Benelli Tornado Tre 900RS

 

 

 

Make Model

Benelli Tornado Tre 900RS

Year

2004 - 05

Engine

Four stroke, transverse three cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder

Capacity

898 cc / 54.8 cu in
Bore x Stroke 88 x 49.2mm
Compression Ratio 11.0:1
Cooling System Liquid cooled

Induction

Sagem, electronic ignition with 1 injector for each cylinder

Ignition 

Electronic

Starting

Electric

Max Power

105 kW / 142.8 hp @ 11500 rpm

Max Torque

100 Nm / 10.2 kgf-m / 73.8 lb-ft @ 8500 rpm

Transmission

6 Speed

Final Drive

Chain

Front Suspension

Upside down Marzocchi, adjustable

Rear Suspension

Central shock strut with lever system, adjustable feather/spring basis, course and compression phase absorption

Front Brakes

2 x 320mm Ø discs, 4 piston calipers

Rear Brakes

Single 240 mm Ø disc, 4 piston caliper

Front Tyre

120/70-17

Rear Tyre

190/50-17

Dry Weight

195 kg / 430 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

16 L / 4.2 US gal

Consumption Average

6.1 L/100 km / 16.3 km/l / 38.3 US mpg

Standing ¼ Mile  

11.1 sec
Standing 0 - 100km/h / 62 mph 2.9 sec

Acceleration  60-140 km/h  /

37 -  87 mph

8.5 sec

Top Speed

261 km/h / 162 mph
Reviews Motorbikes Today 

True grit and performance characterise the new Tornado Novecento Tre RS, a bike without compromises, the embodiment of Benelli sports know-how at its best .

The Tornado RS was designed and tested for anyone looking for a track bike. It is powerful and efficient, equipped with the best components on the market. With a high technological content, it adapts to the specific needs of an increasingly demanding and expert public.

THE LOOK

The Tornado RS has restyled graphics compared with the Tornado Novecento Tre. It is available in an attractive red/black combination, giving it a more aggressive look. The bike’s exclusiveness is also emphasised by the new colour of the frame, swingarm and steering plate, which are black on this model. All of the changes have helped to make the Tornado RS more original, streamline and compact, but haven’t distorted the character of this bike, which a rider can relate to and trust right away.

THE ENGINE

The Tornado Novecento Tre RS has the well-known 900 cc three cylinder in-line engine, even more powerful and high performance in this version. The delivery system and runners have changed, to allow improved power and torque. All of this gives excellent performance and more regular, gradual power output. The profile of the cams and the intake runners has changed too, making engine operation smoother and more powerful. Another important change has been made to the injection control unit. The software has been optimised for an improved ride on the track. Constant performance is guaranteed by the addition of the oil cooling system which uses a radiator. The slipper clutch remains, but the Tornado RS allows adjustment of the slipper starting point according to each rider’s driving style. Obviously, the exclusive flexible coupling system is still present, not only guaranteeing regular operation, but also making the handlebar control more comfortable. There is a fully removable six speed gearbox which, like on all competition bikes, allows rapid gear substitution without taking the engine to bits. The clutch is improved with clutch plates of different composition, providing more constant performance, particularly on the track.

THE CHASSIS


The Tornado Novecento Tre RS frame is also made by joining the front part, including the steering pivot and the side trellis frame structure made of molybdenum chrome steel to the rear part, made of cast aluminium alloy. The two parts are made integral by strong screws securing the four trellises, which allow an extremely solid join, reinforced by structural gluing, as in the aeronautical industry, to completely exclude micro movements and vibrations.

The front fork is made by Marzocchi to a Benelli design and has a 50 mm diameter, with a pressed end and Ergal 55 tubes. It lends the front end greater stability and improves the way the bike goes into a bend. It also guarantees that the bike will hold the trajectory at the centre of a bend and stable braking. The Tornado RS fork is more sporty in its set up and allows even more extreme use on the track, thanks to the possibility of external adjustments. It has adjustable rebound, compression and spring pre-loading, so that the bike can be rapidly adapted to the rider’s preferences.

The steering pin and base deserve a mention, altered compared with the Tornado Novecento Tre to reduce the weight of the front end and improve the strength of the vehicle’s front section. The handlebars are set 15 mm further back, so that the rider can enjoy an even more tucked up driving position. The Tornado RS rear shock is made by Extreme Technology, with an Ergal 55 central body. As well as being stronger and lighter than the conventional models, its temperatures remain lower, providing constant performance. However, this version also allows for separate compression adjustment for high and low speeds. This makes road riding more comfortable, as well as offering the possibility of adjustments for the track.

COMPONENTS

Like the Tornado Novecento Tre, the RS has top quality components on which great care has been lavished. This version has the exclusive wheels which Benelli designed and developed with OZ. They are forged wheels, giving a 1.750 kg weight reduction between the front and the back and making the bike even more manageable. They also allow faster direction changes, improvements going into a bend and make the bike more stable during braking. The wheels are anodised, ruling out the need for any maintenance. Another new feature of the Tornado RS is the Brembo "Serie Oro" (Gold Series) front brake system with a radial calliper. This is the most high-tech system, able to improve system braking power and the capacity to modulate it. The fork/calliper assembly was designed to make the system strong enough to prevent the calliper from bending during braking and changes in behaviour. Compared with the conventional system, it is even more suited to sports use on the track since, as well as reducing wear on the brake pads, it provides constant braking performance even in "extreme" situations.

Other exceptional components worth mentioning:

  • adjustable steering damper, which meets rider requirements in particular on the track
  • Serie Oro Regina chain much stronger than conventional models
  • mudguards made completely of carbon fibre to reduce the weight of the vehicle

Review

Whenever the Italians design a new bike or car it usually creates a stir from the public and the press. Italian design is always different and the Benelli Tornado RS certainly lives up to this tradition! I saw the Tornado previewed some years ago and read about the mixed reactions it had, so finally I managed to get hold of one for a real road and track test to see what all the fuss was about. There are a lot of top end sports bikes in the world, not just from the Japanese, but from the UK, Italy and now Germany too. So is the Benelli that different from the others, would it get noticed in a crowd?

I made the trip down to Three Cross motorcycles in Dorset to collect the RS, it was a warm sunny day and there I was going by car and trailer to get it. Why can't I ever get it right, it always rains when I go to get Harleys by bike, still the forecast was good for the next week or so, maybe I would get to really try it out?

My question about the Benelli getting noticed was soon answered on the way back. Within 10 mins of leaving it was surrounded by onlookers at the first set of lights in the local town, it was the start of a pattern! Everywhere I went during the course of the following 10 days was the same, the Benelli turned heads and that's frankly a hard task these days with all the good looking bikes on the market. Even non-bikers stared from the cosy air-conditioned comfort of their cars. Maybe it was jealousy as I weaved past them in traffic, maybe they all looked at bikes this way, but I still found my way to the front of the queue and still had the looks as I pulled away leaving them all fumbling for a gear!

The big giveaway with the Benelli RS is those fans in the tail, talk about making people stare and become speechless, a quick prod at the person next to them and then the reaction - What the ****'s that? You can just imagine what they're saying, it just makes you laugh when you ride by. Of course on the RS the fans are red to go with the rest of the bike, but on the Tre they are yellow, just to make them stand out even more. Let's face it, in black it just wouldn't have been the same!

After a couple of days riding it was time for the annual pilgrimage to Silverstone for World Superbikes, 3 days of bikes and racing, brilliant! This year I was parked in the race paddock with the Benelli, irony in itself as they are not eligible to race now. Why? The World Superbike rules changed and the Benelli was built to comply with the old rules, 750cc four cylinder, 900cc three cylinder and 1000cc twins. But now it's 1000cc for bikes, and that means a major redesign if it's going to race again. And in my mind race it should.

Riding solo and two-up for a few days both in town and out on the ordinary roads gave a first verdict on the bike. When parked up outside a cafe, it's a real attention magnet, and getting there was a ballistic experience on any road! With race bike equipment, handling and comfort it's not the easiest bike to ride a long way but it rewards you with supreme feel and feedback, and wow does it cover the road at a respectable pace! If that isn't enough, whenever you turn up at your mate's house they always come out to greet you with the words "Well I heard you coming around the corner, it makes the whole room shake' It's good to know you've arrived!

So what's it really like to ride?

Fire up the motor and it rattles a bit, then settles down to a low groundshaking rumble, a bit like my old Triumph Daytona T595, in fact a lot like it, but that's where the similarity ends though. It may well sound the same casually idling on it's side stand, but slip it into gear and ride off and then you see the real differences!

The engine response is excellent and it pulls 'turbine like' from nothing right up to the top end with smooth power delivery and tons of torque. The cassette gearbox is very slick and quickshifting through the box without the clutch is just a delight. Changing down is easy and effortless to with the adjustable slipper clutch making it smooth to change gears without actually touching the clutch lever. Blip the throttle and snick it in, nice and easy, except when you need to find neutral. There are two possibilities of finding neutral, get it as you come to a stop, or kill the engine and find it then. In talking with a couple of other owners I found out that it's a trait of this box, it's livable with, but in town it spoils it a little.

The RS is a lot less heavy on your wrists than you may expect from this style of bike, and the wafer thin seat is not as bad as it looks either as it spreads the load well. The suspension is fairly firm to say the least and bumpy back roads are not a recommended place to ride, so get it out on those smoother 'A' and 'B' roads for the best results. The Benelli RS needs to be ridden out of town, on fast corners, on tight or flowing roads, it really doesn't mind, the more interesting the road the better as there's little need to change gear! There's a little over 11,500rpm to play with here, and there's also no noticeable point where you suddenly take off, it really is as flexible as that. At normal cruising speed the Tornado RS is running at a a very leisurely 4500rpm at 70mph in 6th, yet when you need to get past something or feel the urge for a little spurt up the road all you need do is twist the throttle and away she goes, solo or two-up makes little difference.

In the Benelli spec sheet it says that this motor puts out a claimed 133 bhp, and in a recent head to head on track at Cadwell Park with our long term GSX-R 750 it felt about the same. There was really very little difference between them. The Benelli is smoother and a lot more progresive with its power delivery than the 4cyl, but in terms of 'chuckability' the GSX-R is at the head of the queue. The triple sounds fantastic when you open it up, the induction noise alone makes you keep it up over 7,000rpm, then it howls and just get faster and faster!

Having ridden quite a few miles on the roads over the course of a few days it was time to get to grips with the bike on a track, so off we went to Cadwell Park to try it out properly. The on-road handling so far was fantastic, what would it be like on a track at higher speeds?

The Benelli suspension is a quality package that seemingly gets better and better the faster you go, but it also works well at low speeds to. The overall feeling you get from the bike is that it feel totally planted both front and rear at almost any speed, Benelli have definately got that difficult balancing act of combining easy, fast steering and a stable feel sorted out exceptionally well. The Marzocchi 50mm USD forks are perfect for this bike, combined with the “Extreme Technology” rear shock you get all the feel with absolute grip and stability, although on the road it does feel a bit stiff but liveable with. On the top yoke there's a “Extreme Technology”steering damper, but it in my personal opinion it's a fashion accessory more than a necessity as it really doesn't need it. I turned it down to its lowest setting on the road and it didn't need it at all on the track. No matter what you did to the bike on acceleration or over bumps, there wasn't the faintest hint of a headshake, a wobble, in fact there was never a moment when the damper actually went to work.

The same story comes when you talk about braking. Benelli have equipped the RS with Brembo Radial 320mm front brakes with 4 piston calipers which do the job with no fuss and perfect feel and progressiveness. On the road you never need more than a finger to haul you up from normal speeds, on the track add 1 more finger and you have the 'King of the late brakers'! The braided hose/Brembo radial caliper combo on the Benelli RS is another sign of the top quality kit that this bike has, a bike with near perfect braking feel and some serious stopping power when you need it the most.

The Benelli Tornado RS is a pure sports bike designed for twisty roads fun. There are a few little things you will have to get used to, but in general its a fantastic bike with one sole purpose in life - to thrill! The riding position is perfect for sliding your arse off the seat and scraping your knee on the tarmac on almost any corner. The bars are just in the right place so they don't give you wrist ache over a distance, and believe me on one occasion I did over 400 miles up to Cadwell Park, rode on track all day then back home again without any aching wrists at all - mind you the seat is a bit hard after that amount of time and I did feel a little sore there!

The Tornado RS is a real-world performance bike and will equal any offering from Japan and the its home country. The real thing about the Benelli RS is it is unique and will draw crowds wherever it goes. It will suit poseurs and real riders alike, its a serious sports bike with fabulous looks and it also goes pretty damn well with it!

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