Bimota SB8K Gobert
Bimota is officially back in business following a couple of years away from the biking scene. With a small yet focussed team of experts, Bimota is back to basics. There are no plans for mass production, but limited numbers of innovative and unique machines.
First out is the SB8K, part of the old stock of parts and engines inherited by the new concern. Not an old bike per se, Bimota has waved its magic spell over the engine management system working considerable wonders in the process.
The latest version of Bimota SB8K is clever in losing the loutish behaviour of the donor TL1000 engine. You’d be hard pushed to guess exactly what powers this superb machine around the track, such is the transformation in the Suzuki V-twin power plant. This is thanks mainly to Bimota’s latest fuel injection system, which sees a servo motor actually move the injector nozzles up and down within the bodies for more efficient fuelling at all engine revs.
The engine pulls strongly from low down in the rev range, with a flat curve all the way to its max claimed power of 145bhp at 9000rpm. Even then, there’s a healthy 1500rpm over-rev facility, with torque increasing way beyond the point where the power starts to disappear. There is a hard push through the mid rev range that, for a second, tempts a short shift, but it’s worth hanging on to, as the power
continues unabated with a constant heady rush all the way to the redline. The bike is rider friendly from the off, with what feels like a direct connection between the twist grip and the rear wheel.
This is the ultimate in linear throttle response and is super-usable, with no surprises lurking for the unwary. The SB8K breeds confidence from the outset and encourages you to get your head down and go for it. If this is anything like the bike that Anthony Gobert took to a WSB win way back in 2000, then it’s easy to see why he was so rapid in the wet against the established front runners and those normally more likely to cross the line as winners.
We rode two differently injected version of the machine, one with 59mm throttle bodies and the production version currently equipped with 52mm items. Without doubt, the larger bodies are the way to go; the smaller jobbies gave a softer power delivery, but lacked the stonking top end panic and over-rev facility. The high level, twin Termignoni pipes sound gorgeous and the tight Misano race circuit enabled the bike to be heard throughout each and every lap: glorious stuff.
The boys at Bimota say they haven’t tuned the TL engine but it goes like stink, with an increase in power of 20bhp and a solid, unbroken torque curve that the Suzuki design team would die for. That new fuel injection system must be something very special indeed if it’s solely responsible for all of that.
You can’t pick out one area of the SB8K for particular attention; it all works so well. All of this usable power would be nothing without a capable chassis and the SB8K exudes class and confidence in every area, bringing out the very best in anyone’s riding ability. The Bimota chassis is a whopping 55lbs less than TL, and with 20bhp more, it’s a potent ride.
Sat in the pit lane and first impressions are of a big bike, with its bulbous tank, fairing and wide bars. The seat height is a little tall for most but, the physical size becomes less of a problem once on the move.
Although maybe a little stiff for the road, the test bike was ideal for Misano’s billiard table smooth Santa Monica circuit with its combinations of fast hairpin like turns, tight chicanes and sweeping, super fast double apex curves. Supremely agile at all speeds, every component is top-notch stuff; Brembo brakes and Paioli suspension at each end, while the Rimini built aluminium and carbon fibre chassis holds it all firmly in place.
The brakes are excellent, hauling the lightweight SB8K up in the blink of an eye, the rear wheel always a controllable inch or two out of line, as you drop her in. The engine feels powerful and capable of anything.
With secure financial backing and four more new models joining the SB8K later this year, Bimota are destined for greater things. There are plans to produce a mere fifty of the Gobert reps so be very quick if you fancy one. They will hit the showrooms this February.
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, along with a thousand pound price hike.
The feel of the bike is very neutral with every input through the bars having a direct impact, the stiff set up prevented much in the way of feedback until really moving but even so the limited edition replica felt good and unlikely to bite the heavy handed.
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