1972 Benelli Tornado 650S for Sale

1972 Benelli Tornado 650 R Side

While the name Benelli is now more likely associated with firearms outside the vintage biking scene, the company was founded in 1911 by matriarch Teresa as a way to keep her six sons steadily employed. Within ten years, they’d gone from a bicycle and motorcycle repair shop to manufacturer of their own, in-house engine and a successful racing team.

The Tornado 650 was introduced in 1969 and was designed to compete with the bigger offerings from Norton and Triumph in the US and Great Britain.  Powered by a very oversquare 642cc parallel twin, it was reliable and performance was on par with the competition, with a claimed top speed of 117mph.

1972 Benelli Tornado 650 L Side

While those numbers suggest that it’s virtually interchangeable with other machines of its general capacity and specification, in reality the Benelli offered much greater refinement than a Triumph or Norton of the era. Unfortunately, while those machines may be lacking a bit in terms of sophistication, they’re certainly fast, and offer a wealth of tuning parts, shops that specialize, and support communities.

The Benelli will likely get you a wealth of curious looks. Especially if they take a close look at those funky, vibration-reducing footpeg rubbers…

1972 Benelli Tornado 650 Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1972 Benelli Tornado 650S for Sale 

Very low mileage bike restored to as-new condition by Vincent special builder Dale Keesecker in 2008 with 1159 original miles. Entire engine was gone through, all seals replaced, everything checked and carefully reassembled. New paint and high quality chrome applied, cables replaced, any rubber or plastic showing deterioration was replaced.

The bike now has 2280 miles on it. I bought it from Dale in 2009 and have fully tested it over the 1121 miles and 5 years that I have had it.  It is stone reliable, starts instantly on the button, idles perfectly and is a dream to ride. No paint scratches or blemishes, never fallen over, never been wet. Tires bought new in 2011, less than 1000 miles on them. Brakes work great, all electrics work except that the horn is disconnected. Does not leak oil.  It is very quick, handles beautifully and has a phenomenal sound. A huge attention getter anywhere I go on it.  Includes full service manuals, diagrams and user manuals in English & Italian.

I am selling because I have far too many motorcycles and some treasures just have to go.

1972 Benelli Tornado 650 L Rear

I love the fact that the bike features both electric and kick start, along with that gorgeous front brake. Today, Benelli is in a bit of limbo: they are currently still owned by a Chinese company and are supposedly still producing their wild sports triples. But distribution and quality both seem spotty, and the styling of these modern bikes, while very distinctive, is perhaps a bit overwrought… Which is a tragic turn of events, given their history. I realize the world market needs lots of cheap and cheerful motorcycles, but here’s hoping the Qianjiang Group uses the Benelli name and heritage to relaunch the brand at some point as a manufacturer of premium motorcycles.

1972 Benelli Tornado 650 Front Brake

$7,000 is premium money for a Benelli Tornado but, from the photos, this is a really stunning example and looks basically like a brand-new 1970’s Italian motorcycle. If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary and love the sound and feel of a parallel twin, this could be your ride.


1972 Benelli Tornado 650 Tank

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4 Responses

  1. I saw this bike in person about 6 months ago – it’s simply gorgeous. $7k for ANY 1972 bike over 500cc in this condition seems like a steal to me; catch it while it’s still cheap!

  2. Jess says:

    Hi Paul, I enjoy reading your column in Classic Bike Guide. Now I am going to have to check out your blog, “The Vintagent”
    This Benelli is very nice but the reserve is not met for a $7k bid, I tried it.

  3. tad says:

    Yeah, it’s hard to fathom: just seems like a few years ago I was seeing Laverda SF’s for like $5k… Wish I’d gotten one back then.

  4. Jess says:

    Checked ebay today, the Benelli is no longer available (likely sold through a side deal) Thats why I hate to bid to buy an item on ebay. This seems to happen quite often on ebay anymore.