Engineered art
Overdrive|November 2020
Massimo Tamburini changed the way the world viewed motorcycles, giving delicious form to function

The under seat exhaust. The single-sided swingarm, the fully exposed wheel. Twin cat’s eyes for headlights. Tantalisingly revealing full-body fairing. Elements of the Ducati 916 that make it one of the prettiest motorcycles ever made – an opinion that’s hard to argue with even if you find pleasure in uncommon choices. It’s the motorcycle that put Massimo Tamburini on the map of every motorcycling enthusiast, and though his CV may be short and sweet, it’s one filled with hits that changed the course of the companies he worked for, from Cagiva, Ducati and MV Agusta to his very own outfit, Bimota. A company that started out making air-conditioning ducts. So, how did Tamburini come to be the ‘Michelangelo of motorcycles’?

The early years

Going by some of the breakthrough designs of the latter half of the 19th century, you’d think there was something in the water in Italy that made great automobile designers out of men. From Gandini to Giugiaro (read their Design Journeys in previous issues of OVERDRIVE) to Tamburini, who all lived in a 500km radius of each other, Italy seemed to be producing some of the most notable automobile artists, from humble beginnings. Tamburini, born on November 28th 1943 near the idyllic beachside town of Rimini, could’ve slipped into obscurity if he’d taken the family trade of farming. Lucky for the world though, the young Tamburini was smitten by motorcycles. As a child, he would run out of the house to catch a glimpse of a neighbour’s Moto Guzzi Falcone fly by, watching the big Italian single carve through the set of curves nearby. Going to an engineering university was too expensive for the family, and Tamburini instead studied HVAC design at a local technical school.

Tamburini kept the fire for motorcycling alive, attending every championship race he could, at the nearby Monza racetrack. The passion was well and truly ablaze, and watching MV Agustas and Nortons battle it out, would lead to something of a hobby later. In 1966, Tamburini and a few friends, Valerio Bianchi and Giuseppe Morri, started Bimota (using the first two letters of each last name), a company that specialised in fabricating air-conditioning units. Tamburini’s first tryst with fiddling with motorcycles came through taking his own Moto Guzzi 700 from stock to 750cc and then onto 840cc a few years later. A classified for an MV Agusta 600 got his gears turning, and he set about buying it and promptly turning it into a sportsbike from a tourer.

It’s said he owned one of a small handful of large capacity motorcycles around Rimini at that point, and the police would make a habit of flagging him down, and getting him to undo his modifications! It was enough to get Tamburini to sell the bike, and buy a Honda CB750 instead. Amazed at the Honda’s power and smoothness, its wooden handling gave him three broken ribs at some point, and some very big ideas. The seed was sown.

The Bimota years

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM OVERDRIVEView All

THE BEGINNING /THE END

Can Adrien van Hooydonk, hea d of BMW Group Design, really redefine the brand – or has he already… irrevocably?

6 mins read
Overdrive
January 2021

SKODA OCTAVIA RS 245

Still the best bang-for-your-buck fast car in India?

6 mins read
Overdrive
January 2021

KTM 250 ADVENTURE

KTM’s youngest ADV offers all the goodies from the flagship but at an accessible price

5 mins read
Overdrive
January 2021

NEWBIE CLUB

Which one of the two newest compact SUVs on the market is worth your money?

8 mins read
Overdrive
January 2021

2021 VOLVO S60

Is the new S60 really a sporty Volvo?

6 mins read
Overdrive
January 2021

APRILIA SXR 160

India’s modern maxi-scooter is here?

6 mins read
Overdrive
January 2021

FERRARI F8 TRIBUTO

Fleeting meeting with Ferrari’s most powerful V8, ever

6 mins read
Overdrive
January 2021

2021 AUDI A4 40 TFSI

The A4 gets a face-lift, makes it feel right

6 mins read
Overdrive
January 2021

YOUNGER ADVENTURE

KTM’s youngest adventure offering, 250 Adventure launched in India at Rs 2.48 lakh, ex-showroom

1 min read
Overdrive
December 2020

NISSAN MAGNITE

The Magnite packs a punchy engine, plenty of features and a butch styling within the sub-4m constraints, at an expected price that sounds unreal

7 mins read
Overdrive
December 2020
RELATED STORIES

PASO

Another Massimo Tamburini Ducati that deserves a place in the hall of fame

5 mins read
Cycle World
Issue 2 - 2020

The desired Ducati…

Is it really 30 years since the first Ducati 888? A machine which (formany Ducati aficionados) is better than even the sublime and beautiful 916?

2 mins read
Classic Motorcycle Mechanics
January 2021

HUSQVARNA'S QUARTER-LITRE QUIVER: VITPILEN 250 AND SVARTPILEN 250

The Husqvarna twins are finally here in India and the first ones are looking to barge through the quarter-litre segment door.

10+ mins read
xBhp
December 2020 - January 2021

A Man With A Passion : Pierre Terblanche Interview

Pierre Terblanche needs no introduction to motorcyclists the world over. Following stints with Ducati, Royal Enfield, Confederate and our very own BST, his designs have helped shape the face of motorcycling, not without their fair share of controversy along the way.

10+ mins read
Bike SA
October 2020

THE PERFECT PANIGALE?

Are size and horsepower really all that crucial when it comes to conquering the roads? Some would argue that is the case, but we wanted to know for sure... so we pitched Ducati's pimped V4S against its new little brother, the V2

10+ mins read
evo India
August 2020

Get Hyper

Get your biking game on and level up with the all-new Ducati Hypermotard 950 RVE

2 mins read
FHM Magazine South Africa
July 2020

Into The Unknown

What are the challenges a motorcycle rider is bound to face once the lockdown lifts? And what are the solutions? We have the answers for you

4 mins read
evo India
June 2020

La Scrambler del futuro

Con motivo de la presentación de la nueva Scrambler Ducati 1100 PRO, que tuvo lugar en el ArtCenter College of Design en Pasadena, Ducati involucró a estudiantes del propio instituto californiano en un concurso para diseñar una propuesta para la Scrambler del futuro.

1 min read
Motociclismo Panamericano
Junio - 2020

DUCATI STREETFIGHTER V4 / V4 S

Superlativa. Con las nuevas Ducati Streetfighter V4 y V4 S, Ducati vuelve al mundo de las supernaked por la puerta grande. La base de la moto es la Panigale V4 despojada de sus carenados y equipada con manillares altos. Todo un reto para los amantes de las motos desnudas, y con unas prestaciones de infarto…

6 mins read
Motociclismo Panamericano
Junio - 2020

DE OTRO MUNDO

NO HAY PRECIOS DISPONIBLES PARA LA VYRUS, PERO LAS MOTOCICLETAS ANTERIORES DE LA MARCA HAN RONDADO LOS 90 MIL DÓLARES… Y ESTA NO PARECE QUE EXIGIRÁ MENOS.

1 min read
Motociclismo Panamericano
Junio - 2020