Bimota BB3 - TTrofeo
From 2003 until 2014, Bimota developed its whole line of motorcycles around the Ducati family of engines and essentially became the boutique brand of exclusive, beautifully designed, handmade Ducatis. In 2013, they decided to return to their roots – remember KB1s, YB4s, and SB6s – and build another 4-cylinder superbike for both racing and the roads. The dominant engine of the day was the BMW S1000RR and Bimota had a long relationship with BMW – going back to the mid-1990s when they developed the chassis for the BMW K-bikes and then took the BMW 650 single engine and developed and built Bimota BB1s.
So Bimota did what they have done for 40 years, designed a chassis that was narrower and lighter than the donor motorcycle and also had the intangible qualities of being both “flickable” and “stable.” Pier Luigi Marconi told me one time that there is something in the accumulated knowledge within the Bimota factory that allows the engineers to just “know” what is going to work – it is not a set of dimensions or angles or proportions because every chassis is different – it is a sense of what will work – more of an art than a science.
Anyway. Andrea Acquaviva designed this beautiful chassis and fitted it with the best components available (the Ducati-based Bimotas had excellent, high-end street components – Brembo, Marzocchi, etc. – the BB3 has the top-of-the-line Ohlins at both ends, Brembo monoblocs, forged wheels – the best Bimota specification since the Santamonica and the OroNero) and then worked with the Alstare WSBK racing team to develop the motorcycle on the racetracks of Europe. The BB3 was good from the start and the Alstare riders, Ayrton Badovini and Christian Iddon, were consistently finishing at or near the top of the EVO class, with Iddon taking pole at Assen! (in WSBK, the EVO class was closer to the production versions of the motorcycles than the full-on Superbike class.) Unfortunately, as was becoming a familiar scenario at Bimota, their financial situation prevented them from building the minimum number of motorcycles to be considered “production” and therefore be eligible for WSBK – so shortly after their mid-season audit, Bimota was disqualified and withdrew from the series. This does not reflect on the quality and performance of the BB3 – it performed extremely well against the best superbikes racing at the “World” level.
At this time, due to their financial situation, Bimota broke their ties with BMW. However, trying to qualify for WSBK, they had large inventories of the Bimota BB3 parts in their warehouse in Rimini. They decided to sell these as “chassis kits” – much the same way that Bimota sold KB1s and SB2s back in the early 1970s!
In 2015, Amore Moto, the UK Bimota importer decided to field a team for the Isle of Man TT. They built racing BB3s for riders Ben Wylie and Brandon Cretu who campaigned for two of the yearly events. In 2015, Wylie finished the Superbike race in 27th with an average lap speed of 118.475mph and Cretu finished 31st in the Senior TT with a 119.431mph. In 2016, Wylie finished 25th in Superbike with a 121.637mph and 23rd in the Senior TT with a 121.135mph – quite outstanding for such a small independent team.
The Bimota BB3 has proven to be an exceptionally competent motorcycle – both in racing in WBSK and at the Isle of Man, and as a road bike. In recognition of the Isle of Man TT success, Bimota designed a Limited Edition paint scheme called the TTrofeo – this is an absolutely beautiful motorcycle and the Bimota Spirit TTrofeo is featured in the accompanying photographs.
Photographs taken by Ron Smith - rfoto