Benelli was established in Pesaro, Italy, in 1911
Benelli, a widow, sank all of the family capital into
the business, in the hope that it would offer stable work
for her six sons: Giuseppe, Giovanni, Francesco, Filippo,
Domenico and Antonio or "Tonino".
In the beginning, it was just the "Benelli Garage"
which only repaired cars and motorcycles, but was already
able to produce all of the spare parts needed for repairs.
In 1920 the company built its first complete engine in-house,
a single-cylinder two-stroke 75 cc model, immediately
adapted to a bicycle frame.
A year later in 1921, Benelli built its first motorcycle
with its OWN engine which had by then become a 98 cc model.
Two years after that, using a version specially designed
for competitions, Tonino the "terrible" took
to the track. He displayed an extraordinary natural talent
as a rider and embarked on a very successful career which
confirmed the company's exceptional capacity for development
Riding a Benelli 175, Tonino Benelli won 4 Italian championship
titles almost consecutively, in 1927, 1928 and 1930 with
the single overhead camshaft version, and in 1931 with
the double overhead camshaft version.
Unfortunately, a bad crash during a race in 1932 cut short
his brilliant career and on 27 September 1937 Tonino died
following a "silly" road accident.
1962, Benelli and Motobi (established by Giuseppe Benelli
in 1949 after disagreements with his brothers, but later
attached to the parent company when the family problems
were resolved) produced around 300 motorcycles per day
and had 550 employees.
Towards the end of the 1960s, the arrival of Japanese
manufacturers caused an unprecedented crisis in the
European motorcycle industry.
Benelli changed ownership but despite its continued
innovations in the motorcycle sector - for example,
the incredible in-line six-cylinder engines introduced
in the mid-60s - it was still losing important market
segments, overwhelmed by Japanese competitors. This
led to a temporary break in production.
In 1989 there was hope of a revival with the backing
of Pesaro-based manufacturer Giancarlo Selci. But the
time still wasn't right for a real comeback.
In 1995 revival of the brand with the glorious history
became a real possibility when Andrea Merloni took charge.
Results were fast in coming with the launch of the marvellous
Tornado 900 Tre super sport bike in 2002 and the current
launch of the TNT, the explosive roadster.
If the Tornado brought an air of technical and aesthetic
innovation to the motorcycle industry, we can certainly
say that the TNT will hit it like a bomb.