1996 BIMOTA DB 3 MANTRA SPECS AND REVIEWS
Engine and transmission
|Displacement||904.0 ccm (55.16 cubic inches)|
|Engine type||V2, four-stroke|
|Power||80.0 HP (58.4 kW)) @ 7000 RPM|
|Torque||92.0 Nm (9.4 kgf-m or 67.9 ft.lbs) @ 5700 RPM|
Chassis, suspension, brakes and wheels
|Rear brakes||Single disc|
Physical measures and capacities
|Dry weight||172.0 kg (379.2 pounds)|
|Power/weight ratio||0.4651 HP/kg|
|Seat height||790 mm (31.1 inches) If adjustable, lowest setting.|
See Maintenance Specs*
*Always verify maintenance and service data with the bike owner’s manual.
MORE PHOTOS OF BIMOTA DB 3 MANTRA
PRICE AS NEW AND USED OF BIMOTA DB 3 MANTRA
Private Price Guide
Price as new
REVIEWS AND COMMON PROBLEMS WITH 1996 BIMOTA DB 3 MANTRA
BIMOTA DB 3 MANTRA Review
There are few marques that can compete with the elegance and desirability of Bimota motorcycles for any Italophilic sport rider. Bimota has earned its reputation for manufacturing some of the most delectable two-wheeled exotica in the world by assembling world-class sport vehicles around proven, bought-in powertrains since their lucky decision to start building bikes instead of HVAC equipment in 1972. They are one of the few businesses that can take top-tier engines from already capable motorcycles and make those donor bikes look staid, slow, and uninteresting in comparison to what the folks in Rimini have been throwing together in their embarrassingly small “factory” since the Nixon era.
One of those machines is not the DB3 Mantra. It was never meant to be that way. The Mantra is one of Bimota’s most notable blunders, an attempt to break into a larger market that failed to gain over many admirers. It was pricey and has some of the most divisive styling ever put into production. It was also one of the most usable real-world street bikes the business had ever created, a feature that was missed in the never-ending flood of negative feedback that has hounded the Mantra since its debut in 1994.
Bimota was supposedly on a roll in the mid-1990s, producing more units per year than anyone could have imagined back in the 1970s and 1980s, when they were selling more all-assembly-required chassis kits than entire motorcycles. By the early 1990s, the company had stretched their resources to the limit in the development of their flagship Tesi platform, which had been met with a resounding “meh” from buyers who were happier to puzzle over the workings of the hub-centre front suspension from afar than to actually put money down on what was a horrifyingly expensive engineer’s wet dream. General Manager Walter Martini spearheaded a new strategy to broaden the model range with a series of conventional (at least in comparison to the Tesi) machines that would be easier and cheaper to build, allowing the company to broaden its market share and increase production to previously unfathomable levels – in Bimota’s case, more than 1000 units annually.
Bimota appeared to be growing at an exponential rate beginning in 1993. New models powered by Ducati, Suzuki, and Yamaha engines were sprouting, and the firm appeared to be on the verge of transitioning from boutique builder to true (although small-scale) mass production. However, all of these machines remained hard-core sportbikes with varied levels of extra performance on tap, balanced by occasionally sloppy manufacturing quality and poor setup. Of course, this was not out of character for Bimota, which had built its reputation on devoted race machinery and uncompromising, barely-streetable sportsters that frequently required extensive fettling to run correctly. Bimota management determined that continuing to do what Bimota did best, with all the baggage it carried, was not going to cut it, and that a new bike with more relaxed dynamics was required to complete out the expanding model range. It would be Bimota’s version on a sports roadster, a laid-back vehicle that would provide their clients with a more comfortable ride while ostensibly keeping Bimota’s traditional qualities (superb chassis, top-notch components, third-party engines, quirky designs, and questionable reliability). In other words, they needed to sell more bikes and make some concessions to attract a new group of purchasers.
Sacha Lakic, a Yugoslav-born designer who grew up in France, was tasked with designing the new machine. Lakic was no stranger to motorcycle design, having acquired a good reputation for creating avant-garde concept vehicles for a number of companies. He began his career in the automotive industry, working for Peugot under the great Paul Bracq and developing his first two-wheeled vehicle after joining the Alain Carré design studio in 1986. It was then that he conceived of the Axis 749, a modified Yamaha FZ750 made in collaboration with Toulouse-based Boxer Bikes, with whom he would work on a number of future projects.
Lakic became the head of design for MBK-Yamaha in 1988, following a sequence of acquisitions and mergers that ended in Yamaha obtaining a controlling position in the French firm MBK Industrie (néé Motobécane) in 1986. By the late 1980s, MBK-Yamaha was focused on making small displacement scooters, and Lakic established a reputation as a talented designer with a series of eye-catching, modern designs that culminated in the Black Crystal concept, which was exhibited at the Paris Motorshow in 1993. The Black Cristal, a carbon-fibre monocoque sport scooter with crisp, organic style, would prove to be the modern sport scooter’s birth, with aesthetics that would set the template for many versions that would follow in the 1990s and 2000s.
Following the success of his work for MBK-Yamaha, Lakic established his own design company in Paris and quickly began selling his skills to other businesses. Bimota executives had taken note of Lakic’s work for MBK and hired him to assist with the upcoming DB3 project. Bimota effectively gave him free rein; the company’s marketing manager ordered him to create something “amazing” to make the DB3, the first naked Bimota, a true attention turner. The sole restriction was that Lakic would only be responsible for the bodywork and aesthetics, and that the chassis would be created by Pier Luigi Marconi, Bimota’s gifted long-term engineer/designer and father of the Tesi.
Bimota had always relied on in-house designers such as Marconi to offer chassis and aesthetic design for its machines. While Marconi would once again provide the machine’s bones, Lakic was tasked with devising the style. It was billed in the press as the first of numerous machines designed by Lakic for the boys in Rimini, but it was eventually the first and only machine he designed for Bimota.
While Bimota built its name with steel tubular spaceframes before transitioning to twin-spar alloy beams with the YB4, the DB3 would use a new frame design that shared its architecture with the BMW (Rotax) powered BB1 Supermono that would eventually be debuted alongside it. The swingarm pivot would be supported only by the crankcases of the air-cooled Ducati engine, which would be welded into a trellis that cradled the engine in a semi-stressed arrangement. The resultant frame weighed only 11 pounds and was sturdy enough that DB3 riders never complained about it (or the later DB4 which shared the same underpinnings). The swingarm was made out of square and round alloy pieces that were triangulated up to a straight-rate rear monoshock offset to the right side to clear the rear cylinder head of the 90-degree twin.
The Bimota-signature 43mm Paoli conventional fork was used up front, with an adjustable-length Paoli shock in the rear. Despite being an entirely new design, the chassis geometry was nearly identical to that of the steel trellis-framed DB2: 54 inch wheelbase, 24 degrees of rake, and 3.6 inches of tail. The design shared 17-inch Marchesini three spoke alloy rims with the Ducati 900SS, which donated its engine. Brembo Goldline brakes were used throughout, with four-piston axial-mount P4 calipers biting 320mm cast iron full floating Brembo discs up front and a twin-piston caliper with 230mm rotor at the back.
The engine chosen for the DB3 was an unmodified air-cooled 904cc SOHC Ducati twin from the modern 900SS, the same one that had been widely lauded in the DB2. The evergreen 92x68mm twin was fueled by a pair of 38mm Mikuni carburettors with a proprietary airbox design in Bimota form. This version produced a stated 86 horsepower and 66 lb/ft of torque at the crankshaft (usually in the 70 hp range measured at the wheel), which were as close as practicable to the 900SS values. Anyone who was dissatisfied with the powerplant should have addressed their rage upon Ducati, not Bimota. Alternatively, whoever was in charge of spec’ing the carburettor arrangement at the manufacture.
Lakic eventually supplied three sketches to Bimota: the first was a Tesi-based machine, the second was a “radical” design based on Marconi’s DB3 chassis, and the third was a more conservatively styled DB3. Bimota chose the “radical” DB3 sketch as the foundation for the Mantra. At Bimota, Lakic began shaping his design, earning the nickname “Michelangelo” for his use of modeling clay to mold the mockup.
The DB3 Mantra (called after the Sanskrit term for “instrument of mind” or some such ambiguous translation that would offer fodder for awkward analogies from moto journalists for years to come) caused a lot of debate when it was revealed in December 1994 at the Cologne motorcycle salon. It was and still is one of the most divisive motorbike designs ever created. While the chassis and engine were nothing out of the ordinary, Lakic’s styling was so much out of the ordinary that it elicited either admiration for its bold design or total revulsion at the strange forms – with little in between. The Mantra evolved into a quintessential “love it or loathe it” design that revealed the intrinsic conservatism that pervades the motorcycle business. Regardless of the reactions it elicited, to Lakic and Bimota’s credit, the Mantra did not go ignored.
The form was extraordinarily organic, with a low profile that narrowed into a square headlight encased in a bezel inspired by a Ferrari Daytona’s nose. The bodywork looked to flow from the headlight straight back into the seat, enclosing the steering head and creating the odd proportions of the Mantra.
The 16-litre fuel tank was split into wings that flanked the frame, ostensibly to lower the center of gravity and offer more room for the 900SS’s long-runner downdraught intakes while maintaining a low look. The electrical system was powered by a pair of 12 volt batteries wired in parallel and mounted above the front cylinder behind the oil cooler, with the intake runner passing between them, because Bimota felt that a single battery would be insufficient for the application and that two smaller units would be easier to incorporate into the design. Running two 6 volt batteries in series to power a 12 volt system was a peculiar Bimota trademark on previous models, but the Mantra seemed to update the odd technique. A small glovebox was built into the back of the tank, forward of the seat. To achieve the required upright seating position, clip-ons were put above the top triple on four inch risers. An extravagant burlwood dash panel with an analogue speedometer and tachometer encased in carbon fiber binnacles topped off the cockpit. Despite the fact that there are only two cylinders, Lakic decided to install four exhaust canisters. A swoopy bellypan and body-colored rear hugger completed the truncated bodywork, which was neither wholly bare nor fully enclosed, allowing a glance into the machine’s mechanical workings but also providing some modest wind protection.
The Mantra concept was a show stopper that got a lot of heads wagging. Onlookers’ interest was peaked, but most were unaware that this was no frivolous styling exercise – it was, more or less, the bike Bimota wanted to put into production. Lakic adds:
“I believe Bimota chose this style for its potential media impact more than for commercial considerations.” Bimota never intended to produce a huge number of this equipment; their production capacity was fairly limited at the time. However, whether a large production or not, concessions are necessary in order to optimize the price of the bike. Overall, the Mantra was extremely well executed and reflected well on the brand; nevertheless, some of the technological choices pulled down the outside aesthetic in my opinion, despite the fact that I completely understand this technical approach.
My first deceit was the installation of a Yamaha FZR600 headlight (for the production version and US certification), which was twice the size of the light on the prototype displayed in Cologne. The prototype’s light allowed for a much more sweeping and dynamic upper line. The decision by Marconi to produce the body by rotomoulding, allowing for lateral fuel tanks on both sides, was another disappointment (there was a small trunk in the middle). It was a brilliant idea in and of itself because it significantly decreased the center of gravity (the bike was incredible to ride, so agile and dynamic), but the difficulty was that the body had to be inflated on both sides in order to achieve a sufficient volume of petrol. This produced a significantly broader bike than I had anticipated. Other finishing details, such as the handlebar mount and the dashboard in wood, were also very disappointing for this motorcycle. I think I was too young and inexperienced to exert my authority.”
In addition to Marconi’s changes, a few minor elements were changed during the production process. The glovebox in the tank was expanded to accommodate something larger than a passport. The front’s sporty full-floating cast-iron Brembo discs have been replaced with more forgiving semi-floating stainless steel units (shared with contemporary Ducati models). The walnut dash was replaced with cheesy burlwood-patterned plastic from a mid-1990s Japanese car, which should withstand the elements better than genuine wood. Aside from these changes, Lakic’s wild styling remained mostly intact, and production began in earnest in September 1995.
Aside from the inevitable barbs at the odd appearance, reviews were overwhelmingly positive for the new machine – despite multiple short-sighted attacks of the styling, no one argued that it wasn’t a head turner and that the Mantra frequently drew the notice of inquisitive bystanders on every trip. Even though the front forks lacked adjustability and the damping was on the firm side, Marconi’s chassis produced great characteristics, with decent steadiness from the Paoli components for most testers (an optional fork kit was available that offered titanium-nitride sliders as well as preload and compression adjustment). While the low-hanging exhausts and footrests prevented supersport lean angles, the Mantra’s astonishing 400-ish pound wet weight and DB2-esque geometry made it far more capable on a twisty road than its fashionista-baiting appearance would have implied. It was also comfortable, with a decent seat and high clip-ons that allowed riders to adopt a neutral seating position with a small forward lean, somewhere in between a streetfighter and a roadster. An optional windscreen installed above the instrument binnacles provided adequate weather protection for most riders, but it disrupted the elegant sweep of the front fairing and made the front end appear ungainly. Comparisons to the Ducati Monster were unavoidable, and most felt that the DB3 provided superior handling and comfort if you were willing to overlook the large price difference.
Aside from the typical Bimota oddities (electrical issues, exquisite components let down by occasional lapses in build quality, and a complete disregard for ease of repair or access to the machine’s inner workings), the Mantra appeared to be the best all-arounder Bimota had ever put into metal. The ambition of creating a Bimota that you could ride every day was accomplished – provided you could ignore the expensive price tag, that is. In 1996, a Mantra would cost $19,000 USD, but by the following year, the price had dropped to $17,000 USD. This was around 15% less than the flagship SB6 and YB11 models with which it shared showroom space, making the DB3 a true “entry level” machine for the company. However, it was roughly twice the price of the 900SS from which it borrowed its engine. In exchange for your costly expenditure, you did get a three-year warranty, back when most Japanese manufactures would only offer you a year before telling you to pound sand. You’d never want to deal with Bimota’s parts and service network, especially Bimota’s parts and service network from the mid-1990s.
The tried-and-true Ducati engine delivered its usual appealing flavor, with a smooth and midrange-focused powerband and a comfortable six-speed transmission marred only by the notoriously grabby, noisy, and weak dry clutch. The DB3 had the same breathless feel at higher revs as any other carburetted air-cooled Ducati, the result of keeping the extra-long intake runners found on the SS and Monster, which improved torque but starved the two-valve heads at higher engine speeds. Regardless of its lack of raw horsepower, the 904cc mill served the Mantra well and provided the kind of relaxed real-world performance that was appropriate for a sports roadster, with a top speed in the vicinity of 125 mph.
Lakic summarizes the Mantra and its dynamic properties succinctly:
“The Mantra was a Naked Sport Tourer for me.” And it really was like that – amazing efficiency on little mountain roads as well as through long turns at high speeds. None of my pals on the Monster (same engine) could keep up with me in any of these two terrains.
BIMOTA DB 3 MANTRA First Impressions
Rarely has a bike sparked as much controversy as the Bimota DB3 Mantra, which translates as “instrument of mind” in Sanskrit! It was the company’s attempt to broaden its portfolio with a naked bike – and by all accounts, it was an amazing ride. It also sold well by Bimota standards, with 454 units produced.
The design was the most radical of three proposed by Yugoslav-born Frenchman Sacha Lakic after he was commissioned by Bimota’s General Manager Walter Martini to create something “extraordinary.” He was only responsible for the external styling; the chassis was designed by long-term engineer/designer Pier Luigi Marconi.
Later, Lakic says he was influenced by Rumi’s Gobbietto – see Rumi | From submarines to motorbikes, the production Mantra differed in several significant ways from his prototype, which was first presented at the Cologne Show in December 1994.
To begin, the headlight from the Yamaha FZR600 was utilized instead of the much smaller light fitted to the prototype, which significantly altered the lines of the fairing. Second, it was decided to divide the tank’s fuel-holding section into two sections to provide for a lower center of gravity.
The issue was that the tank as a whole needed to be substantially broader in order to hold the appropriate volume of fuel. Other innovations that made it onto the production bike included handlebar mounts and a wood dashboard (later changed to a plastic substitute).
Bimota’s prior tubular steel space frame or twin-spar alloy beam designs were replaced by the DB3’s chassis. The swingarm (a mix of square and round alloy tubes) pivots directly from the engine crankcases, thanks to an oval-section metal trellis. A monoshock that was off-center was employed. The wheelbase was 1370mm (60mm shorter than the Monster’s) and the dry weight was 172 kg. The same basic chassis was utilized by the company’s BB1.
Apart from Bimota’s original airbox design and 38 mm Mikuni carbs, the power unit was Ducati’s 904cc V-twin, as seen on the 900SS and Monster. At the crankshaft, power was reported to be 86 horsepower. Two small 12 V batteries were linked in parallel for convenience of mounting. A tiny storage box was included in the tank’s upper rear.
Production began in late 1995, and the Mantra was priced roughly 15% lower than the SB6 and YB11, making it the company’s ‘entry level’ model. Except for a small number of red motorcycles sold to Japan, all 404s in the original edition were coloured yellow.
In 1998, a second version (limited to 50 units) was produced. The fairing was more streamlined, with a redesigned headlight bezel, a revised rear mudguard and hugger, tubular handlebars on risers instead of the original clip-ons, and three-spoke Antera wheels. There was the option of using red paint. The factory also provided kits to convert the original version to the new appearance.
KNOWN 2015 BIMOTA DB 3 MANTRA MODIFICATIONS AND TUNING
Modification 1 - Bimota DB3 Mantra MAGNUM BrutaliTune Tunable Motorcycle Performance Exhaust Muffler
The BrutaliTune tunable motorcycle exhaust has been specifically developed to allow your Bimota DB3 Mantra to provide maximum power output gains. It outperforms any other high-flow bike pipe currently available on the market. Its Triple Perf-Tube technology, which includes tunable rotating disks, enables fine-tuning of output delivery for various types of riding and terrain. One of the most successful improvements powersport and automotive enthusiasts make to their vehicle, regardless of vehicle type, is the exhaust. It’s one of those things that gives you instant gratification; slam the throttle and listen to the exhaust sound come to life. Unlocking a stock exhaust system greatly increases engine performance. Mufflers, resonators, headers, and entire exhaust systems all contribute to the overall sound, performance potential, and restriction of the vehicle. This high-flo exhaust pipe is designed to boost engine air flow. Bimota DB3 Mantra BrutaliTune Tunable Motorcycle Performance Exhaust Muffler High Notes Tunable Motorcycle Performance Muffler Knowledgeable in both racing and tuning. On stock bikes, this Bimota DB3 Mantrahigh flow performance exhaust can offer 7% more horsepower and torque in the low range. What if your Bimota DB3 Mantra is already adjusted, or if you intend to tune it later? The gas restriction of your non-tunable exhaust will no longer be optimal. The BrutaliTune is your best bet if you want a powerful engine with great engine response across the rpm range and no flat spots. Non-tunable exhausts are good for light tweaking, but they don’t offer as many performance and sound options as our Bimota DB3 Mantra tunable motorbike performance muffler. This customizable high flo exhaust pipe is not designed to be installed into your Bimota DB3 Mantra. It is installed with a universal Weld-on assembly that may necessitate exhaust modification. Please compare the measurements of your factory exhaust muffler to the BrutaliTune specs before making your order, or contact our Product Specialists 7 days a week.
Get it here:
Bimota DB3 Mantra MAGNUM BrutaliTune Tunable Motorcycle Performance Exhaust Muffler (magnumtuning.com)
Modification 2 - Brembo 78B40870 Serie Oro Bimota Db3 Mantra
Brembo Serie Oro drilled brake discs have the same dimensions as the vehicle’s Original Equipment discs and are fully compatible with its hubs, brake calipers, and road wheels.
The innovative Brembo Serie Oro design, when compared to standard discs, ensures better performance due to a higher friction coefficient in the initial phases of braking. Because of the faster pedal action and more immediate braking response, this results in a shorter braking distance and more efficient braking.
Get them here:
Brake Discs Bimota Db3 Mantra 904 Brembo Serie Oro (m4tuning.com)
Modification 3 - BIMOTA DB3 MANTRA (95-02) NTR R3
SHOCK NTR R3
Winner of an endurance race…
The NTR R3 shock’s performance is tailored to high-profile riders and achieved through precise control of its 3-way independent damping. The rear wheel provides instant feedback, allowing the driver to confidently explore the limits of traction.
The range of adjustment, special Nitron features, and excellent value are all combined in a modern design that complements any high-spec motorcycle.
Hose Fittings with a Bi-Axis
Nitron’s exclusive Bi-Axis fittings are used on NTR Hose shocks, allowing for simple and precise installation.
Finish in Titanium
Handcrafted titanium and hard-anodized parts are designed to withstand not only the longest endurance races, but also the harshest winters.
The spring preload on this shock can be adjusted. It comes with damping and preload presets, as well as bearing end spacers and a preload adjuster tool.
Please provide us with your weight when ordering. Every shock is custom-made, and we need this information to determine the best spring rate. Your stated weight should be as accurate as possible and should include all standard riding equipment (helmet, leathers, etc.).
Preload Adjuster Hydraulic
This shock is available with the unique Hydraulic Preload Adjuster, which allows for simple, immediate, and accurate adjustments without the use of tools. Recommended for occasional pillion use.
Please keep in mind that the image is only for illustration purposes. Shock end fittings may differ from those shown.
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AKRAPOVIC, DYNOJET, K&N OR OHLINS?
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*All motorcycle specifications (also called SPECS) on our pages are provided by the respective manufacturers.
**Motobase reccomends to install your tuning parts and modifications only at authorized workshops.
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