oVer Due Bimota | Collectable Two-Stroke
Bimota’s rushed and rambunctious V-Due was a poisoned chalice for two-stroke road racers and the company itself
As a small company based in Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic coast, Bimota began in 1973 offering frame kits for the Honda 750. Grand Prix success with Yamaha TZ power soon established Bimota as one of the world’s premier aftermarket chassis producers, but its dream was always to produce a complete motorcycle, including its own engine.
Financial constraints ensured this wouldn’t be a reality until the 1990s when Bimota began to develop a 500cc two-stroke V-twin. With its racing roots, Bimota initially hoped to develop the engine for use in GPs, encouraged by debate within the sport about banning four-cylinder engines from the premier class.
But the level of investment required to develop an all-new motorcycle for 500cc grand prix racing resulted in a change of direction, and the V-Due ended up as a street bike. Designed by Pier Luigi Marconi, the liquid-cooled 499cc, 90-degree V-twin (bore and stroke was 72 x 61.25mm) was planned to produce 110 horsepower at 9000rpm, with a six-speed cassette-style gearbox and the gearbox oil lubricating the main bearings.
Bimota’s problem was the stringent EPA requirements in the US, which had virtually rendered production two-stroke motorcycles extinct. The appeal of the two-stroke was its simplicity and high power-to-weight ratio, but the two-stroke principle of using fresh, fuel-rich intake air to clean or scavenge the cylinder of exhaust gases resulted in much of this charge escaping with the carbon monoxide.
Then Perth company Orbital developed a new breed of direct fuel injectors, with the injectors only firing at the moment the exhaust ports closed. The theoretical result was nice, clean exhausts, free of unburned hydrocarbons, and this suited Bimota’s requirements.
Bimota adapted the Orbital technology to the V-Due with four injectors feeding the fuel into four throttle bodies with two butterfly elements per cylinder and electronic exhaust valves.
As expected, the V-Due provided exceptional handling. Housing this new engine was a traditional Bimota alloy frame, with oval tubes and a cast alloy swingarm neck with welded alloy arms. At the front was a conventional, fully adjustable 46mm Paioli fork with carbon-fibre outer tubes, and the rear suspension was by a horizontally mounted adjustable Ohlins shock absorber.
Braking was by Brembo, with a pair of 320mm front discs with four-piston calipers on the front and a 230mm disc on the rear. Rolling on a pair of lightweight Antera aluminium wheels, the V-Due was diminutive, weighing only 160 kilograms. Reflecting the very best in Italian style and function, the design was the work of Sergio Robbiano. The bodywork was all carbon-fibre and imbued with patriotic Tricolore two-pack enamel.
Bimota displayed the V-Due at the Cologne show in 1996, promising production the following year.
The company even promoted its release by riding three prototypes 3000km from Sicily to the Isle of Man to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the TT.
DELIVER AN ATLAS
Unfortunately, Bimota failed to heed lessons from the past. Honda had unsuccessfully tried injection on Mick Doohan’s NSR500 GP machine in 1993 and, while Bimota’s scavenging arrangement differed from Honda’s, its electronic injection system was plagued with problems.
The bike went into production prematurely in an effort to recoup some of the development costs. Bimota was already aware the EFI tuning process was not complete. The first examples were extremely underpowered and suffered several problems including loss of oil, intermittent power and piston failures.
The factory was forced to buy back many of the 185 examples built in 1997 and 1998, before deciding to halve production and continue development. A few Corsa Trofeo carburettor versions were built for the Trofeo Bimota races in 2000, which proved more reliable.
With a pair of 39mm Dell’Orto carbs, the output was 122hp. In 2001 another carburettor racing series was produced, the Evoluzione Corsa, now with 135hp.
Even after Bimota’s bankruptcy in March, 2001, V-Due production continued on a limited scale. No fewer than 141 of the V-Due Carburettor Evoluzione were produced between 2001 and 2003, the final versions with the more powerful Trofeo 2000 engine.
The last batch of 30 bikes was the 2005 Racing E.F. (Edizione Finale or Final Edition), which were assembled in Meda (in Milan) and not road legal. These were distinguished by Jollymoto exhausts, larger brakes, black wheels and produced between 125 and 130hp.
Released prematurely, the Bimota V-Due simply promised more than it could fulfil. Although Bimota eventually overcame the reliability issues, it was all too late. Now the V-Due’s main claim to fame is as the final contender of the two-stroke era.
The name Bimota was derived from the three founders; Valerio BIanch, Giuseppe Morri and Massimo Tamburini.
Bimota was established in 1966 specialising in heating and air-conditioning systems.
Although Tamburini built a special from an MV Agusta 600 in 1971, the first Bimota was the Honda-powered HB1 of 1973.
The failure of the V-Due led to Bimota’s bankruptcy in 2001. Only 388 of the planned 500 V-Dues were built, some of them after 2001.
Bimota was resurrected in 2003 and continues to build BMW and Ducati-powered models. These include the DB10 Bimotard, DB5R, DB9 Brivido and Brivido SC, DB8, DB8 SP, Tesi 3D, DB11, BB3 and range-topping DB8 Oro Nero.
WHAT ITS WORTH
Want to know more?
Buy Giorgio Sarti’s book on Bimota
Look at this site: www.VDue.it
Story by Ian Falloon