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She’s petit, beautifully proportioned and Italian..


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"She’s petit, beautifully proportioned and Italian.."

With the benefit of hindsight this was probably not the smartest way to open a conversation (now argument) about buying a new bike with my wife. I should have opened with statements like - economical, great luggage capacity, low maintenance - but to be honest even I wouldn’t lie like that. It’s a Bimota, it’s high maintenance, infuriating and will probably end up costing much more than I’d ever imagined.

This is going to be a blog on my life with my newest acquisition a 2000 Bimota SB6 - it will hopefully keep me reminded of what a great bike it is and provide readers here with a small amount of entertainment.

I came across this bike via a biker friend group Whatsapp message with a couple of pictures, I sort of knew the owner and had met him a couple of times at biker meets. My brother had described him as a “rich bastard with a collection of exotic bikes”. Chris turns out to be a really nice guy with indeed a collection of 10 very nice bikes (a kind of 70’s kids wish list). It turns out that Chris and his wife now spend a lot of time in Australia and is thinking of thinning his collection a little. This now circles back to the initial conversation with my wife and long story short I’m now the proud owner of a Bimota SB6. 

The bike is what I would call a typical collectors bike in that it had been polished alot and not ridden much - 5500 miles in 23 years and less than 1000 in the past 10 years. That’s both good and bad but I’m being positive at the moment as the bike appears to be totally unmolested and it looks as though with some TLC it will be a very nice bike.

There are pictures of the bike in the general section of the forum before I'd got the spanners and allen keys out so I won’t repeat those here but below are some pic’s of the first stage of the strip-down - especially for those interested in pictures of naked Italian beauties I guess. 

As a reminder for me this is the winter plan of action -

Fork rebuild - probably just a flush and oil change
Rear shock rebuild - I want to DIY so I need to purchase a spring compressor and nitrogen charge kit. Other than this the job looks easy
Rebuild the carbs - the service history shows that this was done recently but ethanol can wreak havoc so better safe than sorry. Leaving the jetting standard
Sort the air filter - see pics below of the original factory filter - what a bodge
Tidy electric’s - I’m assuming that it’s a Bimota loom? It’s not too bad but needs a tidy
Install LIthium battery and modern reg/rec. I’ve used ‘Ultimate Rectifier’ reg/rec’s on my other bikes as they don’t kill lithium batteries and they also run much cooler - highly recommended
Replace fuel hoses - original are quite brittle
Stainless fasteners
Change fluids
Ride!!

Future possible upgrades -

Dymag’s - can’t decide on old skool 3 spokes or their modern design - I like both
Titanium exhausts - will need to be custom made - can anyone recommend any companies?
Dyno set-up

I’ll keep this updated as and when I make progress but as you can see it’s not a huge project..

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  • Like 9
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2 hours ago, Joseph said:

If it's been sat that long and hardly ridden overall, you'll probably want to change more than the fork oil, those seals will no doubt be on their way out soon if you put them back in motion ?

Such a cool bike though thats a nice project to enjoy

Thanks for your comment - the service history shows a recent fork overhaul including re-chromed stanchions so I'm going to leave the seal's and bushes as is :)

 

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3 hours ago, SiBag said:

Air filter wise I have a K&N panel filter on mine. Think it maybe cut down to fit. Bin the aluminium splitter on the front brake line as they fail. You can add preload etc to the front forks using fork tops etc from zx9r.

And they are ugly as sin with their clothes off....:pimp:

Thanks for the pointers! I've got a spare foam filler element from my Ktm that is pretty close to being a perfect fit. I just need to make a retainer frame and that will be job done. 

Brake line has been replaced by a previous owner..

And in terms of spring rates I weigh 75kg without gear and that usually puts me in the sweet spot for motorcycle suspension - as apparently most bikes are setup for this "typical" Western male weight. So I'm hoping Bimota do the same. 

Cheers Mike 

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19 hours ago, SiBag said:

Air filter wise I have a K&N panel filter on mine. Think it maybe cut down to fit. Bin the aluminium splitter on the front brake line as they fail. You can add preload etc to the front forks using fork tops etc from zx9r.

And they are ugly as sin with their clothes off....:pimp:

How's your ride height set on yours? My rear is backed right down and the forks are fully through the yoke - so it's a bit like a chopper. 

The previous owner said that the handling was great so I'm a bit loathe to change it before riding it but surely that can't be right?

I'm 6ft 3 so I'm thinking of raising the rear to 75% of full and dropping the forks 15mm.

I'd be interested to hear what yours is set at...

I'll also set sag at 30% and compression and rebound in the middle of their ranges and go from there. 

Cheers Mike 

 

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There very nice and niece :tu

I seam to recall a mate of mine's brother talking to a guy on the owners club stand at Stafford quite a few years ago as he was having carb issues with an aftermarket pipe  

I  remember the guy saying the airbox was a bit of a compromise due to its position he suggested a K&N panel which had to be trimmed to fit as a good starting point  

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4 hours ago, Mike990 said:

How's your ride height set on yours? My rear is backed right down and the forks are fully through the yoke - so it's a bit like a chopper.

 

There isn't a lot of adjustment at the back. You can wind the eye in and out of the shock. I was thinking of getting som dog bones made up. But the spherical bearing are a pain.

Edited by SiBag
  • Like 1
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8 hours ago, Dezza said:

6ft 3 and 75kg - that sounds like an ergonomic / suspension set-up challenge, especially on a physically small bike like an SB6 O.o

Yes true but I had an Aprilia RSV4 recently and if anything that's smaller than the SB6 and I found that very comfortable. So I'm sure that there's a setting that will work for me. I think the biggest challenge will be the amount of knee bend so as a last resort I could get some lowered footpegs - but that would be sacrilege I know.

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6 hours ago, Duckndive said:

There very nice and niece :tu

I seam to recall a mate of mine's brother talking to a guy on the owners club stand at Stafford quite a few years ago as he was having carb issues with an aftermarket pipe  

I  remember the guy saying the airbox was a bit of a compromise due to its position he suggested a K&N panel which had to be trimmed to fit as a good starting point  

Yes the airbox is an odd shape but if you like theory take a look at this site - 

https://motorcycleinfo.calsci.com/Airboxes.html

It explains the science behind airboxes and the purpose of a resonant chamber - mainly to reduce mid range flat spots and doesn't really effect top end power.

Whilst the calcs look complicated they're not really and I bet every manufacturer (even Bimota) has a computer model to determine the volume of their airboxes. So I always think a bike is better all-round with it's original airbox.

I'd hazard a guess that the pipe was causing the fueling issue.

I know that this may be a controversial opinion on a site where a lot of people binned their airboxes years ago :)

 

  • Like 1
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2 hours ago, Mike990 said:

Yes the airbox is an odd shape but if you like theory take a look at this site - 

https://motorcycleinfo.calsci.com/Airboxes.html

It explains the science behind airboxes and the purpose of a resonant chamber - mainly to reduce mid range flat spots and doesn't really effect top end power.

Whilst the calcs look complicated they're not really and I bet every manufacturer (even Bimota) has a computer model to determine the volume of their airboxes. So I always think a bike is better all-round with it's original airbox.

I'd hazard a guess that the pipe was causing the fueling issue.

I know that this may be a controversial opinion on a site where a lot of people binned their airboxes years ago :)

 

Absolutely manufactures don't spend millions on R&D for nothing :tu

  • Like 3
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20 hours ago, Mike990 said:

I know that this may be a controversial opinion on a site where a lot of people binned their airboxes years ago :)

I suspect (just my opinion) that there are two main reasons for air boxes getting binned.

  1. It look cool and racer-ish.
  2. Ramming 30-40 year old rubber onto carbs is a royal pain in the arse.
  • Like 1
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2 hours ago, imago said:

I suspect (just my opinion) that there are two main reasons for air boxes getting binned.

  1. It look cool and racer-ish.
  2. Ramming 30-40 year old rubber onto carbs is a royal pain in the arse.

Yes you are absolutely right on both counts. I wanted to bin the airbox on the SB6 (as I wanted to site the battery there) but I thought I'd read up on airbox theory first. That changed my mind and I'll now have to think of somewhere else to put the battery..

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Carbs stripped and cleaned today. They were not too bad at first look but on closer inspection they needed a bit of work -

 

The air jets and slow running jets were all slightly blocked with remains of the disintegrating airfilter element - spray solvent and an airline cleaned them out nicely

3 of the 4 slide diaphragms were distorted - whoever fitted them was heavy handed I reckon. A gentle stretch and some lanolin and they were as good as new

The jets all had signs of a very fine white fur and the float bowls were stained green (from ethanol) - a 10 min soak in acid (white wine vinegar from the kitchen) then a blow through with the airline and all looked like new again.

 

 New NRP gaskets and they’re ready to roll. I also stripped the fuel tap and cleaned with solvent and it seemed to be functioning fine but I must admit that I don’t particularly like the idea of vacuum taps so I might remove the innards and add a couple of in-line taps at a later date. Although finding space for them might be a challenge.

The float bowls are only fitted loosely in the picture below - as I’m waiting for stainless fasteners..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Like 3
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I’ve made a bit more progress over the last couple of days - the airbox and filter have been sorted. I made a frame from perspex and sandwiched a Uni filter foam filter between the existing Bimota mount and my new frame. It wouldn’t win any custom fabrication awards but it is secure, there won’t be any leaks and it will filter properly - so all good from my perspective.

The airbox as a unit is actually very well designed as it uses up all of the available space between the carbs and the exhaust system quite nicely. I’m pretty sure that you don’t have to remove the airbox to take the carbs off as it looks as though there is enough space to swing the whole lot up and away. I haven’t tried that yet but it’s worth knowing. The carbs are loosely fitted at the moment because they need to come off to remove the rear shock - my next job…

 

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  • Like 3
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A bit more progress this weekend - bike front end hoisted via garage rafters in-order to remove the fairing. It’s a 1 piece fairing and this was the only way I could figure out how to easily remove it. A bit of a faff really and I had to call my wife down to the garage to help - she’s used to getting these calls now and is getting quite good and is quite stoical about it even when I dripped hot solder on her one time :)

 

There’s a couple of pictures of the engine below and I’m amazed at how clean everything is - I don't think it has ever seen rain in its 23 years. Also a couple of pics of the Italian spaghetti wiring - to be fair it’s not too bad and just needs a bit of tidy. I don’t like the long high current cables running right up to the front of the bike but to be honest I think they’re going to have to stay as every last mm of space is used behind the engine so the battery won’t fit there..

I also stripped and flushed the forks (again with my wife helping - pushing down on the spring compressor :)) Lots of grey silvery oil but overall they are fine. New seals on-order.

 

Next job is to rebuild the Ohlins shock - can anyone recommend a Nitrogen charging kit? Everything seems to be easily available on Eblag including Ohlins needle ends but a recommendation would be very helpful. Thanks!

 

 

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  • Like 2
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Do you have to remove the front wheel in order to remove the fairing? I wonder what idjut decided the one-piece fairing was the way to go O.o. Probably the same pillock who decided that Bimota weren't going to make a frame for an oil-cooled Suzuki engine.

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Well you can usually split the bottom of the fairing and stretch it around the front wheel but on mine someone has strengthened the bottom of the fairing with a coat of fibreglass. I don't know why as there is no sign of any external damage. It's still a juggle to get is simultaneously off the lights whilst getting the forks through. I think I'll drop the forks when I put it back on as it would then be very easy (and no scratched paint) and the forks only take 5 minutes to drop. 

I don't know the answer to this - but why is there a preference for the oil cooled engine's over the water boiler's??

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  • 2 weeks later...

A few more jobs completed - fork seals changed, air gap set at 180mm and reinstalled on bike. Settings left standard: rebound 5 clicks out and compression 7 clicks out. 

Front brake calipers stripped and thoroughly cleaned - seals lightly greased with oil seal grease and reassembled. Pistons and bores look like new..

 

The threads had been stripped in the throttle switch assembly (standard Suzuki) so I drilled out, tapped and inserted m6 helicoils - now nice and tight..

Checked engine compression - all at ~ 175 psi so all good there.

Not many jobs left on my list just rear shock rebuild, and potentially change the fuel tap (but I haven’t decided 100% to change it - why change something that is working fine I keep thinking?).

I think I have spent approx 100 hours working on it so far but I have been working at a leisurely pace so no worries. I reckon another 20 hours and it will be ready for the road, so not long now! Imagine how much it would cost if I’d sent it to a professional restorer at a conservative £50/hour that would be £6k please !!! 

 

 

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  • Like 1
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