Tamburini T12 Massimo - FIRST LOOK

The world’s ultimate Italian track-day bike.

Massimo Tamburini died two years ago on April 6, 2014, but his spirit and his creative passion are still alive today. Like any real genius, Tamburini left a legacy that today materializes in his most refined and precious, no-compromise superbike ever. Thanks to the dedication of his son Andrea, who has created two working prototypes of the T12 Massimo (T stands for Tamburini, 12 was his lucky number and Massimo in Italian it also means “maximum”).

T12 Massimo superbike static side view
The T12 Massimo is about the same scale as a 500cc GP racer of yore.Bruno dePrato

During his quest for the perfect superbike, Tamburini was never allowed to fully express his creativity, due to budget limitations, and by tightening homologation rules. But he continued to nurture his "ultimate project" in his mind. When he quit MV Agusta in December of 2008, he was tagged with a three-year non-compete clause, forcing him to work on this project on his own.

Computerized models and simulations followed sketches and preliminary drawings, while finite elements structural analysis of every single aspect of the chassis was made in order to optimize weight in relation to its structural function.

Tamburini T12 Massimo static rear 3/4 view
Aerospace carbon-fiber is used for the body panels and seat structure.Bruno dePrato

Tamburini’s goal was to make the best-handling, safest, lightest, and most compact motorcycle in the superbike class, ever. No compromises anywhere, no concerns about price or homologation for street use, it would be a pure, race-ready bike, completely free from all limitations, as his creative spirit was.

RELATED VIDEO: A closer look at Massimo Tamburini's ulimate creation.

Powering his creation is the BMW S1000RR's inline-four, a configuration that he was the most fond of. And which at the time of the start of his project was the most advanced and powerful engine in the superbike class.

Tamburini T12 Massimo front brakes details
MotoGP-spec brakes with Staubli quick-release lines are used.Bruno dePrato

I personally saw the bike progressively taking shape in the surgically clean and perfectly organized shop down on the first floor of his beautiful villa up in the hills of the Republic of San Marino. I think it was New Year’s Eve of 2012, while his dear wife Pasquina and my wife Mary were decorating the table for our dinner and (sober) celebrations, he showed me a couple of sketches, a frame-welding jig, and a BMW engine next to it. He knew that I would keep my mouth shut for as long as he requested. He confirmed that, on the basis of his rich experience, he was going to experiment with some innovative frame geometry and, equally important, with a structural solution (duly patented) that would allow the rider to easily alter the lateral flexional rigidity of the frame in order to adapt to his riding style and/or to the characteristics of the track.

Tamburini T12 Massimo engine details
The donor engine is BMW’s SBK-Spec S1000RR unit.Bruno dePrato

Tamburini worked hard on the project for a couple of years, on his own, with only the assistance of his son Andrea, a couple of young engineers, and a composite-materials specialist. He would have no problem setting up the jig, cutting and welding the tubing as he had been masterfully doing for all his years at Bimota. Even later in life, he was never afraid to get his hands dirty.

RELATED VIDEO: CPC, a factory based in Modena, created the unique components for the T12 Massimo Superbike.

A year later on New Year’s Eve, I saw the frame in its final form, tightly wrapped around the BMW engine, and complete with the rest of the chassis’ main components, all of the highest “racing quality” available from Öhlins, Brembo, and Marchesini. It was just so compact and tight. The frame a typical Tamburini, small diameter steel-trellis tubing structure built to the essential minimum, and integrated by light-alloy castings.

Tamburini T12 Massimo cockpit view
The cockpit gives a good view of the racing-spec Öhlins fork.Bruno dePrato

After that one, there were no further New Year’s dinners for the four of us. Massimo was not feeling well. With his customary titanic determination he set himself on a very tight schedule to complete the final phase of his creation: finalizing the styling by translating the computerized design into the life-size mockup. Hand forming the clay himself, with immense passion and elegant ability. He worked an average 12 hours a day, always keeping his spirit high and determined. He was able to complete the work in less than a month; he had the clear perception that his time was running short.

Then he handed the prototype over to his son Andrea, who defined and validated all the components and the tooling, following Massimo’s instructions precisely to obtain tolerances worthy of aerospace construction. Thanks to his competence and hard work, everything is ready for production. And the bike is just as Tamburini designed and defined it: what he felt would be the most exclusive, most sophisticated, most elegant, racetrack-ready superbike ever produced.

Tamburini T12 Massimo rear suspension details
A race-spec Öhlins shock and billet-aluminum link are things of beauty.Bruno dePrato

The T12 Massimo is about the size of the final generation of 500cc two-stroke GP racers, and incredibly light at 340 pounds dry. No street-legal, homologated version is planned. BMW Motorrad promised Tamburini that they would supply the 230 horsepower version of its S1000RR engine. “Hotter” versions of this engine could be available for “racing purposes only.” There is also talk that if an adequate number of units were built there could be a T12 Massimo Trophy series.

This final and exclusive creation of Maestro Massimo Tamburini, also automatically qualifies it as a top collectible that can legitimately sit in the dining room of a rich collector. All body components, from the fairing to the self-supporting tank and seat, are made from aerospace-grade carbon fiber. The carbon fiber is treated with a very exclusive lacquer that adds a touch of dark green and golden sparkles to its texture. Carbon fiber is also used in the construction of the airbox and its dynamic air intake and runners.

Tamburini T12 Massimo swingarm details
All castings are of magnesium, including the Marchesini wheels.Bruno dePrato

The frame structure integrates the chrome-moly steel tubing with the steering head; the rear plates clamping the engine and securing the swingarm spindle, the single-sided swingarm, rear-wheel hub, and sprocket carrier. All made from magnesium castings. Wheels are Marchesini forged magnesium units, but Andrea is also considering carbon-fiber wheels that would bring the bike’s weight down to 330 lbs. Fork and monoshock are Öhlins GP units. Brembo supplies its top-of-the-line radial-mount calipers, rotors and master cylinders, with Staubli quick-release brake-line connections.

Andrea Tamburini assembled two working prototypes, one was secretly tested by old friend Luca Cadalora who gave it a full thumbs up in terms of the dynamic qualities of the bike, though it still is in its very early development stages. Andrea formed the Massimo Tamburini srl (Ltd.) with capital undersigned by the four members of the Tamburini family, plus two external partners. Andrea defined and validated all tooling, and molds: assembly tolerances will not exceed 5/100th of a millimeter anywhere, and all the chassis components will be the same GP-spec quality as shown on the prototypes.

Tamburini T12 Massimo exhaust details
MotoGP-style exhaust exits out the side of the fairing.Bruno dePrato

The bikes will be built on demand only, and sold at a price announced at 300,000 euros. An adequate down payment must accompany the order. While looking at the T12 Massimo I had a dream that if the financial situation at Bimota were adequate—the firm founded by Massimo Tamburini—it would acquire the whole project and tooling to produce the T12 Massimo, under the supervision of Andrea Tamburini. Then the circle would be closed. And also the old wounds that Massimo suffered when he was ousted from Bimota by one of his partners would be closed. Now I’m getting sentimental here.

BORE 80mm
STROKE 49.7mm
INDUCTION 4-valve per cylinder
COOLING by fluid
POWER 230+ hp
LUBRICATION forced, wet sump
EXHAUST SYSTEM T 12 4-into-1 by Arrow
CLUTCH oilbath
GEARBOX 6 speed, quick shift race type
FRAME high tensile steel tubing trellis with cast magnesium plates
FRONT BRAKE Brembo Racing
FRONT CALIPERS GP type, four pistons P4.34/38 Monoblock radial mount with fluid lines Staubli quick release connection
FRONT ROTORS 320mm steel
REAR BRAKE Brembo racing
CALIPER GP type, monoblock P2.34
REAR ROTOR 218mm steel
FRONT WHEEL forged magnesium 3.50/17 MFR
REAR WHEEL forged magnesium 6.00/17 MFR
FRONT RADIAL Pirelli Diablo SBK racing 120/70-17
REAR RADIAL Pirelli Diablo SBK racing 200/60-17
TRAIL adjustable
DRY WEIGHT 340 lb.