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Tamburini T12 Massimo – the million-dollar motorcycle

7th May 2018 1:01 pm

Tamburini’s take on a perfect superbike was also the eccentric designer's final project before passing away in 2016.

Iconic motorcycle designer Massimo Tamburini’s final creation will soon go into production. Production of the track-only Tamburini T12 Massimo has commenced and only 12 units will be made. Each motorcycle will command a startling price tag of USD 1 million (Rs 6.6 crore), making it one of the most expensive motorcycles to ever go on sale. The final price is a ‘bit-off’ from the estimated USD 3,60,000 (Rs 2.39 crore) pricing that was reported in 2016.

The man behind the designs

Before talking about the motorcycle, let’s talk about the man behind this exquisite two-wheeled work of art and engineering. Tamburini is regarded by many experts as the greatest motorcycle designer ever, and was affectionately referred as the “Michelangelo of motorcycles”. Such high praise doesn’t seem unusual when you’re the chief designer for two of the most iconic and desirable motorcycles ever made – the Ducati 916 and the MV Agusta F4. In 2008, he parted ways with MV Agusta – a brand which was very close to his heart. He couldn’t work on a motorcycle project for the next three years, as he had signed a non-compete agreement with Harley-Davidson when the brand purchased MV Agusta in 2008.

However, the lure of motorcycles couldn’t keep Tamburini away for long. In 2012, he started working on a new project that wouldn’t be restricted by any emission norms or government policies. There was absolutely no concern for production cost or any regulations that are normally associated with road-legal bikes. The bike was named the Tamburini T12 Massimo (T stands for Tamburini, 12 was his lucky number and in addition to it being his name, 'Massimo' in Italian also means “maximum”). It was the eccentric designer’s creation to shun the norm and be the perfect amalgamation of technology, aesthetics, engineering and performance. Sadly, Tamburini succumbed in his battle with lung cancer on April 6, 2014; leaving his dream motorcycle incomplete.

It’s at this crucial juncture that his son, Andrea stepped in to complete his father’s vision. The world got its first glimpse of the Tamburini T12 in 2016, when a prototype was showcased. Finally, this exclusive motorcycle will go into production in 2018.

The superbike, itself

The styling of the bike as expected is sporty and sharp, with aerodynamics playing a vital role in its form. There’s slight resemblance between the MV Agusta F4 and the Tamburini T12, especially the cut in the fairing to expose the bike's engine case and base.

Powering the motorcycle is a (claimed) 230hp in-line-four motor sourced from the BMW S1000RR SBK, handpicked by Tamburini. According to him, the BMW engine was the best four-cylinder motor on sale at that time, especially given its performance and reliability in SBK racing. The bike tips the scale at just 154.5kg (dry weight). To keep weight under check, the headstock and the gorgeous single-sided swing-arm are made from magnesium and all the body panels on the bike are crafted from carbon fibre. Other elements contributing to its reduced weight include a custom-built titanium exhaust system from Arrow and forged magnesium wheels from Marchesini.

The bike employs a patented bespoke trellis chassis as the structural rigidity of the frame. It can be adjusted without altering any components. Details about the patented system haven’t been revealed but the brand claims that steering axis rake, trail and triple-clamps offset can be adjusted. Talking about cycle parts, it seems that if a racing team’s parts bin was raided to create this superbike. Its suspension hardware consists of MotoGP-spec Ohlins units on both ends and anchorage is provided by MotoGP-spec (for the period) Brembo’s top-of-the-line radial-mount calipers, rotors and master cylinders with quick-release lines by Staubli. It also gets Motec engine management and the instrument cluster looks like a straight lift from a MotoGP machine. Being a track-only bike, the Tamburini T12 features Pirelli slick tyres for setting some blistering fast lap times.

Given the fact that the motorcycle has been equipped with top-shelf parts, is a race-ready prototype and has the Tamburini name attached to it, the eye-watering asking price doesn’t look too outlandish. But with its astronomical price tag, it will be rare to spot the Tamburini T12 at its natural habitat – the race track. Instead, there's a rather a higher possibility will be to find one parked in a millionaire’s man cave or living room – which is a pity.

All said and done, the last hurrah of Tamburini will be something that enthusiasts across the globe will lust after and dream, just the way he would have imagined, while starting the T12 project six years ago.

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