Bore x stroke:
Valves per cylinder:
Front tyre dimensions:
Rear tyre dimensions:
Weight including oil, gas, etc:
Well, there goes the maxim about la dolce vita: a life that is full of pleasure and luxury. Not entirely sure the chaps and chapesses at the headquarters at Pesaro, Italy, had that in mind when they birthed the Benelli 304 into the world. Rumours still abound that it was bastard offspring of a bunk-up between a vacuum cleaner and a post-box, but perhaps that’s a little unkind. After all, Benelli has some serious Italian pedigree.
Formed in 1911, it is one of the oldest manufacturers in Italy, founded by a seemingly endless line of Benelli brothers (there were six). They’ve won a clutch of awards during their history such as the European Championships in the 1930s, a couple of MotoGP’s and even a few Isle of Man TTs but with the Japanese ascendency in the 70’s Benelli struggled. Which is a shame, as over the years they produced some beautiful machines such as the World War 500cc Tourismo and pretty 650cc Tornado S of the 70’s.
Coupled with fierce competition from Japan, the Italian motorcycle’s offerings of the 1980’s were beset by problems - we mean, look at the 304 . . . just look at it! The 304 was a docile lamb, an air-cooled four-stroke 231 cc transverse four-cylinder “powerhouse” mated with a Dyson. Sorry, we mean, five speed manual transmission. Claiming an optimistic 150kmh (more likely 135kmh, which is still pushing it), it would take some imagination to believe that the single front-disk and rear-drum weren’t enough to stop the motorcycle with a wet weight of only 134kg. To twist an idiom, very much a deer with headlights. Or in this case, headlight.
It’s no surprise that the 304 was the death knell of the company, and lasted until production was finally halted in 1988 at Pesaro, with a Motor Guzzi merger. Benelli, now owned by the Chinese but located back at its original headquarters, are doing well in India and Iran. That pretty much sums up Benelli. To quote a forum user on netrider when commenting on someone looking at a 304 ‘stay away from the Benelli unless you like pain and suffering.’ Did we mention Benelli have an interesting side-arm (ha!) in shotguns? And yet . . . the current breed of 500cc Leoncinos, Adventures and Cruisers does have the team at Shepster Towers muttering several pleasantries. In particular the quite frankly arrestingly sexy custom Leoncino Dark Simba scrambler by K-Speed, something that Batman would ride if doing motocross. Could the resurgence be on its way?