2014 Benelli Vintage Tour

The 2014 Benelli Vintage Tour is vintage motorcycle touring, Italian style.

| January/February 2015

  • Benelli Vintage Tour participants lined up for a group photo in the center of Urbania, Italy.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • The view of the Adriatic from our hotel.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Ham Busack and Sheila Ranger wait for the group outside the Benelli club — the lions are from the original Benelli headquarters.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • The Urbino Cathedral.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Marc Rosenfeld goes googly-eyed on a Bimota Tesi.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, Italians eat well.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Just one of the rows of vintage bikes at the Morbidelli Museum.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Tour guide “Super Mario” scrapes the exhaust on his Benelli 900 Sei going up Monte Nerone.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Giancarlo Morbidelli’s latest masterpiece, a beautiful V-12 designed for motorcycle use.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Simply spectacular: The view from San Marino.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • A lunch stop at the Battisti Benelli collection; the black No. 5 bike was once raced by Jarno Saarinen.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Eugenio Lazzarini with one of his 2-stroke Piovaticci race bikes.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Heaven on two wheels: The road to Monte Nerone was one of the highlights of the tour, with not a car in sight.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • The amazing crew at the Benelli club provided bikes, ride support and great hospitality.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • A typical barn-find MV Agusta 175 at the Imola swap meet.
    Photo by Richard Backus

A typical motorcycle tour goes from A to B, and in between is the territory you cover, whizzing past you then quickly receding in your rearview mirror. It’s a familiar recipe, but it doesn’t leave much opportunity to be a tourist, to really get familiar with an area, which is exactly why Eligio Arturi put together the Benelli Vintage Tour.

A native Italian, Arturi ran sailing trips in the Mediterranean and Land Rover expeditions across North Africa before BMW hired him to lead adventure motorcycle tours in the early 1990s. The BMW linkup inspired Arturi, an avid motorcyclist, to focus on motorcycle tours, and since forming MotoTouring in 1994 he’s led rides across South Africa, Morocco, New Zealand, South America, Japan, Singapore and more.

A vintage bike fan, Arturi decided to tailor a tour of Italy for the vintage crowd, combining classic Italian bikes with classic Italian countryside. For bikes, he turned to the Registro Storico Benelli, literally “Register Historical Benelli.” It’s the official Benelli club, located in the sole surviving workshop of the original Benelli factory in Pesaro, Italy. Club members agreed to provide machines, and in 2013 Arturi held the first Benelli Vintage Tour.

That first tour’s success prompted a second, and when former Lotus Tours operator Burt Richmond got involved he convinced me — and by extension another 14 enthusiasts and Motorcycle Classics readers — to fly to Italy to ride vintage Benellis.



Getting acquainted

An afternoon arrival found our group getting settled into our home for the next 10 days, the Alexander Museum Palace Hotel, a quirky art-themed hotel in Pesaro’s resort district on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. The evening was spent at the Benelli club meeting our guides and getting acquainted with our bikes, which ranged from a Sixties Benelli 250 Sport Special single to a pair of Seventies 6-cylinder 750 Sei’s. In between was a smorgasbord of vintage Benellis, including mid-‘70s 500cc Quattros and 250cc 2-stroke twins, a 1971 650 Tornado twin, plus an early ‘80s 354 (350cc, 4-cylinders) and 654 (same logic). Also available were a late model Ducati ST2 and a 1957 Ducati 250 single.

Most in our group were lifelong riders, like 53-year-old Portland, Washington, fire fighter Tim O’Mahony, a regular in the West Coast CB160 race scene who has ridden since he was a kid, and 60-year-old Chicago-based business man Sam Oliva, a street rider since 16. Riders were assigned bikes based on preference, which is how I ended up with a lovely 1975 500cc Quattro, mechanically an almost perfect clone of a Honda 500cc four. With Quattros rare as the proverbial Hen’s teeth in the U.S., what better opportunity? Besides, swapping bikes during the ride was encouraged, so I was sure to get some saddle time on a big Sei. After meeting our bikes’ owners and receiving a full rundown on our machines we headed back to the hotel, psyched for the next day out on the road.

RICHARDB
2/12/2015 9:38:22 PM

Dave, the next trip we're thinking about is the Isle of Man Classic TT/Vintage Festival in 2016. We'll post information as we get the schedule nailed down, in the magazine and online. Richard/Motorcycle Classics


DaveinVegas
1/29/2015 5:28:07 PM

The Italian trip looks incredible. I would be very interested in the next trip as I have just retired. Please contact me with details @ depe@cox.net. Long time reader and collector. DaveinVegas




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