Words and Photographs: Jeffrey Zani
“its main strength was the chassis, its worst failing, the fairing.” This is an extreme summary of what worked and what didn’t on the YB1, the first racing bike ever made by Bimota, a plumbing company based in the city of Rimini, Italy, that in the early Seventies decided to promote itself by creating a prototype to race in national and international races.
The remarks come from Giuseppe Elementi, the man who rode it in 1974 and finished the 350cc Italian championship in second position ahead of a certain Giacomo Agostini, who that year won his 14th world title.
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Better known as Kocis because of the somatic traits that made him look like an Apache American Indian, the Italian explains that riding the YB1 was a big pleasure for him, but the generous size of the fairing procured some problems in the bends: “Especially in the fast corners, the air kind of lifted the front of the bike, and that wasn’t good at all. I often had to keep my ass on the tank in order to put some weight on the front and turn properly”.
Elementi remembers in particular a race in Imola: “At the time there were no Esses, so you had a long straight from the Rivazza corner to the Tamburello. During one of the rounds of the Italian championship, while I’m in the middle of the Tamburello corner, I see a green-white-and-red ball close to my right knee. It was Agostini’s helmet. He was overtaking me on the outside. With that fairing, I really couldn’t do more. At the end of the race Ago came to me and made some comments about my weird riding position. I told him that he was right, but I had no choice”.
At the end, the few miles per hour that the bike gathered in the straight, thanks to the jumbo-size bodywork that fully enveloped the rider, wasn’t worth the time lost in the corners. But Massimo Tamburini, the designer of the bike, was so excited about it that he absolutely didn’t want to change it.
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