Future Investment: Benelli Tornado Novecentro Tre (2003)

Author: Bike Social Investment Specialist Posted: 31 Jul 2015

Benelli Tornado Novecentro Tre can be snapped up today for an amazingly low price

Benelli Tornado Novecentro Tre (2003)

The Benelli Tornado was a bike that promised so much, yet ultimately fell foul of the most common of Italian issues – reliability! Which was a tremendous shame because this inline triple is a lovely bike with a truly unique soundtrack, beautiful looks and a wonderfully colourful history. In short, it has all the ingredients to become a future classic and can be snapped up today for an amazingly low price.

Initially launched in 2003, the Tornado was meant to propel scooter manufacturer Benelli into the big league. In typical Italian style, rather than simply develop and build a reliable large capacity bike, Benelli wanted to create a bit of a sensation and so set their targets on the World Superbike championship. Considering this was Ducati’s domain, that was one hell of a goal, but it didn’t stop Benelli giving it a shot – which is where the often bizarre history of the Tornado starts.

Designed by Adrian Morton, also responsible for Ducati's 916To achieve their goal, Benelli enlisted the services of British designer Adrian Morton. Having previously worked on the Ducati 916, Morton had certainly proved his talents and sure enough, his creation was almost equally as stunning – both visually and technically.

With its elegant bodywork and super cool twin underseat fans, the tornado was an instant visual sensation. But it wasn’t all about looks. The underseat fans allowed Benelli to reposition the radiator under the seat unit, allowing them to give the bike a sharp steering geometry as there was no radiator to get in the front wheel’s way. The frame was then glued together using aircraft-spec glue to save weight and finally the beautiful triple engine installed. Next step was the WSB grid. Which is when the Benelli story gets a bit weird.

Despite being raced in WSB from 2001, it took until 2003 for Benelli to get around to launching a road bike, by which time the race team had folded. Another Italian bike entering the Italian ran series obviously helped the rules be bent slightly, but to be fair to Benelli they did built the LE homologation special in 2002. Not that it sold anything like the required numbers to meet homologation regulations.

Brushing aside the WSB failure, the road bike promised much but was very quickly hit with a series of technical issues. As well as various electrical gremlins, the Benelli’s engine proved both fragile and expensive to run. With a price tag of £11,500 the Tre was up against not only the Ducati 999 (although it was also pretty unpopular) but also the new breed of Japanese litre bikes that arrived in 2004. Underpowered and with a poor dealer network, the Benelli didn’t stand a chance and very quickly its sales dropped like a stone and so did its value. Even the release of a higher specification RS model with radial brakes, OZ wheels and a tweaked engine couldn’t revive the Tornado’s flagging fortunes and although it technically didn’t go out of production until a few years ago, by 2006 it was dead in the water. So why is it a future classic?

The Benelli Tornado Tre remains a stunning bike to look at and one that delivers true Italian exotica as well as a wonderful back story. However, better than that, its unpopularity and concerns over its reliability make it as cheap as chips! You can pick up a used stock Tre for less than £3000 and the higher spec RS version for less than £4000. Push the boat out and the limited edition LE version, which is a full-on WSB homologation special and only 150 were ever made, is under £10,000! Even more insane is the fact you can get a brand new LE with zero miles for less than £13,000. If you want a future classic that delivers on an emotional lever as well as a wallet pleasing one, the Tre is a great option. Yes, it is expensive to run, but as long as you get a Tre that has been through UK importer MotoGB’s workshop, most of the reliability issues have been ironed out, leaving you with a bike that looks amazing and sounds mind-bending on full chat. And was designed by a Brit! 

A stunning bike that delivers true Italian exotica

TECHNICAL SPECS:

Engine:

 

Liquid-cooled,12v, 898cc triple

Power:

 

133bhp @ 10,500rpm

Torque:

 

74lb.ft @ 8,000rpm

Weight:

 

198kg

Original price:

 

£11,500

 

Ask the experts:

MotoGB - The UK’s official Benelli importer knows everything about the Tre and how to make it reliable.

Benelli Forum -  A forum dedicated to Benelli models – if you have an issue, someone here will know the answer.

Ever ridden the Tornado Novecentro Tre? Tell us about.  or