What can you say about the Mantra? One thing's for certain, write anything uncomplimentary and you are guaranteed six letters of complaint – although five will be delayed as those owner’s bikes are currently on SORNs.
imota owners are a passionate bunch and the Mantra is a much-maligned yet oddly appealing machine that owners love. Styled by French designer Sacha Lakic (below), the Mantra – which means ‘tool of thought’ in Sanskrit – was the third collaboration between Bimota and Ducati.
Powered by the Ducati 900SS air-cooled V-twin engine, the Mantra was launched in 1995 with a price tag of £13,500 and almost instantly drew a barrage of criticism due to its quirky look. Many thought the Mantra was simply a design study, few thought Bimota would actually make the bike. But make it they did and 454 left the factory’s gates – 426 in the more common yellow colour, 28 in red.
Despite its bizarre look, the Mantra could be seen as ahead of its time. A uniquely styled semi-naked bike with a strong motor, that’s not too dissimilar to the current crop of machines like the Triumph Speed Triple or Kawasaki Versys. Although modern bikes lack the Mantra’s walnut dash surround…
Ahead of its time or simply plain old ugly, the Mantra failed to catch on and despite the fact the handling is pretty good and the engine a joy to use it went out of production in 2002 – about the time Bimota went through another ‘management change’.
Classic or crusher? Your call