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Bike Review - Posted 13th June 2016
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Benelli 2C

A recent review of this classic Italian two-stroke in the RealClassic monthly magazine inspired John Blackburn to recall his time with a similar 250 twin...

Benelli 2C? The best handling lightweight ever, you simply didn’t need to slow down for bends. And yes, you can see 95mph come up on the speedo, possibly with a slight tailwind, and it never suffered from the kind of inertia you seemed to get with single cylinder four-strokes where you needed to ride them fairly hard for about an hour before the engine started to free up.

Benelli 2C

Manufacture of the 2C began in the autumn of 1972 with the iron-barrelled, drum-braked bike. The Elettronica version with the alloy barrels and disc front brake came out in 1976 and this had 32 CV* at 7000rpm compared with the 25 CV of the earlier version. From personal experience, two things made the bike go faster. The first was that you could get an extra 10mph by using ear plugs. The second was discovered after filling the petrol tank and miscalculating the amount of oil to add, putting in only half the requisite amount. The bike went like a rocket! The handbook quotes a 4% oil mixture, 25:1, but with the two-stroke oils available by the 1980s this caused over-oiling of the engine and a 33:1 mixture seemed to provide a better compromise between lubrication and performance. With the synthetic oils available now, a further reduction in the oil ratio required could be expected. Less smoke?

The Benelli’s engine was noticeably more flexible than that of its Yamaha rival, with some power being available from 3000rpm, more from 4000rpm and it took off at 5000rpm. By contrast, the contemporary Yamaha RD required an extra 1000rpm throughout the range to provide equivalent acceleration.

Benelli 2C

The 2C’s front disc brake, being plain cast iron, works predictably and progressively in the wet, although it will rust when left wet and over time in a damp atmosphere. By contrast, the beautiful chrome disc brake on the Yamaha offers virtually no retardation in wet conditions until dried off. This means that you pull on it like crazy until the disc dries, at which point it locks solid and dumps you down the road.

The Moto Guzzi TS250 version of the Benelli was introduced in 1975 with alloy barrels and a drum front brake, updated to disc the following year, used the same sidepanels as the larger Guzzi twins and had chrome mudguards with flat sides. The Benelli was fitted with stainless steel mudguards, which will stay rust-free through many years of use. The Guzzi tank holds 13.5 litres, exactly one litre more than the Benelli variant, which may explain a slight difference in shape.

I believe that the designer’s son was killed after riding off with the sidestand down, and this was the reason that this model was never fitted with a sidestand. When you look at the forward mounting position of the sidestand on contemporary Italian bikes, you can see how disastrous it might be if you fail to retract the stand before riding off. With the sidestands on British bikes always being mounted about halfway back on the frame, if you do ride off without raising it, it will usually retract successfully on the first left-hander.

Unfortunately, Italian chrome does not have a good reputation for durability. The insides of the silencers will never rust on a two-stroke, but on the outside, if the chrome does not disappear as soon as you start to polish it, then you can be fairly sure that the rust will get underneath it and cause it to fall off. On the bike featured in RC146, the chrome appears to have long since disappeared from the headlamp. In good condition, however, the 2C is a very pretty machine.

Smoke? Yes, of course, but once you are through the town and have kept the throttle wound on for about five miles, the oil which has collected in the silencers is burned off and the smoke screen clears and reduces to just a slight wisp... and it makes you feel just like a teenage tearaway again.

Benelli 2C
Benellis (Maybe) on Now...

The 2C is a versatile bike. After helping to marshall an endurance horse event on this bike, I discovered that it did not scare the sheep when out on the green lanes, which my C15 green-laner had a tendency to do. So the 2C was converted with a trials rear tyre, a front wheel off a Suzuki trail bike and a rear sprocket 20% bigger than standard. This worked well over many miles of green lanes in Derbyshire and North Wales, and with this gearing I was never, ever beaten in the traffic lights grand prix.

When the brand new Lucas advance/retard on my C15 sheared off when returning from a job interview at the Joe Lucas factory (not a good omen), I had to catch the train home. Faced with the need to collect the C15 inexpensively, an old sidecar frame was dug out of the garage, a metal ramp attached to it and the whole thing bolted to the 2C. The C15 was collected on this contraption the following weekend. Later, the same combo was used to help me move house.

Benelli 2C

This 2C had actually been purchased to provide spares for another bike which had been bought a few months earlier, but it turned out to be so good that I rode it for 13,000 miles before selling it on as a complete machine. The (original) one that I was left with had been miserably abused in the engine department. After looking at it wistfully one day, an idea occurred to me and you can see the result in one of the photos…

Benelli 2C

For many years Speedscene handled the spares for 1970/80s Benellis. When they retired, their whole stock of spares went to Selwyn Motorcycles in Suffolk (selwyn motorcycles@live.com). You will find Selwyn and Liz both knowledgeable and helpful.

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*Italians measure engine output in CV; cavalli vapore, literally ‘steam horses’. Peculiarly appropriate for old Italian bikes, no?



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