has an ace up his sleeve in that perfectly triangulated swingarm, which lends the bike a designer footprint, a talking point - and it actually works damn well too. As Robbiano explains; "There is a flexibility in the triangulation of the tubes, a slight shock absorption quality, as well as lateral strength, in this design. Also the alloy pieces at the back are not merely chain adjusters, they can be exchanged so the DB6’s ride height, or wheelbase can be altered. The rider has a choice to make that change quickly too, as it only requires those end parts, not the whole swingarm, to be changed."
One other thing struck me as I looked at the DB6; your eye can follow a line from the rear axle, along the top of the swingarm and onto the monoshock. Another straight line, runs parallel along the frame rail, joining steering head to the mounting plate halfway long the bike’s chassis. There’s a classic symmetry, an elegance about the mathmatics of Robbiano’s frame which I think is very clever and traditionally Bimota too.
The Marzocchi suspension front and rear is also impressive. Not an echo of the old `Mar-Rocky’ feeling I recall from my youth, but instead a supple, responsive ride overall, with really light, precise steering characteristics. The front end feels very secure, although it does dive slightly too much under heavy braking to be called truly sportsbike class. Of course, you can play around with the settings on the Marzocchi 45mm forks all day long at a trackday and get a much firmer ride, but on the test route, which was a mix of urban sprawl and winding country lanes, the settings worked perfectly for me on both bikes I tried. Apart from a feeling that the Dunlop Sportmax tyres were still a bit new, and slippy occasionally, I had plenty of confidence on the DB6 - this is a rider’s bike for sure, in spite of the `designer’ price ticket. You would want to ride it every day, not just polish it up and take it somewhere for people to admire.
A word about the 320mm Brembo brakes, backed up with radial calipers; eye-popping, as you’d expect. The brakes are possibly too much for a bike that feels so light, slim and manageable. It is easy to lock the front tyre on a dry road.
Bimota have a long road ahead, especially in terms of winning a reputation for reliabilty after the problems in the late 1990s. They have washed their hands completely of the Vdue two stroke project for example, and who can blame them? But the DB6 feels good, solid, modern and well made. Nothing fell off or worked loose during the DB6 launch, and not one bike developed a misfire, an electrical gremlin, or trickled to halt for some unknown reason. This is not always the case with the launch of motorcycles from small scale manufacturers - or even some bigger names.
Bimota have an agreement with Ducati to be supplied with the DS1000 V-twin motors, which cannot be tuned up by Bimota - and this is another plus point. It’s enough for a small factory to concentrate on a sassy chassis, without re-designing engines and fuel injection systems. However, you can go to a Bimota dealer (which includes Ducati agents by the way) and download ECU software upgrades that will squeeze a little extra bhp from the engine - about 5-7bhp say Bimota. Add some exhaust pipes to replace the `Toblerone’ shaped standard items and you would have some refreshing `music’ from the Ducati motor too.
But for general road use, you couldn´t honestly say that you needed more mid-range from the DS1000 engine, it does feel like it suits the DB6 chassis very well. It also has a really crisp, fluid fuel injection set-up. For instance, I would say that the fuel injection’s immediate response from standstill was much better on the DB6 than say the hesitant Suzuki GSR600, or the first BMW K1200S models and there was no `surging’ on a trailing throttle either, something which can even affect a Honda model, like the VTR1000 SP1/SP2 range.
After the usual flim-flam surrounding getting photos done, we had a long 30 mile backroads ride on the DB6 and I really began to feel impressed by the DS1000 motor. OK, so 92bhp may not sound much on paper, but it´s perfectly adequate for 30mph-80mph hairpins and sweepers and the 6 speed gearbox worked very positively with some evenly spread ratios helping you have fun in the twisties.
Coupled with an upright riding position, a deep sculpted saddle, and slim gas tank, I began to feel like I could live with this bike comfortably, use it daily, even commute on the DB6. The handlebars are set just right, so that you are leaning a little bit forwards, the tank has excellent cutaway sections so you can slot your knees in and the footrests are wide enough so you can get some leverage with your boot. Apart from token pillion accommodation, with high set pegs, the DB6 is as comfy to tour on as a Suzuki Bandit.
Now that´s not something you could say of old generation Bimotas like the SB, KB or YB series, or the even the sublime SB8 - the only motorcycle in my book to make a TL1000 Suzi motor actually useful, beyond the basic act of scaring the crap out of yourself. All those Bimota models were demanding to ride, to different degrees and some - like say the SB6R - probably had too much power for the chassis of its era. Certainly they lacked comfortable riding positions for all day biking and had annoying traits like restricted steering lock, but there are no such problems on the DB6.
This bike has real finesse, but I didn’t appreciate its qualities at first. It takes time to grow on you.
IT’S IN THE DETAILS
So when you stop riding, you start looking at the DB6 Delirio and see where the money has gone.
Yes, this is one expensive motorcycle, designed for someone in love with all things Italian, who simply must have something bespoke, delicious in its details and surprisingly good honest fun to ride. I really admire the way that Alberto Strada (Chief Engineer) and Sergio Robbiano (Design Guru) have created something so visually striking, dramatic and typically Italian, yet worked out the fine art of making it fun to ride, for owners of all riding ability.
I also think that the chassis has a basic design integrity, from the Tyson-like neck of its steering head, to the Brunel inspired latticework of its trick swinging arm. The lines, the angles, all hang together perfectly, the DB6 has a mathmatical symmetry which pleases your eye, and your throttle hand when you fire it out of a corner. Details like the exhaust heat shields, or the chamfered edges of the top and bottom fork yokes, hint at the essentially hand-built nature of the machine. This isn’t a motorcycle assembled by robot welders, or accounting analysts searching for the next niche marketing ploy.
In one way, that will always create a doubt that the bike may have some tiny glitch, some exposed bit of wiring or dodgy block connector, which will leave you stranded for weeks whilst parts arrive. But the DB6 is a truly remarkable creation, a blend of style, adroit handling and easygoing comfort that I never expected from the revived Bimota. Good work Bimota. Let’s hope there’s always a place in motorcycling for a little bit of risk-taking, innovation and engineering for its own sake - the kind of thing Honda used to do when Soichiro was in charge.
Get Bimota motorcycle insurance for the DB6 Delirio.
|Engine||90 degree V-twin, air/oilcooled, 8 valves|
|Bore and stroke||94 X 71.5mm|
|Peak power||92bhp @ 8500rpm|
|Fuelling||Digital fuel injection, 45mm throttle bodies|
|Frame||Steel tubular trellis, with aluminium machined plates|
|Forks||45mm Marzocchi, multi-adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Marzocchi monoshock, multi-adjustable|
|Brakes||320mm twin front discs, radial four piston callipers. Single 220mm rear disc, twin piston calliper|
|Wheels/Tyres||120/70 ZR 17 Dunlop Sportmax front, 180/55 ZR17 Dunlop Sportmax rear|
|Fuel capacity||17 litres|