Classic Motorcycles

1 May 2015 | Schrijver: | Comments Off on Classic Motorcycles
Benelli Tornado Novocento Limited Edition

Benelli 650 Tornado



The Tornado 900 has brought Benelli back into the big league, but this Tornado is not the first to first to wear that memorable nametag. Let us journey back through time, to the days when everything was ok in the world and the first Tornado appeared.

With the release of the latest Benelli 900cc Tornado limited edition, considerable interest has been created, but this magnificent piece of Italian engineering wasn’t the first Benelli Tornado. One must return to the heady days of 1968, to witness the birth of the 650 Tornado.

Virtualy at the same time as its greatest racing triumphs, the company moved into the big bike market. Considering that big bikes in the ’60s were 650 parallel twins (unlike today when that is the size of the average rockhopper), that is the direction that Benelli followed.

As with the Japanese parallel twins, around the same time, the Tornado didn’t try to copy the British competition (and who could really blame them). Quite a few of the Tornado’s engine components were shared with the MotoBi flat single race engines, and although the Tornado still used overhead valves operated by pushrods and rockers, in other ways, the engine was far more modern.

Benelli Tornado Novocento Limited Edition

To get away from the standard British feature of engine oil leaks, the crankcases were horizontally split, and for additional strength, the crankshaft incorperated central roller bearings. Ook, unlike the British examples, Signor Prampolini (the Tornado engine designer) preferred oversquare engine dimensions of 84 x 58mm.

This was an obvious in your face at the long stroke gives high torque furphy as the Tornado equipped with mild camshafts and small ports, still pulled like a train from as little as 2500 opm. However, despite the short stroke, the engine was still able to rev, and equipped with a small pair of Dell’Orto 29mm carburettors, the engine was able to unleash 57 stampeding horses at 7400rpm. As the MotoBi racers regularly went to 11,500rpm, there were no problems with the Tornado’s valve train at the more reasonable revs.

The Tornado’s running gear was the standard fare of the day, incorperating the double cradle, single backbone tubular steel frame, Marzocchi forks and shocks. 18 inch alloy Barrani wheels kept the machine rolling along, and the 230mm double leading shoe Grimeca front brake was utilised to pull the beast up, when things got out of hand. Ook, the Tornado was equipped with a Bosch electrical system, rubber mounted to protect it from vibration.

At 210 kilograms wet, the Tornado was no supermodel, but with only 1420mm between the wheels, its handling was up there with the best of them, and one didn’t feel like they were riding a vibrating boat anchor, thanks to the short stroke engine, and could cruise at 130 km/h with out self destructing itself or causing the rider to become best friends with the local chiropractor.

But alas, being desigined at the end of the 650cc parellel twin reign, and the development of the Honda 750 four, we can now see that Benelli chose the wrong road for the Tornado, but thanks to the efforts of Peter god Goddard, the latest Tornado is once again making its presence felt.

Benelli Tornado Novocento Limited Edition

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