Another EICMA show is on the horizon in Italy, so that means no sleep for the wicked and our Bothan spies, as they scour the corners of Milan for information about next year’s bikes – ahead of their official release.
Already it seems that Bimota is going to be the talk of the show, as the boutique Italian brand is making a foray into the off-road world, first with a limited-series Kawasaki-powered enduro.
Dubbed the Bimota BX450, this enduro model is an intriguing offering. The power plant comes from the 2023 Kawasaki KX450X “cross-country” dirt bike, and we can see that much of the chassis comes from the green machine as well.
That makes sense considering Kawasaki’s sizable investment in Bimota, and the obvious ability to tune an already stout package. Bimota takes the trail bike and adds a proper headlight, tail light, and larger fuel tank to the offering.
Looking beyond the surface, we understand that Bimota has also added a robust electronics package to the green machine, offering an adjustable traction control setup and selectable throttle maps.
A fatter 140/80 profile 18″ rear tire is another change, and it is mated to 80/100 profile 21″ front tire – both featuring Metzeler 6 Days Extreme rubber.
For more details, we will have to wait for Bimota’s official unveiling at the 2022 EICMA Show, but if our report of a possible ADV model is true, then it is an exciting day to see the Bimota brand getting its feet dirty.
A&R Pro Analysis:
While it is exciting to see to see Bimota getting into the off-road sector with its offering of the Bimota BX450, understanding the motorcycle’s debut takes some time. Maybe I’m still processing it, but here’s a stab:
A fair assessment of the Bimota BX540 is that it is very much a Kawasaki with tricolore bodywork, but in the same breath, one has to acknowledge that the BX450 is also a rebadged Kawasaki that doesn’t actually exist.
A chimera of the two, the Bimota BX450 offers a true enduro offering that should excite both markets, and should lineup on paper fairly well against the competition.
With that being said, I see the real play here being Kawasaki/Bimota taking a grab at KTM’s position in the enduro/dual-sport space, at the premium end of the spectrum.
The orange brand dominates this space, and no matter how hard it tries, Kawasaki is not going make a meaningful dent on KTM’s sales figures within its current brand parameters.
However, there is some validity that the Bimota brand could make a grab at the premium dirt bike sector, and this seems to be the Italian company’s volley into that space.
That notion has to come with some caveats though, with the first one being that the Bimota BX450 is not intended to be a high-volume machine. At the time of this writing, we don’t know how many units Bimota plans to make, but when a boutique brand like Bimota says something is a “limited series”, I tend to think of the number in the 10’s not 100’s.
Time will tell on this one, but I don’t see the BX450 being a big blip on the radar…at least not yet (we’ll have to see how committed Bimota is to this space, and how many resources are poured into the brand’s off-road pursuits).
No one should doubt that Bimota has a tall mountain to climb if they really want to summit the sales figures that KTM et al are capable of producing in the premium dirt bike sector (heck, in the overall off-road market itself). The biggest hurdle here is distribution, or the current lack thereof.
KTM is able to do the numbers it does because of a vast dealer network that has become experts in selling dirt bikes to two-wheeled enthusiasts. Bimota on the other hand has virtually zero distribution, and even less credibility in the off-road space.
There is a lot of heavy lifting that has to be done here to make a bike like the Bimota BX450 successful, let alone all the heavy lifting that still needs to be done for Bimota in a more general sense.
Now, if you were to tell me that Kawasaki dealers were going to start carrying the BX450 and the rest of the Bimota lineup…that would be an interesting announcement to hear at EICMA.