Bloor and Bimota

As Friday's go, today was ordinary. That is, if disorganized confusion is ordinary. Finishing up a crazy week my mind jumped between tackling the issues of the house I'm living in and the one I'll soon be moving into (with its stubborn, sixty-year old plumbing). Mixing regular updates from JJ on his latest NORCAL business trip and pondering the conversation I'd enjoyed with good pal (and contact) Neale Bayly, I was anxious to get back to my desk and properly digitize my thoughts. Busy in her lovely little kitchen, the pull from my growling stomach imagining what Merry might be cooking up was strong, although I wondered aloud how she could possibly top Wednesday's Teriyaki beef and rice. Smiling to myself, I knew the stress of the day would fade once I stepped into her homeWading through the usual mass of notifications and business email in search of something good, I typed a quick response to my sister in law, then sent congratulations to an old friend who just bought a new Ducati 1198. Scrolling down a message from JJ appeared, and what he sent froze me in my tracks.

Right or wrong, I feel no shame admitting to not following the new motorcycle scene. The last of my mainstream magazine subscriptions ran out years ago, I don't read about them online and I rarely look at them in dealerships because I rarely go to dealerships. An established pattern, the motorbikes in my workshop are a decade or two from the showroom, followed by a knowledge base which is currently holding somewhere near 1990. This means sometime around 2030, I should have a pretty good grasp on what's now available at your local bike shop. Presently, my studies include Yamaha's FZ750, the Indian Four and the historical importance of New Jersey's Berliner Group. Now based in the sunny southwest, there's a couple of road trips to plan with my esteemed VMOL partner (left) who graciously keeps me in the new bike loop via message or physical bonding with his ever-changing stable.

Glowing proudly on my monitor, the Oberdan Bezzi concept drawing shows red Bimota tubes wrapped tightly around Bloor's humble, yet willing Bonneville twin. Stop the presses and hold the phone! Like bottled water, I had to wonder why someone didn't think of the TB-S concept sooner.

I've never had and might not ever, but from the first moment I laid eyes on a Bimota I wanted one. Quickly earning respect for the genius that is Massimo Tamburini, I'm quite certain the Suzuki 750-powered SB2 (right) is the coolest thing on two wheels. Down a notch on cutting edge style but not technical advancement, the succeeding machines produced during the Tamburini era (1973 to 1983) earned Bimota world wide admiration. Before leaving Rimini to create all that the 851/888/916 and MVF4 encompassed, Tamburini's skill and passion set the company on a path towards motorcycling hierarchy.

Like Rickman, Harris, Seeley, Moto Martin (left) and everyone else who followed Fritz Egli's good engine / better chassis formula, Bimota succeeded because they were a focused, low volume specialist with a clear objective. Grand Canyon wide in the wobbly1970s, the gap between Bimota and Japan Inc. had narrowed significantly ten-years later, but a successive linage of talented engineers kept the Italian concern on the forefront with ever lighter, ever faster and technologically superior designs. Beating the competition with its own hammer, not even the failed Vdue couldn't keep Bimota down for long.

Compared side by side, the TB-S strongly resembles the HB1 (upper right) a very rare, very early example of Bimota-think. And while the roadster motif took off with the Bonneville and carried all the way through to Ducati's ageless Monster, it was the track-spec, street legal hardware that thrust Bimota into the inner regions of the moto-phyche. As the editors of Cycle reported in their September, 1978 issue (and two years later, with the KB1) the street legal SB2 boasted a level of technology and performance that many professional and Works riders didn't enjoy. The cost of admission for Bimota ownership was and remains the reason more weren't involved but nevertheless, the promises made in the SB2 were kept in the succeeding Ducati, Kawasaki, Suzuki and (eventually) Yamaha powered specials from Italy.

Because of my admiration for both, I think the Bimota/Triumph marriage is a match made in heaven. With its retro twin-shock swinging arm and traditional layout, the TB-S seems more an extension of the original Bonneville than a wholesale makeover. Thinking it over, that may be what I like best. On my personal short list of new bike preference the Bonnie rates near the top, followed closely by select areas of the Triumph catalog along with the recent BMW K1200R. If you're like me but envision your Bloor-Bimota with slightly sharper fangs, the equally appealing TB-1 (using the hyper 675 triple) should satisfy that need. Another concept edition -the TB-2- takes aim at MV's street fighting Brutale roadster.

Taking the risk of sounding like a vintage snob, my reasons for not really paying attention to the new tack is simply a matter of preference. Wired towards older things from birth, I watched my dad revive other people's scrap to serve profitably and grew to admire him for it. That said, when something like the TB-S blows into the scene all bets are off. Straightforward and simple, the appeal of the Bloor Bimota's has less to do with what it is, and more to do with what it isn't. Will Bimota build it? I've put the feelers out to the contacts I know and promise to report back if and when anything substantial is discovered. If they do and it's priced right, I'm sure they'd sell plenty of them. I count myself among that number...even if I'm forced to wait the usual 15-20 years for the pleasure. Nolan Woodbury