First ride: Bimota DB7 road test review

Bimota, sadly now without a UK importer, continue making some of the prettiest bikes in the world. The 1098-powered DB7 is divine...

Posted: 19 December 2008
by Visordown

The bike ahead was half-way down Misano’s back straight when I exited the preceding right-hand bend, but it didn’t stay that way for long. As I crouched behind the DB7’s low screen and tap-tapped through the sweet-shifting gearbox, the Bimota’s eight-valve V-twin motor punched the bike forward in a 160-horse charge that sent the following right-hand kink rushing into view at a scary rate.

By the time I’d held my breath, backed-off a touch then flicked the DB7 through the 100mph-plus, knee-brushing-the-deck kink, the gap to the bike ahead had halved; and the following short straight shrunk it further. I barely gained through the next two turns but on the following start-finish straight I quickly caught and blasted past a Bimota that turned out to be — as I’d guessed from the speed differential — not an identical DB7 but its aircooled predecessor, the DB5.

Overtaking a much slower bike proved little about the DB7, but illustrated just why Bimota’s latest model is so important to the reborn Rimini firm. That DB5 was a light, sweet-handling sports bike with a good rider on board. But when you’re giving away more than 50bhp to the opposition, you’ve got a problem — whether you’re riding round Misano or trying to sell expensive superbikes in a showroom.

Bimota boss Roberto Comini knows that all too well. The 92bhp DB5 and its naked derivative the DB6 have done a good job of leading Bimota’s revival since the petrochemical millionaire took control of the financially troubled firm four years ago. But Bimota needed a flagship with the horsepower to compete on equal terms. The DB7, powered by the 160bhp, eight-valve V-twin motor from Ducati’s 1098, has been created to do just that.

In looks and layout the DB7 is on a different level to the DB5, due largely to the power advantage of over 50 per cent provided by the liquid-cooled Testastretta Evoluzione engine visible through the gaps in its slinky carbon-fibre fairing. The 1099cc desmo unit is mechanically standard, complete with the elliptical throttle bodies as developed by Ducati in MotoGP. Bimota has fitted a new injection system that combines Magneti Marelli 12-hole injectors with a tuneable ECU from Bologna-based specialist Walbro.

Frame design is unique and elegant, combining a top section of oval-section chrome-molybdenum steel tube with side-plates machined from billet aluminium. There’s no rear subframe; just a self-supporting carbon-fibre seat unit. As with the 1098, the engine is a stressed member of the chassis. The swing-arm uses a similar blend of oval steel tubes and aluminium forgings, and works the vertical shock via a rising-rate linkage.

Other chassis parts are suitably upmarket. Billet aluminium triple clamps hold 43mm Marzocchi racing forks. The Extreme Tech shock is tuneable for high- and low-speed compression and rebound damping; ride height can be adjusted via an eccentric in the top shock mount. Bimota designed the aluminium mounts for the Brembo Monobloc radial calipers, and also the forged aluminium wheels that are 1kg lighter than their 1098 equivalents. At a claimed 172kg dry, the DB7 is lighter than the 1098 by the same amount.

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