Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Two-strokes: The Bimota V Due

500cc GP racer for the street? That's what the Bimota V Due wanted to be...

The only Bimota ever made that was actually fitted with a Bimota engine was the V Due. Launched in 1997, the V Due was fitted with Bimota’s own 500cc, liquid-cooled, two-stroke, fuel-injected v-twin that made 110bhp at 9000rpm, and 90Nm of torque at 8000rpm. Unlike carb-equipped two-strokes, the V Due’s radical, direct-injection two-stroke engine – which took eight long years of Bimota’s development time, effort and money – was supposed to be low on emissions, allowing it to meet mandated norms in the US and in Europe.

But fuel-efficiency and emissions compliance wasn’t, of course, the V Due’s primary mission in life. The bike, initially meant to be a 500cc GP racer, was designed to deliver GP-spec performance and handling on the street. And to go with the 500cc two-stroke engine, the V Due was equipped with a stiff, lightweight aluminium chassis, meaty aluminium swingarm, six-speed cassette-type gearbox, 17-inch wheels, fully adjustable 46mm Paioli forks and Ohlins rear shock, and Brembo brakes. Tyre sizes were 120/70 ZR17 at the front, and 180/55 ZR17 at the rear.

If only Bimota had more money, more resources and better R&D facilities, the V Due story might ended on a very different note...

With its carbonfibre bodywork and exhaust cans, Bimota claimed a dry weight of less than 150 kilos for the V Due. According to some late-1990s magazine road tests, the racy little Bimota was capable of doing the standing quarter-mile (400m) in 12.5 seconds (hitting a speed of 185km/h in the process), and had a top speed of 265km/h.

Exotic, expensive (about US$30,000 back then…) and desirable it may have been, but ultimately its high-tech engine was the V Due’s undoing. With limited resources and manpower, Bimota could never fully sort out the bike’s very inconsistent fuel-injection system and the erratic power delivery. Soon, customers started demanding that the company take the bikes back and refund their money.

This resulted in Bimota stopping production of the V Due after making only 340 units, instead of the 500 proposed earlier. And it didn’t stop at that – Bimota’s already precarious financial condition spiraled completely out of control after the V Due debacle. And even though the company tried to contain damage by fitting carburetors to some V Dues – dubbed the V Due Evoluzione Strada – the company went bust in 1999-2000, before it had a chance to sell any of those reengineered bikes.

Later, all the unsold V Dues were bought by one Piero Caronni, and for rich collectors keen on buying one, you can apparently still have one. Just right a big cheque in favour of Mr Caronni, and he’ll send an unused, brand-new Bimota V Due which you can keep in your garage for posterity. For more details, go here. And to see what Performance Bikes magazine has to say about the V Due, go here.

More Bimotas:
On a new front: The Bimota Tesi 3D
Memorable: The Bimota YB11
Racy reptile: The Bimota YB6 Tuatara
Blast from the past: The Bimota DB2
The Ducati 1098-powered Bimota DB7
Bimota SB6 vs the Suzuki GSX-R1100!
Motociclismo: Bimota DB7 road test

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