The Morbidelli V8 is probably one of the most unfairly maligned motorcycles in history. When launched in 1994 the original Pininfarina styling (swipe left) was ridiculed, especially by smart Alec journalists who were all sports-replica-mad and unable to afford the asking price – almost three times what a 916 cost, although for a hand built, limited edition, V8 that seems almost cheap. And then the Cassandras continued to moan that it was “only” 847cc and “only” made 120bhp, even if admitting that a weight of less than 200kg was impressive. But not with the bug eyed two tone Pininfarina styling.
So Giancarlo Morbidelli passed the project to Bimota to develop and revisit the styling. Having sat on it (see a previous post) in the Morbidelli museum I’m not surprised Bimota was also developing what would become the BMW K1200RS. The result is slightly bland styling but, according to those who have ridden it, fulfilled Giancarlo’s dream of a motorcycle that felt like it had an electric motor but a motorcycle’s soundtrack.
Despite the price and the need to return it to Morbidelli for servicing, a healthy order book followed, mainly from the UK and Germany. But, having built just three, Giancarlo sold his business and with it the V8 project died. The new owners wanted his woodworking machinery business but knew nothing about motorcycles. Giancarlo tried a few alternative avenues but it the end decided to move on and focus on his museum, which would be home to one of the V8s. He kept one other to ride himself, and sold the final one to the Barber Museum, having enjoyed spending time with George Barber’s race team. For fans of Italian exotica that’s a shame, only the second Italian V8 motorcycle to be built, decades after the Moto Guzzi GP bike
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