Restomod – 1978 Bimota SB2

In Italy, Japan, Sport by Tim HuberLeave a Comment

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Post Listing Update: This SB2 did not meet reserve with 1 bid up to $29,000.

Bimota made its motorcycle debut in ’73 with the HB1, but it was its second model, the SB2 that really put it on the radar of the motorcycling world. First unveiled in ’76 at the Bologna Motorshow, the SB2 was built around a hopped up version of Suzuki’s GS750 engine (with 850cc Yoshimura pistons), wrapped in a trick, handmade chrome-molybdenum trellis chassis. Supposedly around 140 SB2 examples were produced in its two-year run, though a total of 200 frames were reportedly built (30 of which were destroyed).

Though the SB2 isn’t particularly impressive by today’s standards, upon its release it was an objectively cutting-edge bike featuring a vast array of high-tech components. The SB2’s frame held the engine at three points while also using the Yoshimura-tuned mill as a stressed member of the chassis, even though the three-quarter-liter power plant was not originally designed for this. The chrome-molybdenum structure weighed in at less than 20lbs and featured a beefed up steering head that allowed fork angle to be adjusted. The SB2’s swingarm boasted a nifty design utilizing an eccentric cam at the rear wheel spindle to ensure chain tension remained taut regardless of suspension travel.

The SB2’s suspension was also pretty trick, comprised of 35mm Ceriani forks (modified in house at Bimota) and a Corte & Cosso monoshock (with adjustable preload) — making it one of the earliest applications of a monoshock on a production road bike. Braking duties were carried out by dual Brembo calipers biting 280mm disks up front and a single 260mm disk out back. The SB2 rode on Bimota-designed, 18”, five-spoke, gold anodized, magnesium alloy rims cast by Campagnolo.

The Tamburini-designed bodywork on the first Suzuki-powered Bimota consisted of a single-piece, aluminum-lined fiberglass (3.4-gallon) tank and tail unit which could be easily removed via quick-release straps. The SB2’s tail-section included exhaust outlets for what was suppose to be an under tail layout, though the immense heat (from running the exhaust directly atop the engine) messed with the quad 29mm Mikuni carbs, prompting the folks at Bimota to opt for a low-slung muffler design. Instead of revising the bodywork, it was decided the exhaust outlets would instead be used to house the machine’s rear turn signals.

Clocking in at 432lbs (dry) — 66lbs lighter than the stock GS — the SB2’s massaged four-barrel was married to a five-speed transmission, and put down a supposed 78hp at 8,700rpm, 42ft-lbs of torque at 8,250rpm, and was reportedly capable of achieving a top-speed of somewhere between 135-145mph (depending on who you ask). The SB2 was something of a marvel in its day and was far from cheap, costing around $4K, making it roughly three-times more expensive than the stock 750 Zook. While the price was undeniably exorbitant, the SB2 did feature all kinds of high-end bits such as fork yokes, brake caliper mounts, and rear-set brackets all machined from aircraft grade billet aluminum.

Suzuki had initially commissioned Bimota to design the SB2, though in ’79 the Japanese marque terminated the order for SB2 frames. So that same year Massimo Tamburini revised the SB2, resulting in the SB2/80, a “transitional model” bridging the gap between the original SB2 and the GS1000-based SB3. A very limited production run was carried out, using the remaining 30 frames (of the original 200 SB2 frames). Unlike the original SB2, the /80-variant actually featured the Bimota name on the tank and fairing.

The SB2/80 was a cross between the SB2 and SB3, utilizing the rolling chassis of the former model adorned in the later bodywork found on the SB3. SB2/80 examples supposedly sold new in ’79 for £4,500 — a figure that translates to £24,600 (or $31,650) in 2018 with inflation — making it one of the most expensive motorcycles on the planet at the time. VisorDown touted the SB2 as “arguably the most advanced superbike ever created” and TheDrive went as far as to call the SB2/80, “The First Modern Superbike”.

This particular ’78 SB2 example was reportedly purchased by the current owner in ’89. It was ridden for a handful of years before ending up in storage. In 2015 it underwent a thorough restoration including a complete frame overhaul courtesy of Nico Bakker Frame Construction (aka Bakker Framebouw). The ad states, “a new fairing was incorporated featuring better aerodynamics, lighting and wind protection”, leading me to believe this is an original SB2 example dressed up in SB2/80 (or SB3) bodywork. This suspicion is backed by the seller referring to this bike as a “one-off”. They also say a handful of “modern upgrades” were made to “enhance handling and performance”, though they fail to specify exactly what upgrades were made.

This example — which is said to be in “great” mechanical condition — is sitting on non-stock, three-arm rims and is missing the factory turn signals. A random sportbike mirror has also been tacked on too. With the aforementioned changes and other (unspecified) performance modifications, it’s a little hard to hone in on what this example is worth, though to give a rough idea of the /80’s value; back in 2016 a relatively low-mile SB2/80 example sold at a Bonhams auction in Paris, France for around $19K, though it was expected to fetch between $23-27K. While this example isn’t the most original, it is impeccably clean and well sorted.

You can find this 1978 Bimota SB2 for sale in Middelharnis, Netherlands with bidding up to $29,000 (with the reserve not yet met) and a BIN of $38,800

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