Moto CoutureBimota SpA imported only 22 motorcycles into the United States last year, but the bike brand is fully aware that individuality is relative. Under their Private Client Services division, Long Beach, California-based ArthaWorks / GP STAR has kicked off a new project that enables motorcyclist to create their ultimate bikes, built entirely to personal specifications. In much the same way that Prada or Gucci offer private services more than a notch above their ready-to-wear lineup, a thinner slice of Bimota’s two-wheeled lifestyle is now available. Think of it as moto couture, if you will-with the benefits of a full factory warranty.
The possibilities range anywhere from minor aesthetic embellishment to genre-bending mechanical reworks. "We custom design the Bimota product from stem to stern," explains ArthaWorks principal Elias Corey, who hashes out options with clients before the final design is approved. "The requests are as varied as the clients themselves," he adds,"and our job is to bring the client’s vision into reality under the technological and design focus of a marquee brand."According to technical guru Ken Zeller, who is responsible for mechanical setups,"It’s like somebody says,‘I like the Ducati Hypermotard, but everybody’s got one and I want something different.’" One recent request involved giving a Bimota DB6 the BMW GS treatment. "We added spoked wheels, a different suspension with longer travel, and bodywork that lends itself more to that kind of setup," he says, tailoring the bike to satisfy his customer’s taste for exotic-infused adventure. A stock Bimota DB7 weighs a mere 375 lbs, but ArthaWorks will happily replace the gorgeous trellis frame and swingarm with fully carbon fiber units, making it the only production bike in its class with the option. Crave more power? Upgraded engine components-ranging from pistons, heads, valves, and camshafts-create the ability to build a full AMA-spec race engine.And if you are not satisfied with the DB7’s clutch, you might prefer a Ducati Corse slipper clutch. Also up for grabs is the full spectrum of suspension modifications. If a buyer has specific brand loyalty, he can opt for units from manufacturers including Sachs, Marzocchi, Öhlins, or a brand of his choosing. "A customer might not be looking to earn his living [racing the bike]," Zeller says,"so he might not need full race suspension." But suppose you are intent on performing your best Casey Stoner impersonation-the same nitrogen-charged forks found on the Ducati Desmosedici RR can be transplanted into your DB7. Likewise, a variety of wheels can be mated to the suspension, all the way from magnesium Marchesinis to carbon BSTs, to nearly anything you can dream up. Also available are bits from Bimota’s higher-priced bikes, such as the GPS-based instrumentation found in the Oronero model that enables detailed location-based performance information to be downloaded onto a personal computer. How far can customers take their tweaked Bimotas? The sky may be the limit, but "within reason," according to Zeller. "If somebody says they want a 450-horse motor, Bimota might laugh," he says. "But the customer might say,‘I want something that puts out 180 horsepower, what do we need to get to that point?’ and Bimota will source the parts and make it happen." Off the rack, the handmade Bimota DB7 is already a trick little piece of kit. Billet aluminum and carbon fiber are used extensively, and sheathed within its carbon bodywork is the same desmodromically valved Testastretta Evoluzione engine found in the Ducati 1098. Components include Marzocchi forks, Extreme Tech rear suspension, and a hybrid chromoly trellis frame that merges with alloy plates. ArthaWorks’ first bespoke assignment was the DB7 pictured. The bike was purchased by a serial collector with an airport hangar’s worth of unique motorcycles, including a fastidiously hand-painted Y2K jet turbine bike, a row of pristine one-off choppers, and a greatest hits of boutique builders, including Ecosse and Confederate. He initially considered an off-thedeepend series of mods for his new bike and concedes that "we got a little carried away at first, and were going to do it with a Desmosedici RR motor. But I’ve already got a Desmo, and I didn’t really didn’t want to have that kind of cost in the bike." Fair enough. Because he loathes seeing a duplicate of his bike parked in front of his favorite Malibu haunt, the customer explored a full range of aesthetic mods to the DB7. Having owned exotics like the Porsche Carrera GT, Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, and the Ferrari Enzo, he envisioned a certain shade of a factory Lamborghini color-Arancio Atlas Tri-Coat, to be exact-gracing his bike. But the orange you would fi nd on a $330,000 Lambo does not necessarily translate gracefully to two wheels; the sculptural complexities of the motorcycle form-the thin armor of bodywork that shields the mechanical underpinnings, the exposed suspension components and the space between the wheel and the fender-all demand a keen eye and a deft hand, no matter how imaginative the one that doodled the initial sketch. Within two hours of conveying his idea to Corey, the client received five computer renderings of the hypothetical bike, each with slightly different applications of color. Narrowing in on his favorite combination, he picked the scheme for the orange paint. Replacing the DB7’s standard issue red, white and black finish, the new bike features upward sweeps of Arancio orange with contrasting sections of black. Taking advantage of the bike’s hand-laid carbon fiber bodywork, the paint is just translucent enough to reveal the carbon weave below.The frame is painted orange, easing the transition between the sections of bodywork and the bike’s hardware, which includes machined billet subframes, footrests, and control levers. Suspension components are now anodized black and gold. Brembo monobloc brakes and Marzocchi Corse forks rest just aft of the orange and black front fender, and the machined aluminum oval tube swingarm is also orange, framing the Extreme Tech shock. Because the stock yellow suspension coil would have distracted from the bike’s new color palate, it was also painted orange. More details reveal the degree of finesse applied to the bike’s balance of color. The Bimota logos are painted pearl white and float against the orange paint, with a more subtle contrast that is highlighted by a razor-thin metallic-silver outline. The forged aluminum alloy wheels now wear a pinstripe of orange along the outside edge, balancing the black and orange of the body. A custom Alcantara seat has also been fitted, with orange stitching that echoes the bike’s paint scheme. This one-off DB7 takes the angular lines of the stock bike and softens them with an air of elegance. It melds the block-like use of the primary color into a more fl owing, graceful series of lines that start with the poly-ellipsoid projection headlights, then extend across the faceted bodywork and the Bimota-designed exhaust, finally resolving in LED taillights. All work was contracted and assembled in Italy, and it took four weeks for ArthaWorks to deliver the completed design to the client, at which point Zeller was called upon for suspension and setup tuning.Though this particular process was conducted mostly via email and telephone, Corey says the program varies for each customer. Some buyers might prefer to arrange European delivery of their bikes, picking them up from the factory in Rimini and touring the Dolomites before returning to the States. Others will make the trek to Los Angeles and stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel or the Four Seasons, with ArthaWorks delivering the bike along with a mechanic for fine-tuning. And some might visit ArthaWorks / GP STAR headquarters at the World Trade Center in Long Beach, California, where they will encounter an environment that is dramatically different than the typical dealership. "We offer a luxury buying experience," says Corey. "It’s design sheets, champagne and espresso, versus a store lined up with 200 motorcycles."And regardless of the method of design and delivery, customers will have the reassurance of knowing that their customized bike is a factory authorized Bimota. What kind of motorcyclist indulges in ArthaWorks’ program, especially given the current economic climate? According to Corey, "It’s all high net worth individuals who place a premium on the buying experience as well as the riding. A lot of our clients are collectors that would drop $200,000 to $300,000 on a car, so this is actually a fairly economical way to enjoy Italian motoring and get something that’s completely custom tailored. Most of the clients we work with," he adds, "are flying above the clouds, fi nancially." There may be a dizzying array of builders that offer seemingly endless ways to personalize your bike, but Bimota’s move into factory authorized customs shields buyers from the sting of depreciation that plagues most aftermarket modifi cations. Enjoying a one-off, hand-built motorcycle may be unattainable for many. But for those with the means, the ultimate luxury just might be taking an already exclusive bike, tailoring it to your personal preference, and transforming it into something completely your own. FEBRUARY / MARCH 2009 ULTIMATE MOTORCYCLINGPhotography by Cordero Studios