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Cult bike Benelli Tornado 650

Benelli Tornado 650

An Italian fad – showing prototypes that won’t go into production until years later – used to demand many sacrifices. One of the most innocent is the Benelli Tornado 650.

When the Japanese approached the American market, they acted like any clever dealer and initially sold small cans. At 300 cm³ it was over, so the big boys turned to the robust twins from England, and more and more. That in turn did not go unnoticed by Italian manufacturers. Be the first to react B.enelli in the mid-1960s and showed the Tornado 650 at the Milan Salon.

Cult bike Benelli Tornado 650

Benelli Tornado 650

The Americans are to blame

But it doesn’t matter: the hurricane from Pesaro slowed down, dragged itself to the autumn fairs every year, and interested parties were put off more and more. In the meantime Honda had established the CB 450, then came Norton’s Commando with 750 cc and Honda’s CB 750 with four-cylinder, BMW brought the R 75/5, Guzzi the V7 … And Benelli? Delivered to the first handpicked Italian customers at the end of 1970. When Germany was also given consideration in 1972, the Japanese tsunami had finally swept away all chances for a relatively expensive Benelli Tornado 650 with just under 50 hp. It’s a shame, because the harmonious co-running machine sets itself apart remarkably from the English engine construction. Low centrifugal masses give it an almost sporty temperament, it turns loosely into the red area that starts at 7000 rpm. Thanks to a stroke of just 58 mm and a bore of 84 mm, the piston speed is no cause for concern, and the very solid ohv valve train also keeps up. On the other hand, the extremely short-stroke design prevented the engine from being bored out in order to be able to drive up with the now popular 750 cm³.

Even the installation of the electric starter, which has meanwhile become unavoidable in America, required considerable structural interventions: because the crankshaft rotates in four sturdy ball bearings, the engine is quite wide, and that’s why Benelli did what Yamaha was hailed for with the XJ 650. The alternator, driven by a V-belt, was placed piggyback behind the cylinders on the engine housing. This stupid electric starter had to go in the second series, the Lima moved to the left crankshaft journal. That doesn’t make the Benelli Tornado 650 any nicer – and setting the ignition under the Lima into real work. As I said – the Americans are to blame. They also have the beautiful front brake on their conscience, they found it too poisonous, so Benelli upgraded to a double simplex that was still sufficient.

All these measures possibly prevented an unobstructed view of the qualities of the Benelli Tornado 650, which not only had a track-stable chassis with, however, quite hard suspension elements and impressed with agile handling, but also indicated in the MOTORRAD test that it was really oil-tight and extremely robust is and requires little care. Light bulbs, well, she needs them every now and then, a nut here, a screw there, because despite the abundant damping elements, this parallel twin also shakes all attachments vigorously. Which, of course, would not have bothered anyone in 1967.

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Information about the Benelli Tornado 650

Archive, Rogge

At the beginning of the 1970s, Benelli and Motobi merged, and the Tornado 650 was therefore offered under both brand names.

Data: Air-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, 643 cm³, 33 kW (45 PS) at 6500 / min, 55 Nm at 3850 / min, five-speed gearbox, tubular steel frame with double bars, weight 220 kg with a full tank, tires 3.50 x 18 at the front, 4.00 x 18 at the rear, Tank capacity twelve liters, top speed lying down 175 km / h, 0-100 km / h in 6.1 seconds.

Specialists: The Tornado 650 was offered in Germany until 1976 and was only rarely sold. One of the few remaining specialists is Benelli-Bauer from Rehburg-Loccum in Lower Saxony (

Scene: The Benelli community in Germany mainly gathers around the spectacular six-cylinder, but the previously released Tornado (also offered as a Motobi in some markets) is also very popular. Many owners have given up the original condition and converted to Cafe Racer, which makes perfect sense in view of the high-revving engine and the good driving characteristics. High prices are called for good originals and skilful conversions, often over 4000 euros. Anyone who enjoys the tornado while driving is still making a good investment. A modern electronic ignition is extremely useful. The spare parts location is considered to be comparatively good, only body parts are tight.

Internet: There is a Benelli interest group, they meet on the somewhat lifeless website

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