Common Tread

Is the T12 Massimo the world's most exclusive motorcycle?

May 13, 2016

What says "exclusivity" in the motorcycle world?

A Kawasaki H2R? Kawasaki plans to make hundreds of them.

Honda's "street-legal MotoGP bike" RC213V-S? What if your friends at the yacht club aren't impressed when they find out you paid nearly $2,000 per horsepower?

What about a T12 Massimo built just for you?

OK, now we're talking.

T12 Massimo
Unfortunately, the folks behind the T12 Massimo have totally bought in to the current Italian high style of photographing their motorcycles in complete darkness so you can't see them. I guess it builds suspense. Massimo Tamburini S.r.l. photo.

T12 Massimo
Here's a photo taken with the benefit of light, so you can see what the motorcycle looks like. Massimo Tamburini S.r.l. photo.

What is a T12 Massimo? It is a beautiful design left to us by the late Massimo Tamburini, the "ta" in Bimota and the designer behind the landmark Ducati 916 and the lovely MV Agusta F4, among others. Tamburini died of cancer in 2014, but having left the corporate world, he was working on a project unencumbered by mundane, real-world concerns such as controlling costs, meeting emissions standards or making something that could be easily mass produced. Instead, he was designing his vision of the ultimate superbike. After his death, his family carried on that vision, and this week the T12 Massimo was unveiled.

T12 Massimo
What you can do when you don't have to follow any rules. Massimo Tamburini S.r.l. photo.

Crass, penny-counting members of the proletariat that we are, let me address your first question right up front: It will cost you 300,000 Euros (about $343,000) to order one. They will be built only to fulfill orders, so expect to be prepared to make a hefty down payment.

T12 Massimo on the track
No compromises had to be made to make the T12 street-legal or easily mass produced, because it's not and it won't be. Massimo Tamburini S.r.l. photo.

Free to design what he wanted, Tamburini assembled the industry's best components, without regard to cost, built the bike as compact and powerful as he could make it, and applied his own trademark style. It's not surprising that his masterwork would return to the styling elements that he is known for. The T12 uses a steel alloy trellis frame that incorporates his patented system that allows the frame's rigidity to be adjusted. Rake, trail and triple clamp offset are all adjustable up front. In the back, the swing arm pivot bolt, link and shock absorber are all fully adjustable. The swingarm is single-sided, naturally. Like some other parts, such as the steering tube and the plates that clamp the engine to the frame, the swingarm is made of lightweight magnesium.

That flowing, Tamburini-penned body work, along with parts such as the air box and ducts, and even the fuel tank, are all made of carbon fiber to keep the weight low. The company says the dry weight is 154.5 kilograms (340 pounds). Oddly, while they tout the compactness of the bike, the wheelbase is left unspecified on the spec sheet.

T12 instrumentation
Motec instrumentation is nestled in the cockpit of the T12. Massimo Tamburini S.r.l. photo.

T12 Massimo
Tamburini chose top-level components from names you'll recognize, such as Brembo, Ohlins and Pirelli (yes, this bike comes stock on racing slicks). Massimo Tamburini S.r.l. photo.
Quality parts include the Brembo Racing four-piston Monoblock brakes, Staubli quick-disconnect brake lines, Ohlins suspension front and rear, and Motec instrumentation and electronics. Since this bike was never intended to be street-legal, it wears Pirelli Diablo SBK racing slicks in 120/70R17 front and 200/60R17 rear sizes.

Power comes from a 999 cc BMW S 1000 RR engine in superbike tune, producing a claimed 230 horsepower and exhaling through a four-into-one Arrow exhaust. The news release calls it "possibly the most refined four-cylinder engine in production today."

Will any of these bikes ever be ridden? Even started? The Tamburini family makes no pretense that this is anything other than a collector's item. Are you really going to take this to your local track day and mix it up with the punters on Suzuki GSX-R600s with zip-tied race fairings?

Tamburini motto
The tail carries the words Tamburini lived by: passion, determination, humility. Massimo Tamburini S.r.l. photo.

Tamburini's heirs founded the S.r.l., an Italian version of an LLC, to build the motorcycle and make his final vision a reality.

"This was his last concept and for this reason the family was fully committed to finalize his last dream. This is the task that has been assigned to his son, Andrea, who had worked by his side for more than 20 years, together with all the team that have been involved since the beginning to complete and honor this incredible creation."

They are calling the T12 "his last and most important project, the most exclusive motorbike ever made."

It's hard to argue the point.