Driving report Bimota SB 8 R


Driving report Bimota SB 8 R (1998)

Quick Silver

It is already fast, it is still silver-colored, and soon it will be available at the dealer – albeit with a completely different decor. First impressions at the prototype ride for the new SB 8 R

It’s the Italian moments that make life serene. Espresso and Parma ham are just as much a part of it as that touch of nonchalance, which in Italy is also attached to more serious matters. For example, the presentation of an important two-cylinder athlete like the avant-garde Bimota SB 8 R. This presented itself to the German press supremacy in Albacete, Spain, not in the expected series form, but in the form of two near-series but unvarnished prototypes. But neither the Italians nor the German importer Dieter Konemann are to blame for this. This is due to the delivery bottlenecks of the brand new TL 1000 R engine from Suzuki.
The 59 kilogram descendant of the well-known TL 1000 S-V2 engine suffers from teething problems. As if to confirm, a valve guide broke on a prototype equipped with a first-generation TL 1000 R engine. The intake camshafts had already broken. The difficulties delay the launch of the Suzuki and the Bimota.
This shows a not exactly everyday look. The massive upper part of the fairing and the bulbous tank contrast, supported by the extremely slim waist, with the completely self-supporting seat hump. The arrangement of handlebar, footrest and seat position turned out to be very sporty, but not uncomfortable. Small and large testers always felt comfortable. The bench offers the necessary freedom of movement for gymnastics and a calming grip when accelerating hard. The waist and tank shape allow perfect, aerodynamic-enhancing knees. The tank, a small work of art made of nylon, holds 24 liters of fuel and fits perfectly into the cavities of the engine compartment. In addition, it also forms the upper end of the airbox with ram air channels that start in the upper part of the fairing.
The Riminese install their own manifold injection, to which Siemens contributes know-how and components (for example the injection nozzles). In doing so, they rely on a single nozzle that injects against the intake flow (Suzuki: two injection nozzles arranged offset in the direction of flow). This arrangement, together with a higher injection pressure (5 compared to 3.5 bar), should produce a more homogeneous fuel-air mixture. Incidentally, the SB 8 R breathes in through huge suction openings with a diameter of 59 millimeters (Suzuki: 52 millimeters). A throttle linkage mounted on roller bearings – with threaded rods for throttle valve synchronization – keeps the actuating forces within limits. Perhaps the slight vibrations of the prototypes are due to the not quite perfect synchronization of the throttle organs. The razor-sharp use of power in the partial load range should also be reduced a bit for everyday use. On the racetrack, on the other hand, the almost digital implementation of gas commands is a delight: power is delivered to the rear wheel exactly as the driver wishes. It remains to be seen whether the injection will cause an increase in performance – Bimota speaks of around 140 hp.
A powerful drive naturally requires a suitable chassis. The Bimotisti aimed for a clearly front-heavy weight distribution. In addition to the self-supporting hump, the composite construction of the frame helps: front part with steering head made of aluminum as usual, rear part with rocker mount made of screwed and glued carbon fiber plates. Ferrari supplier SNC produces the carbon fiber parts with baked-in aluminum fittings (for the harmless introduction of compressive forces). The entire frame weighs only 7.9 kilograms, the extremely stable composite construction that has proven itself in Formula 1 saves around 900 grams. A crossbar stiffens the front aluminum part. The fully adjustable Ohlins shock absorber is also supported on it. The length-adjustable, extremely sensitive component is located on the right between the engine and the frame in the interests of concentrated masses. The Suzuki twin rests in it – flanked to the right and left by two in-house coolers – inclined six degrees forward. Result of the effort? A fairly front-heavy weight distribution of 54 to 46 percent.
On the chassis side, there is still the massive swing arm with direct braking torque support and the Paioli upside-down fork with titanium-nitrite-coated sliding tubes with a diameter of 46 millimeters. The shape and structure of the latter are reminiscent of the Ohlins Superbike fork that was installed in the second prototype. Both forks represent a high standard and respond very sensitively. The Ohlins variant reacts a bit more sensitively and seems to be easier to adjust – let’s see how the series behaves. The two fork legs are guided by milled magnesium bridges of impressive dimensions.
Uncompromising sportiness also in the chassis geometry: 1395 millimeters wheelbase, steering head angle and caster adjustable (either 67.1 degrees / 87 millimeters or 66.1 degrees / 93 millimeters through various steering head inlets). Bimota endeavors to homologate these setting options for the series.
You also go your own way with the bikes. The front 3.5 x 17 inch rim carries a brand new 120/65 tire from Michelin. This should combine the advantages of the 60 and 70 cross-section. On the SB 8 R, the front tire worked harmoniously with the apparently well-balanced chassis. The Bimota steers extremely precisely and remains handy even when braking in bends with a minimal set-up moment. At the apex of the bend – the ground clearance is limitless – it keeps the track obediently, from which it cannot be dissuaded even when accelerating out vehemently. The new Brembo-Inox brakes decelerate without fading and with pinpoint accuracy, the Bimota only becomes a bit restless when decelerating heavily. At the rear, Bimota would like to offer a 5.5 x 17 or 6 x 17 inch rim as an alternative, either with 180/55 or – again a novelty – 190/55 tires.
E.In May, the first SB 8 R will be available from importer Dieter Konemann at a price of around 40,000 marks. One can be curious: the base promises a lot.

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