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- Written by Carole Nash Editor
- Created: 17 June 2008
Bimota refused to lie down and another batch of bikes has been assembled, based on the famous World Superbike race winning machine, Which Anthony Gobert took to victory in Australia. Can this latest bike revive Bimota’s fortunes?
Chris Pearson rode this bespoke V-Twin Italian superbike for insidebikes over in Misano, Italy, with wife Stevie taking the pics.
The long awaited launch of the reborn Bimota name has finally happened, following a false start recently at Donington Park the factory returned to Italy to re-assess before inviting the worlds press to the superb Misano circuit on the east coast of the San Marino region. The bike is the all-new Anthony Gobert replica, a faithful reproduction, if not actually one of the sister machines, of that famous bike that the Aussie wild man took to a memorable "first race out of the box" win back in 2000.
Some 150 such machines were supposed to have been built a few years ago to satisfy the homologation rule book but in reality only a fraction were ever completed before the failure of the two stroke Vdue caused the money to run out and the Bimota doors were closed for the final time. That was then and this is now, with new backers, a completely new design team and business outlook, such oddities as the Vdue are consigned to the museum forever with Bimota planning to build (and sell) the sort of machines we remember them best of all for, wrapping their idea of perfect frames, with all the finest goodies hanging off either end, around the some of the very best power plants ever made.
The world’s press had gathered on the Adriatic coast to find out if the claims of a new beginning were true. First out on the track for his stint was the MCN tester, Keith Farr he hadn’t ridden for several months and took the only bike we had around the twisty complex circuit very carefully and considerately. Although the day was reasonably warm and dry this was still December after all, the track was slippery and damp for the first part and with over 140 bhp on tap things had to be taken steady to avoid that early bath.
He was not hanging about though and the twin high-rise pipes sounded gorgeous as they sang their tenor hearts out around the twisty track, in keeping with modern day design, Misano is a lot of track in a small space and the progress of the SB8K could be followed all the way around the 2.523 mile Autodromo Santa Monica GP circuit.
Next out of the trap was yours truly, the squat looking machine feeling big and intimidating underneath me thanks to the large tank, high seat and wide, bulbous fairing, once out of the pit lane however there was no time to glance down forcing me to ignore the eyes and let my hands and feet talk to me. This showed the SB8K to be a superbly agile and lively machine. After half a lap to get the rubber working I just couldn’t resist letting her have it, exiting the last corner before the start and finish straight the front wheel started to rise so I let it, all the way down the straight! The Italians loved it and the wheelie was the talk of the pit lane for quite some time.
By the second lap of Misano I felt like I had been riding the SB8K all of my life, we just got on with the job in hand getting faster every second and braking later and deeper into turns. There was one occasion when I lit the rear up exiting one of the many double apex bends but that was directly attributable to a combination of my right fist and a damp patch.
Still, the SB just gave a little rise in revs and a cheeky tail slide, before gripping firmly again and setting off forward at an extreme rate of knots, almost without any assistance from me. As the pace picked up further still, the higher engine placement of the Bimota chassis, over and above the Suzuki donor bike, started to become evident with each down shift causing the rear wheel to side step even so, this felt comfortable at all times and must have looked awesome to those looking on.
The boys at Bimota say they have not tuned the TL engine but it goes like stink, with an increase in power of 20bhp and a torque curve to die for, that new fuel injection must be something special if it is solely responsible for all of that. It is difficult, if not impossible, to pick out one area of the SB8K for particular attention, it all works very well. The brakes are excellent, the chassis a typical Bimota, the engine feels, and the spec sheet shows it to be, far stronger than any TL and the in house developed fuel mapping is consistent and useful. This is one complete motorcycle albeit a very expensive one.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE
The SB8K is an conventional looking motorcycle from a distance but closer inspection reveals the use of space age carbon fibre throughout, not just for the aesthetically pleasing, aerodynamic bodywork, the main part of the frame which holds the swing arm engine and top frame rails in place is also made out of the stuff.
You will be pleased to know the SB8K is a very worthy holder of the Bimota badge, the chassis is top notch and coupled with the stonking TL power plant, fed by the unique Bimota fuel injection system, this bike will fit perfectly in line with the other great bikes that have previously carried the name.
One could be forgiven for thinking that, what with the fitment of the "madasafish" TL engine and weighing a huge 55lbs less than that machine, that this is a wild beast, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth.
Despite the extreme power and torque that the improved Suzuki power plant produces the bike is a pussy cat to ride and appears to get even better mannered the faster you go! Power begins for real at a meagre three thousand revs and pulls strongly, with an extra kick at five grand, all the way up to the peak power at a tad under nine grand. There is a useful over rev in the lower gears, with the power dropping rapidly once over the nine mark, but it still feels to be pulling, no matter what the tacho is telling you.
The bike is as near to a pukka Superbike racer as the average person is ever likely to get a ride upon, sheer class from the both chassis and the engine. For the 26k asking price you could get any one of the many Jap and Italian sports bikes currently on offer with change to spare, admittedly one would then have to start bolting the sort of class components that the Bimota boasts on to the basic machine but even then non of them would exude the sort of character that the SB8K already exhibits.
There are plans to produce fifty of the Gobert reps so be quick if you fancy one. After that the design will continue with the new Santa Monica model featuring different suspension and detail fitment to the same chassis and power plant. Also upcoming from Bimota is the DB5, formerly known as the 666, this machine features the new 1000cc Ducati DS engine and promises 105bhp for a mere 105 kgs.
There’s also rumoured to be a GSXR1000 powered SB9 currently on the starting blocks, which will certainly be a machine in keeping with the Bimota tradition of taking the best from Japan and marrying it with a distinctive Italian style.
Get Bimota motorcycle insurance for the SB 8K.
|Engine||Liquid cooled, 996cc 8 valve dohc four-stroke 90-degree V-twin. Bimota servo fed fuel injection|
|Bore x Stroke||98mm x 66mm|
|Frame||Bimota twin-spar aluminium/carbon fibre|
|Front suspension||46mm Paioli upside down forks, fully adjustable for compression, rebound and pre-load|
|Rear suspension||Paioli monoshock, adjustments for compression, rebound and pre-load|
|Brakes||Brembo 2 x 320mm front discs with four piston calipers, 230mm rear disc with two piston caliper|
|Tyres||Pirelli 120/65 x 17 front, 180/55 x 17 rear|