Bimota DB3 Mantra in retrospect

Bimota DB3 Mantra

With Phil Aynsley


Rarely has a bike been as polarizing as the Bimota DB3 Mantra, which means “thought tool” in Sanskrit! It was the company’s attempt to expand its line with a naked bike—and it was actually, by all accounts, a great ride. It also sold well by Bimota standards with 454 built.

Bimota DB3 Mantra

The design was the most radical of three presented by Yugoslav-born Frenchman Sacha Lakic after being commissioned by Bimota’s managing director, Walter Martini, to produce something “spectacular”. He was to provide the styling of the body only; the chassis was designed by longtime engineer/designer Pier Luigi Marconi.

Lakic, interviewed later, said he was inspired by Rumi’s Gobbietto – see Rumi | From submarines to motorcycles and that the production Mantra differed in several important respects from its prototype, first shown at the Cologne Motor Show in December 1994.

Bimota DB3 Mantra
Bimota DB3 Mantra

First, the Yamaha FZR600 headlight was used rather than the much smaller light fitted to the prototype, which significantly altered the lines of the fairing. Second, it was decided to split the fuel storage section of the tank into two parts allowing for a lower center of gravity.

The problem being that the tank as a whole had to be much larger to achieve the required fuel volume. Other features that ended up being used on the production bike were the handlebar mounts and walnut dash (later replaced with a plastic substitute).

Bimota DB3 Mantra
Bimota DB3 Mantra

The DB3’s chassis deviated from Bimota’s previous tubular steel spaceframe or twin-spar alloy beam designs. It used an oval-section alloy trellis whose swingarm (a mixture of square and round alloy tubing) pivoted directly from the engine cases. An off-center monoshock was used. The wheelbase was a compact 1370mm (60mm less than the Monster’s) and the dry weight 172kg. The company’s BB1 used the same basic chassis.

Ducati’s 904cc V-twin, as fitted to the 900SS and Monster, was the power plant and was used in standard trim except for Bimota’s airbox design and Mikuni carburettors 38mm. Power was 86 hp at the crankshaft. To facilitate assembly, two small 12 V batteries have been wired in parallel. A small storage compartment was provided in the rear upper part of the tank.

Bimota DB3 Mantra

Production began in late 1995, and the Mantra was priced about 15% lower than the SB6 and YB11, making it the company’s “entry level” model. All early version 404s were painted yellow, except for a small number of red motorcycles exported to Japan.

A second version (only 50 built) was made in 1998. These had a more streamlined fairing with a reshaped headlight bezel, different rear fender and mudguard, tube handlebars on the risers instead original clips and Antera three-spoke wheels. Red paint was an option. The factory also offered kits to update the first version with the new style.

The later DB4 used the same chassis as the Mantra but fitted with a more conventional body.

About Rachelle Roosevelt

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