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Benelli 125 Turismo
BENELLI's unostentatious 125 Turismo offers an attractive compromise between performance and economy.
The comparison chart illustrates this point, and it also shows the Turismo is just about half the price of its ostentatious 125 twin brother. Yet for a simple workhorse the Benelli Turismo, at £543, is still quite an expensive buy.
The engine is fired by a flywheel magneto with lighting coils. Since the lighting is direct there is no need for a battery. The bike is simplified in this and other respects.
There's no rev counter, no ignition switch, no locking fuel cap, no helmet lock ... but all the basics are there for a lightweight two-stroke in the European tradition.
The Italian Benelli factory knows something about tradition. Founded in 1911 their first 125cc two-stroke single was built in 1922.
The current 125 Turismo first saw the light of day in 1975 but until now has never been readily available in Britain.
It has the one-up four-down gearchange pattern on the right side with the rear brake on the left.
The suspension is hard for such a lightweight and the seat has virtually no padding. Surprisingly, the ride is quite bearable for 50-mile runs on good roads.
Starting was good at first but deteriorated after 200 miles. Sometimes the motor would go first time. When the engine decided to become petulant one or two onlookers would pause to watch the frantic action on the left side mounted kickstart.
Push starting was made difficult by the tardy clutch action. On releasing the clutch-lever it was possible to run three or four paces before the clutch bit. By this time the resistance of the slowly engaging clutch almost brought the machine to a halt with the consequence that the back wheel locked.
So it was back to the kickstarter—the path of least resistance.
The big finned engine cooled so quickly that even after a hard run the neat carburettor mounted choke lever had to be engaged.
When it fired on choke the engine sung out like an irate wasp fuming with blue smoke. It wouldn't make friends with the neighbours late at night.
Oddly on the open road the engine would sometimes run better with the throttle not quite fully open which may indicate top end richness.
The gearchange felt long and imprecise to begin with, but it was soon possible to execute swift and positive changes.
The engine pulled quite hard once in its power band. Headwinds and hills obviously knocked the little machine's pace.
For direct six volt lighting the headlight was fair. Often it was difficult to decide whether the fuzzy range of main was better than the closer intensity of dip. The flasher was something of a joke. It took a second or two for the filament to warm up before the light came on. So pressing the switch to flash produced absolutely nothing. The hooter was the "buzzer" type increasing in pitch with the engine revs.
Handling was hard to fault as you might expect on an Italian lightweight. On a section of road where the top surface had been removed to reveal a tramlined-like layer the Benelli tracked through it denying its existence. Other bikes on test were very sensitive to this grooved surface.
Uncomplicated and unassuming, the 125 Benelli Turismo is fighting but looks as though it has been made down to a price.