Farewell, Dieci

by Ed Milich

 

I just said goodbye to a former mistress today, my Bimota YB10 Dieci (“Ten”), a true alpha bitch of a motorcycle. We were together for the last five years. It’s now progressing into a new liaison with a rider in Michigan. Over the years, our relationship bridged a huge spectrum of emotions. It all started out with unbridled lust, which softened to a deep empathetic kinship. Soon, frustration, and annoyance sprang up in the relationship. Eventually, apathy was all that was left between us. At that point, it was obvious that our time together had come to an end and we separated.

The Dieci was intensely attractive. I remember first seeing the bike advertised on a popular SoCal Ducati dealer’s website. I stared at that photo every day for a week, and absolutely had to go and test ride it. I eventually gave in and bought it, as I had recently received a cash settlement from….a motorcycle accident! This machine’s beauty simply made me behave irrationally and impulsively.

The Dieci was intimidating. When I first test rode it, my anticipation quickly gave way to fear and apprehension. After 10 minutes of wheelies and warp drive acceleration, I had to pry my clenched thighs apart from its exquisitely designed bodywork. It was an intense ride. I drove it back to the dealer and gladly handed the keys back to the sales dude. This thing was simply too much bike for me. The Dieci’s performance was easily decades ahead of the older Guzzis and Ducatis I’d been riding. Still, my infatuation overpowered my apprehension and I eventually bought it.

The Dieci was a thrill seeker. When everything was working right, it was a singular, lightning fast rocket. I remember one ride on the way down the Angeles Crest Highway where I knocked off a string of apexes as effortlessly as Tiger Woods hits pars. This bike begged me to wheelie it, which was as easy as whacking the throttle open. It seemed most at home at track days, away from traffic and limited only by the rider’s fear of throwing it down and ruining its irreplaceable frame and body work.

The Dieci was fussy. After 20k miles, the atomizers in the Keihin CV carbs ovailzed, richening the mixture, and making starting and low speed behavior very frustrating. I addressed this by replacing carb parts with new items and adding (of course) titanium carb needles to help mitigate future wear issues. It didn’t run well at low speeds…or in intense heat…or in the rain, or….

The Dieci was demanding. If left alone for more than 3 weeks at a stretch, it would resist starting. This necessitated removal of the hand laid fiberglass bodywork, a well-practiced fifteen-minute ritual. This machine insisted on my attention. When it didn’t get it, it threw mechanical temper tantrums.

The Dieci was a high maintenance girlfriend. I once dared a complete sparkplug change…it only took 4 or 5 hours to change the four plugs. This required removal of the bodywork, exhaust system, and partial rotation of the engine in the frame. I dragged the bodywork at California Speedway when a fastener failed, requiring expert fiberglass repair and paint work. Another time, the front suspension exploded slick fork oil all over the tire and front end. The fork drain plug had worked loose and dumped its capacity all over my front tire during a ride. The Dieci was definitely not the bike for a mechanical novice.

The Dieci was expensive. The list price for this beauty was something around $24,000 when brand new in 1991, even though I got it for a fraction of that. Some parts of it such as the wheels, brakes, and frame were largely irreplaceable and outrageously priced. Every hand laid fiberglass or CNC’d billet component on the bike screamed “expensive”.

The Dieci was resilient. A former rider carelessly sent it sprawling down gnarly Piuma Road, a lowside event which damaged its precious fiberglass exterior and fabulous factory paint. While some minor blemishes remained, the bike persevered, and its form was undiminished by a new minimalist makeover in gloss black. Its scars revealed themselves to an attentive eye, but they did not diminish its deep overall beauty.

The Dieci was uncompromising. I once lost a chain in turn 1 at Willow Springs somewhere between 70 and 90 MPH, the result of my stupidity in adjusting it too tight. Luckily, the chain slithered off the back of the bike without holing my engine case or locking up the rear wheel. Instead, the machine indignantly spat the chain out, drawing immediate and public attention to my mistake.

Eventually, the bike got parked at the shop, a victim of my fickleness. Its registration was moved to non-operation, and I turned my favor to tamer, more amenable bikes that did not give argument at every opportunity. The bike sat stoically in its long term parking and from time to time called to me with its stony stare. We both knew that no other machine could give me what it gave me.

In truth, any modern literbike such as an R1 or GSXR would leave it in a trail of carbon monoxide on the track or on a dynamometer. The Dieci’s design is now beginning to show the bulk of middle age. It is, after all, almost twenty years old, and any modern machine easily has twenty kilos less corpulence than the old beauty. Still, on the street, it was a formidable enough challenger. With the right rider, and within the limits of prudence, there was no other couple that could out dance my dark princess and I.

It’s time to end a relationship when the negative aspects are the first ones that come to mind. Similarly, it’s time to sell a bike when your normal description of it begins with the phrase “ The damn thing…” . So now I say goodbye to my old temperamental love, my imperfect Ten. The Dieci is going to live with a German engineer in the Detroit area. He’ll need that engineering degree and a fat paycheck to keep that temperamental bitch happy. Still, I will miss her, and I will occasionally reflect longingly on the time that she and I spent together. Farewell, my Dieci.