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Singing in the Rain

Here’s Massimo Tamburini getting ready to ride a prototype MV Agusta F4. As with the Ducati 916, he liked testing in the rain because the road dirt showed up where aerodynamics were less than optimum before committing to pricey wind tunnel time. While the 916 is Tamburini’s most recognised project for Claudio Castiglioni, his best-selling Cagiva 125s were what brought the money in while he perfected it. The hugely under-rated Cagiva Gran Canyon is his too.

Tamburini’s next big project was to have been the 998 that substantially updated the big desmo twin. It would have looked very different – pretty much identical to the MV Agusta F4 – had Castiglioni not sold Ducati. But Castiglioni was forced into choosing between Ducati and MV Agusta by an Italian government desperate to call in the loans they had made to him to save Ducati and, with the future of the Bologna factory secured, they wanted their money back. Rather than abandon the revival of MV, Castiglioni and Tamburini chose to save the greatest Italian motorcycle name of all time.

And it was the MV Agusta 750 F4 that was Tamburini’s favourite. “With the Ducati we already had a good base to work on,” he said in 2012. “With the MV it was a blank piece of paper and we had to create everything.” Such was his passion for the project that, when he fell ill while designing the bike, he filled notebooks with diagrams and pictures. “I was so scared I would die without designing the bike.”

While the team had used a Suzuki GSX-R motor in early prototypes by the time they were finished it was a very different power plant, including the tricky to mass produce radial valve cylinder heads.

Never just a theorist, the photo is Tamburini aboard an F4 prototype with wet weather jacket. Note rivets holding temporary headlight cover in place. It’s part of the family’s collection provided by AHerl. Full story in The Road, available from Amazon or half price in my shop or via the bio link

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