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Presentation of the Benelli Tornado 900

Extra cool

The traditional brand Benelli is back: with a potent three-cylinder, unusual design and a much-discussed cooler under the seat.

Imagine if the Zundapp brand were revived in Germany and the Minister of Economic Affairs and the President of the Employers’ Association came to the presentation of the first motorcycle. Impossible, you say? Nobody takes an old, almost forgotten motorcycle brand that important?
In Italy it does. More than 500 invited guests from business, industry and the motorcycle branch met for a glamorous rendezvous at the historic company headquarters in Pesaro on the Adriatic Sea. Benelli, founded in 1921 and gently asleep in the 80s, was revived in the mid-90s by the now 32-year-old industrialist Merloni and initially concentrated on smart scooters. An open secret, however, was that motorcycle fool Merloni wanted to build big motorcycles as soon as possible. The Benelli Tornado, a 900 cc three-cylinder in green and silver, the classic Grand Prix colors of Benelli, has now been unveiled in front of illustrious guests such as ex-world champions Kel Carruthers, Umberto Massetti and Phil Read.
With its slightly jagged, angular design, the Tornado looks rather brittle and cool at first glance. But the longer you look at it, the more you succumb to its fascination: a motorcycle that doesn’t deny its historical roots, but still offers new approaches. According to Benelli, the dry machine, which weighs 185 kilograms with the in-line three-cylinder inclined 15 degrees forwards, is very narrow with a width of just 360 millimeters; The starter and alternator are located behind the cylinder, so that the Tornado looks more like a two-cylinder than a three-cylinder from the front. Tea most unusual and most discussed detail: the radiator: it sits under the seat. He gets fresh air through two channels that lead from the conspicuous air inlets in the front to under the seat. Two fans in the rear dispose of the heated air. However, this arrangement repeatedly caused thermal problems in racing.
But according to Merloni and chief technician Rosa, this solution has many advantages than there would be: The radiator is not exposed to the waste heat from the engine and is 20 percent smaller; The space savings at the front benefit the aerodynamics and should ensure a top speed of around 280 km / h; the airbox under the tank is around 13 liters larger than usual. And finally, the chassis also benefits from the extra-cool radiator. The engine advances further, which leads to a stability-promoting weight distribution and, despite the short wheelbase of 1395 millimeters, enables the installation of a relatively long two-arm aluminum swing arm, which ensures low responses to load changes.
The short-stroke three-cylinder – the 85.3 millimeter pistons cover only 52.4 millimeters of extremely stroke – with a balancer shaft to counter vibrations, should produce around 140 hp in the street version. The firing sequence, which Benelli calls the Big Bang, is extremely unusual: All three cylinders fire at a distance of 120 degrees and completely fail the next time the crankshaft rotates.
The frame also offers something unusual: at the front, tubular trellis made of chrome-molybdenum steel, at the rear a cast aluminum construction, screwed together in the area of ​​the swing arm bearings. The engine is a load-bearing element. The steering head angle can be adjusted from 65.5 to 67.5 degrees; as a result, the lag varies from 89 to 102 millimeters. In front of the stanchions of the Ohlins upside-down fork is a transverse steering damper. Another highlight of the Tornado is the six-speed cassette transmission, which enables the gear ratio to be changed quickly. It goes without saying that the fork and central spring strut are fully adjustable in such an ambitious project.
M.Tea street version, the series production of which is planned for 2001, should cost a maximum of 25,000 marks. It will therefore have to do without some extras such as the expensive Ohlins chassis. The prototype presented is more like the racing version. Benelli boss Merloni also directs the Gattolone Superbike team and wants to cause as much eddy as possible with his motorcycle in the World Cup – just like a real tornado.

Technical specifications

Engine: water-cooled in-line three-cylinder four-stroke engine, balancer shaft, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, wet sump lubrication, intake manifold injection, boron x stroke 85.3 x 52.4 mm, displacement 898.4 ccm, compression ratio 11.8: 1, nominal output probably 140 hp at 11,500 / min Max. Torque 9.5 kpm at 8,800 rpm.Expected top speed 280 km / h.Power transmission: primary drive via gears, currently multi-disc oil bath clutch (also being tested with dry clutch), six-speed cassette transmission, secondary drive via O- ring chain Chassis: tubular frame made of chrome-molybdenum -Steel at the front, cast aluminum swing arm bearing at the rear, load-bearing motor, upside-down fork, slide tube diameter 46 mm, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression damping , adjustable steering head angle, two-arm swing arm made of aluminum, central spring strut with lever deflection, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression damping, double disc brake with four-piston calipers at the front, ø320 mm, disc brake with double-piston caliper at the rear, ø180 mm, cast wheels 3.50 x17; 6.00 x 17 tires 120/70 ZR 17; 190/50 ZR 17 Chassis data: wheelbase 1395 mm, seat height 810 mm, dry weight 185 kilograms, steering head angle adjustable from 65.5 to 67.5 °, caster between 89 to 102 mm

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