Most of our readers probably think of Bimota as a manufacturer of overpriced two-wheeled status symbols dripping with billet and carbon fiber and Italian style. But Bimota originally took its name from founders Valerio BIanchi, Giuseppe MOrri, and Massimo TAmburini. Yes, that Massimo Tamburini. And his genius is on display in this 1980 Bimota SB3 that was one of their earliest and most radical machines, considering it was based around the inline four cylinder engine from the very typical for the period Suzuki GS1000.
Japanese bikes of the 1970s and early 1980s, even those from factory racing efforts, had engines that were famously more advanced than their frames. Road bikes were often especially bad, with flexibility that meant some felt like they had an extra hinge in the middle, and into this handling void came Bimota. A tradition of boutique frame builders actually sprang up all over Europe and Great Britain to fill the need for bikes that went around corners as well as they ate up straight lines, and Bimota was one of the most successful.
It's a shame Bimota didn't make naked bikes during their heyday, since the tubular frame seen on the SB3 is a work of art, and incorporates innovative ideas like the concentric swingarm pivot that kept the geometry constant throughout the swingarm's travel and allowed the chain to be run with virtually no slack. The frame fit so tightly around the engine that it actually split to allow servicing, once the one-piece tail and tank-cover was removed.
Even without the handling improvements provided by the frame and suspension upgrades, the SB3 still would have been blisteringly fast: the air-cooled Suzuki four was lightly tuned, but the overall package was a staggering 79 pounds lighter than the stock machine. It was incredibly rare, incredibly exotic, and incredibly fast, although it was also incredibly uncomfortable: a torturous riding position and unforgiving suspension meant it was only at home on very smooth, curvy pavement.
From the Seller: 1980 Bimota SB3 for Sale
1980 Bimota SB3 #187 of 402 with spare unused factory fairing and windscreen.
Trades considered. - Items of interest - Ducati's or toys using Ducati 900ss engine, will accept or add cash for the right deal.
The SB3 had its debut at the Milan Show in 1979 and showcased some radical thinking; particularly in the frame design. The chromoly frame is assembled around the engine and uses aircraft style 'conical' joints to connect the front and rear halves. It also has a 'perimeter' swing arm, which pivots exactly at the transmission sprocket axis, eliminating the need for chain slack and geometry changes that go along with that. Modular bodywork, top-line (for the day) Italian components (Brembo, Marzocchi, Campagnolo,). Powered by Suzuki's bullet-proof GS1000 power plant, only 402 copies were made during its production.
Local Texas bike that has been ridden/enjoyed over the years. The bike has some wear from use which is listed below. The only upgrades are period correct Keihin CR 31 smoothbore carburetors, Dyna S ignition, and fresh coils.
Wheels have been brought down to bare magnesium and dye tested for cracks. After testing came back fine they were then properly primed and painted with color matched from an original color chip. Wheels have new bearings front and rear.
Bike comes with a spare fairing as the builder of the bike planned to use it as a race bike but never ended up doing so. Lately, I was able to source a spare original windscreen in clear so you have a color choice. Front and rear suspension rebuilt in 2016. Recent engine removal for valve adjustment.
Parts are able to be sourced online from BimotaClassicParts.com and your local Suzuki shop.
• Slight rash on right side fairing pictured from garage tip over.
• Some rock chips in paint on forks from road use as pictured.
• Some paint cracking and peeling around gas cap (damn ethanol). Inside of tank looks fine.
• Left fairing is shows bubbling under the paint. Use the new spare fairing while this is sent for repair.
• Odometer does not work as no speedo sending unit is installed. Currently a spacer is installed where a speedo sending unit would mount. I will include the Garmin wrist wearable GPS I leave on the upper fork brace I use to track speed and mileage.
• Swingarm under rear shock mount is missing some powdercoating and shows surface rust.
• Upper fairing has a slight crack on the left side near the petcock. Was like this from my first meeting the bike 25 years ago and has not grown.
• Petcock has been rebuilt. Does not use vacuum from carbs to operate so should be switched on and off and likely cause of above mentioned crack.
• Recent replacement of coils, wires, and upgrade to Dyna S ignition module.
• Magnesium wheels freshly dye tested and properly prepared (chromate treatment) before paint which was properly paint matched from original.
• Fresh spark plugs, caps and wires.
• Fresh tires, tubes and wheel bearings front and rear.
• New chain.
• Rear brake caliper recently rebuilt, parts on hand to rebuild front when required.
• Front forks and rear shock rebuilt in 2016 by 812 Suspension.
• Clutch cover freshly powder coated to match original engine color.
• No oil leaks.
• Engine has solid compression and all cylinders within 5% of each other.
The seller is asking $13,500 for this mechanically very sound SB3 with a few clearly shown cosmetic imperfections. Certainly a good place to start for a restoration, or just ride it as-is! Even better, follow through on the bike builder's original intent and enter the bike in some classic races! Skinny tires and vintage power output aside, I'm sure it handles well and would certainly be in the true spirit of Bimota's original mission. Considering how impossibly stiff the stock machine was supposed to be, that might be the best use for it...