Driving report Bimota SB 6 R
Often promised – never kept. Only the SB 6 R has what the SB 6 was previously lacking: power and performance.
The thing is actually embarrassing for Bimota. The Riminese constructed a beautiful high-end racer with a neatly welded, straight-line aluminum frame and self-supporting rear section, gave the chassis the powerful engine of the Suzuki GSX-R 1100 W, gave the water-cooled four-cylinder a specially developed airbox and exhaust system and promised tuning 156 hp.
Sponge about it, even if the Italians have not changed anything on the SB 6 or corrected the performance rating downwards. Instead, the Riminese are offering an SB 6 R for this year, a Great sporty variant, nominally 155 hp, which was first presented at the IFMA in Cologne last year. Quasi as an excuse for the poorly performing sister.
The most important changes to the SB 6 R: the very parts, airbox and exhaust system that led to the knock-out of the GSX-R engine. Changed pipe lengths and cross-sections of the manifold as well as a modified collector for the two rear silencers should help to find lost power on the exhaust side. A larger-volume air filter box and, for the first time, a ram-air system that forcibly inhales the intake air directly above the curved, large-area water cooler below the control head, promised more potency with an adapted carburetor assembly on the inlet side. A vacuum fuel pump should reliably secure the fuel supply.
A first test drive on the direct route to the dynamometer was a must. Is it finally keeping what the prospectus has promised for a long time? Anxious minutes when the bimota is on the roll. Then the power measurement is sealed: a straight, steeply upward-pointing power curve and – 149 hp. This means that the SB 6 R can finally be seen in the range of potent big bikes. As expected, the new Bimota falls short of its capabilities in subsequent driving performance measurements in the freezing cold. 263 km / h at zero degrees outside temperature make it clear that, once the external conditions are right, it will be one of the fastest series machines at top speed. Whereby one cannot trust the new, electronic speedometer for the speed information. He doesn’t take it very seriously with ten percent rejection. As is the case with the rev counter, the needle of which swings back and forth, sometimes increasing gradually and even dropping abruptly to zero at 9000 rpm. The original Suzuki instruments of the SB 6 were more reliable.
In any case, the driver does not have much time to look at the instruments. The stormy four-cylinder set off demands all concentration and a lot of feeling in the gas hand, if the Bimota shouldn’t drift out of every corner with wild slides and keep the front wheel in the air, no matter which gear is engaged. The rear tire, which is now 190 millimeters wide, could provide more traction than the narrower 180 of the SB 6, but no tire, however wide, has a luck of building up enough grip under winter conditions.
But it would certainly have been better to choose a different tire pairing. The assembled Michelin TX 11/23 have never been a hit for everyday use. In no situation will you get a full driving experience. Even on well-behaved lean angles, the tires are annoying due to their idiosyncratic, wobbly behavior and, especially on undulating roads, miss a clean line, not to mention the momentum when braking in an inclined position. Import Dieter Könemann knows about the problems with these tires and wants to equip the SB 6 R – this motorcycle is a pre-production copy – with Pirelli Dragon as standard, which does far better than the French couple in these disciplines.
On the other hand, the suspension elements of the Bimota are a good choice. Already in the SB 6 the stable Paioli fork with its 46 stanchions was convincing because of its sensitive response and its successful damping. With a less progressive lever deflection, the central spring strut on the right-hand side also works in harmony with the telescopic fork and ensures an astonishingly comfortable and stable handling on a bumpy road. In favor of driving stability, the rear swing arm is also more torsion-resistant and ten millimeters longer than on the sister model SB 6.
In order to differentiate themselves even more clearly from this, the Riminese came up with a few more ideas for the »R« in terms of design. The tank and the self-supporting rear frame are separated from one another, the rear section has been reinforced and bolted to the frame at the level of the engine block. The split fairing is just as new as the larger, now 21 liter tank and the battery holder, which is hidden in front of the tank under a carbon fiber cover.
But not everything that is new is good. The shaky upper part of the fairing, to which the two rearview mirrors are attached and does not allow a clear view, is annoying, as is the limp instrument suspension, which makes reading almost impossible depending on the quality of the road. And although the steering angle hardly deserves its name, the handlebar stubs hit the instrument glasses when turning. The driver is lucky that he does not see the rear frame while driving. He would be shocked if he saw what vibrations the rear end and the exhaust system are capable of. Fastening screws that are constantly loosening and a license plate that breaks after a few kilometers speak a clear language.
AT.The importer is also aware of these points of criticism and assured them that these things would be stopped before the start of series production. Otherwise he would be forced not to import this model. Strong words that I hope will be noticed in Rimini. But it is just as important that the importer stands by his words. Otherwise, the really strong and beautiful draft horse SB 6 R could become a pet in need of care in a very short time.
Bimota, the SB series and their importers – a terribly nice family
Vittore Bianci, Giuseppe Morri and Massimo Tamburini. Three men have a common hobby of motorcycling. But her company Bimota, founded in 1965, initially designed heating and ventilation systems. Tamburini, who drove a miserably wobbling CB 750, was finally able to convince Morri to build a new chassis for the Honda. Bianci, on the other hand, left the company because of the idea of building motorcycle frames, and Tamburini built tubular space frames from then on. They are his specialty and the trademark of all Bimota designs. Big racing drivers like Lega, Kneubühler, Coulon, Pileri or Cecotto put their trust in the stable cane mesh for their fast Yamaha two-stroke engines. With Cecotto, Bimota even became world champion in 1975. The chassis were soon used in racing for a wide variety of engines. So also for the two-stroke Twin T 500 from Suzuki. The SB 1 was intended for the Italian junior championship, but there was hardly any money to be made in racing. To build street bikes, the duo needed engines. But neither the Japanese nor their compatriots wanted to give them any. For the SB 2, Morri bought 300 Suzuki GS 750, took their engines and squandered the rest for little money. With the SB 3, Bimota was able to get its first engine contract. The Italians supplied chassis kits in 1979, and Suzuki Germany assembled the 90 hp 1000cc four-cylinder. With the SB 4, Heinz Wegmann, doctor of nuclear physics from Munich, first dared to sell the expensive premium racers among his peers in 1984. Just one year later, the Höly company in Schriesheim set about bringing the SB 5 to the people. But the Hessians only remained loyal to the brand for one year. Reinhold Kraft from Leutkirch was the first to remain loyal to the brand for ten years – until 1996. He was allowed to maintain SB 6 and SB 7 of his customers.
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