King of Cool: Bimota HB1 Tribute

Enthusiast Rob Phillips builds a stunning tribute to the legendary first Bimota HB1.


| May/June 2017


Bimota HB1 Tribute
Engine: 736cc air-cooled OHC inline 4-cylinder, 61mm x 63mm bore and stroke, 9.2:1 compression ratio, 58hp @ 8,000rpm
Top speed: 115mph (est.)
Carburetion: Four Keihin 28mm
Transmission: 5-speed, chain final drive
Electrics: 12v, Dynatek electronic ignition
Frame/wheelbase: Perimeter-type chromoly tube frame w/engine as stressed member/57in (1,448mm)
Suspension: Replica Ceriani tunable telescopic forks front, dual Marzocchi shocks w/adjustable preload rear
Brakes: Dual 11.6in (295mm) discs front, single 11.6in (295mm) rear with Brembo calipers
Tires: 110/80 x 18in front, 130/80 x 18in rear
Weight (dry): 440lb (200kg) (approx.)
Seat height: 30in (762mm)
Fuel capacity: 4gal (15ltr)

It’s a little-known fact that Bimota started out building air conditioning equipment, which is all about keeping things cool. And while there’s no evidence Steve McQueen, the king of cool, ever owned a Bimota, the two are loosely connected through Rob Phillips of Staatsburg, New York.

The first link is that Rob sympathetically restored and owned for 10 years the first of three 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross offroad machines that McQueen bought back in the day. The second link is that Rob produced the subtly updated Bimota HB1 replica featured here.

Beginnings of Bimota

The Bimota name was created using the first two initials of the surnames of its three founding partners: Valerio Bianchi, Giuseppe Morri and Massimo Tamburini. Of the three, Tamburini played the largest role in designing what could be considered some of the most exotic Italian motorcycles ever produced.



Tamburini’s fascination with motorcycles began as a youngster in his hometown of Rimini, Italy. Often driving his mother to distraction, he listened for the sound of approaching motorcycles and then rushed out of the house to see them flash by.

Born in 1943, Tamburini’s career plan was to become an engineer. The family didn’t have sufficient funds to send him to university, however, so Tamburini went to trade school, where he studied cooling systems. Bimota was created in 1966 as an air conditioning company, but Tamburini never lost his interest in powered two-wheelers. He rode and tuned his personal Moto Guzzi, and he was an avid race fan, watching from the stands as well as competing on the track.







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