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Is Benelli Finally Ready to Deliver New Large Displacement Models?


Benelli Leoncino Concept

We have always loved Benelli styling. When the 900 Tornado was unveiled in 1999, it was one of the most beautiful bikes we had ever seen. As the company went through difficult economic times (which Italian marque hasn’t?), it was purchased by a large Chinese corporation (Qianjiang Group). Qianjiang is a massive manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters. Most of its models are sold in Asia and are small displacement, but it has plans to bring the Benelli brand back strong in Europe with newly developed large-displacement motorcycles.

According to this article published by MCN yesterday, Benelli has plans to display at the end of this year several new 2017 models which will include the 500cc parallel twin used in the Leoncino shown last year at EICMA. According to MCN’s source, Benelli will introduce a 750cc parallel twin model and is also busy developing its large-displacement triples (including the one that originally powered the 900 Tornado). This is one reason that the motorcycle shows this Fall should be quite interesting.

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  1. FJR rider says:

    There is a big Benelli plant in Malaysia.
    Your bikes may be from there.

    • sub_zero says:

      actually it’s a CKD plant and distribution center for South East Asia.

      manufacturing however is still done in china.

  2. oldjohn1951 says:

    That’s a pretty nifty-looking bike. My concern is parts, manuals and serviceability. If those three criterion are met and the price is competitive then I’ll consider it.

    • mattf says:

      It is a CB500 Scrambler! I wish..

      Should have been what the XSR700 looked like too

  3. bmbktmracer says:

    My understanding is that while a Chinese company bought Benelli, the Italian design and engineering of Benelli S.p.A. is still intact and operating out of Italy. Thus, I’m not certain I’d label this a Chinese motorcycle. Further, the bikes that have been designed in Italy are being sold in third-world countries like India and Iran, so I imagine they have to be rugged and serviceable. On a personal note, I think it’s a very nice-looking and unique design. I doubt they’ll try to sell it in the United States because the sales volume wouldn’t justify the expense of meeting EPA/DOT regs.

    • Andrew says:

      I don’t care where it is designed, if it’s manufactured in China I will call it Chinese motorcycle.

      • Jose Peter says:

        like the iphone 😉

        • Andrew says:

          well, with commercial electronics we got to the point where saying “Chinese made” is practically redundant – ALL components are manufactured in China. Luckily we’re not quite there yet when it comes to motorcycles.
          So, no – I probably wouldn’t call the iphone Chinese. Then again, if somebody did I would not argue with them either.

          • TF says:

            “ALL components are manufactured in China.”

            Re-manufactured would be more correct!

          • TF says:

            BTW, I bought my wife one of the first ipad minis for Christmas a couple years ago, back when they were very hard to find in the stores. I ordered one and it shipped direct from the manufacturer in China. I tracked the shipment… was on my doorstep in four days.

  4. paquo says:

    that thing looks like the ridiculous tw200, definitely do not want

    • sub_zero says:


      how’s is that even close?

      it’s not even samme category or even the spec.

  5. Butch says:

    Resale value on this would be dismal to say the least.

  6. PN says:

    Well, how about a lot of dealers first, okay? That’s the biggest drawback to riding Italian.

  7. Kevin C says:

    The only problem with the new Benelli is that their bikes are way too heavy. Qianjiang’s CEO says that aluminum and high tensile steel are rare in China, where these bikes are manufactured, so they use much heavier materials. So far their engines seem to work fine and are reliable.

    SWM is also owned by a Chinese company (Shineray)but they’re bikes are designed and built in Italy. Compare the weights of the Benelli 300 (400 pounds dry) to the SMW Gran Millano 440 (319 pounds dry) and the difference is clear.

    • Dave says:

      China’s consumption of aluminum & steel are a primary driver of their market prices. Hardly rare.

  8. Azi says:

    Humble bikes to pay the bills, then create an impression with the main event. Sounds like one from the Honda play book (and the antithesis of Buell and Bimota).

  9. Jeremy in TX says:

    Great looking bike.

  10. Tyler says:

    Now there’s something you don’t see enough of on motorcycles these days, hood (or in this case fender) ornaments, Indian excepted of course.
    I like it, but as others have stated, what’s to make me buy this in lieu of something else? Styling is top notch, but without an established track record it’ll take me a while to consider it.

    • Butch says:

      All it needs now is a mudflap with a chrome silhouette of a nude gal . . . . . . .

    • RandyS says:

      >> Now there’s something you don’t see enough of on motorcycles these days,
      >> hood (or in this case fender) ornaments, Indian excepted of course.

      I like the idea too, but fender ornaments are unlikely to become common in the U.S. for the same reason that they mostly disappeared from cars in the U.S. When you hit a pedestrian, the ornament is something that the pedestrian can easily be impaled by, causing more injury than otherwise. This leads to lawsuits, which leads to hood ornaments disappearing, unless they are really rounded and not a potential hazard.

  11. Neil says:

    1. make it comfortable for a person six feet tall please.
    2. don’t put the footpegs so high as if I am riding at the track every day
    3. why do I want it instead of something else?
    – My CB500F with Penske shock, renthal ultra lows, 17 tooth front (16 stock), and corbin seat is a really great ride and now, the most comfortable bike I’ve every ridden. Kudos to Corbin. Excellent. 5’10, 155.

  12. Gary says:

    From the understanding that I have read, Benelli’s are actually designed and engineered still in Italy with most of the manufacturing done in China. This is excepting the triples and I understand likewise, the 600R four cylinder which are all still produced in Italy (probably with some parts imported from China). While at one time Chinese anything was pretty much junk, they have seen the errors of their ways, and many of the products now are showing marked improvement and are approaching the fit, finish, and reliability of more well established brands. Many of the big brands even have some of THEIR models built in China and other countries.

    • azi says:

      I’m encountered anecdotal reports of the Chinese Benellis being more reliable than the Italian built triples. One article claimed that the 600cc four was purposely over-engineered for reliability.

  13. jimmihaffa says:

    Is a Chinese designed and built “Benelli” supposed to sell to Europeans clamoring to buy into a piece of the marques former glory? I guess to the new Chinese owners it’s worth a shot and we know numerous other companies across many industries have maintained the facade for the sake of value added branding of a Chinese product. Still, I’d rather see the Chinese manufacturer take what they’ve learned from Benelli, lose the supposed Italian DNA and establish a name for themselves (outside of Asia). If a Qianjiang motorcycle is good enough to compete against other brands at some price point, it should sell in sufficient quantity for profit and give buyers an alternative in the marketplace.

    • Shaunock says:

      It works for Jaguar Land Rover.
      Edit: Tata is Indian but still relevant.

      • atlantarandy says:

        But Tata doesn’t design and build Jaguar, it “merely” acquired the company. In this case a Chinese company will design and build these and are using the Benelli name for Marketing. But ultimately it doesn’t matter. I owned a 1974 Benelli Tornado 650 twin ,new, which shows my age. That is what is not relevant anymore. I personally maintained a piece of Italian master craftery. It was built like a tank and the quality of paint was Ferrari-like. The people that will buy the Chinese bike won’t know what they are NOT getting. God I miss that bike.

      • WJF says:

        I’m not sure we can use the words, work and range rover in the same sentence

    • MGNorge says:

      First, Jimmi, where have you been all this time?

      I agree with you but can’t blame the Chinese for wanting the boost that comes with the name. I am unaware of any place on earth that is more brand conscious than here in the U.S. We use it to divide those that have and those who do not. The Chinese get next to no respect at all except for producing commodity goods at the lowest prices. Hell, there are those here that don’t/won’t even give the Japanese respect.

      The Chinese are improving their quality and with that their working class will demand more pay and eventually we’ll be just one big happy family on this rock!

      Back to this bike, there is something alluring to its rugged looks. I know it’s a 500, but imagine if it were a 250. All of a sudden it looks like a rugged, relatively small trail bike. Give it a skid plate and a small rack and it would be good to go!

      • Dave says:

        I like to remind people that every piece of “Chinese junk” they’ve ever experienced was approved and ordered by an American or European product manager. The Chinese have incredible capabilities, even more so, the Taiwanese. Like all things, you get what you pay for.

  14. Curly says:

    Put some fins on that engine as on the new Triumph twins and that would be a good looking engine. Except for the weird little rear fender the rest of the bike is not bad either.

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