Bore x stroke:
Valves per cylinder:
Front tyre dimensions:
Rear tyre dimensions:
Weight including oil, gas, etc:
Let’s start with a confession: whilst professionals like ourselves at Shepsters Towers have never walked up to a bar and asked for a cooling Benelli, we’ve seen it done. Not by us. Let’s make sure that’s clear. Not us*.
Back in the 70’s when men were men and women were sometimes men too, hairy pulsating motorcycles were called Tornados, Rocket or Trident. The 650S was Benelli’s first attempt at a large-scale motorcycle, having only developed spirited young throbbers until this point. With the wonderful idea of developing a man-cycle fit for proper men (we’re over-compensating because of the Bellini line), speed-to-market was critical to enthral the masses. Showing off their cojones in 1967 in the Milan Motor show, they hurried into production, dashing aside any cheap, stereotypical generalisations of their nation. This was a Benelli stung into action! . . . and after only three short years, a production version was available, by which time the market had been flooded with Honda, Kawasaki and Triumph/BSA/Norton developing their equivalents. Porca miseria! And to make it worse, in 1969 Honda unleashed the CB750, an air-cooled, disc-brake equipped, electric-start, four-cylinder that would sell garish, brazen numbers across a thirty-four-year production run, a motorcycle that would end up in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Classic Bikes. And named Discovery Channel’s Greatest Motorbikes Ever. Yup. There’s arriving fashionably late, and there’s arriving so tardy that the party was actually last week. And everyone got laid. Twice. And your sister was there.
Yet credit to Benelli, they still rolled out their five-speed vertical-twin, claiming an optimistic top speed of 117mph with a rotund wet-weight of 222kg. After all, it was by no means a bad motorcycle. Although the first version still had a kick-start and some engine vibration, it still produced fifty horses, and was slowly tinkered over the years to include a Bosch electric start, new exhaust, rebalanced crankshaft, rubber mountings and new instrument cluster. Although drum brakes were on the way out, did the competition have such exquisitely designed ones? No, no they did not. Known commonly as expanding-brakes, which look like drum brakes to us, they had a built-in heat-sink, which for most motorcycles would seem an affection. Here they appear to have been built with considerable purpose. We have no evidence, but we imagine that a vast amount of those three years in pre-production were taken up with men in white coats running around with fire-extinguishers chasing wheels on fire. Stopping was clearly a very important part of the 650S. And two short years later, the Tornado finally did.