William Taft was President of the United States when a small motorcycle brand, founded by five brothers, opened its doors in Italy under the family name of Benelli. That was 1911.
One hundred years later Benelli proudly celebrates a rare milestone in the manufacturing of motorcycles; a 100th birthday.
The Benelli motorcycle brand-like the dramatic theme of so many Italian operas-has been through its share of hardships, challenges, and ever-present financial concerns, which have forced a change of ownership on several occasions.
Benelli is coming back from the brink of extinction with a rekindled enthusiasm and passion reminiscent of what the brothers Benelli first infused the fledgling operation.
Since its start, Benelli has zealously pursued technological advancements with a certain racing pedigree. From the “gear driven valve timing” patent-an icon of Benelli motorcycles during the 1930s-to the egg-shaped mono-cylinder engines that powered the race-dominating MotoBi in the 50s, Benelli has prided itself on a rich racing heritage.
As for innovation, Benelli introduced a stylish trend in scooters in the 60s and created the first 6-cylinder road-going production motorcycle, the 750 Sei.
Benelli has laid claim to a number of world championships. Tonino Benelli rode the family’s creation to four Italian championships in the 20s and 30s. Dario Ambrosini was 250cc world champion in 1950.
Kel Carruthers earned the 250cc world crown in 1969. And Leopold Tartarini won the first ever MotoGiro in 1953 aboard the Leoncino 125 (Benelli went on to win the next four MotoGiro events). A host of colorful champions have chosen Benelli as their race weapon, Tarquino Provini, Silvio Grassetti, Jarno Saarinen and the legendary Mike Hailwood.
Racing credentials aside, Benelli prides itself on an ardent individualism, with its own unique style, producing a steady string of beautifully elegant motorcycles that have helped define Italian motorcycling.
From the lightweight machines of the 20s, to the 250 and 500cc bikes of the 30s, to the popular Leoncino (which sold 70,000 units in the 50s) to the Tornado 650 in the 70s, all the way up to the Benelli superbike, the Tornado Tre, which took the Benelli name into the 21st century, the brand possesses a wonderfully storied and influential heritage.
Benelli celebrates 100 years of motorcycling, continuing to produce motorcycles born from the spirit of the brothers Benelli; Giuseppe, Giovanni, Filippo, Francesco, Domenico and Antonio.
The 2011 Benelli motorcycle models include the Cafe Racer 899, Cafe Racer 1130, Century Racer 899, Century Racer 1130, TNT 899, TNT R160, Tre1130K Amazonas, Tre1130Ke, and Tre899K. Anyone would make a great birthday present.