Established in 1911, Benelli is one of the oldest Italian motorcycle manufacturers. It once manufactured shotguns, although this part of the business is now a separate company.
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. 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"). 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thu, 31 Oct 2013
Chinese-owned Italian manufacturer Benelli announced it will present a new sport-touring version of its naked BN600R at the 2013 EICMA show in Milan. The 2014 new Benenlli BN600GT is powered by the same 600cc Inline-Four engine powering the BN600R. For the naked roadster, the engine claims an output of 80.4 hp at 11,500 rpm and 38.4 ft-lb.
Wed, 15 Jun 2011
After a slight delay, Benelli has released its 2011 TNT R160 streetfighter. First unveiled at the 2010 EICMA Show, the 2011 Benelli TNT R160 is powered by an 1131cc three-cylinder engine paired to a six-speed transmission with a dry slipper clutch. Benelli claims 155.6 hp at 10,200 rpm and 88.5 ft-lb.
Mon, 12 Jul 2010
People display their motorcycle affections in various different ways such as; buying top of the line kit and keeping their machine in pristine condition. However, they don't come stranger than the top clip as this rider creates an original but highly strange dance routine for his Benelli TNT Cafe Racer. If you love your bike as much as this guy, instead of creating a dance routine why not tell everyone how great it is in Visordown's review section.
Mon, 03 Nov 2008
I have had a little walk around checking out the preparations for the show. I havenít seen anything that I havenít already seen or heard about previously, but hereís a selection from three of the halls. Yamaha are the only manufacturer to use an industrial crane to place some of its bikes up on high rise stands.