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Concept: Benelli Mojave 450

Where do you go to select your exotic hand-built works racebike? Rimini? England? How about your local Montgomery Wards outlet?

Sounds absurd, but back in the ’60s, the Italian motorcycle industry was making ends meet by building motorcycles to be sold by retailers like Sears and Montgomery Wards to help them meet the demand for inexpensive small-displacement models. Moto Benelli was selling several models under the Riverside brand, including a 125, 250 and a couple of 50s in its 1967 catalog.

Fifty 360cc racing versions dubbed the Mojave were produced for AMA Enduro competition. The Mojave boasted 24 hp and 6700 rpm from its single-cylinder, four-stroke, air-cooled motor. Bodywork showed modish ’60s Italian styling. It no doubt went as good as it looked: Benellis were the bike to beat back then; Kel Carruthers won at the 1969 Isle of Man TT on one.

Designer Oberdan Bezzi loves scramblers and the story of the Benelli brand. This is his idea of a commemorative Mojave 450, a modern-day scrambler that’s “philosophically” dedicated to the original. But unlike the original, it’s “more a scrambler than an enduro.” Oberdan based the drawing on Benelli’s electric-start 449cc BX 449 Cross motocrosser, by all accounts a fast, smooth and powerful off-roader.

“California Dreaming is BACK!” proclaims Bezzi, and maybe it is. You just won’t be able to buy it at Wards…

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MD Readers Respond:

  • I love it. Give it a luggage rack and a decent tank size, and start a new revolution. For that matter, why doesn’t one of the Japanese Four do this bike with one of their 450 singles? Peak-power it down to 40-45 and torque it up to 40ish, give it a 4.5 to 5 gallon tank, tubeless tires in a versatile size, weight under 350, a decent luggage rack, and gear it high enough to handle the freeways, price it under $5,500, and it would be a second Japanese-bike invasion. They could even refit it with 250s for the rest of the world. Jett
  • Hey guys, that Benelli Mojave 450 concept is one of the coolest bikes I’ve seen in a long while. I’d probably sell my Husky TE for one, and that’s saying a lot. If you can, make sure the company gets some feedback from your viewers. G’day Ivor
  • Looks a lot like my son’s Yamaha TW200. Kevin
  • Thanks for getting me all excited about that Benelli. I was already
    breaking piggy banks and wondering what my body might fetch on the
    open market and it was just a concept? Boo!!!!! Boo!!!!! Well, I
    suppose the BMW X-Country is still in the lineup ………….. John