Adversity is the first path to truth, said Lord Byron, and often it can lead to improvement. So if not for the cervical hernia that Bimota’s chief engineer, Andrea Acquaviva, suffered some years ago in a bicycle racing crash, the new Tesi 3D Naked streetfighter version of the Italian boutique brand’s family of hub-center models might never have been built. But after creating the new-generation Tesi 3D, which Bimota launched in 2008, thanks to its clip-on handlebars and sportbike stance, Acquaviva found it impossible to ride his latest and greatest for more than a handful of miles without it becoming – literally – a pain in the neck.
“So I did the obvious thing and bolted on a one-piece handlebar, and that delivered a much more upright and more comfortable riding position,” says Andrea. “Paradoxically, it also made the bike considerably more controllable, and agile and, while I’m not an exceptional rider, I found myself beating my friends with it on Sunday morning rides over the mountain passes inland from here, like the Passo del Muraglione. So although we’ve built more than 100 examples of the Tesi 3D since production began in 2008, and it’s been very well received, we decided to launch a streetfighter version based on my own bike. I’ve been riding it for four years, so it ought to be properly developed.”
The Bimota Tesi followed in the tire tracks of the Honda-supported ELF GP racers of the previous decade, in seeking to break the established mold of two-wheeled chassis design – but this time for the street, not (only) for the racetrack. Around 290 Ducati desmoquattro-engined V-twin Tesi 1D hub-center streetbikes were built up to 1994, when the company opted to focus on the more conventional four-cylinder models that were its meal ticket to survival.
Back when I raced the Tesi 1D for Bimota, Acquaviva was my factory race engineer, a youthful apostle of two-wheeled alternative thought who personally built both my Tesi racebikes. Twenty years later, now aged 44, he’s the born-again Bimota company’s technical boss, having rejoined them in 2005 after seven years away. One of his first tasks was to design a modern reinterpretation of the Tesi.
“I wanted to make something quite different to the original 1D, which resolved its drawbacks,” says Acquaviva. “The most important of these was the very restricted steering lock, which made the bike quite impractical in everyday use. Next was to reposition the front shock to stop it interfering with your knee, and also to make the bike narrower, so it’s more responsive and easier to steer. I also wanted to redesign the steering system to make it more direct, as well as less bulky.”
Five years after the debut of the born-again Tesi 3D, the customer Tesi 3D Naked version of Acquaviva’s revived design appeared at last November’s Milan Show, powered by the EVO version of Ducati’s air-cooled 1100 desmodue V-twin engine, as fitted to the Hypermotard. And now it has entered production.