BIMOTA DB1 DB1S DB1SR
The DB1 is a motorcycle designed by Federico Martini and made by the small motorcycle maker Bimota in
Rimini, Italy. Made in the mid-1980s, it had a 750cc Ducati L-Twin engine (a 90° V-Twin). DB1 stands for
Ducati-Bimota one i.e. the first Bimota made with a Ducati engine. The frame and running gear by Bimota
and motor supplied from Ducati.
They were the first production bike to have fully enclosing bodywork since the Vincent Black
Knight of the 1950s.
The DB1 came along when the company was in real money trouble and the sales of the DB1 were what
saved the company at that time.
They have 16-inch wheels and were one of the first road bikes (if not the first) to use radial tyres. They
featured only the BEST of what parts were available in Italy at the time and were very expensive bikes built
to a very high standard of finish. Brembo goldline brake calipers, floating discs. Marzzochi M1R forks. And
many Bimota made light aluminum parts machined from solid.
There were three road-going versions of the DB1:
DB1 1985-87 standard model. Red green and mostly pearl white bodywork. 453 made. Some 400 cc
machines were made for Japan and are included in that number.
DB1S with freer exhausts and larger carburetors and no air cleaners. Same body colours as DB1 but with
an "S" in the name. 63 made.
DB1SR with a very highly tuned engine, and different two-piece wheels made by Marvic/Akront. Same
colours as the DB1 but mostly red. 153 made. The DB1SR is the third version of the DB1, which again is
slightly more powerful than previous models. The fairing is red with white bands on the fuel tank, sides and
tail. There was also a thin green stripe on the tank to signify the Italian tricolour. On the tail unit was a
number plate holder. It is interesting to note that although it is called the DB1SR, all the bikes were marked
DB1RS 153 DB1SR made.
There were also a very limited number of DB1R factory race bikes built.
Bimota’s new chief engineer Federico Martini made his name in 1985 with the launch of the DB1, the firm’s
first Ducati-powered model, which wrapped stunning, eggshell-like bodywork around a 748cc aircooled V-
twin engine. Two pieces of curved glass-fibre enveloped the engine and frame, one arching over the
bulbous fuel tank before coming down to act as both seat and tailpiece; the other clipping on underneath to
complete a distinctive shape.
Removing the bodywork required just half a dozen Dzus fasteners and a few disconnected wiring blocks.
The Bimota’s Ducati-style trellis frame was neat and stiff, and held fat 42mm Marzocchi forks that featured
the hydraulic reservoirs for front brake and clutch built into their tops. Damping-adjustable Marzocchi
monoshock and Bimota’s own 16-inch wheels completed a hugely exotic creation.
Design / Engineering : Federico Martini / Presentation : Milan Motor Show 1987 / Price then :
Engine : The power plant was taken from the Ducati 750 Pantah, two cylinder , 90 degree V twin . It has the
camshafts from the Ducati Montjuich, Maximum output of 80 hp at 9200 rpm. Carburettors were increased in
size to 41 mm and the exhaust is now 2 in 1.
Frame : The frame consists of a load bearing space frame structure made of chrome-molybdenum steel.
The front suspension is a Marzocchi M1 "Monospring" with 42 mm front tubes and anti-dive with external
regulation. The rear suspension has a single adjustable Marzocchi damper. The front brake is a Brembo
280 mm double disc, with Serie Oro callipers and the rear is a Brembo 220 mm single disc. Wheels were by
Marvic, with three magnesium spokes and aluminium wheels.
Review - A better Bimota: DB1SR. By Bruno de Prato, July 1987.In 1986 when bimota engineers mated
one of their chassis to a Ducati engine, they created a motorcycle, which became their best selling bike and
boosted the companies' reputation by more than any of its previous machines.
The DB1 changed Bimota from a small volume specialty house into a recognised manufacturer of
prestigious, quality designed motorcycles.It all happened during Bimota's darkest hour, with former partners
Massimo Tamburini and Guiseppe Morri fighting over the companies' fate in a Rimini court, and Bimota
running out of financial breath. You're looking at the happy epilogue. Outwardly nearly identical to the
standard DB1, The DB1SR incorporates tuning changes that make it the motorcycle Bimota would have
loved to have built first, the true Bimota, unfettered by bureaucratic compromise. Business sense prevailed
against producing the SR - until now.
To survive financially, Bimota needed to sell DB1's in the world market, and strict homologation in
Switzerland, Holland and the United States - particularly noise laws - dictated the 750 cc Pantah F1 engine
in the DB1 wear restrictive air cleaners and a civilized two into one exhaust. Historically, Ducati engines
make their best power when they breathe freely, and the more muffler and airbox volume, the better. Yet
Bimota's DB1's natural density meant that the airbox and mufflers had to shrink.The Rimini's companies'
reputation is founded upon elegant, nimble machines, but nobody wants a stone. (Our test unit cantered
through the quarter mile in 12.61 seconds at 104 mph, May 1986). The DB1 needed more punch, and with
the SR Bimota took the direct Italian path. Forget the noise - this Bimota is only for countries liberal enough
to savor its sound.Dr, Frederico Martini, a graduate of Ducati's research and development department and
the man who designed the DB1 frame, knew exactly where to look for the missing power.
Gone are the restrictive air filtration units and the heavy twin exhausts, the skimpy 36mm carburetors are
history too. This 750 breathes through Malossi modified 41mm Dell'Ortos, complementing a pair of
Montjuich specification camshafts, Martini would have used the excellent Ducati NCR two into one racing
pipes, but these must be excessively modified to fit the DB1 chassis. Martini experimented with various
exhaust systems on Bimota's DB1 race bike last year, and chose a pipe for the SR, which quits the bike
without strangling the engine. With the larger carbs, Martini wanted the SR's ports cleaned up. For smooth
airflow, intake ports are machined to 34mm - the same diameter as the carburetor throats downstream from
their venturis. Martini's experience pays off, the homologated European spec. SR engine produces (claimed
figures) 82 horsepower at the crankshaft (about 75 at the rear wheel), an increase of 15 horses.
Top speed is 142 mph, quarter mile times in the low 11's, good for any 750 and phenomenal for a twin.
From aboard the SR, the exhaust note sounds loud but low pitched, not fatiguing. But the intakes bark
loudly up through the fibreglass body shell, forecasting the bit this engine holds in store. Surprisingly the
bike will idle, though tunes as hot as it is the SR burps and coughs below 3000 rpm. From 3000 rpm to
10,000 rpm the engine pushes like a hydraulic ram, with no flat spots or dips. Torque does not "come in" it
is everywhere.A tachometer has never been so useful on an Italian twin. The DB1SR is so smooth, so even
in its power delivery that an inattentive rider can easily over rev the engine. Our first test ride on the DB1
last year, we said the chassis felt rigid enough to take another 20 horses gracefully. Here is proof. On the
track the SR delivers a remarkable riding experience, barely this side of pure road racing, even if you are
just out for a leisurely ride. On the road the Bimota's handling and power means extra confidence and a
broader safety margin. This is familiar praise to anyone who has ridden a Bimota - for the SR we have
another laurel to add. Past Bimota's have often been too stiffly sprung for comfort on the street, but the SR,
as tight and racy that it is, negotiates bumpy surfaces without beating its rider into an early submission.Only
one point spoils the symbiosis between rider and machine, the SR has an overly stiff clutch lever.
Ducati's punishing clutches are legendary, but this time it is not the engine builder's fault - it has to do with
the SR's brakes. The DB1 SR uses a par of Brembo four piston calipers on its front disc. To actuate these
properly, a master cylinder with a round, remote reservoir mounted atop the right fork leg. This reservoir /
master cylinder combination comes with a 16mm bore only. Although the clutch requires a 13mm bore
master cylinder for perfect actuation feel - that is the size the Paso uses - Bimota fitted the "16" cylinder on
the left as well, for the sake of symmetry.Bimota plans to continue producing the stock DB1 for places with
noise restrictions and wealthy neighborhoods - the standard DB1 goes for five bucks under $12,000. To
that lofty figure add another $2500 and a full throated exhaust note for the DB1 SR. Most of us will never
own one of these exotics, but Bimota wants only satisfied customers, and for people who bought a DB1 last
year and now think their bike is less than perfect, the company offers an SR conversion kit.Until Ducati sees
fit to send some four valve, liquid cooled engines down Rimini way, the DB1 SR stands as the closest
incarnation of the true sporting Italian motorcycle.
While their high standards of engineering and artistic design were beyond reproach, the Italian specialists
at Bimota came in for some criticism at home for producing motorcycles with Japanese engines. The DB1 is
their reply - an all-new, all-Italian masterpiece, with innovative all-enclosing bodywork that embraces the V-
twin Ducati engine and Bimota's own frame in sensuous curves. If the styling catches the eye, it is the
exhaust note that tears at the heart-strings ... a mellow basso profundo that is part wistful and part defiant.
To anyone over 30 (and a few others besides) the DB1 sounds like a real motorcycle. Two versions of the
DB1 were launched simultaneously in 1985.
The first was pure racer; the second a road-going version with a headlight up front and a licence plate at
the rear. It is also a little quieter and a little milder-mannered in the way it delivers the horsepower. The DB1
was an instant hit, and because of the production quantity envisaged, Bimota were able to offer it cheaper
than their previous Japanese-based models. The DBl's heart is the Ducati Pantah engine, a smooth 90-
degree V-twin with exotic desmodromic valve gear, stretched to the full 750cc allowed by Formula One
racing rules. Made in unit with the five-speed gearbox, the engine is suspended from a complex frame made
of a trellis of short, straight tubes. In Bimota's fashion, the frame structure runs forward of the steering
head, to brace it on all sides. The rear fork pivots from the gearbox casings, making the engine unit part of
the frame. The front forks are Bimota's own, and the rear suspension has a rising-rate linkage to a single
spring and damper unit. On the move, the Bimota DB1 shows its pedigree at once, reflecting the care and
experience in its design and construction. Pin-sharp steering and forgiving handling are the legacy both of
the V-twin's low centre of gravity and of design expertise; these qualities in the DB1 must be felt to be
believed. The DB1 is fast, deceptively so, due to the relaxed way the twin-cylinder engine delivers its power.
The speedometer reading is often a surprise on a DB1, as is the tireless way it sustains high average
cruising speeds as well as fast circuit lap times. Such an uncompromisingly sporting machine cannot be for
everyone. Even in roadgoing form, the DB1 is strictly a single seater; and engine access is something of a
chore, even though the body panels are quickly detachable. The ride is rather firm and there is certainly
nowhere to strap any luggage.
Source of review : The Worlds Fastest Motorcycles by Michael Scott & John Cutts
Ducati 750f1 vs Bimota DB1 - MOTORCYCLE International 1986
EVEN THE COPS WERE IMPRESSED. Hurtling round a bend or circulating a roundabout repeatedly for a
photographer invariably attracts the attentions of the police. We'd obviously been spotted by the two
occupants of the Range Rover several tunes before they put in an appearance. These two guardians of the
law weren't about to write any tickets, they were far too interested in the machinery we were on. But then
you couldn't fail to be impressed by our choice of machinery. Both the Ducati 750F1 and Bimota DB1 are
exotic motorcycles in the true sense. They both began life as an out-and-out racing exercise, supplies are
limited (Sports Racing, the Bimota importer, have an allocation of only 24 bikes this year, while Moto
Vecchia await their next batch of Fls to restore their depleted stock) and they both look stunning.
Five minutes later we were riding for the benefit of the photographer again, but this time we had a Police
Range Rover stuck sideways on our tails as a broadly grinning driver tried to swing its unwieldly bulk
through the bends as quickly as the bikes. It look a little while to get used to the idea of tilting the bikes into
each bend with your knee dragging across the tarmac and the centrestand scraping away while under
official scrutiny, you don't normally come away from encounters like that with your licence intact. But riding
the 750F1 and the DB1 it all somehow seemed rather appropriate.
Just look at them: these bikes have got class. The DB1 is so small and itflows. The all-enveloping
pearlescent bodywork sweeps foward and down from the tail light, around the 750 Pantah engine's sump,
then curves up to meet the petite screen. Plenty of other bikes these days can boast the same sort of GRP
acreage, but the Bimota is the only one to really mould the constituent parts into one complete package.
The paintwork has the touch of genius, simple and patriotic with four red and green stripes converging at
the front. It's without doubt the most beautiful motorcycle on the roads today.
The 750F1 is equally patriotic, it looks like someone has just draped the Italian tricolour across its side.
Three broad slashes of colour leap out at you. The whole bike has a slabby look, the tail unit extends
downwards a long way then stops short behind the rear carb, and the tall screen is reminscent of a
shopping bike. It looks more basic than the DBI; the chassis and the engine are exposed to the elements. It
is functional design at its most obvious.
Both bikes use the Ducati Pantah engine as their motive force. From its introduction in 1977 the Pantah V-
twin has grown in size from 500cc to 600 and now 750. Even nine years after its launch it's unique in
motorcycling for using toothed rubber belts to drive the camshafts. The 748cc has been achieved x 61.5
mm from the original 74 x 58mm, and to cope with the extra power an oil cooler pumps up the lubricant from
the &9 litre sump. Neither machine makes any outrageous horsepower claim, 75hp being the offlcal figure.
A nine-year-old engine design with air cooling can hardly compete with the That combination of latest water-
and oil-cooled Japanese colour Hneand motors no what still makes these engines ' desirable is their solid
mid-range punch. metal could only be Despite the fact that they both use the Italian same 36mm Dellortos
that appeared on the first 500 Pantah, once you hit three grand on the tacho the flat powerband takes you
where you want to go in a totally relaxed manner - but fast. In all honesty these engines would be perfect for
a touring bike, there are no holes or leaps in their power delivery and they don't have the frenetic feel of a
four. But mounted in these bikes they offer an attractive style of sporting performance for those who've
progressed beyond the scream and crackle of two strokes and the wail of multicylinder.
Basically, the engines in these bikes are identical, the only real differences occur in the inlet and exhaust
systems. The DBI sports Bimota's own twin black silencers which are just that, bereft of the traditional Italian
bark. The 750F1 sounds more in tune with the bike's image as a race replica with a two-into-one exiting on
the left side of the bike leaving a noise signature that no one with any soul could complain about.
On the inlet side the 750F1 draws in air, dust, rain and small mammals through a pair of meshed
bellmouths. There may not be any concessions made to engine longevity but at least the vital oxygen
doesn't have to follow the same tortuous path as it does on the DB1. The single airbox is tucked behind the
rear cylinder between the frame rails. From there it's a relatively short distance into the rear carb. But to
reach the front pot a tortuous tract has to be plumbed between the frame rails, electrics and the rear
The chassis for both bikes follow the same basic principles using the engine as a stressed member thanks
to its very strong gravity diecast crankcases. The Ducati frame is a fully triangulated chrome -moly trestle, a
development of Ing Taglioni's F2 design. The round section swingarm is pivoted in the rear of the
crankcases before coming up to meet the cantilever rear suspension. As you'd expect, a Marzocchi shock
resides here with screw adjusted preload and provision for charging the damping oil with air via a
Schraeder valve at the base of the unit.
Five years at Ducati must have influenced Ing Martini, and he would have found it hard to depart from the
same general design brief. As it is he has developed the theme somewhat. The Bimota chassis, while still a
chrome-moly trestle, is more compact and doesn't have to kink frame rails to clear the engine as ontheFl.
As pioneers of the monoshock layout in the 70s it's no surprise that another single Marzocchi spring and
damper can be found buried deep within the machine. As on the Fl, this uses a screw adjuster for the
preload but with a remote adjuster mounted on the swingarm for compression damping. And it's rising rate,
too. The swingarm differs as well, it's box-section steel and uses eccentric adjusters to maintain chain
tension. Again there are broad similarities between the two bikes at the front end -Marzocchi forks, fully
floating Brembo discs, 16-inch wheels - but there are detail differences. The DB1 uses the latest 41.7mm
MIR forks with four-position rebound damping adjustment on the right leg and a design that allows an
infinite number of independent compression and rebound damping set ups just by changing the oil in each
fork leg. Left leg for compression damping, right one for rebound.
The previous generation of 40mm Marzocchi forks appears on the Ducati with five-position preload
adjustment atop each leg and three-position rebound damping on each leg alongside the spindle.
Both bikes carry 280mm floating discs up front wtflch rustle disconcertingly on their dowels at low speeds,
but the calipers are different. The four-piston Goldlines on the DB1 pull you up every time without any sort
of fade or drama, but if you brake in a bend then they pull the whole bike upright with a vengeance. You
have to learn to keep the. pressure up on the inside bar if you want to get round. The Fl has more simple
dual-piston offerings. On the limit they'll put you in front of the Bimota just when you don't want to be. A lack
of Goodridge nosing and inconsistent pad quality may be to blame.
Bimota specialise in exquisitely detailed machining work and the DB1 shows it. The quality of milling on the
top yoke and clip ons would gratify a Swiss watchmaker, and turning alloy master cylinders into a fashion
accessory by mounting them on top of the fork legs shows an originality too often lacking in motorcycle
The Duke has its moments with pleasingly flat alloy yokes and foam-mounted instruments a la GSX-R750,
but at an angle that makes them legible to the rider, Crouched down on the DB1 it's hard to tell to within
500revs or lOkph what's going on from the almost horizontal clocks.
Get close to a DB1 and size, or the lack of it, is what.will strike you most. It's tiny, a good eight inches lower
than the Ducati. But that doesn't mean those over 5ft 7in will automatically have to buy the 750F1. Although
Ing Martini didn't make many concessions when he built this motorcycle, the tank cutouts allow the longest
legs to tuck out of the airstream while the rear of the tank will support you and the petite screen allows the
wind to take the weight off your wrists. Admittedly there is an ideal size of rider, about 5ft 6in, who will suit
every curve of the bodywork, but even taller pilots found they could mould themselves into the DBFs lines
to a certain extent.
Most motorcycles are time consuming to disassemble with sundry nuts and bolts, which if not impossible to
undo, always seem to be left over after the rebuild. Not so with the Bimota. To remove the nose fairing undo
two 5mm Allen bolts, twist four Dzus fasteners a half turn, pull out the indicators' connectors and, spreading
the edges slightly, pull the section straight off. Four more Dzus fasteners and the bellypan drops away.
Then all that holds the main seat/tank unit on is a quartet of 8mm Allen bolts, complete with beautifully
turned-up spacers for the front pair, and a bayonet fitting to the rear light. Once you've removed the gas
cap it just lifts away. Big Kawasakis and BMWs can sometimes take almost an hour to lay bare, the Bimota
takes five minutes.
Once the tank with its two vacuum taps and fuel warning sender has been slipped off, the bikes
compactness is even more obvious. The chassis is so tight, not a fraction of space has been wasted within
its perimeter. No ancillaries have been allowed to protrude and spoil the lines, unlike the Fl where the
battery's location at the extreme rear of the frame necessitates a heavy looking, angular tail section. On the
DB1 the battery and the coils sit above the front cylinder, while the top of the rear shock linkage and the
airbox are crammed into the remaining space behind the rear of the engine. The whole concept looks good
on paper and looks even better in real life...until you use the engine seriously.
Nowadays, as well as dynoing our test bikes we also speed test them at the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground
in Leicestershire, and it was there we headed with high hopes and the Bimota. They were dashed after the
first few runs; a mean top speed of 116mph was hardly impressive for a sports 750. Try as we might we
couldn't squeeze any more out of the bike. In fact it got worse. After four or five runs the bike wouldn't take
full throttle and had to be nursed towards the redline at 8500.
Obviously things weren't right, so the next trip was down to Motodd's rolling road for a bit of investigation.
The power figures after the first runs were depressing; 51.1hp at 7500rpm wasn't going to set the world
alight. The engine was pinking around maximum torque at 4500 and misfiring at 5500. Touching the
gave us a clue - they were red hot - apart from being difficult to get at. How long will the battery or coils last
in that sort of heat? And how can the engine produce any sort of power in that sort of heat?
Basic physics has it that the thermal efficency of an engine is improved the greater the difference in
temperature between the incoming charge and the exhaust gases. Kawasaki went to the trouble of
designing an airbox with intakes beneath the headlight to make sure the GPZ1000RX always gets relatively
cool air, and that bike is the most powerful machine we've ever tested. So having a tiny intake into the
airbox at the back of a warm engine bay wasn't going to help. To make matters worse, a hot engine
breather exited into the bottom of the filterless box.
So the engine was ingesting hot, sticky air; obviously the easiest mod was to junk the air box. Rather than
strip the entire bike or take a hacksaw to the frame, we left the box in place and removed the trunking to
each carb instead. A pinking motorcycle on the dyno is a recipe for disaster so we squinted down the plug
holes at the piston crowns. The front pot was about right but rear was dangerously pale with the dreaded
'death ash' deposits sprinkled around. Upping the jet from 135 to 145 alleviated the situation.
Who'd have thought such simple mods would've so improved a bike? Breathing straight into the carb
throats, the DB1 now put out exactly 57hp at 7500 without a trace of a misfire. We guessed that the
mismatched inlet tracts between the carbs had been affecting their pulsing in the mid-range causing the flat
spot. And the fact that the fuel flow on the previous test had remained constant after 7000rpm indicated
that the airbox stifled the inlets giving more power at less than full throttle. As it was, by bypassing the
airbox and changing the jetting we'd reaped a 12 per cent power increase improved torque spread.
After the Bimota's voyage of discovery on the dyno, the Ducati's test was plain sailing. Six gee gees better,
the Fl put out 63hp at the peak of a luscious spread of power at 7500rpm. Another flat torque curve,
staying close to the 50.2ftlb maximum at 4500 revs, and a specific fuel consumption in the mid 50s indicated
a nicely sorted engine with easy tuning potential, albeit at the expense of flexibility.
Unlike the other importers, picking up a Bimota doesn't just involve the usual tedious journey through
London's suburbs, Steve Wynne's Sports Racing concern resides in Bollington just outside Macclesfield.
There are some great roads across the Peak District in that part of the world and Julian claimed the
privilege of collecting the bike and bringing it down to London. When he arrived the rest of the office
showered him with questions about the bike's performance and handling. We'd all suffered a little from the
feverish excitement and expectation for this bike that had gripped our editor's imagination over the last few
months. Strangely, his responses were rather subdued. Yes, it handled okay, the engine was fine and the
brakes good. Okay, fine? This wasn't what we expected to hear, we're talking about a Bimota here.
My first ride on the bike was of necessity not in the most ideal of conditions. An out-and-out sports bike can
hardly be expected to show well in London's city centre. But some of its traits were quite disconcerting.
Below 50mph the DB1 refused to go in a straight line. It felt like it had ratchet head bearings. A motorcycle
actually follows a series of balance correcting curves as we continually use the steering to follow a straight
course. On the DB1 you found yourself fighting the bars as the bike veered first one way then another.
When there's a solid wall of traffic a foot away on both sides this can be unnerving to say the least.
Investigation inside the fairing revealed a steering damper wound up to maximum. Backing it right off solved
the problem, but its location tucked away inside the fairing means it's not possible to adjust on the move.
But once out on to some relatively clear, open stretches some of the Bimota's attributes began to shine
through. It carries its weight low and feels even lighter than my 250 Gamma racing bike. A wheelbase of
1380mm and a 25° rake angle combine with this svelte form to give steering that above 70mph is so quick
but effortless. Attack fast sweeping bends with some forceful riding and the Bimota will reward youlwithla
fast, smooth'rhythm. Use the Goldlines hard with just two fingers enough to elicit a stoppie, then tip straight
into each corner. The DB1 responds to this sort of treatment by sticking to the line every time. But throw in
the more usual bumps and holes along with a series of slow bends and the DB1 begins to suffer.
For a start I don't know whether it's the tyres or the suspension but on slow corners the DB1 feels incredibly
unstable. I'd have been happier on a Goldwing at times. Those 60-Series Pirellis which the Italian firm are
claiming as radials work very well at higher speeds, although they aren't perfectly matched to the rims
leaving the last 5mm of the tread unused on both tyres. But having such a wide, low front makes the
transition from straight ahead to canted over very sudden at urban speeds. Come to a roundabout and you
thru'penny bit round it as the bike drops in then picks itself up again. I almost went for a trails dab one time.
The brakes are incredibly powerful without any sort of fade but then you hit a bump and because you're
travelling at less than the legal limit the suspension totally fails to absorb the shock and the bike adds head
shaking to its repertoire. Ride the rear end over the same undulation and your backside is kicked out of the
seat by the Marzocchi's harsh response se. Spring and damping rates were too stiff for the road. This was
with the lowest damping setting and preload wound as far back as the chewed up C-rings would allow.
For two bikes so similar in many areas -engine, suspension, brakes - the Fl and DB1 couldn't have handled
much more differently. A DB1 owner will feel like he's mounting a horse when he gets on the Fl. It's tall and
thin and only carries 5kg more weight than the Bimota.
When he arrives at the first corner he's in for some more surprises too. Racing (remember this bike's an Fl
replica) and fashion dictated a 16-inch front wheel. But Ducati where loath to lose their traditional stability
so they kicked out the rake to 28° with a long 155mm of trail. Consequently our friend might And himself
missing the apex and running in to the dirt on that first bend. The steering's much heavier than the Bimota's
and needs a firm hand, but light weight, a 16in wheel and some body English mean you can change
direction just as quickly once you've put in the initial effort. As it is the Duke needs the steering damper
hidden in among the fairing brackets and frame tubes when heavy bumps set the front tyre kicking. Position
four is normally good enough. The Ducati's behaviour is more consistent too; it'll behave in the same
manner at 25 or 125mph. Pirelli's Phantoms help here. Their rounded profile make for a linear steering feel,
not the tuck and grab of the DB1.
Round two at Bruntingthorpe: The DB1 sailed past the lights at 124mph, an eight miles per hour
improvement, with it responding cleanly all the way into the redline at 9l00rpm. Better, but the Fl trounced it
with a best of 131 at 8500rpm. Hurtling up and down I got to appreciate the Duke's high screen that leaves
just you and the V-twin together in a bubble of still air. While you're still pulled down onto clip-ons, the tank
doesn't rise up into your solar plexus like on the DB1 - and the seat's more comfortable. The aches don't
get through, but vibration does. Above 5500rpm the tingle from the footrests becomes uncomfortable and
even gets painful over long motorway hauls.
It may not be rising rate, but the Fl's suspension is more compliant than the DBl's plus easier to fine tune at
the front. You could ride this bike through the bumps, not around them all the time. In short, it's more usable.
While the DB1 will appeal to the poseurs of this world and offers some great times it's too single minded. It
was ■obviously developed direct from race-* track experience. Ing Martini believes 'Five races are worth
100,000km of road testing.' But just as a circuit makes no concessions, neither does the Bimota. You've got
to be prepared to ride it hard and I suspect £7500 is too big a block for most people's enthusiasm. It's still
got the looks, but I'd only be willing to pay an extra SI500 for them.
The Fl has some serious style of its own. Attention to detail is a lot better than any previous Ducati. Cagiva
are obviously taking a closer interest. Just look at the beautiful engraved alloy filler cap and the quality of
the paintwork. This jewel isn't going to tarnish quickly. Add to that the fact that this motorcycle's
performance is usable and you've got a winner. To be honest I much prefered the Ducati's handling to the
Bimota's, so long the benchmark when it came to bends.
The DB1 seems to have dominated this test but that's because we tested and retested it as we solved some
of its problems. The Ducati just performed well; exciting at times, but always satisfying. It proved itself an all-
round motorcycle, and one that played on the emotions of the rider, just as the DB1 did before reality took
over. The 750F1 is one of the few bikes on the road today that allows the rider to at least subvert reality in
a riot of noise, colour and speed. And that's worth
Source MOTORCYCLE International 1986