– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

2008 Bimota DB7: MD First Ride

Misano is one of the more beautiful places on this planet. Located by the Italian Adriatic coast close to the towns of Riccione and Rimini, surrounded by lush hills. It’s a Mecca for motorcycling. After MotoGP returned here last year, the circuit that I knew has been turned around to a conventional, clockwise configuration. Not a bad place to introduce such a mouth watering prospect as the Bimota DB7.

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been looking forward to this particular ride for a while now. The DB7 oozes an air of exclusivity from the design to the choice of the 160hp Ducati Testastretta 1098 engine. Bimota is the only factory in the world allowed to place Ducati’s gem of a 1099cc L-twin engine in its own chassis. Just to give you an idea of how exclusive this motorcycle is, I can tell you that Bimota plans to build only 300 DB7 per year.

Ex-Ducati man Dan Van Epps preaches proudly that each DB7 is built by hand by two Bimota technicians. Those two technicians follow that very bike all the way to the shipping crate, which they also build! That’s just how exclusive and exotic the Bimota DB7 1098 is.

I had the pleasure of riding the first superbike from Bimota since the SB8R at the Misano circuit. I fire her up in pit lane with great anticipation. My expectations are high and I notice straight away that neither the clutch lever nor gear pedal is set up for my chunky boots and gloves. I go on my first 15 minute session anyway.

The seat is hard … just as you’d expect on a sportbike like this. The reach to the clip-ons isn’t too extreme, but under no circumstances could you call the Bimota DB7 a comfortable motorcycle. Cornering, the change from left to right or visa-versa is made easy by the shape of the seat and grippy rear-sets. Getting completely behind the windscreen on the straights is somewhat difficult. There’s not much space to move my backside backwards and the shape of the 16 litre fuel tank prevents lowering my upper body much. The profile of the fuel tank is not as ideal as, for example, the tank on a Yamaha R6.

The DB7 is no R6 though, and there’s an abundance of torque and horsepower to punch a big hole in the air. As you might expect, a major asset to the Bimota DB7 package is its Ducati 1098 engine. Bimota has modified the big L-twin with a different and more efficient side-mounted exhaust system and added a Walbro ECU. This has resulted in a claimed 30% boost in torque between 4K and 7K rpm compared to the Ducati 1098. The extra torque in this area of the powerband allows a fantastic corner exit. The traction provided by the L-twin pulses transmitted through the fully adjustable Extremetech 2v4 shock out to the 190 Conti rear tire is great. Upon the exit itself, when the 160 horsepower twin nears the peak a power slide could be slightly too easy. I think that’s an easy fix with a different, more grippy rear tire, but enough about that.

It doesn’t take the Continental Race Attack tires long to warm up. After a couple of laps, I can apply the front brake more generously. The Brembo monoblocks are very powerful and I take no chances on a cold front tyre. Gradually, I apply more and more front brake, particularly after the start/finish straight down from 200+km/h (124 mph) to around 100km/h (62 mph). Before making adjustments to either suspension or levers, I experienced a lot of movement under hard braking.

So I’ll skip straight over to my second session, when all these issues miraculously had disappeared! Blake Conner from Cycle World and I shared the same bike and we had complained about the same things, basically. It shows you what a precision tool the Bimota DB7 really is. Pretty much everything can be adjusted on this hand-crafted Italian piece of jewelry. I reckon jewelry is the right word here, just look at all the machined aluminum billet, perfect lines and quality parts.

A few clicks more compression in the front Marzocchi Corse RAC fork settled the front. I’m probably around 30 kilos (66 lbs.) heavier than the Italian test rider. That fork is a fully adjustable USD 43mm with diamond-like coating.

But, as with any Bimota, the chassis really is the icing on the cake. The hybrid trellis frame is worth hours of staring with admiration. Steel oval tubes are bolted to robust machined aluminum alloy plates. It’s the same story for the swingarm that is attached to Bimota’s lightweight 10-spoke forged alloy wheel. Mixed with an all carbon fiber fairing, the dry weight stops at a claimed 170 kilograms (374 lbs.).

Back out on the Misano circuit again, all this transforms into an incredibly responsive motorcycle. Even with a steering damper, the DB7 gives a slight headshake accelerating at full throttle towards the 10,500rpm redline (rev limiter @ 11,000). On the main straight (that sadly now goes the wrong way) I click up through the gears without using the clutch. The red gear-shift warning light is visible and useful. I see 235km/h (146 mph) on the digital speedometer before the first corner (that now is a right hander) where you can put your knee down doing 200km/h (124 mph) should you wish to.

Once underway, there’s never any need for first gear on the DB7 as the incredible midrange permits massive acceleration in a higher gear. Short shifting is the name of the game. All that midrange allows you to concentrate on the perfect line rather than which gear you should be in.

What impresses me most about the Bimota DB7 is the fully-adjustable nature of the whole package. From the ride height to the suspension, levers etc. Secondly, it’s the sheer power from the 1098 engine that is delivered in a most civilized, usable way. The DB7 is deceptively fast, but the acceleration is fantastic from as low as 7,000rpm. Then look at all the spectacular details on the DB7. Even the fully-adjustable brake and clutch levers are machined aluminum alloy. If it wasn’t for those rubbish mirrors, I think I’d run and buy one straight away . . . on second thought, the real reason is I haven’t got the necessary £21,000.

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