Benelli Tornado 500 is A2-friendly sports bike

Benelli tornado 500 sports bike in black livery
Benelli tornado 500 sports bike in black livery

The Benelli Tornado name is back for 2024! But, where it was once applied to an exotic 898cc triple superbike, it’s now returning for an A2 compliant parallel twin sportsbike to rival Honda’s CBR500R.

After a short-lived revival in the early 2000s, the historic Italian brand, most famous for its six-cylinder 750 ‘Sei’ in the 1970s, was bought by Chinese firm QJMotor in 2005, in turn owned by the giant Geely Holding Group, which also owns Volvo, Polestar, Lotus and, more recently, a minority stake in Aston Martin.

Since then, Italian designed but Chinese built Benellis have become increasingly sophisticated, stylish and impressive with its latest (and largest) offering, the 75bhp 754cc Leoncino 800 proving both competitive and decently equipped with Brembo brakes and a colour TFT dash.

Benelli Tornado 500 exhaust

But the new Benelli Tornado, although no reincarnation of the 140bhp three cylinder from the turn of the Millennium, looks set to be their most advanced – and likely most popular – offering so far.

Designed and developed, along with a ‘sister’ naked version entirely at the Benelli Style Centre in the marque’s historic home of Pesaro in Italy, the Tornado 500 is effectively an all-new machine.

At its heart is an exactly 500cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel twin with four-valves per cylinder. This is based on previous designs proven in the likes of Benelli’s popular TRK 502 adventure bike, however it’s now been extensively reworked to conform to the latest Euro5+ standards.

The result offers a claimed maximum power of 46.9bhp at 8500rpm and peak torque of 34ftlb or torque at 6000rpm, which compares well with the 47bhp and 31.7ftlb of Honda’s recently revised CBR500R, and the Tornado’s likely closest rival.

Benelli Tornado 500 rear end

But the new Tornado impresses elsewhere, too. The frame, and that of the Tornado Naked Twin 500, is a lightweight tubular steel trellis, with front suspension supplied by Marzocchi. There are fully ajustable 41mm forks up front, plus a preload and rebound-adjustable monoshock at the rear.

Elsewhere, the front brakes comprise twin 320mm discs and twin Brembo radially-mounted four-piston calipers – actuated by a radial master cylinder. At both ends, you’ll find a 17in cast alloy wheel – with a fast 120/70 up front and a 160/60 at the rear.

It doesn’t end there either, with all-new bodywork complimented by striking LED riding lights either side of the high and low beams.

Instrumentation is via a five-inch colour TFT dash with Bluetooth connectivity, plus there’s also a tyre pressure monitoring system and USB sockets as standard.  Benelli say the new Tornado 500 will be available in the first few months of 2024. Prices and colours are to be confirmed.