Let’s talk about Italian exotic motorcycles. What comes to mind? The army of cool Ducatis of course, right? And for some of you, MV Agusta’s enticing sci-fi lineup will also take quite a dramatic place on the list. But there’s an equally exotic motorcycle that once stood tall with red Ducatis and hooligan MV Agustas. We’re talking about the Benelli Tornado Tre, an Italian exotic that rocked the world with its radical packaging in the 2000s.
Benelli is one of the oldest surviving motorcycle manufacturers and has a rich racing history. Under the leadership of Andrea Merloni, when Benelli started producing mopeds and scooters, it was thought to be the apocalypse for this once famous motorcycle company. But it all turned out to be wrong when Benelli launched the Tornado Tre in the early 2000s. This Supersport villain did everything differently than what the motorcycling world was used to.
From a bonded trellis frame made from different materials to a cooling system with radiators placed under the seat, the Tornado Tre had some of the wackiest engineering implementations we’ve ever come across. The suspension, brakes, and electronics used on the Tornado Tre were of the highest quality.
But this extremely ahead of its time machine unfortunately couldn’t take off, and we think it’s the best Benelli ever made. In an alternate universe, Ducati would struggle to keep up with the exotic appeal of the Benelli Tornado Tre!
Benelli Tornado Tre was the only motorcycle that came close to defying the drama and sophistication of hot Ducatis!
Tornado Tre was powered by a dramatic inline three-cylinder engine
The funny part about the Tornado Tre 900 inline-three engine was that it was never built specifically for the Benelli. The engine was actually meant to go in a Laverda Supersport. But that didn’t make it to production and Benelli acquitted the design and reworked it to be used as the heart of its bold Supersport machine.
Its 898cc triple puts out 135bhp at 11,500rpm and 74lb-ft at 8,500rpm via a six-speed gearbox. This engine was a howler when viewed from its maximum revs, but torque arrived relatively early. This dual character made it a pleasure to ride the circuit and be a well-behaved hooligan on public roads.
The Benelli Tornado Tre did things differently
But the coolest aspects of the Tornado Tres were how radical methods were used to put this bike together. The trellis frame was a four-part assembly and none of them were welded together. All mesh components have been glued together using aircraft grade gum. It also helped Benelli to use different materials for each of the frame components.
The front part was made of ASD tubular steel and the rear of cast aluminum. For added security and rigidity, all bonded components were fastened together with titanium screws. The method resulted in an extremely strong trellis frame, and the structural bonding technique added micro-damping to the chassis, which helped eliminate stubborn vibration and feedback when ripping the Tornado Tre on the trails. race.
The next out-of-the-box aspect of this Benelli is how its cooling system has been designed and placed. The Tornado Tre has its radiator placed under the rear seat. Air would be drawn to the radiator via two movable ducts and another set of vertical inlets below the turn signals at the front. And to suck in the hot air, Benelli has added the coolest exhaust fans positioned like thrusters under the rear part of the bike.
Tornado Tre was designed to be one with the rider
Benelli was very serious about making the Tornado Tre a rider’s machine, which is why the automaker said their Supersport was built around the rider. The decision to position the radiator under the saddle was also intended to make the bike more rider-centric. Without a radiator up front, the front end of the Tornado Tre was much narrower than its peers. These helped riders corner with more confidence and also provided a much more precise handling disposition.
The rest of the high-end components were also wired in to make the rider smile wide and long. Suspension duties were taken care of by adjustable Marzocchi front forks and a unique Extreme Technology rear monoshock with an Ergal 55 center body. The benefits of this rear suspension setup are that it is stronger, lighter and that it supports fewer temperature peaks, which contributes to providing constant damping power.
Benelli Tornado Tre was a feast for the eyes
Benelli Tornado Tre’s lineup focused on visual drama. The curves, creases and sharp rear end all came together seamlessly to form one of the sexiest motorcycles ever. The Tre 900 was offered in two two-tone hues – an exclusive grey/green hue and a more aggressive red hue with a grey/black livery.
Right after the launch, Benelli launched 150 units of the Tornado Novecento LE, a special edition model to homologate its machine for the Superbike World Championship. Its unique features were a carbon fiber body and tank and lightweight magnesium wheels. All of this added visual drama and made the villainous Benelli much lighter!
One last “re-bored” attempt before saying goodbye
Despite being a technologically advanced Supersport, the Benelli Tornado Tre couldn’t quite take off. It may have been because of the many problems that previous models faced, or because Benelli couldn’t spread very far, as the fame of the Tornado Tre did. Before sealing its fate, Benelli made one last attempt at redemption by creating an even wilder version with the Tornado Tre 1130.
It uses a rebored version of the same inline three-cylinder engine and produces 161 hp and 91 lb-ft of torque. If he manages to challenge Ducati’s monopoly at the time, this big bad Benelli does not last long.
Sources: Benelli Recovered, Topspeed