The throaty roar of an inline-four, the swish of a chequered flag, the camaraderie of riding together, and the legends and their greatest hits.

Addio Massimo Tamburini

I guess you could say that this is an obituary of sorts. I would like to think of it more as a remembrance; a tribute to Massimo Tamburini, the man who gave the world more than just motorcycles. He gave us motorcycles that were the perfect combination of true art, perfection and passion.

Image courtesy MV Agusta (editorial use only)

Image courtesy MV Agusta (editorial use only)

Every one has that motorcycle. You know the one I mean.

It is the one that can make you cry with joy. Its sheer beauty is breathtaking and you can never quite explain why you love it so much.

Like the MV Agusta F4 1000. Every time I have seen it, I have been reduced to a state of complete incoherence. Sometimes, I thank the Lord that I haven’t seen the Senna edition; because I fear they would have had to put me in a strait-jacket.

What makes the F4 unique, I have wondered. Is it the stunning and distinct organ pipe exhaust system? Or the single-side swingarm? The growl of its inline-four engine? Or is it the exquisite bodywork, each part lovingly crafted, designed into a piece of art, meant to be admired, loved and treasured?

I can never really put my finger on it. All I know is that the F4 is stuff of dreams.

The man behind this stunning creation was Massimo Tamburini, an innovator par excellence, whose work resonates with motorcycle enthusiasts the world over. He was one of the co-founders and the chief designer at Bimota (the ‘ta’ stands for Tamburini), where he worked for 11 years.

In 1985, Tamburini started working for Claudio Castiglioni’s Cagiva group. It was here that he would create a motorcycle that would earn its place in the hall of motorcycle classics. The Ducati 916 was an instant success, drawing rave reviews from journalists and envious sighs from riders and aficionados. Whether it was the headlights, the tank that curved out only to curve back in, rather sensuously, the single-side swing arm, or the three-spoke rear wheel. The 916’s curves were a sight to behold, and power was not far behind. Naysayers, if there were any, were silenced after Carl Fogarty brought Ducati four WSBK championship wins with the 916 series.

The pathbreaking Ducati 916 designed by Massimo Tamborini

The pathbreaking Ducati 916 designed by Massimo Tamburini. Image courtesy Ducati (editorial use only)

The motorcycle heralded a new era for Ducati and it was a long time before the company was able to duplicate 916’s success.

Castiglioni showed immense faith in Tamburini’s talent and the designer in turn began work on the MV Agusta, which was readying for a fresh launch. It was in San Marino, near Tamburini’s home, that the legendary MV Agusta 750 F4 was born. It was released in 1998, a red-silver rocket that was as powerful as it was stunning. One of its key features was the trademark organ-pipe exhausts, four lined together under the seat. Their sound was unlike any other.

Claudio Castiglioni and Massimo Tamburini. Image courtesy MV Agusta (editorial use only)

Claudio Castiglioni and Massimo Tamburini. Image courtesy MV Agusta (editorial use only)

The motorcycle stunned the world and revived a flagging company trying to stay afloat. In so many ways, the motorcycle was a manifestation of Tamburini’s dream bike, as he put it in 1980, “The ideal one (motorcycle) would be a 750 with the power of a 1000 and the weight of a 500. You don’t need a huge amount of power on a road bike, but it’s important to have light weight as well.”

The MV Agusta F4 series are a sight to behold. Image courtesy MV Agusta (editorial use only)

The MV Agusta F4 series are a sight to behold. Image courtesy MV Agusta (editorial use only)

He retired in 2008. In November last year, Tamburini was diagnosed with lung cancer. He battled the disease, undergoing extensive chemotherapy. He died on April 6 at the age of 70.

Giovanni Castiglioni, president of MV Agusta said, “Massimo Tamburini was one of the legends of the motorcycle industry. I want to remember his passion, enthusiasm and determination. He was a great designer, but above all he was truly passionate about motorcycles. He left our company a precious heritage and will always occupy a place of honour amongst motorcycles’ all-time greats. His name will go down in history for his ingenious intuition and perfectionism applied to every small detail.”

R.I.P. Massimo Tamburini. You were the true Michelangelo of motorcycles. You will be missed.

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Categorised in: Faces, Legends, News

4 Responses

  1. A lovely article.

    A great loss to the motorcycle world. Condolences to the family.

    R.I.P Massimo. You will be missed.

  2. A heartfelt piece.

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