Since even some Harley-Davidsons remain obscure these days, it’s no surprise that some famed international bike brands are little-known in the US. You might know Ducati, for example, but do you know Cagiva? Yet while some of these motorcycle brands have faded away, others are still charging ahead. And a few, such as CCM in England, have gained a new lease on life. One of those brands just released a new model—two in fact—at EICMA 2021: the Bimota KB4.
After years of development and a troubled past, the Bimota KB4 is finally here
Compared to fellow Italian brands like Moto Guzzi, Bimota is a fairly-new company: it was founded in 1973. However, what it lacked in initial brand recognition it more than made up for in terms of industry talent.
That’s because its founders were a veritable who’s-who in the motorcycle world. Chief among them was Massimo Tamburini, the legendary engineer who designed the iconic Ducati 916. The ‘ta’ in ‘Bimota’ refers to him, while the ‘Bi’ and ‘mo’ refer to Valerio Bianchi and Giuseppe Mori, respectively, Cycle World explains.
Usually, a motorcycle company designs both the powertrain and the chassis for its products. However, Bimota does things differently, MCN says. It uses other OEMs’ engines and designs new frames and bodies for them. For example, its first bike, the 1976 SB2, used a Suzuki GS750 inline-four. Later models used everything from BMW F650 single-cylinders to Ducati V-twins. And over the years, Bimota racked up some serious World Superbike credibility, challenging the likes of the Honda RC30.
Unfortunately, Bimota had some serious financial difficulties in the late 1990s and early 2000s after trying to make a viable fuel-injected two-stroke bike. It went through a series of owners and put out several more models, including the BMW S 1000 RR-powered BB3 in 2013. However, it wasn’t enough to save the company from receivership.
But Bimota wasn’t finished yet. At EICMA 2019, Kawasaki announced that it had purchased Bimota and unveiled a Ninja H2-powered model, the Tesi H2. Then, shortly after, it teased that another model, the Bimota KB4, was in development. And now, that bike, or rather, those bikes, are ready to hit the road.
The 2022 Bimota KB4 and KB4 RC wrap the Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX’s heart in a retro carbon-fiber suit
|2022 Bimota KB4, KB4 RC|
|Engine||1043cc liquid-cooled inline-four|
|Transmission||Six-speed manual with slipper-assist clutch|
|Front suspension and travel||43mm fully-adjustable Ohlins FG R&T NIX30 inverted fork; 5.1”|
|Rear suspension and travel||Fully-adjustable Ohlins TTX36 mono-shock; 4.8”|
|Curb weight||428 lbs|
Like the Tesi H2, the Bimota KB4 and KB4 RC use Kawasaki Ninja engines. Only instead of a supercharged Ninja H2 powerplant, the KB4 has the inline-four from the Ninja 1000SX. It also uses the Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX’s electronics, including the quickshifter, TFT display, and various rider aids. But almost everything else is bespoke to the Bimota KB4.
As per usual with Bimota, the KB4 ditches the Ninja 1000SX’s frame for a new steel-trellis one that uses the 1043cc engine as a stressed member. It’s attached to a swingarm made from machined billet aluminum. That’s the same material that Bimota used to make the rear shock linkage, fork triple clamp, footpegs, and the levers, Cycle World says. And the new chassis means the Bimota KB4 has a shorter wheelbase than the Ninja 1000SX, which should translate to nimbler handling. As for the wheels, they’re made of forged aluminum.
The bodywork, meanwhile, is made of carbon fiber. So, it’s no surprise that the KB4 is almost 90 pounds lighter than a stock Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX. Also, besides being light, it’s styled to look like the Kawasaki-powered bikes Bimota made in the 1970s and 1980s. The ‘Racing Café’ model, the KB4 RC, will likely be even lighter, given that it has less bodywork. Plus, given that it’s a café racer-inspired bike, the KB4 RC also has clip-on bars, rear-set footpegs, and bar-end mirrors.
There’s plenty of engineering substance—and tech—below the vintage-inspired style
It might be stylish, but the Bimota KB4’s looks are functional, too. Those intakes below the headlight funnel cooling air into the radiator—which isn’t where you’d expect. Instead, the KB4’s radiator is at the back, tucked underneath the seat. That’s how Bimota kept the bike’s wheelbase so short, Cycle World explains. And to keep things cool, there are ducts and a cooling fan back there as well.
In addition, Bimota didn’t just give the Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX a new chassis and body panels. The KB4 has upgraded Ohlins suspension, Brembo disc brakes, a genuine-leather height-adjustable seat, a new LED headlight, and Pirelli tires. Also, those carbon-fiber fairings are hand-painted.
Plus, as noted earlier, the Bimota KB4 and KB4 RC have the same electronic rider aids as the Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX. That means cornering-enhanced ABS and traction control, multiple riding modes, cruise control, and rear-wheel-lift mitigation. And the full-color TFT display has smartphone connectivity.
How much does the 2022 Bimota KB4 cost?
As of this writing, Bimota hasn’t released official pricing details for the KB4 and KB4 RC. But while they won’t be as pricey as the Tesi H2, they’ll likely be more expensive than a Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX. MCN estimates a starting price of around $40,000 for the KB4. For comparison, the standard 2022 Ninja 1000SX starts at $12,899.
However, although Bimota doesn’t have a significant media presence in the US, you can order its bikes here. After all, the Ninja 1000SX’s engine is already EPA-certified. And the KB4 order books are open right now for those who want to get their Italian style on.
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