The Motobi Story

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Photo By Neale Bayly
A tank decal highlights Giro victories.

In 1949 Giuseppe Benelli quit the eponymous, Pesaro, Italy-based motorcycle dynasty after a disagreement with his five brothers. He quickly set up a new company, “Moto B Pesaro,” in competition with Benelli. His first motorcycles were 2-stroke horizontal singles of 98cc, 114cc and 123cc, but he also built a horizontal parallel twin 200.

Echoing the innovative German-built Imme R100 motorcycle of 1949, Motobi shaped the engine into a smooth “egg” shape, giving it a characteristic styling that Aermacchi would later emulate. The most famous Motobi (as the company became known after 1954) motorcycles were the Catria 125cc and 175cc 4-strokes singles introduced in 1955.

The singles earned a reputation for lively performance, smooth running and a lack of mechanical noise. The 175 proved successful in competition, too, winning nine Italian road race championships in its class between 1959 and 1972.

After Giuseppe died in 1957, his two sons, Luigi and Marco, took over the business and eventually repaired the family split. Benelli and Motobi merged in 1963, although the two marques maintained their separate identities until the mid-1970s. MC

Read more about Motobi in Motobi 125: When Small Is Better.

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