The 2005 Benelli Motorcycle Range
Benelli is one of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers in the world. It is also the oldest Italian motorcycle manufacturer in business.
Established in 1911, despite the difficulties encountered, including wars or economic crises, it has practically never stopped producing motorcycles and scooters.
At the same time Benelli may also be considered one of the youngest motorcycle manufacturers in the world. Young in spirit since 1996, when Andrea Merloni took over the company and relaunched it with a new image. Energy, enthusiasm and youth are the key words for the change. This is demonstrated by the fact that the average age of the company's employees is just 34.
Today, eight years after its relaunch, we can safely say that in recent years Benelli has brought a refreshing breath of innovation and change to the motorcycle industry.
Many of its new products have had a strong influence on changes in style in the motorcycle sector in recent years.
From the "491", one of the most widely copied 50cc scooters to the "666" prototype, the first motorscooter, and from the "Adiva" - the "convertible" scooter to the "Tornado 900 Tre" unveiled two years ago, a revolutionary sports bike, innovative and resolutely futuristic, that continues to excite interest and whose style and details have since been included in numerous other models.
The company's revolutionary spirit and desire to innovate doesn't end with functionality or aesthetics though. Benelli has always been incredibly courageous and innovative in terms of research and development for its products and in recruiting young engineers and designers.
In 2002 the company produced the 900 TRE "sport" engine, a unique three-cylinder engine with revolutionary, sports performance. This new engine is now one of the elements which guarantees top performance from our bikes and is a unique distinguishing features of all of our products. A three-cylinder engine completely designed, developed and produced in Italy.
Today, with the presentation of its new "NAKED" bike, the Benelli strategy is clear: to enhance its product range with a roadster inspired by café-racer/streetfighter bikes, exploiting and continuing the development of its three-cylinder basic engine, and at the same time developing the distinctive elements, which make it a unique brand.
This is Benelli today. A "small" company with great traditions and great ambitions, ideas and a clear strategy. This is demonstrated by a strong, prestigious range of unique products, with the Tornado and TNT, and a young but experienced team which dares to break the mould. These factors will allow Benelli to win, or rather, take back a leading position in the top class motorcycle market.
Benelli was established in Pesaro, Italy, in 1911. Teresa Benelli, a widow, sank 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 or "Tonino".
In the beginning, it was just the "Benelli Garage" which only repaired cars and motorcycles, but was already able to produce all of the spare parts needed for repairs.
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 with its 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 4 Italian championship titles almost consecutively, in 1927, 1928 and 1930 with the single overhead camshaft version, and in 1931 with the double overhead camshaft 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.
The factory was destroyed during World War II, but the brothers retained their enthusiasm and passion for motorcycles. Reborn from its ashes, Benelli was back in business and its bikes were on the track and winning many races again.
In 1939, Ted Mellors won the gruelling Tourist Trophy.
During the '60s, there were some "extraordinary" riders in the races, including the unforgettable Tarquinio Provini and Renzo Pasolini. In 1969, the enormous effort the company put into racing was rewarded with the 250 world title for Kel Carruthers, who also won the Tourist Trophy. This was the second world title after the one taken by Dario Ambrosini in 1950, also on the podium as winner of the Tourist Trophy.
In 1962, Benelli and Motobi (established by Giuseppe Benelli in 1949 after disagreements with his brothers, but later attached to the parent company when the family problems were resolved) produced around 300 motorcycles per day and had 550 employees.
Towards the end of the 1960s, the arrival of Japanese manufacturers caused an unprecedented crisis in the European motorcycle industry. Benelli changed ownership but despite its continued innovations in the motorcycle sector - for example, the incredible in-line six-cylinder engines introduced in the mid-60s - it was still losing important market segments, overwhelmed by Japanese competitors. This led to a temporary break in production.
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 marvellous Tornado 900 Tre super sport bike in 2002 and the current launch of the TNT, the explosive roadster.
If the Tornado brought an air of technical and aesthetic innovation to the motorcycle industry, we can certainly say that the TNT will hit it like a bomb.
Class, innovation, audacity and personality: these are the key words associated with Benelli's style and outlook. Soon we will have been making our motorcycles for a century with the same intention, to ensure that our products are always different but that the values which bring them to life are the same as they always were.
Today, for a brand like Benelli, producing a motorcycle 100% in-house, therefore, 100% Italian isn't easy, and the temptation to use parts made abroad is strong. But we decided to accept the challenge and not waver like others in the face of purely economic or commercial imperatives. We aim to preserve the soul of our brand.
Our products, completely designed, developed and assembled "in-house" are all made using original parts developed and adapted to our specific requirements. This applies both for our 900 TRE "Sport" and TRE "Corsa Lunga" (Long Stroke) engines, and for the smallest parts used on our bikes. It is also evident in the innovations and technical solutions that other producers would not have had the courage to propose.
Obviously, making a product 100% made in Italy has its price, but it's nothing compared with the incredible pleasure you feel when you look at, listen to or sit on a Benelli and start it up. It is at that moment that the concept of Pure Italian takes on all of its meaning. You are dealing with a completely different bike, something quite unique.
None of this would be possible if the entire company, chairman, engineers, designers, mechanics didn't share the same desire to offer the public a product designed and built with passion. This same passion characterises all of our suppliers and financial partners, naturally all based in Italy.
Our bikes may be unique, but they are not exclusive. They aren't intended just for expert riders or collectors. They aren't built to look at, but first and foremost for riding. They are for all of those people who love a thrilling ride and like to make different choices, who share one dream and love motorcycles more than anything. This is our modest proposal.
And what's more, if this can help perpetuate the great Italian tradition of innovation, originality and a strong identity, we can only be proud of it.