Benelli's Six Pack
A completely restored Benelli Sei is a good way to tell the story of the italian way to muscle bikes
The seventies were all about performance and rapidly european and japanese constructors started a displacement war. Benelli's aim was to shock the world making something bigger and fancier than anyone else but their plan wasn't totally successful.
Their first step was to look and study in detail Honda's CB engines in order to create something really close bpth on the performance and reliability side. Then, once they created their own four bangers, they decided to go all in and design a mighty 6 cilynders engine and but in on the road.
When the first prototype of the "SEI" (Six) model - equipped with a 750 cc unit - was presented in 1972 it immediately grabbed everyone's attention. The production version arrived two years later but the customer had to wait until 1979 for the 900 cc model.
By that time Honda had been able to build its own 6 cilynders marvel, the CBX 1000, which had hit the market one year later. The Sei 900 arrived just a little too late but the fact that only few hundreds models had been built makes it a rare and valuable object in the two-wheels universe.
It is renown that this motorbike is a bit of a challenge (sometimes a nightmare) for all the mechanics to work on. Not only the increased number of parts (at least 1,5 more compared to a 4 cilynders) but also the 3 carburetors arrangement require lot of focus and knowledge.
When these kind of products hit the workshop the first things that comes to mind is to transform it in a ultra-exclusive and desirabel one off. I just started wondering about a 6 carbs, 6 silencers race-replica but the owner wanted just a perfect restoration to bring it back to when it left the factory.
The engine is so big and magnificent is almost impossible not to see it from any angle. Although the lines of the body and the color choice are ahead of its time (in my opinion), the 6 cilynders really dominates the view.
I can only imagine the impact motorbikes like these made on the market back then. And i'm not sure which could be today's "alter ego", maybe the supercharged Kawasaki or the Ducati Streetfighter. But, to be fair, all the hype of speed is a bit betrayed by the real performances.
80 Horsepowers at 8400 rpm were impressive numbers in the mid-70s but the overall weight and the power delivery make it a great cruiser instead of a sportbike.
The frame is substantially an evolution of the one used on the four cilynders models and it does its job. To stop all the grunt this Benelli was equipped with some of the first disc brakes by Brembo and this is a good news.
The front view is the one that gives the best percpetion of the total wideness: everything look even more out of proportion due to the thin tyres. The gauges are a true testament to 70s and 80s motorsport with their graphic and the match-like pointers.
The 6 in 2 exhaust system probably looks a bit too "standard" and you would expect something more flamboyant for such an engine but it's fine in keeping the overall noise and look more civilized.
The restoration involved the replacement of many parts with new ones because everything is about the details (and this Benelli has a lot of them).
This very model isn't truely faithful to the factory specs becuase in its 40 years life the owners have changed few parts but they're all from other Benellis (for example the side indicators) so in the end we can consider it a 99% period correct bike.
I'm a fan of the way they invented to link the leather saddle and the upper side of the tank. It gives the Sei a more personal and dedicated image and on the whole she looks smaller, especially on the side view.
The straight lines with rounded edges are the most late 70s you can get and they work wonderfully in the red-black combo.
The chrome details have the function to make it look a little less sporty and more road-focused, beside adding some preciousness and exclusiveness.
It's cool when you can follow all the steps that transform an old and tyred object into a mint time capsule that enhances all the stories of its creation. When a model is so special by itself you don't have to re-invent it but only to show love and respect.
This thoroughbred is a real mine of inspirations and ideas: it isn't so easy to photograph and so it's even a bigger challenge to transfer to the observers all the emotions that gave me.
In pure italian fashion every detail looks designed and stylized to be beautifule or at least personal, like the oil filter and its cover.
This bike will soon be the star of a photoshoot for a magazine that will celebrate it in a more proper way and then will be auctioned. We hope the future owner will preserve it for the next decades so the Sei could go on in telling the story of an era.