1972 Benelli 250 SuperSport - 5 speed
The history of this 1972 Benelli 250 SuperSport dates back to the early 50ís in Pesaro, Italy. Giuseppe Benelli, the oldest of the six Benelli brothers, set off to start a new motorcycle company with his sons Luigi and Marco. Some of the explanations given for this move were that Giuseppe was; possibly distraught at the devastation that the German forces inflicted on the Benelli factory, in disagreement with his brothers or just lured in by the prospects of an expanding market.
This new Pesaro-based company initially produced a range of two-stroke lightweights which featured the spine frame and horizontally mounted cylinder that was characteristic of the marque, called "B" and subsequently Motobi (1953). Soon after, Giuseppe proposed a four-stroke engine. This engine would begin life as a 125cc affair, and retained the egg-shape of itís two-stroke predecessor that was to be the trademark of Motobi engines. In fact the two and four-stroke Motobis are extremely similar in appearance which is partially the work of a very cleverly designed, compact head, valve and rocker arrangement. Giuseppe died in 1957 but the history of Motobi was far from over.
In 1962 the two companies merged back into one. The Benelli company now had a very large line of bikes that included the horizontally mounted Motobi design. The engine was soon pushed out to 175cc. A few of the production models offered during this period went under the names of Motobi Imperial Sport 125, Catria 175 and Catria Sport 175 with the sport models featuring clip-on handlebars and bump-stop saddles. Then came a 200cc with a bore and stroke of 66mm x 57mm. This was followed in 1966 by a full 250cc with bore and stroke of 74mm x 57mm and was further improved in 1968 when a five-speed gearbox was added. In the United States, these bikes were marketed as Benellis, losing their Motobi badges and falling under the names of Sprite and Barracuda. These motorcycles do retain the original Motobi insignia cast inside the engine cases.
The bike above, was the next progression of the design. In the United States it was called the Benelli SuperSport and in Europe the Motobi SportSpecial. The engine was hopped up slightly in accord with what many had been doing to the Sprites and Barracudas, the noted difference being a hotter cam.
This SuperSport was acquired by the Digital Garage in December, 1993. It represents a nearly finished, full restoration. Some of the elements that went into this restoration are: powder-coated frame and swingarm, seat recovered to original (including Benelli script across back), repaint and rechrome, digitize and manufacture tank badges, engine top-end rebuild, stainless spokes and Borranis, and straightening of folded and dented stainless fenders. The most difficult obstacle was the missing exhaust system which was rusted off two inches from the engine flange. These header pipes are no longer available (to my knowledge). After locating a complete header pipe to borrow, a copy had to be constructed and chromed. There are only a few minor pieces still missing that keep this bike static.