ONE FOR THE FUTURE
Benelli Tornado is about ready for critical reappraisal. Now we reckon we would
Daring to be different doesn’t always bring dividends.a good idea soon becomes a bad one if its execution is lacking. So it was with the 2003 Benelli Novecento Tornado Tre. Those with longer memories will know that Benelli had certainly done different in the past as evidenced by their six-cylinder sportsbikes of the 1970s. But by the time the millenium rolled around, scooters were their only thing. It’s a big jump from twist-and-go to superbike and Benelli made the leap.
Thetornado had its looks and several unique features to bank on in its quest to attract the attention of fans of big sportsbikes. British designer Adrian Morton, a Massimotamburini acolyte who would eventually succeed the Italian legend at MV Agusta, designed the Tre and had previously worked on the mid-1990s MV F4. So good lines were guaranteed for the Benelli. Here, in looks at least, was an alternative to the newly launched Ducati 999, which had suffered the misfortune of being penned by motorcycling’s most overrated designer, Pierre Terblanche. Morton’s lush Benelli bodywork was wrapped around an innovative glued-up frame; an aerospace technique also adopted by near neighbours Bimota.
The Benelli’s unique feature that most eyes are drawn to first is the underseat fans sited to cool the radiator beneath the tail unit. Positioning the rad thus allowed the front wheel to be brought closer to the 133bhp, 898cc triple engine to give the wheelbase a sporty, quick-turning shortness.
So where did it all go wrong for the Tornado?all to predictably it was the issues that beset every small manufacturer, Italian or not – quality, reliability and a lack of development – Benelli’s 2001WSB racing debut notwithstanding. Dodgy electrical connectors, inadequately specified aluminium for the cylinder heads and poor paintwork were just some of the complaints. However there’s nothing that can’t be fixed or worked around and the rewards of a howling triple with thoroughbred handling make the hassle worth it to the cognoscenti.
Best of all are the realtively depressed prices currently being asked.you’ll get a stocker for £3k or so and an extra grand will net you an RS model with OZ wheels and radial brakes. However if your technical abilities are stretchedyochu’allsnineegdtahtelepalsutgssevoenna CBR600, a Novocento Tornado grand. Tre Pretty probably looks seldom come cheap isn’t for you.
Underseat rads had their fans