by staff
Monday, April 07, 2014

Massimo Tamburini died on April 5. The famed motorcycle designer and engineer left a mark on the motorcycle industry which will be long remembered.
image from file
The Castiglioni Research Center, commonly known as the Cagiva Research Center, has another spirit walking the halls.

Gifted designer Massimo Tamburini died on April 6 from complications of lung cancer. He was 70 years old.

Tamburini worked nearly his entire life in the motorcycle industry. In the 1970s he was one-third of the group which originated the groundbreaking company Bimota, and he later went on to work for Ducati and MV Agusta. He then worked briefly in Grand Prix before being hired in the mid-1980s by bike industry magnate Claudio Castiglioni. When the Castiglioni Group acquired the assets of failing brand Ducati, Tamburini became a huge part of Ducati's modern success story. Tamburini designed several models for Cagiva/Ducati, including the fully enclosed Paso, and the absolute stylistically innovative 916. The 916 won many awards and unequivocally is a timeless design.

The 916's success was a part of the process which ultimately tore Ducati away from Tamburini and his patron Castiglioni. Texas Pacific Group purchased Ducati from Castiglioni, but Tamburini remained loyal to CRC and he re-joined MV Agusta.

Tamburini's follow up to the 916 was rumored about for many years, but when it did break cover the bike didn't have Ducati on the fuel tank; when it was finally introduced, it was the MV Agusta F4.

Tamburini continued to work at CRC until his final year of life. He was a lifetime chain-smoker.

The Ducati years of Tamburini's life were the scene of his wonderfully Machiavellian rivalry with his former student Pierre Terblanche who stayed at Ducati when Tamburini returned to MV. The pair became rivals and for a time the contempt between the two was palatable. Tamburini criticized Terblanche as an artist who didn't understand motorcycles. Moreover, TPG's "Image Consultant", David Gross, worked inside Ducati for years and while there wrote a fictional account of the company and life in Italy titled Fast Company: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Motorcycles in Italy . While classified as fiction, Gross' book put a great deal of meat on the rumors of the schism between Tamburini and Terblanche, repeating some of the most infamous stories, with the Terblanche character dismissing his mentor as "the plumber".

Tamburini seemed to have the last word. His follow up to the 916 was the globally heralded F4, while Terblanche and company fronted the infamous 999.


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