Bimota DB5S Motorcycle - The 12 Bikes of XXXMAS

Sensible Excess

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Bimota

The Bimota badge has stood for many things since Valero Bianchi, Giuseppe Morri and some guy named Massimo Tamburini merged the first two letters of their last names to create it. Exclusivity. Individuality. Eccentricity. Joyous excess. The DB5S is all that. But if you hold your head just right and squint, there's a glint of sporting practicality in there too-more than you might expect from a $26,000 limited-production Italian wrist rocket. But like most adjectives, practicality is relative. Wielded with sufficient skill and the right inflection, it's surprisingly powerful. Especially when you're trying to coerce S. Claus into rolling one of these into your living room on Christmas morning.

Compared to a Diavolo Rosso or 1098R, it's a bargain. Okay, so it's also almost $10,000 more than a standard 1198 and not nearly as fast. Who cares? You'll meet a few dozen 1198s on any stretch of twisty pavement before seeing another DB5. Why? It's tragically underrated, and skewed toward the attainable end of any International Exotica Continuum. Most well-off sportbike fans cue up and go straight to the top of the food chain: DB7, DB6R, DB6 Delirio and maybe DB5R on a slow day at the office. That's sad, because to anyone lucky enough to have flung one through a series of bends, the simplest Bimota just might be the best.

It's all about balance. Ducati's venerable air-cooled 1078cc twin will not punt you into the next corner with the steam-catapult urgency of, say, a 1098R. But it will lay down a steady stream of midrange torque through the most deliciously convoluted corners on your map. When housed in Bimota's sharp-steering fusion of mitered steel tubes and billet-aluminum side-plates, the Desmodue lump turns that torque into enough cornering speed to leave infidels on overpowered Japanese literbikes wondering, "What was that thing?"

Slotting in just below the more warlike monoposto DB5R, the S evolved from Bimota's DB5 Mille. Weighing in at an alleged 392 pounds dry-19 lbs. heavier than the R-it comes with all the right stuff: fully adjustable 50mm Marzocchi fork followed by an Extreme Tech shock complete with remote spring-preload adjuster. On top of that, you have actual passenger accommodations. That's handy for carrying the occasional passenger, and crucial if said passenger's name appears next to yours on a joint checking account. Even if you never go farther than Starbucks two-up, one chunk of upholstered foam and two aluminum pillion pegs just might make the difference between deal and no deal when Santa's cursor comes to your name on the naughty/nice spreadsheet.

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