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Benelli Tornado Motorcycle History
The Benelli Tornado is a series of motorcycles produced by the Italian manufacturer Benelli since 1970. The first model was the 650 Tornado, a parallel twin designed to compete with the British big twins in the American market[^1^]. The 650 Tornado was followed by the Tornado Tre 900, a three-cylinder sport bike introduced in 2002[^2^]. The latest model is the Tornado 1130, an upgraded version of the Tre 900 with a larger engine and more power[^3^].
Benelli 650 Tornado
The Benelli 650 Tornado was launched in 1970 as a successor to the earlier four-cylinder Benelli models. It had a 642 cc (39.2 cu in) air-cooled parallel twin engine with overhead valves and dual carburetors. It produced 49 hp (37 kW) at 7,000 rpm and had a top speed of about 180 km/h (110 mph). The frame was made of steel tubes and had telescopic forks at the front and twin shocks at the rear. The brakes were drum type on both wheels. The fuel tank capacity was 18 liters (4.8 US gal) and the dry weight was 195 kg (430 lb)[^4^].
The Benelli 650 Tornado was sold mainly in Europe and Australia until 1975, when it was discontinued due to low sales and competition from Japanese bikes. Only about 3,000 units were produced[^4^]. Some of them were modified for racing by private teams and achieved some success in endurance events[^1^].
Benelli Tornado Tre 900
The Benelli Tornado Tre 900 was a radical departure from the previous Benelli models. It was developed under the ownership of Andrea Merloni, who revived the brand in the late 1990s after years of financial troubles. The Tre 900 was designed by Adrian Morton and Pierluigi Marconi, who aimed to create a distinctive and innovative sport bike that could challenge the established Italian rivals like Ducati[^5^].
The Tre 900 had a liquid-cooled four-stroke inline-triple engine with double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. It displaced 898 cc (54.8 cu in) and produced 140 hp (104 kW) at 11,500 rpm and 95 Nm (70 lb-ft) of torque at 8,800 rpm . The engine was mounted on a steel trellis frame with aluminum plates and had a six-speed gearbox. The suspension consisted of a 50 mm (2.0 in) upside-down fork at the front and a single shock absorber with an eccentric adjuster at the rear. The brakes were Brembo discs with four-piston calipers on both wheels. The fuel tank capacity was 16 liters (4.2 US gal) and the dry weight was 198 kg (437 lb)1.
One of the most distinctive features of the Tre 900 was its cooling system, which used two large fans mounted under the tail section to extract hot air from the radiator located behind the engine. This gave the bike a unique look and sound, as well as improving aerodynamics and weight distribution2. Another notable feature was its limited edition version, called the Tornado Tre 900 LE, which had carbon fiber bodywork and tank, Ohlins suspension and magnesium wheels. Only 150 units were made3.
The Tre 900 was initially intended to compete in the World Superbike Championship, but due to delays and technical issues it only made its debut in 2001 with Peter Goddard as its rider. The bike showed some potential but lacked reliability and performance compared to its rivals. In 2002, Benelli hired former world champion Troy Bayliss as its lead rider, but he left after one season due to poor results. Benelli continued to race until 2006 with various riders such as Steve Martin, Ivan Clementi and Lorenzo Lanzi, but never achieved any podium finishes2.
Benelli Tornado 1130
The Benelli Tornado 1130 was an upgraded version of the Tre 900 that was introduced in 2006. It had a larger bore and stroke that increased the engine displacement to 1130 cc (69 cu in) and boosted the power output to 161 hp (120 kW) at 10,500 rpm and 112 Nm (83 lb-ft) of torque at 5,000 rpm. The frame, suspension and brakes were similar to the Tre 900, but with some minor changes. The fuel tank capacity was reduced to 14 liters (3.7 US gal) and the dry weight was increased to 205 kg (452 lb)1.
The Tornado 1130 was available in two variants: the standard model and the Tornado Tre LE, which had carbon fiber bodywork, Ohlins suspension, Brembo monoblock brakes and Marchesini wheels. Only 150 units of the LE were made1. The Tornado 1130 also spawned a naked version called the TNT (Tornado Naked Tre), which had a different frame, headlight, instrument panel and exhaust system2.
The Tornado 1130 was praised for its distinctive design, characterful engine and agile handling, but criticized for its high price, poor reliability and lack of dealer support. It also faced stiff competition from other Italian and Japanese superbikes that offered more performance and refinement. Benelli stopped producing the Tornado 1130 in 2014 due to financial difficulties31.
The photo Benelli-Tornado-785792-GP.jpg (Benelli Tornado - Benelli Tornado - Benelli Tornado TRE 900
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