Bimota DB10 Motard | First Ride

Forbidden Fruit

By Alan Cathcart, Photography by Kel Edge

They say: “It feeds your soul.”
We say: “And eats your wallet!”

After an inevitable downturn in the wake of the global recession (2011 sales were reputedly fewer than 150 bikes), Bimota made a splash at last year’s EICMA show in Milan, Italy, by presenting two cool new streetbikes alongside its latest 600cc Honda-powered HB4 Moto2 racer. Fresh funds from backer Roberto Comini helped the boutique marque create the DB9 Brivido streetfighter powered by Ducati’s 1198 Testastretta motor, as well as a new member of Bimota’s air-cooled Desmodue family.

That’s the DB10 Motard on which I spent a summer day carving corners along the scenic Panoramica running along the Adriatic coast south of Bimota’s Rimini headquarters. This sharp-looking supermoto is based on Bimota’s established DB6 Delirio streetfighter, and uses the same air-cooled, 94-horsepower, 1078cc V-twin from Ducati’s Hypermotard 1100. This bike, however, has longer-travel suspension and all-new styling for a decidedly different look and feel. As with all Bimotas, the DB10 is handcrafted from the finest parts available including a custom steel-trellis frame, Marchesini wheels, Marzocchi fork, Brembo brakes and Arrow exhaust. Production is in full-swing at the Rimini factory, where the firm’s 30 technicians are assembling bikes for buyers in places like Brazil and China. The world has certainly changed, but it’s thanks to these emerging markets that Bimota is very definitely flourishing again.

Compared to the DB6, the DB10 is 1.6 inches taller, which made it a bit of a chore for me to climb aboard, even at 5-foot-11. Once on, I discovered a surprisingly comfortable and spacious riding position that’s inevitably pretty upright, and great for charging around the city and suburbs. The grips at either end of the off-road-style handlebar are wide-set but well-positioned, and legroom is ample thanks to the low footrests, though my boots kept slipping off them since the DB10 uses the DB6’s smooth pegs rather than more appropriate serrated dirtbike/supermoto pegs.

Firing up the Motard requires some dexterity, because the ignition key is set so deep within the slot in front of the fuel tank that it takes both forefingers to turn it. Thumbing the starter delivers glorious thunder from the dual mufflers below the seat. Bimota claims the bike meets Euro 3 noise standards, but you’d never know it from blipping the throttle! The DB10 is living proof that you don’t need outrageous power to have fun, just a well-designed bike with enough punch to entertain.

And the DB10 is certainly entertaining! Snappy and direct handling makes the Motard incredibly maneuverable, so it’s an ideal tool for tight, twisty backroads or congested city streets. It’s a class act in terms of handling that’s really responsive to rider input, and the way it flicks from side to side along a winding hillside road is magical as well as fun—you get a sense the Bimota is totally controllable, ready to do exactly what you ask of it.

Yet this isn’t just a point-’n’-squirt bike. Thanks to its relatively lengthy wheelbase, the DB10 settles into fast sweepers as if glued to the white line, though if you hit a bump cranked over the bars will shake in your hands for a moment, even with the Extreme Tech steering damper fitted. There’s quite a bit of dive under heavy braking due to the long-travel fork, plus the fact that the settings up front are softer than out back. But the biggest thing that needs attention is the brakes: They’re just too much of a good thing! Drop a disc and a caliper and the mutant Motard will still stop on a dime. Maximize the minimalism and go for it, Bimota!

The clutch pull is heavy but transmission movement is crisp, and reasonable gearing gives good acceleration and an impressive top speed. The bike pulls hard from 3000 rpm, inviting you to gas it out of turns as the front wheel lightens and lifts in a gentle power-wheelie. The full Arrow exhaust and tuned Athena ECU mean the DB10 has slightly more power than the Hypermotard 1100, but throttle response proved a little too snatchy. Bimota's engineers admit they’re still working on the final fuel map.

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