Benelli Tornado 650 
Dear Editors,

 I enjoyed the Benelli Tornado article (November/December 2009) very much.  Are you aware that this very same article appeared in the July 2008 issue of Classic Cycles? 

Anyhow, it was good then and it is good now, and the author has captured the essence of the Tornado, although I’d like to make a few observations:

First, the idea that the Tornado’s electrical system is in any way substandard, unreliable, or (even) “typically Italian” is dead wrong, based on Mr. Bolton’s casual visual inspection of the wiring on his not very original example.  In fact – and this is important for prospective Tornado owners – the main electrical system is bulletproof on the Tornado, immensely dependable.  The only glitches are the directional signal indicators and the electric starting system, both of which are said to fail invariably (eventually). 

Thankfully, the Tornado is an easy starter, so a kick start can suffice if the owner doesn’t want to go to the trouble of repairing a failed electric starting system.  As for the rest, there is absolutely nothing to worry about.  Remember, these bikes have German Bosch electrical systems, not Italian stuff — a fact which goes unmentioned in the article.

The other point worth noting is that, despite the Tornado’s horizontally-split engine cases, oil leaks are not unheard of, and with parts in short supply, not necessarily simple to fix.  I always regret that I bought a Tornado with an oil leak, and I was never able to solve it.  So I’d caution prospective buyers to make sure that the bikes they’re considering are absolutely oil-tight, as a healthy Tornado should and will be.

Although, like the author, I love the Tornado motor, I’m not sure I’d agree that Prampolini’s engine design for the Benelli Sei was “legendary.”  “Dubious” is maybe a better word.  The Sei’s motor was always (rightly) accused of being a quick and dirty rip-off of the Honda.  The obviously-Asian look of the Sei’s motor detracted from the bike’s appeal (and makes the Tornado more desirable, as the short-stroke twin is inarguably an Italian purebred). 

Ing. Carcano, the creator of the (truly) legendary Guzzi V-Twin, saw the Sei’s six for what it was – “a bad copy of a Japanese motor.”  In Prampolini’s defense, he was taking orders from his boss DeTomaso, and I’m sure, as a Benelli company man, he did what he was told to do, and made the best of it under these difficult conditions.

Anyway, I’ll be sending along a photo of the Tornado’s original “waffle” footpegs, designed to help cut down vibrations at speed.  This unusual design certainly helped when I rode my Tornado 2000 miles from Florida to New Mexico.  I can concur with the author’s belief that a Tornado can be driven all day at 70mph.  Try five long days in a row at 80mph!


Steven Salemi, Owner


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3 responses to “

  1. Kevin Iocovozzi

    Great Blog Steve. I’m buying Terry Garbig’s last 650 this week and hopefully we can establish a relationship. Is there a US Benili club? Kev

    • Thanks, Kevin; the blog is actually pretty inactive NOW — it is “doing the plaquar” (remaining in the closet), as the French say. At some point I’ll dig in and contribute to it regularly. The motivation must grow organically. Stay tuned!

      You’ve caught me at the tail end of my interest in the Benelli Marque, I’m into Moto Guzzi’s now. This summer I’m going to sell my entire collection (four bikes — Dynamo, Volcano, Cougar, Nuovo Leoncino) and a massive collection of parts as well. I’ll ask around 10K; probably cost me closer to 20K — yikes! Nobody said Benelli’s were any kind of good investment!

      My enthusiasm for Benelli was also dampened when I was ripped off the tune of 1,500 hard-earned dollars by Claudio Catania of CFM Motorcycles, a business associate of Joe Purshock of Vintage Cosmo. The trouble actually started with Joe, who urged me to buy an Aermacchi bike from Catania and have him restore it. Apparently, Catania’s ditzy wife had spent monies he had set aside for immigration fees or something like that (Catania and his Wife are Italian Immigrants); the upshot being that if he didn’t get some money fast he would get thrown out of the country. This would have been a good thing, as it turned out, but I didn’t know that back then.

      In response to Joe’s pleading, and to Catania’s promises that he would build me a beautiful bike; we made an agreement in writing that I would send $ 1500 to Catania to have him begin the project, that he’d have the bike complete, restored, and ready to pick up by April 1st, 2008, and that I would send him another $1500 upon completion for a total of $3000. I triple-checked with him to make sure these terms were understood by and agreeable to him, and then I sent him the money…

      …after which he proceeded to work on the project barely at all, went to Italy one summer with my money, and basically sat on his duff and barely worked on the project. When the deadline passed, I reminded him that an agreement was an agreement, but he decided then that he would assume the fictitious mantle of victim instead of the correct role as perpetrator. That way he wouldn’t have to refund the money he took from me! His arguments were meaningless and ridiculous and completely without merit.

      I made polite demands for the money (my $1500), and over time the demands became less and less polite. In fact, he just finished the bike in 2010 (!!!), sold it to somebody else, and still to this day has never paid me my money. Nor does he intend to, standing on his pride and taking offense for being called the thief that he is. What a Prince, huh?

      Although Joe Purshock isn’t really the one who ripped me off, I consider him an Accomplice in this crime — with a small a if not a large one. For one, Joe repeatedly urged me to “do the right thing” and “help Claudio out” and all that B.S. Later, when he saw what happened, he said that people like Claudio were unreliable and that the theft would be a good lesson for me! Thanks, Joe! Second, Joe continued to employ Claudio as an E-Bay seller for a time, continued to offer him a space in his building (for a time without rent), continued to rely on him for help in pulling apart bikes and other miscellaneous projects so he could sell the parts, and so on. In other words, Joe profited in many ways by continuing to keep Claudio around as a helper and tenant. Joe did speak to Claudio in my behalf, but never got tough with him (which would have meant saying something like: “Claudio, send Salemi his money or you are out on the street.”

      He never did this, though; Claudio cost him nothing and was useful to him in some minor ways. Problem is, I’ve done tons of business with Joe, and with Claudio as well, and so I consider Joe’s behavior as a betrayal and can’t help but lump him in the same category as Claudio — a dubious and untrustworthy individual, at bottom. Birds of a feather flock together, is how the saying goes. I began to see Joe and Claudio as the “Good Cop” and “Bad Cop,” respectively, of this criminal and shameful shakedown.

      I’ve cut off all communications with Joe; with Claudio, it’ll be a lifetime of harassment and perpetual reminders of his shoddy, reprehensible, and utterly inexcusable criminal theft of my hard-earned dollars. I believe in the law of Karma, so hopefully Joe and Claudio will get the respective lessons that they obviously need.

    • Kevin, there are two Benelli yahoo groups (populated by a bunch of Yahoos, in my opinion!) but no specific Benelli Group to my knowledge. Hope you caught the Tornado Article (and my subsequent letter, photo, and comments) in Classic Cycle Magazine. How’s the Tornado coming? E-Mail me direct at

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