Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Contents -

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’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

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