Friday, August 15, 2008

Famous Benelli Bikes Back In Full Force

The legendary Italian motorbike manufacturer has seen many changes during a history that started way back in Pesaro, Italy back in 1911. The company survived world wars to develop models that made a name in racing. By 1973, legendary Argentine motorcycle developer Alejandro de Tomaso acquired the Benelli brand as well as Benelli chief competitor, Moto Guzzi, and pumped new life into the brand with a number of new multi-cylinder models including some six cylinder 750cc models. By the 1980's the Benelli bikes began to fall on hard times once again, and the latest revival of this legendary brand is by a new owner, Chinese motorcycle manufacturer, Qianjiang Group.

Under the leadership of the new Chinese owners, the Benelli nameplate is reemerging on a new line of high-end motor scooters such as the brand new Benelli X50 model which just hit dealers floors only days ago. The X50 features a sort of hybrid sport bike-ATV-like macho styling and has a top speed of 45mph. It features an aircraft-styled gas filler cap, dual headlights, 5 position adjustable rear shock absorber, wild high tech styling. However with a very tall seat height of 32.5 inches, this bike might just be more limited to taller riders. But the fit and finish quality are superb. And the custom-styled tuned exhaust is a real trick feature that you usually find on customized scooters, not on models straight off the dealer floor.

For around $2,800 when dealer preparation and setup. license, shipping, etc. are included, the X50 is a very cool little ride. It also has just about the biggest and fattest almost ATV-like tread design tires on 10inch wheels that I've ever seen in my whole life. A 90cc model will be available soon as well, with even bigger 12inch wheels and tires. The tires on the X50 look super grippy, and more than ready for almost any road conditions compared to some more slippery looking and sometimes handling tires on some other scooter brands. My tires on my CPI remind me of a racing design, almost like semi-slicks, and are absolutely fine for well paved faster speed streets, but leave you with a real uneasy feel on those less well paved side streets or hills, where you get a more than creepy uneasy feeling that you could lose it if you don't really watch where you're treading. But the tires on Benelli X50 look nearly glued to the ground by comparison, but it is the extremely high seat height, with a very high center of gravity that could still give a few riders an uneasy feel for this bike. But for taller riders, this bike might just be the prescription.

While the older Benelli name was most often associated with racing motorcycles, the new Chinese owners are reinventing the name by combining it with the Chinese expertise in scooter design, making the Benelli name a new force in high-end motor scooters and revolutionary daring new designs that break from the normal conventions of most scooter designs. And the quality control looks very good on every Benelli model built by Qianjiang. Each new model looks more impressive than the last one brought to the marketplace.

It looks like the famous Benelli name is back in full force once again. Live hard. ride hard.

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