Established in 1911, Benelli is one of the oldest Italian motorcycle manufacturers.
Benelli was established in Pesaro, Italy in 1911, which possibly makes it the oldest of all European motorcycle factories in operation.
It was in 1911 when Teresa Benelli, widowed, invested all the capital of her family to establish a workshop and ensure a stable job for her six sons. Six men for a legend become reality.
At the beginning it was only a service garage, where some spare parts for cars and motorcycles were also made. But the six Benelli brothers had a much higher ambition: building motorcycles. In 1919, the first engine was born, a two stroke 75cc applied to a bicycle frame which did not produce satisfying results.
In 1921 the first real Benelli motorcycle appeared: the “Velomotore”, two stroke lightweight bike presented in two models, Touring (98cc) and Sport (125cc), followed in 1923 by a 147cc version, with which Tonino Benelli started to win the victories which will make the company of Benelli renown throughout Europe.
In 1926 Giuseppe Benelli designed a new motorcycle, a 175cc 4-stroke engine bike, overhead camshaft commanded by an original ‘four gear train’ and performances superior to the motorcycles of larger displacement, which would lead to countless triumphs of Tonino Benelli, Italian champion in 1927, 1928, 1930 and 1931.
Two years later, in 1934 Benelli introduced two new racing bikes: a 250 twin cam and a 500. In 1940 Benelli launched a 500cc with side valves and a fantastic racing bike, a 4-cylinder with double overhead camshaft and supercharger that would never be used on the track.
1948 was a milestone: Benelli hired the motorcycle racer Dario Ambrosini and on October 14th the Benelli brothers announced the decision to continue producing motorcycles, after the difficult WWII. The sports success of the new Benelli culminated in 1950 in Ambrosini’ victory of the World Championship in the 250 class.
By 1951 Benelli was offering a range consisting of 98cc and 125cc lightweights (the Leoncino or lion cub) and 350cc and 500cc singles. The Leoncino was available in both two-stroke and four-stroke forms. The need for cheap transport in post-war Italy meant that these lightweight models became immensely successful. Similar models were offered by Moto Guzzi, Ducati and Laverda, and the same economic conditions led to the growth in popularity of Vespa and Lambretta scooters.
Towards the end of the 1960s, the arrival of Japanese manufacturers caused a crisis in the European motorcycle industry.
In 1973 Benelli was acquired by Argentinian industrialist Alejandro de Tomaso together with its competitor Moto Guzzi which lead to the development of new models featuring multi-cylinder engines, such as the “350 Quattro” and the “500 Quattro”, and of the incredible 750 Sei powered by a huge six-cylinder in-line engine, which put the firm ahead of the Japanese competition.
In December 2005 Benelli became part of the group Q.J. Winner of the award as best motorcycle exporter of the year, Qianjiang is a corporation located in Wenling where 14.000 people produce more than 1.200.000 vehicles and two million engines per year in a super modern factory large as a city. About 670,000 sqm of production area equipped with sophisticated parts manufacturing machinery imported from Germany, Italy and USA. The company, with a capital of more than 750 millions US$, is listed on the Chinese stock exchange since 1999.
Qianjiang is focused on quality and has obtained the internationally recognised ISO 9001 certification since 1997.
In 2011 Benelli has celebrated successfully its first centenary.