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Track Animal: 1986 Bimota DB1 for Sale

1986 Bimota DB1 Track Bike L Front

Update 6.10.2014: While the auction is over, you can also see this bike on the Loudbike site. -dc

I’ve written about bikes from Loudbike before, over on our sister site Classic Sport Bikes for Sale, but the last one was patterned after a garden-variety 750 F1. Very classic, but not especially pretty…

I hate to gush, but you really can’t get much better than what is arguably the best-looking bike of the 1980’s, wrapped around a punched out Ducati Pantah twin, weighing in at a featherweight 300lbs. 90whp might not sound like all that much in this era of 200hp superbikes, but do some quick math: compared it with a 400lb bike, and it’s actually making the equivalent of like 120whp, so maybe 150 at the crank. And then think about that torque… Basically, you’re looking at BMW S1000RR levels of performance from an 80’s motorcycle.

1986 Bimota DB1 Track Bike L Rear

Lots of good pics, a great clip of the bike on the dyno, and plenty of information on the build over at the original eBay listing: 1986 Bimota DB1 track bike for sale.

92 honest-to-goodness rear wheel horsepower in a perfectly set-up package that weighs less than 300 pounds.  Arguably the fastest DB1 in North America and likely the only one set-up for serious track day work. 

Noted moto journalist, Chief Instructor at Yamaha Champions Riding School and Sport Riding Techniques author Nick Ienatsch rode the bike at Mosport last week and had this to say: “Buy it. My experience on Steve’s DB-1 at Mosport couldn’t have been more positive. He rolled it off the trailer Saturday morning, we rode the hell out of it all weekend, and he rode it back onto the trailer Sunday night. All Steve did was add gas. Bulletproof and extremely fun, surprisingly quick…probably the fourth-quickest lap time in the fast group at DOCC. The motor pulls strong, the bike sounds right and the chassis is sorted and composed at the limit. The problems?  All the new sport bikes in the way during lapping!!”

1986 Bimota DB1 Track Bike Dash

The machine started out as a pretty tired and far removed from stock DB1 that was brought over from Europe by the previous owner and as such, it made an excellent candidate for a full-on hot-rod.  The bike was completely stripped-down and I started on the process of renewing all the rolling chassis components and rebuilding the motor over a period of 22 months.  The end result is an absolute riot on the race track – really sharp handling as would be expected with a platform as short as the DB1, but with excellent stability.  With 93hp and 63ftlbs of torque, the little bike goes like a scalded cat.  Given that the Montjuich cams are being used, I would have expected a more peaky delivery, but the Meyers Performance 790 kit beefed-up the bottom end significantly.  As you can see by the dyno chart in the pics, peak torque is at 6,500rpm and there’s usable stuff as low as 5,500.

1986 Bimota DB1 Track Bike Cockpit

These guys always have the very coolest bikes up for sale. I swear, if I ever have real money to throw at a bike, I’m going to ship them the motor from my 900 Monster to build… As per usual, they’ve included an amazing clip of the bike being run up on the dyno. If that sound doesn’t sell you…

The DB1 was, as the number indicates, Bimota’s first collaboration with Ducati. In an era when factory machines can far exceed the ability of even experienced riders, right out of the box, the need for companies like Bimota might seem to be disappearing. But back when this bike was new, Bimota’s gorgeous frames, components, and bodywork took the best engines of the day and put them into motorcycles that could stop, go, and turn better than anything the factories could seem to manage.

It goes without saying that any Bimota DB1 is a collectable motorcycle. But a perfect, museum-quality example wouldn’t be on my short list of bikes to own. But this one sure is: it’s one-of-one.


1986 Bimota DB1 Track Bike L Side


  • Work of art.

  • Sure, it’s a special bike. But let’s stop with the creative math and the “best looking bike of the 80’s” spiel. Right out of the gate, the Performance Machine wheels are an instant DQ.

    • I hear you on Performance Machine wheels in general, but I feel like they work here. They add kind of a “Ducati Superlight” look to it that I like.

      And while I was making a bit of a broad, hyperbolic statement comparing the bike to a 1000RR and didn’t actually sit down with a calculator, I’m not sure that I’d call my math “creative.”

      That suggests I’m taking significant liberties with the truth.

      So the BMW makes 175hp at the wheel, 75ft/lbs of torque, and weights 450lbs. The DB1 makes 93hp at the wheel, 63ft/lbs of torque, and weights “less than 300lbs.” Assuming an even 300lbs for the DB:

      The Bimota has 3.2 pounds per bhp.
      The BMW has 2.5 lbs per bhp.
      Significant advantage there for the BMW.

      The Bimota has 4.7 lbs per, uh… torque
      The BMW has 5.7
      So, clear advantage there for the Bimota.

      Which part of that is “creative” to you? Pound-for-pound, the BMW makes more top-end horsepower, the Bimota makes more torque. Assuming handling to be equal, which wins on the track? No real idea, probably depends on the track. But it’s pretty exciting to see an 800cc 80’s two-valve twin that could stay in the ballpark with a brand new 1000cc four, which was obviously my point.

  • Better looking 80’s sportbikes, just off the top of my head; ’89 NSR250, OW01, RC30, ’88-’89 GSXR 750 (maybe the first gen too), TZ(R) 250, Ducati 851, about any size and year of FZR, ZX7 H1, any RGV 250 and arguably the 250/500 gammas…

    • Hm. That’s a pretty long list of bikes. Although rattling off a list of your favorites doesn’t make a good case that the Bimota ISN’T a candidate for “best looking bike of the 80’s”, especially with awkwardly-styled examples like the Gamma.

      You’re kidding me on that one, right? I mean, they’re sort of cool-looking, and very purposeful, but that’s about where it ends for that bike as far as I’m concerned. Kind of has a dorky silhouette from a purely aesthetic point of view: the styling looks like an afterthought. To me, that bike’s really an excuse to ride something with a crazy 500cc square four and four freaking tailpipes, a bike where style is beside the point.

      And the 851? Maybe it’s because the 900SS borrowed so many design cues and became too familiar over its long production run, but the 851 is bland to me. FZR, ZX7, RGV? “Iconic” maybe, but the styling is kind of derivative. Great bikes, very possible better motorcycles than the DB1, but not better-looking.

      The 88-89 GSX-R is one of my favorite bikes of the era, although like the 851, a bit too familiar. Not really exotic, the type of machine that would stop you in your tracks. The Suzuki Katana is a bit gimmicky and overstyled maybe, but very striking in the way I mean.

      The RC30 was your best suggestion of the bunch. That one is definitely in the running for best-looking.

      And I did say “arguably the best looking”…

      arguably: adverb
      1. it may be argued (used to qualify the statement of an opinion or belief).

      That doesn’t mean “definitively”, it means, “I accept that there are other candidates but believe I can make a strong case for this one.”

  • “Best looking bike of the 80’s” a never ending discussion. The opinions of 10 people will probably be10 different motorcycles. Depends what pushes your “style or design” buttons. For me its a Ducati MHR . . . .

    • Ah, good call on the MHR! And very, very true about almost any era, but maybe even more so about the 1980’s: the first half was still twin-shock and air-cooled, the latter half was well into into the modern monoshock and liquid-cooled era.

      That’s a pretty huge stylistic shift, I think.

      If you tastes run to the classic, you will probably find the later stuff a bit bland. If you’re a form-following-function guy, you’ll probably feel like the older stuff looks dated, awkward, and clunky and those two groups are unlikely to agree on “best looking.”

      I probably should have saved us all a bunch of typing and just written, “Arguably ONE OF the best –looking…”

  • Tad–first, if you’re going to compare weights, don’t cherry pick the dry weight for one and fully wet weight for the other. If you want to play games like that, let’s just use the new Ducati Superleggera and end this debate right now: 193 RWHP, 99 lb-ft of torque, and 342 lb. Crunch those. You also completely neglect rider weight. That may not be significant for a car, but on bikes like these, you can’t just ignore 200 pounds. Run the numbers with riders (and fuel, for that matter) and see what you get.

    Now, that said–I’m sure this Bimota is a missile on small tracks and will blow most bikes away in the corners. I have a 65hp, 280 lb NSR250–I know what lightness does. I also know that when I ride at big tracks like Road America, my 130hp 996R will destroy the little Honda or any 90 hp machine (equal riders, of course).

    When it comes to aesthetics, I said “arguably” for the Gammas. Personally, I don’t care for their looks. Likewise, I would put this Bimota just ahead of the original GSXR, but not ANY of the other bikes above. And a lot of other machines might knock the DB down even further–SR88 mentioned the MHR and I started remembering bikes like the VF1000R and CB1000R. I’m sore lots of people appreciation for the Eddie Lawson Kawis and other AMA-era bikes. The point is, I doubt even 10% of motorcycle enthusiasts would rank the DB1 in their top ten of the 80’s (aesthetically).

    • Hey, this is fun! I’ve been writing over at classicsportsbikesforsale.com for a couple years now, throwing my opinions around willy-nilly, but this is a first.

      Hm. I’m “cherry picking”? I’ll point out that the original eBay listing doesn’t actually mention whether it’s wet or dry weight, or what that weight actually is… Just that it’s “under 300lbs,” so I’d say you’re doing the same thing. Honestly, we don’t actually know either way: we both have to assume. But I’ll concede that point, since I’d bet it is dry weight, and is really very close to 300lbs even.

      But so what? If you acknowledge that the DB1 would be a terror on short tracks, where is the disagreement? I never said “it’s the fastest motorcycle ever built on any track” I said it offers “BMW 1000RR levels of performance.” A bit of an exaggeration, probably, but not really by all that much. From the mouth of Nick Ienatsch on his riding the bike at Mosport: “Bulletproof and extremely fun, surprisingly quick… probably the fourth-quickest lap time in the fast group at DOCC.” Think it probably beat some literbikes in that group?

      And “you doubt that even 10% of motorcycle enthusiasts would rank the DB1 in their top ten of the 80’s (aesthetically).” You’re basing that on what? That’s not a fact, it’s just your opinion. Your opinion of the community’s opinion, actually. You can’t really “win” a dispute over aesthetics, no matter how many people you claim agree with you.

      Look, it’s pretty clear that we’ve reached an impasse here: when someone starts using made-up statistics to bolster their opinions and make them sound factual, you know you’ve reached the end of the conversational road. But it was sincerely fun going back and forth with you on this, and if I ever get out to Road America, I’ll keep my eyes open for an NSR250 and a 996R so I can introduce myself.

      Just a heads up though: I do consider the 916 to be “arguably the best looking bike of the 1990’s” so I hope you’ll be okay with me saying that when I write one of those up…

  • So the numbers with each machine bearing 200 pounds for rider w/gear:
    Bimota 5.56 lb/hp and 7.94 lb/lb-ft torque
    Superleggera 2.81 lb/hp and 5.47 lb/lb-ft torque

  • You ARE cherry picking. Come on–“we don’t actually know either way”??? You KNOW 300 lbs is the dry weight (and still quite a feat). It would have to be sub 250 otherwise. Sorry, a Ducati motor isn’t getting there, no matter how much titanium or fairy dust you sprinkle on it.

    The bike will more than hold its own on short tracks, but you boot-strapped your way into saying it was basically an S1000RR. It’s not comparable. On a “small” track, the Bimota rider can hang right with a liter bike and probably even edge it out. On a medium track, he stays in sight. At RA…well, he doesn’t get lapped, but he’s a hell of a long way in the rearview.

    The bike has straight line limitations, but needs not make apologies. I’m just suggesting we appreciate this motorcycle for what it is, without the hyperbole or crazy claims. Plus, let’s also realize it’s really no longer an “80’s bike”. It’s an amazing special.

    For the next few months, you’ll have to look for me at Miller Motorsports Park or the canyons of northern Utah–no trips to RA this summer. 🙁

  • Gentlemen- these arguments are pointless! Bottom line is you either “get this” motorcycle, or you don’t. Those that don’t (for whatever valid reasons), won’t be swayed or have their minds changed by any circuitous discussion of power-to-weight ratios or aesthetics. DB1’s still tend to be polarizing and controversial (28 years on!), especially this example because of builder’s extensive and aggressively personal changes. I always will love them after getting the opportunity to work on one and ride it. They’re Bimota and Ducati at their purest and most refined. I get it.

    • Nicely put, Mister Sixthgear.

  • Shit man, tough crowd here!

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  • I really have to say that arguing the merits of this bike over that bike will get you nowhere. It’s all subjective and those that worry about the opinions of others should take a good long look at themselves in the hall of mirrors.

    I like the DB1, and I own one too, that does not make me a member of some exclusive club, because there were about 450 odd of the base model made and total production of all variants exceeded 600, which are big big numbers for BIMOTA. I bought the bike because the price was right, I had the cash and I wanted it, end of story. Did I buy it for “performance”? NO.

    I have a souped up 848 Evo which supplies all the performance I need. And a 2003 Multistrada for touring. My first bike ever was a 250 Ducati back in 1975, so I know them backwards and forwards.

    Ride what you want, by what you want, but to sit and ruminate about this look or that look tells me that somewhere the plot has been lost.

    Disagree is you like, I don’t give a damn.

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