Italian motorcycle designer Massimo Tamburini has died at the age of 70 after a months-long battle with lung cancer. The influential designer was part-founder of Bimota and also worked for Ducati and MV Agusta over the span of his 30-plus year career.
In 1971 Tamburini completed his first design, a custom MV Agusta 750 Sport featuring a frame he welded himself. Two years later he joined with Valerio Bianchi and Giuseppe Morri to found Bimota, the company name a combination the first two letters of each last name: (Bi)anchi, (Mo)rri and (Ta)mburini. The three launched Bimota with the HB1 prototype (built around Tamburini’s own Honda CB750) and from there created a number of race bikes which housed OEM engines within custom-built frames.
Tamburini remained with Bimota until 1983. After leaving the company he joined with the Roberto Gallina 500cc Grand Prix team for a period but in 1985 took a job under Claudio Castiglioni at Cagiva. That was the same year Castiglioni bought then struggling Ducati. Tamburini was instrumental in reinvigorating the Italian marque, designing the Paso 750 and later the 851 and 888. Tamburini’s most famous design, Ducati’s 916, was presented in Milan in 1993.
When Ducati was sold in 1996, Tamburini remained with Castiglioni and set to work on new designs for MV Agusta. The F4 750 came out to much praise in 1997 and was followed up by the Brutale. Tamburini retired from MV Agusta in 2008 and his final design was the MV Agusta F3 675.
“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 honor amongst motorcycle’s all time greats,” stated Giovanni Castiglioni, President of MV Agusta. “His name will go down in history for his ingenious intuition and perfectionism applied to every small detail.”
Tamburini was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2013 and had been undergoing treatment near his residence in San Marino since.