I’ve only seen one Bimota in the flesh as it were, and it was literally decades ago when a local rider with a lot more money than myself wowed locals with a 1990 Tuatara, a Yamaha Genesis-powered wonder machine that looked like it had beamed in from a sci-fi future.
At the time, most riders were still on early 80s (and older) UJMs and a lucky few were on relatively new supersports like the Honda Hurricane, Suzuki GSX-R, Kawasaki Ninja and Yamaha FZR. The Tuatara featured fuel injection, “upside down” forks, a then monstrous 150hp output, exotic styling, world-beating 180mph top speed, and a price tag about triple what you’d pay for a new Yamaha FZR1000, which was about the hottest OEM thing on the street at the time. The almost-as-exotic Ducati 916 was still four years away, the breakthrough Honda 9oo Fireblade just about two years away. The Tuatara was rare air – and close to $20,000, huge money at the time. Only about 60 were made.
The big bike makers eventually caught up to Bimota, which had to go ever farther afield to differentiate itself, with bikes like the hub-center Tesi and the fabulous failure of the V-Due two-stroke 500. Then it went fairly quiet.
Kawasaki snapped up 49.9% interest in the brand just ahead of the pandemic, and it looks like they will again go for (re)launch with the long-rumored retro KB4 at this year’s EICMA show in Milan, Italy, which essentially starts today.
The KB4 should be a bit more accessible than the initial “new” $75,000 230hp supercharged Tesi H2 (below) that debuted with the 2019 announcement of Kawi’s stake in the brand.
The KB4 will likely be powered by a lightly massaged Kawasaki Ninja 140-ish horsepower one-liter inline four, but the real news is that it will likely be almost 100 pounds lighter than the donor bike. Expect a lot of carbon fiber and lightweight metals (such as magnesium and titanium) to come into play to shave down that much weight. As with most diets, expect this athlete to lose a bit of girth overall and end up a slightly smaller bike than the Ninja.
Additional touches will likely included a smaller frontal area since it appears the radiator has been relocated under the seat. That presents a complex cooling problem that may be solved with airflow innovations and some fans, a la the innovative Benelli Tornado Tré from days gone by. At least your buns will likely stay toasty on those cool Sunday morning outings. As for the look, teaser images seem to indicate an mid-’80s style that pays homage to Bimotas that have gone from futuristic to classic over the years, with a single round headlight and a fairing design more on the bubble than the sharkish, sometimes insectoid looks we see today.
Price tag? With a more moderating influence from Kawasaki’s corporate parentage, it’s unlikely the KB4 will be anywhere close to the Tesi H2’s $75k figure, but it will clearly be a premium over a Ninja 1000. Kawasaki had its own “Bimota”-level bikes with the H2 series before they invested in the brand, and time and tech advances mean Bimotas aren’t the exotica they were back in the Tesi and Tuatara days. Is Bimota the Lexus of Kawasaki? Stay tuned. The KB4 might not be the only new Bimota thing to show up at EICMA.
We will update this story as events warrant at EICMA. Check back for more EICMA coverage as it happens this week.