Icon: Bi­mota Tesi 1D

RiDE (UK) - - Contents -

#39 Bi­mota Tesi 1D

Where did it come from?

The fer­tile mind of Pier Luigi Mar­coni, who came up with his take on the hub­cen­tre-steer­ing prin­ci­ple while study­ing for his en­gi­neer­ing de­gree at Bologna Uni­ver­sity, and work­ing part-time at Bi­mota in Ri­mini dur­ing his hol­i­days. The de­sign formed the ba­sis of his fi­nal year project — Tesi is Ital­ian for The­sis — and when he joined Bi­mota full time in 1986 he per­suaded the firm to de­velop the idea. In 1988 leg­endary Ital­ian nutjob Gian­carlo Falappa put an Fz750-en­gined ver­sion on pole for the F1 race at Bi­mota’s home track of Misano. By the time the pro­duc­tion ver­sion ar­rived, though, it was all-ital­ian, with power from Du­cati’s ever-im­prov­ing wa­ter­cooled 851 en­gine.

Why no forks?

Be­cause if you wanted to in­vent the idea of high-per­for­mance mo­tor­bikes from scratch, you prob­a­bly wouldn’t stick tele­scopic forks on them — hub steered al­ter­na­tives have var­i­ous the­o­ret­i­cal ad­van­tages in­clud­ing less stic­tion in slid­ing parts, re­duced or zero dive un­der brak­ing, im­proved con­trol over lat­eral move­ment, etc. The trou­ble is, flawed or not, forks have evolved to get round their in­her­ent dis­ad­van­tages, and we as rid­ers like the way thay be­have be­cause we’re used to it. Few peo­ple ac­tu­ally got to ride a Tesi at the time, but those who did said it felt a lot like a nor­mal bike, ex­cept for the lack of dive un­der brak­ing. That was be­cause Bi­mota had set the steer­ing to feel as fork­like as pos­si­ble - a bit point­less re­ally.

Why do peo­ple like it?

It was in­ter­est­ing and ex­otic, even bang in the mid­dle of the ex­plo­sion of be­spoke ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cials. With its clothes off, it looked like no other bike — all milled alu­minium, rose-jointed con­nect­ing links and top-notch com­po­nen­try.

Cult rat­ing 3/5

If you’re an en­gi­neer and a biker, maybe it’ll be higher up the scale — one of the few largely un­com­pro­mised al­ter­na­tive front ends to make it into pro­duc­tion.

The prob­lem is...

Apart from spares sup­ply (al­ways a prob­lem even when Bi­mota was still a go­ing con­cern), the big prob­lem is find­ing one. They were hugely ex­pen­sive new — £25,000 for the 904cc ver­sion in 1991 was two-and-a-half times the price of an 851. In fact you could have bought an 851, a Honda VFR750, a Suzuki GSX-R750M AND a Kawasaki ZXR750J1 for around the same price... These days, when they come up, they go for any­thing from £15,000, though we saw a zero miles ex­am­ple of­fered at US $150,000.

With­out the Tesi 1D...

We might all still be rid­ing around on bikes with un­nec­es­sar­ily heavy, flexy, con­ven­tional forks. Oh, hang on...

“Clothes off, it looked like no other bike”

An in­ter­est­ing en­gi­neer­ing so­lu­tion to a non-ex­is­tent prob­lem

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