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