Can Bimota Save the 600cc Class of Street Bikes?
Bimota has been back in the motorcycle news over the pas couple of months. Many people are very excited that Bimota is producing motorcycles again. With new partner Kawasaki the future looks bright. But what will that future hold? What direction with Bimota go? Where will it fit into the Kawasaki portfolio?
While I do not know the answers to any of those questions, I can speculate based on what I would do if I was in control.
The internet is full of pictures of the new Tesi H2 (Why is it not called a Tesi 1K?") as it is unlike anything we have seen for years. It is truly an interesting engineering experiment. Great to see a storied brand like Bimota come out with a top tier halo bike. This type of press coverage is great and will help to introduce the brand to a hole new generation.
The Tesi H2 has been seen in the flesh and a few videos running around the streets of Italy. While a halo bike is great for publicity, a company news more models that have a more broad appeal. Bimota is never going to need a $3500 250cc starter bike, but where can they add value in the market?
For me I think that there is a great opertuniuty for a smaller displacement sport bike. Everyone knows that the 600 class of bikes is dying. Between Euro4 and journalists talking about how 600s are super slow and boring there just isn't much appeal to new buyers. I actually watched a video of a well known magazine reviewing the new R6. The journalist kept talking down about how slow the bike was and made it sound like he was being asked to ride a BMX bike in traffic. More conversations should be had about how flawed and detrimental this like of thinking can be.
First thing is that 100hp is plenty. A 600cc is going to be much faster then most cars out on the road, and something that a newer rider can learn on. We can not just have everyone think that they can jump on a 200+hp bike an ride like Rossi. Second is the idea that when laking power a rider is forced to focus more on the little details to keep speed up. I will not just endlessly rant about the value of good quality lower displacement sport bikes...
Right now it really feels that the 600s are little more then an afterthought to the major players. All the press, technology, effort, advertising and focus are at the very apex of performance. So where does Bimota fit into this rant? Well they might be able to give Kawasaki the outlet to revitalize the whole 600cc class.
I think that Bimota might be hinting at this already. The bike that might join the Tesi H2 is rumored to be the KB4. A retro styled bike with a Z1000 engine. Note that it was not the ZX10RR power plant. This retro styling makes me think that Bimota might try and bring things back to the beginning. My hope is that it is not retro just for the sake of retro. I would hate think of the great Bimota name being used in the same way that Ducati uses the word Scrambler.
The Z1000 engine will mean the the bike is fast and usable enough to get people interested and talking about things. The retro styling will do the same.
Just look at the lines and there is no mistake that the KB4 is meant to continue what Bimota and Kawasaki were doing int he late 70s and early 80s.
In those days the Japanese brands needed a lot of help in the frame department. They had the power, but didn't have the whole package. This is what Bimota helped with. In these days, that simply isn't the case. The Japanese brands are leading the way with performance street bikes. So again, what value can Bimota add?
Perhaps the value they can add is breaking away from the mainstream and devoting some time and effort to the 600 class. Think about it, if Kawasaki released a $15,000 600cc with great power and sublime handling the journalists would endlessly claim that buyers were better off to spend a hair more money and get a basic 1000cc offering. But Bimota could release that same motorcycle and people would LOVE IT. They would carry on about how the history of Bimota adding lightness and increasing performance of the base bike was amazing.
Maybe they can take the RC390 concept that KTM messed with and get it to the next level. Sure none of these types of bikes would be huge sellers. Shareholders would worry that they were not "worth" the time of the major players, but Bimota is not saddled with that nonsense. They are free to make the very best version of what ever they want and the cost will be the cost.
Odds are high that this type of move could lead to the next bankruptcy of Bimota, but what a story it would make.
What do you guys want the new Bimota to be? A boutique manufacture of top tier sport bikes of all displacements? The maker of super expensive exotic monsters? Something else? I would love to hear your thoughts.