The SB6R could have been Bimota's biggest seller of all time. Certainly the earlier SB6 sold in quantities that nearly qualify as mass production, with nearly 1,200 built. Unfortunately, the utter failure of the overreaching two-stroke V-Due low-sided the company into a crash barrier and the GSX-R1100-powered SB6R was not part of the brand's renewal, killing it after just 600 were made. Sharp styling aside, the SB6's party piece is that absolutely massive-looking aluminum frame that uses Bimota's "Straight Connection Technology" concept to link the steering head stock and the swingarm pivot as directly as possible for optimized handling.
Great idea, but those big slabs of aluminum limit access to a number of important components, including the front sprocket and the alternator drive. This is a problem because the front sprocket will likely need regular replacement, considering the power and torque available, and the alternator drive needs cooling air to keep it from failing. So just what do I mean when I say that the frame "limits access"? Well both components require the engine to be at the very least unbolted from the frame and lowered, something that might deter owners just a bit...
Built during the same era as Ducati's original 916, the Bimota SB6R goes about being a fast motorcycle in almost the opposite way as its Bolognese rival: bulging and stout-looking where the 916 is impossibly slim at the waist, beam frame versus a trellis, and powered by an inline four versus a v-twin. But both featured stump-pulling torque over high horsepower: the GSX-R mill in the SB6R is backed by a five-speed gearbox and I've yet to hear anyone complain that it needs a sixth...
That engine is a bit like the small-block Chevy of the motorcycling world, and plenty of folks out there have tuned them to make fairly outrageous horsepower. Today's SB6R looks like it's gone that route: it isn't exactly stock, although the modifications are all under the skin and committed to the pursuit of absolute speed. A wise move, as the bike's aesthetics represent one of the bike's strong points. But is the seller's asking price just one toke over the line?
From the original eBay listing: 1997 Bimota SB6R for Sale
Exotic Italian red handmade superbike.
Bimota SpA (www.bimota.it) was started in 1973 in Rimini, Italy, by Valerio Bianchi, Giuseppe Morri, and Massimo Tamburini (Bi-Mo-Ta). They design and build their own line of exotics, and the company and its people have also been involved with designing/developing Ducati, MV Agusta, and Lamborghini motorcycles. Bimota would study the market to see which drive trains they believed to be best of breed, purchase their components directly from those manufacturers, remanufacture and enhance them to Bimota standards, and then design and build an exotic motorcycle based on the new drive train. Bimota model numbers indicate which drive trains they were based on - SB (Suzuki), DB (Ducati), YB (Yamaha), KB (Kawasaki). Bimota also collaborated with other major brands on special models, and both SB and YB models have won world superbike and other class championships. True to the exotic business model, the company would only build a limited number each year, with very few making it to the U.S. market.
This SB6R was originally purchased new from Bimota by owners of a professional U.S.-based race team in the late 1990's, intending it as one of their anchor bikes.
Prior to race homologation, the principal team owner suffered major injury and the team was closed. Approximately $70,000 had been invested in this SB6R up to that time, but it hadn't yet raced and still remains in street legal configuration. If memory serves correctly, the original owner's dynomometer certificate listed 182 horsepower. This SB6R still has its original Bimota uprated (150+ HP) GSXR 1100 drive train, which was further blueprinted/uprated (to 1200 CC)/race-configured by a professional Suzuki team in the US. This Bimota can essentially be serviced and tuned by a competent professional Suzuki technician.
The second owner of the SB6R was a friend of the original owners and purchased it when the team was closed. He was also a colleague in my area of business (telecom), and I purchased it from him as he was retiring and moving away. The SB6R has always remained in climate controlled indoor storage and is only ridden briefly at the beginning and end of each season to keep it in good operating condition. Both the second owner and I bought the SB6R as collectors, not racers.
The purchaser should appreciate that it is essentially a race vehicle that remains street legal. Response can be startlingly quick and strong across even low RPM ranges due to Bimota's proprietary pressurized air box system. No tricks or gadgets, just simple, beautiful Italian race design on top of bulletproof horsepower.
Though not fully race homologated as intended, it will not ride and handle like a milder/more-comfortable/easier-to-ride street bike. It is designed for one rider of average racer size/weight and has no pillion or pegs for a second passenger. Riding posture and controls are designed for racing. Steering is designed to be more stable at high speeds, rather than more flexible at low speeds, and so is dampened and has less range of motion than normal street bikes. It is jetted for ~5000 feet altitude, and when cold will need to be warmed up patiently with graduated choke adjustments before being initially ridden (~15 minutes). Throttle control should be gentle and moderate, as response is fast and strong. Experienced riders (including me) have been caught by surprise when rolling in too much throttle in ordinary street riding conditions (especially from stops). The transmission is race configured (1-up, 4-down), which is the reverse of what is normal for street bikes (1-down, 4-up), and has a harsher sound and feel because it is heavier duty.
The buyer will arrange and pay for pickup. We've used a few different bike haulers over the years and they've always worked out fine. If the buyer happens to be in the Inland NW United States, I occasionally drive to Spokane or Bozeman for business and may be willing to deliver there or points between if serendipitous.
10% of sale proceeds go to the MARSOC Foundation.
Like many Bimotas of the era, the SB6R handles with aplomb, goes like stink, and looks the business, but the details let the side down: maintenance issues, including a gauge cluster prone to failure, and generally indifferent construction. It is one of my very favorite 1990s exotics, but that doesn't change the fact that the seller's asking price of $25,000 is extremely optimistic. It's very nice, but most SB6Rs are pretty well-preserved, and previous examples haven't gotten higher than around $15,000 before either selling outside eBay or going to the highest bidder. Is the extra attention lavished on the engine worth $10,000, or is it just gilding the lily? If you're a wealthy collector looking for a very nicely prepared, but decidedly non-stock SB6R, this might be just what you're looking for.