For a brand as iconic as Bimota, it’s surprisingly hard to find good images of their motorcycles. And this isn’t a real Bimota KB1—it’s a replica created using parts from the Japanese Doremi Collection custom outfitter. The original Bimota fairing is obviously gone, but the underlying aesthetics are just … right.
The KB1 was based on Kawasaki’s Z1, which first appeared in late 1972. The Z1 was one of the first true superbikes, but like most of its ilk, a bit of a handful on the limit. Bimota came late to the party, only launching its KB1 derivative in 1978, but the Bimota formula was tried-and-tested: lose weight and improve handling. The chassis was radically revised, including being shortened by 2.5 inches, and given new suspension components and steering geometry.
The modifications were remarkably effective: if the four-cylinder DOHC motor was left stock, top speed of the Bimota was around 144mph as opposed to the Z1’s 125mph. And the KB1 would run rings around a stock Z1 in the twisties. Most remarkable of all, Bimota’s extensive modifications would set you back only about 17% more than the price of a regular K1. Not surprisingly, the KB1 was one of Bimota’s most popular bikes, with over 300 sold between 1978 and 1981.
I can just imagine blasting across France on one of these on a warm autumn evening, heading to Circuit Paul Ricard for the Bol d’Or. The image below is the real deal.