Benelli was established in Pesaro, Italy in 1911, which possibly makes it the oldest of all European motorcycle factories in operation. (Moto Guzzi - the oldest European motorcycle factory in non-stop operation - was established in 1921.) After losing her husband, the widow Teresa Benelli invested all of the family capital into the business in the hope that it would offer stable work for her six sons: Giuseppe, Giovanni, Francesco, Filippo, Domenico and Antonio ("Tonino"). She also sent Giuseppe and Giovanni to study Engineering in Switzerland. Initially the business had 6 employees in addition to the 5 brothers working (Tonino didn't work because he was too young.)
In the beginning, it was just the Benelli Garage, which repaired bicycles and motorcycles, but was already able to produce all of the spare parts needed for repairs. During World War I, Benelli worked hard fixing parts for the Italian machines in war and in 1919 the first motorcycle was presented to the public. In 1920 the company built its first complete engine in-house, a single-cylinder two-stroke 75 cc model, immediately adapted to a bicycle frame. A year later in 1921, Benelli built its first motorcycle, using their own engine which had by then become a 98 cc model.
Two years after that, using a version specially designed for competitions, Tonino "the terrible" took to the track. He displayed an extraordinary natural talent as a rider and embarked on a very successful career which confirmed the company's exceptional capacity for development and production. Riding a Benelli 175, Tonino Benelli won four Italian championship titles in five years: in 1927, 1928 and 1930 with the single overhead camshaft (SOHC) version, and in 1931 with the double overhead camshaft (DOHC) version. Unfortunately, a bad crash during a race in 1932 cut short his brilliant career and on 27 September 1937 Tonino died following a "silly" road accident.
As World War II loomed, the Benelli company debuted their four-cylinder supercharged 250cc racing bike. This was intended to compete in the 1940 season, building on Benelli's success in the 1939 Isle of Man TT Lightweight 250 cc race. With the start of the war, the Benelli Four was limited to competition in a handful of Italian domestic races.
Beyond World War II
Wartime destruction caused Benelli to remain out of production until 1949. Unsold war motorcycles to be used by the Italian army were adapted to become civil motorcycles and generate income to restart operations. When production resumed, designs were still largely based on those of the pre-war period. In 1949, Giuseppe Benelli left the family concern to found the Motobi marque.
By 1951 Benelli was offering a range consisting of 98cc and 125cc lightweights (the Leoncino or lion cub) and 350cc and 500cc singles. The Leoncino was available in both two-stroke and four-stroke forms. The need for cheap transport in post-war Italy meant that these lightweight models became immensely successful . Similar models were offered by Moto Guzzi, Ducati and Laverda, and the same economic conditions led to the growth in popularity of Vespa and Lambretta scooters.
In 1962, when Motobi was not in good financial conditions, it was acquired by Benelli, and the combined company produced around 300 motorcycles a day and had 550 employees. Motobi designs continued in production under the Benelli name.
In 1969, Benelli introduced the Benelli Tornado 650, a vertical twin designed primarily for sale in Great Britain and the US. The Tornado earned a reputation for reliability and high performance, despite its somewhat hefty weight at 480 pounds. Benelli claimed at the time of launch that the Tornado was capable of 57 hp at 7,400rpm for a top speed of 117 mph. The Tornado (later the Tornado S) was discontinued after 1974, when Benelli introduced a series of "multis" intended to compete with Japanese triples and fours.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2012)|
Tonino Benelli was the undisputed protagonist of the early racing successes. With an extraordinary natural talent for riding, he began a rewarding career that confirmed his exceptional technical skill and innovation within the company. In the saddle of a Benelli 175, Tonino won the title of Italian Champion in 1927, 1928 and 1930 riding the SOHC version, and in 1931 with the DOHC version. The numerous victories in the European World Championship were a prelude to one of the most sought after successes of all motorcycle producers: the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, at that time the most important race in the world.
|1932||Carlo Baschieri||Benelli 175 bialbero|
|1934||Yvan Goor||Benelli 175 bialbero|
In 1939, Ted Mellors was victorious, racing in the saddle of the Benelli 250. In 1950, Dario Ambrosini also won the 1950 Isle of Man TT, repeating Mellors’ success and consecrating his title by winning both the Italian and the World Championships.
MotoGP World Championship
|1950||Dario Ambrosini||Benelli 250|
|1969||Kel Carruthers||Benelli 250|
MotoGP World Constructors champions
- 250 cc class; :
- 1950, 1969
In the 1960s two extraordinary riders competed in the races: Tarquinio Provini, who won the Italian Championship with the 250 in 1965 and Renzo Pasolini who won the Championship with the 250 as well as the 350 in 1968 and 1969. In 1969, the enormous effort invested in competition was rewarded with the 250 world title thanks to Kel Carruthers, who also again won the Tourist Trophy in the same year. It would also mark the last world championship for a four-stroke motorcycle until the advent of the modern MotoGP era in 2003. Many of the most famous riders in the history of motorcycling raced with Benelli bikes, from Mike Hailwood to Jarno Saarinen.
|1939 Isle of Man TT||Ted Mellors||Class 250 cc|
|1950 Isle of Man TT||Dario Ambrosini||Class 250 cc|
|1969 Isle of Man TT||Kel Carruthers||Class 250 cc|
The de Tomaso years
Towards the end of the 1960s, the arrival of Japanese manufacturers caused a crisis in the European motorcycle industry. The original Benelli company was heavily involved in the American motorcycle market, selling motorcycles under 350cc through Montgomery Ward. The advent of competition from Japan led to Benelli products (still largely of single cylinder pushrod design) losing popularity as they were perceived as old-fashioned in comparison to Hondas of the era which sported overhead cam engines with electric starters, in much the same way as the British motorcycle manufacturers such as Norton, BSA and Triumph were affected in the larger capacity sector.
In 1973 Benelli was acquired by Argentinian industrialist Alejandro de Tomaso together with its competitor Moto Guzzi which lead to the development of new models featuring multi-cylinder engines, such as the "350 Quattro" and the "500 Quattro", and of the incredible 750 Sei powered by a huge six-cylinder in-line engine, which put the firm briefly ahead of the Japanese competition. Although technically advanced, Benelli motorcycles of the 1980s were plagued by problems, and the production was finally stopped in 1988 when the company was merged into Moto Guzzi to create "Guzzi Benelli Moto S.p.A.", and the production plants in Pesaro were sold.
Benelli motorcycles from the 1970s and 1980s, particularly the Sei, often command higher prices than their contemporaries on the secondhand market.
In 1989 there was hope of a revival with the backing of Pesaro-based manufacturer Giancarlo Selci. But the time still wasn't right for a real comeback.
In 1995 revival of the brand with the glorious history became a real possibility when Andrea Merloni took charge. Results were fast in coming with the launch of the Tornado Tre 900 super sport bike in 2002 and the current launch of the TNT, the roadster. Former Australian Superbike champion Peter Goddard signed with Benelli in 2001 to accelerate the development of the Tornado Tre 900.
Benelli is now part of motor Group Qianjiang, which is a corporation located in Wenling, southeast China. Benelli Q.J. is located in Pesaro where the previous proprietors based the facilities, keeping the whole workforce previously working at Benelli S.p.A.
1. 2013 TNT600/BN600
Suddenly the name Benelli has become very popular among bikers in Malaysia and Thailand. Many reader has been talking about this bike in forums, blogs and also on FB. Taking a look at this Benelli TnT 600, it sure should be something to talk about since it features inline-4 600cc engine with RM29,999 price that is amazingly lowest in its class. The real contender to this bike is the Yamaha XJ6, but that one is price at RM41k which is about RM11k more expensive than TnT 600. After reading about it, I wonder what is the TnT stands for, turns out it mean ‘Tornado Naked Tre’, then what does the ‘Tre’ stands for. Well, it is for the frame type, that is Trellis frame. In some other country, TnT 600 also known as BN 600. One of the most interesting design in this TnT 600 is the use of undertail double exhaust that looks very Italian just like the Aprilia Shiver 750.
The maximum speed achieved it 230 km/h and at that speed there are no vibration that sent to your body. The sound of the inline-4 engine is nice too. The 600cc engine can churns out 80 kW (107 hp) 60 kW (82 hp)at 11,000 RPM with 52Nm of torque at 8,000RPM. That is quite high revving for this kind of bike. Long distance riding are taken care with the big fuel tank at 15liter (1.4 reserve) for lower fuel stops and longer range.For Malaysia Benelli TnT 600, the CKD model factory is in Rawang, Selangor and that is one reason the price is super low for this kind of machine with great look and great performance. The name Benelli it self is a 100-year old brand from Italy that are now getting more popular today in the world after a long time of silence. Anyway, the brand is actually own by China QianJing Group of China (QJ) since 2005, but they are sure making a good effort to bring back the Benelli brand back to its glory.
2. 2013 TNT899
Style-wise, the TNT 899 manages to be different to the mass of naked bikes around it. Its far forward headlight is unusual but no different to Triumph’s Street and Speed Triple dual light offerings. But while the Triumph Speed Triple is sharply dressed, the TNT, especially the underseat exhaust, is definitely looking old-fashioned. The three-cylinder machine isn’t half bad for delivering respectable grunt from the off and is topped off with a healthy smattering of power. Fuelling can be a little ‘fluffy’ especially when going from a closed throttle to full open at low revs, but it’s very rare you dip into this area. But all is forgiven when the addictive sound of the three-cylinder penetrates helmet and ear plugs – the drone of a triple at full cry is as unmistakeable as the smell of chips and vinegar. Gearshifts are a lot healthier on the left foot compared to Benellis of old. In fact the engine itself is a lot sweeter than the coarse old 900cc machines that did for Benelli sales what Myxomatosis did for rabbits. On the whole it’s a good engine that is equally happy at being thraped as it is stooging along policed highways. But beware the downside of enjoyment, which is heavy fuel consumption. The worst noted was 31.3mpg compared to ‘normal’ riding where 44.7mpg was the average.
In terms of comfort, it is a definite thumbs up for the TNT. Pegs aren’t high and the bars are nicely placed to keep all shapes and sizes happy. Surprisingly, being as the TNT is born of Italian racing heritage, the seat is a proper comfy perch. Not touring spec, obviously, but it’s fine for 170-mile ride-outs. Helping to keep the idea of a Benelli purchase on the boil is a chassis that is stiff and delicious when the going gets going. The tubular side sections glued and pinned to stiffening plates is unusual, but gets merit for being so. Suspension is non-adjustable, but Benelli has got it spot on from testing stage to deal with UK roads – must mean Italian roads are worse than the UK’s? It’s no slug when it comes to cornering. Pull or push on the bars and the TNT rolls over in a neutral, relaxed way. It certainly won’t scare anyone – if anything, it is a tad too stable because faster cornering speeds will see the bike under steer. Not by much, but enough to learn what under steer is when you don’t stay on the line you’re aiming for. So, the big question: should you buy a Benelli? Can’t say for the other models but the TNT (Tornado Naked Tre) 899 is worth a good look. Reliability issues of old are best forgotten about because the latest tackle appears to be holding up quite nicely. One to chew about is the 899.
3. 2004 - Current Benelli TNT 1130 Café Racer
The design idea used for the development of the Cafè Racer was that of creating a TNT inspired by the racing bikes of the past, but with a series of unique, sophisticated details to make it modern and effective. The result is a motorcycle with an extraordinary personality - a bike which simultaneously offers riding comfort and extreme performance thanks to its exceptional components: a higher and more protective windscreen for greater aerodynamic protection, lower clip-on handlebars in aluminium alloy, single seat ballypan and tailpiece to experience the thrills of riding a true racer alone, eccentric foot board adjustment system, carbon parts and seat support. As with the design, the colour was also inspired by the past for an exceptional aesthetic impact and to make the Café Racer even more exclusive in the world gamma of the Streetfighters. An important innovation in the motor, the Café Racer offers the possibility of modifying motor functions by simply pressing a lighted button on the dash support. The engine control unit can be switched between free power and controlled power for better control of the motorcycle in poor traction conditions. This also guarantees a decrease in fuel consumption of 10-20% depending on driving style and on the road.
The free power configuration makes it possible to fully enjoy the torque features and motor power, while the controlled power configuration makes it possible to enjoy using the bike easily in the city, even on asphalt with poor traction, either alone or with a passenger, without stress. The exclusive technical aspects are also seen in the exceptional cycle: this version sports a powerful 50 mm fork completely adjustable in compression, extension and spring preload, with a hardened surface to improve the sliding qualities which contribute to making the road holding solid and precise. The back shock absorber body is in Ergal - light and unique in the world panorama; it is completely adjustable in extension and spring preload to offer a good level of performance constancy and to make riding safe in all asphalt conditions. The attention given to the quest for lightness and performance is confirmed by the use of Marchesini rims in forged and machined aluminium alloy and the Brembo braking system which mounts a 4 piston radial calliper and a 320 mm diameter double disk at the front. The TNT Café Racer is the result of a perfect blend of stylistic solutions and exclusive, sophisticated technique which come together to fully satisfy the performance levels which today’s motorcycle riders demand.
- Announcement of Benelli's purchase by Qianjiang Group
- "Benelli Motorcycles". Retrieved 2007-05-30.
- James Adam Bolton (November/December 2009). "1973 Benelli 650S Tornado". Motorcycle Classics. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
- Bike EXIF. "Benelli Sei". Retrieved 2012-05-10.
- Peter Goddard. "Career Background". Retrieved 2008-01-23.
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