110 Years Of Benelli Motorcycles
The Italian motorcycle manufacturer Benelli is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year. The company was founded in Pesaro near Rimini in 1911 by six brothers as Garage Benelli. Today the company is owned by a Chinese company. Incidentally, the creation of the manufacturer is thanks to a woman. The mother of the six brothers was a widow. Her greatest wish was that her six sons would stick together and find work in their hometown. Therefore, in 1911, she bought numerous machine tools and thus initiated the establishment of the company. That initially focused on repairing vehicles. Even then, the brothers had the dream of designing and manufacturing a motorcycle one day. But first, they had to cope with a few setbacks. These included a major earthquake and the First World War.
The first milestone followed in 1919 with the presentation of a 75 cc engine. The first motorcycle followed two years later, further series models followed. The Benellis then developed the first racing motorcycle from the 147 cc motorcycles. The then 20-year-old Tonino tried himself as a driver and initially celebrated quite a few successes. That changed with a 172 cc four-stroke engine and an overhead camshaft. Tonino ended his career after a severe accident, but the company’s ascent continued. Numerous other riders won the European championship on their motorcycles.
Serious Setbacks Could Not Stop The Brothers
The Second World War put an end to all activities, after which the brothers again owned nothing. But they started again and rebuilt the company. Initially, the focus was on development before Benelli returned to motorsport. In 1950 the world championship followed on a 250cc Benelli. After a severe accident with a driver, however, the company rose from racing. They revised the decision again a few years later. In the meantime, the competition was superior, which forced Benelli to new developments. The motorcycle with an air-cooled four-cylinder in-line engine with two overhead camshafts made 40 hp and hit the ground. In 1969 they had an almost unbeatable driver duo in the quarter-litre class, which further increased Benelli’s fame. As a result, the company also won the brand world championship.
From the 1970s onwards, competition from Japan increased. Sales began to decline. The owners of Benelli changed several times during this time. The lack of success in motorsport forced them to limit their involvement in the sport. The fans remembered other serious accidents as sad days in the history of motorsport. Most recently, in the 1970s, the company caused a sensation with a six-cylinder road machine. At the beginning of the new millennium, the company reappeared in motorsport. Fans saw the Benelli Tornado at the Superbike World Championship. But this did not celebrate any great success. That led to the fact that it has become quiet today. After all, that is a shame; the racing motorcycles, with their distinctive sound, shaped the scene for many decades.