Sunday, 24 January 2010

Benelli fours and Tomaso's sauce

Benelli had some magnificent victories with 500 fours, and the sight of Renzo Pasolini on board the green and silver DOHC racer must have been pure magic in an era when a pushrod parallel twin was the most complex road bike you could buy. Paso was timed at 148mph in the 1967 TT as he chased Ago's MV and Hailwood's Honda around the Island

So when Alejandro Tomaso tried to chase Honda's road bike success in the 1970s a 500 four made sense, especially since Soichiro's mob had left us dazed and confused when they replaced the wonderful 400/4 with a twin. The new 504 Sport looked like a 400/4 for grown ups with its insurance friendly 500cc, Le Mans I handlebar fairing and giant killing handling.

But Tomaso underestimated the Japanese pace of change, and while he was really pedalling a SOHC Honda engine from 10 years earlier, Kawasaki wheeled out a DOHC all-new four at barely half the price of the Benelli. In fact the Benelli cost more than many 750s, and at a time when the average biker was barely 20, talk of past glories was probably pointless - just as well, because the UK importers didn't mention it, and the old green and silver racing colours never got a look in.

These days Chinese Benellis hint at their heritage with green and silver bikes - but with yellow cooling fans in the tailpiece for three cylinder engines. Where's the heritage in that? Come on Benelli, how about an 8 gear four cylinder Kel Caruthers replica?

And if anyone's got some decent pics of a 504 Sport we'd love to see them. Why? Wait and see...

No comments:

Post a Comment