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TEST OF TIME

Thirty years have gone by since Bimota’s YB4 was considered cutting edge, but just how far has the performance-fuelled Italian brand advanced in three decades? We paired one off against the marque’s latest BB3 to find out…

TEST

BIMOTA BB3 VS YB4

These two bikes would look more than at home under spotlights on a rotating plinth at any bike show in the world, but don’t let looks deceive you. Both machines were hand-crafted to go fast with very little thought given to any secondary concerns. That’s the whole essence of the Bimota ethos; take what’s already there and make it better, faster and sharper handling. Neither the YB4 nor the BB3 has been left wanting in that regard, with the pair arguably being among the very best motorcycles of their respective eras. But exactly how much has changed in the 30 years that came between these two exotic rockets? To find out, Bimota importer and international road racer Ben Wylie stepped in and generously allowed us to cane the living daylights out of his pride and joy motorcycles on an Oulton Park trackday. Well, when we say cane, we’re talking race track abuse, as opposed to the normal thrashings both of these steeds are subjected to by Ben when he annually campaigns on them at the Isle of Man TT (BB3 – 126mph lap) and Classic TT (YB4 – 117mph lap). If you knew little more than those lap times you’d know these bikes aren’t just all glitter and high heels; far from it.

As aged as the YB4 is, a glance at its spec sheet could get you thinking you’re looking at a model much more recent; aluminium twin spar frame, fully adjustable forks and monoshock, inline-four cylinder DOHC water-cooled engine, six-speed ‘box. It’s not the stuff that most of us associate with a classic motorcycle but that’s because back in the 80s, it was way before its time. When Virginio Ferrari ended Honda and Joey Dunlop’s five-year TT Formula 1 World Championship winning streak on his YB4 it didn’t half make the Jap manufacturers sit up and take note. It wasn’t long before they were all ripping off poor old Bimota’s idea and treating their sports bikes to ally frames, something we all ought to be grateful for. Pioneering, though, as it may be, it’s still a 30 year old bike and there are a few giveaways to this fact. Unlike most modern bikes that all have aids, the YB4’s archaic nature shows in its lack of even the most basic of niceties.

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About Fast Bikes

In this month's issue of Fast Bikes... - Johann Zarco exclusive Marquez didn't dare stay in front of me - Battling Bimotas Classic YB4 takes on the BB3 - WSB Slayer Honda SP-1 for £3.5K - Ducati 959 vs MV F3 800 etc
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