According to Wikipedia, ‘the tuatara is a reptile of the family Sphenodontidae, endemic to New Zealand. The tuataras resemble lizards, but are equally related to lizards and snakes, which are their closest living relatives. The tuatara has been classified as an endangered species since 1895.’ The Tuatara is also one of the slowest moving creatures on Earth…
So what could Bimota have been thinking of, when they decided to call one of their fastest-ever bikes, Tuatara? Unlike the reptile, the bike was neither ugly nor slow. Unveiled at the Milan motorcycle show in 1989, the Tuatara was a special variant of the Bimota YB6 – the main difference being that the Tuatara had Weber-Marelli electronic fuel-injection, while the YB6 had to make do with carburetors.
Only 56 of these Bimota Tuataras were ever built, and that was 17 years ago, so you probably wouldn't find one parked in your neighbour's driveway...
The Bimota Tuatara was indeed very avant-garde for its time. With 152 horsepower from its liquid-cooled, 989cc, DOHC, 20-valve inline-four (sourced from the pre-EXUP Yamaha FZR1000), the 168-kilo Tuatara could do the quarter mile (400m) in 10.4 seconds, and was capable of hitting a top speed of 282km/h! In those days, only the mighty Kawasaki ZZR1100 could keep up with the Tuatara, and both were billed as the fastest production motorcycles of their time by their respective manufacturers.
Given Bimota’s expertise in the chassis/suspension department, the Tuatara was fitted with top-spec components and once set up properly, handled very well. The bike had adjustable 42mm Marzocchi USD forks (with the then fashionable anti-dive plumbing) at the front, the steering angle was adjustable, and the rear shock was adjustable for preload and compression damping. Twin 320mm Brembo brake discs handled stopping duties at the front, while there was a single 230mm disc at the back. The Tuatara came with lightweight alloy wheels made by Oscam, and the instrument panel was all digital.
While Bimota built 546 units of the YB6 and 114 units of the YB6 EXUP, the Rimini-based company only built 56 units of the Tuatara, making it one of the most exclusive Bimotas ever produced. The Tuatara cost about US$15,000 back in 1990, which also makes it one of the most expensive bikes ever. But what a machine! In fact, the Tuatara is one of those rare bikes from the 1990s which can even hope to keep up with current-day litre-class superbikes in the performance stakes. A true classic...
Moto art: The Bimota Delirio
Coming soon: The Bimota Tesi 3D
Down memory lane: The Bimota YB11
What is it about Italian bikes...?
What your bike says about you!