The British Alternative: 1974 Benelli Tornado 650S for Sale

1974 Benelli Tornado 650S L Front

Looking at the basic numbers, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Benelli Tornado 650S was simply a Triumph in sexy, Italian duds. But while the basic configuration matches bikes from the British manufacturers and it was designed to compete directly against those bikes, the feel was subtly different. The 642cc twin was very oversquare, loved to rev, could push the bike to a claimed top speed of 117mph, and was reliable to boot.

So almost nothing like a British twin then.

1974 Benelli Tornado 650S Dash

Benelli was founded in 1911 by the widow Teresa Benelli to provide employment for her six sons and keep them from getting into mischief. Originally a repair shop, the bike branched out into full-fledged motorcycle production in 1921 and they produced a variety of twin, four, and even six-cylinder motorcycles until they closed up shop in the late 1980’s.

1974 Benelli Tornado 650S Tank

While the Benelli was an excellent performer right out of the box, the British twins have a wealth of tuning and parts support that makes owning one today a better proposition. But if you dare to be a bit different, a Tornado makes for a very cool ride and you are unlikely to find a better example than this one.

This is really one of the nicest Benellis I’ve ever seen and the bike features a ton of cool details to obsess over, like funky, vibration-absorbing footpeg nubs and a gorgeous drum brake up front.

1974 Benelli Tornado 650S Rear Hub

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Benelli Tornado 650S

Up for auction is this beautiful Benelli Tornado 650S. The frame has been powdercoated, the bearings in the wheels, steering tube and swingarm have all been replaced. The cables are all new as is the wiring harness. Take a look at all of the chrome work and polishing. Anything that was chromed originally has been re-chromed and polished to perfection. Those are new exhaust pipes and mufflers. The Ceriani shocks were restored. new seat cover, new chain and sprockets. Note the polished aluminum turn signal housings – no plastic there! The side covers, tail light, head light were repainted, but the tank has the original paint since it was deemed good enough to be left alone. As was the engine and transmission. These motors are very durable. Over the years I have ridden Joel Samick’s 650S on two Retro Tours (highly recommended!). I enjoyed it so much that I bought this one. His has triple the mileage of this one and it is still running as strong as ever.

It starts right up with a mighty roar and takes off smoothly, shifting well through all five gears. The engine has a short stroke and revs very quickly. If you are accustomed to a British 650, this will surprise you – in a good way! The front brake is a gorgeous double-sided affair that looks fantastic even if it doesn’t work as well as a modern disc. If you attended the 2013 Barber Vintage Festival you may have seen this bike in the Motorcycle Classics show. It was awarded the Best European trophy. I have ridden it sparingly since then. Everything works as it should including the clutch which was just replaced. While replacing the clutch I fixed an oil leak from the engine side cover. I bought the clutch kit and gaskets from which has always had the parts I have needed for my Benellis. Their prices are very reasonable too. These bikes have always been rare and one in this condition is rarer still.

1974 Benelli Tornado 650S R Sidepanel

Bidding is very active and up to $6,900 as of today. A beautiful, unusual alternative to a fickle British twin or a more obvious Italian v-twin, this bike should be great everyday classic that goes and shows equally well.


1974 Benelli Tornado 650S R Side

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2 Responses

  1. christhewelder says:

    Work of art!

  2. Jess says:

    Triumph and BSA’s time was in the ’60’s. The only fairly bright spots for these two in the early ’70’s were the Rocket III’s, Tridents (mainly the ’75) and possibly the TR5T. Norton Commando’s were competitive until the end of production in ’75. Triumph’s TSS may have gained some market share with more development.