Motorcycles Bimota Teases New KB4 Model
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Afterlate last year it’s inevitable that the future of the celebrated brand will lie in a new range of “KB” models—and this is the first of them, the KB4.
While therevealed at , based around Kawasaki’s 228-hp Ninja H2 engine and featuring the hub-steered suspension that’s synonymous with the Tesi name, was always sure to grab plenty of attention, it’s not going to be a big seller. The bike’s inevitably huge price tag means it’s going to be reserved for the wealthiest of riders, and in a post-COVID world, buyers for such pricey toys may be scarcer still. So a cheaper Bimota is vital to the brand’s future growth, and that’s where the KB4 comes in.
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Cheaper But Not “Cheap”
Between 1978 and 1984, Bimota had a brief dalliance with Kawasaki, turning out the KB1, KB2, and KB3 in quick succession, usingfour-cylinder engines from 400cc to 1,000cc. It’s been a 36-year hiatus since the appearance of the next Kawasaki-powered Bimota, but the KB4 follows just where its predecessors left off.
Like them, it has a tubular steel frame wrapped around a four-cylinder Kawasaki lump, this time the 1,043cc, 140-hp unit from the latest Z1000. That motor, which is already prepared to meet the latest emissions standards worldwide, isn’t likely to be tuned or altered for the KB4, but a combination of weight reduction and running gear upgrades means the Bimota will be a very different machine to the Kawasaki that shares its engine.
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Although the new teaser images from Bimota are intentionally blurry to hide the bike’s details, it looks like this is a design model built to finalize the bodywork shapes before serious testing gets underway. It’s clear the styling closely matches a design sketch that was revealed alongside the Tesi H2 at EICMA. The styling follows the current trend for “neo-retro”—with shapes borrowed from the past including an inset circular headlamp and bullet-shaped nose, but 21st-century proportions including a short, high tail and forward-biased visual mass.
While we can’t see precisely what’s in use, it’s a pretty safe bet the suspension will come from a high-end brand—probably Öhlins—while Brembo will surely provide some top-spec discs and calipers.
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No Clear Rivals
The KB4 sits in an unusual market space. While it’ll be priced cheaper than the Tesi H2 it’s still sure to be a pricey bike, and it’s clear the clip-on bars and rearset footpegs give it a seriousriding position.
Although 140 hp is nothing to be sniffed at, the KB4’s price is likely to put it in a market against superbikes offering closer to 200 hp. Back when the KB1, 2, and 3 were made, Bimota’s selling point was the ability to make light, good-handing bikes around powerful Japanese engines. Now that Japanese brands make their own bikes handle well, that market is gone. Instead Bimota will have to sell its style, brand image, and high-end componentry. From a cold, logical perspective the KB4 isn’t likely to be the best bike at any one thing in particular—but when it comes to that intangible “want one” factor, it could be a strong contender.
With Bimota’s teaser campaign clearly underway now, we can expect to see more hints of the KB4’s development progress over the coming months as the firm prepares for a full unveiling toward the end of 2020.
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