Motobi in America
In the late fifties and early sixties Motobi sent some bikes to Argentina. It was a succes, the tiny bikes from a tiny factory in Italy were fast and very reliable. Primo Zanzani prepared some bikes for the Argentinian importer and Umberto Massetti, famous factory driver for Benelli in the early 1950s and emigrated to Latin America, took place on the leightweight Motobi. In no time a lot of enthousiastic people shared behind the brand of MOTOBI.
Umberto Masetti on a 125cc Racer in South America (Photo from “Benelli Road Racers” by Ainscoe)
The Motobi racing-bikes were used by a lot of private drivers. He was fast, easy handling and reliable. In Belgium the Pegaso team with driver Pierrot Vervroegen won the National Championship in 1959 with a 175 cc Catria Super Sport bored up to 207 cc. This bike was faster than the Adlers, NSU’s, Aermachi’s and Ducati’s. Also in America these racing bikes won a lot of races and the Championship of Chili was won on a Motobi in 1959 or 1960. Jon Jacobson (U.S.A.) imported from Chili one of those racing-bikes which was used the late 1950s.
This promoting bike, with big fuel tank, was special sent to race in the “Tour of Argentinia”. It looks the same like the bike of Umberto Masetti. The frame is a Super Sport frame with the real racing numbers, even as the engine. Compared with the numbers of the Vervroegen racer and other racing engines, his Motobi is built in 1957 or 1958. He has also a lot of special spare parts for the 4-gear racing-engine
A lot of races were won in North and South America and the factory conformed more and more to the American market.
The dealer from California put the next advertising in Cycle World, march 1963:
In the late 1960’s much morebikes went oversee, than kept in Europe. The “eggs” were sold in a great range of models, unkown in Europe, like Barracuda, El Diablo, Scrambler, Metisse Super Sport, Sprite California,etc. most off them with high exhaust systems en handelbars.
In 1967 were sold 66.042 “egg” shaped models and in 1968 only 31.501 bikes to the USA importer Cosmopolitan. The range was sold as Benelli in different sizes from 125, 200 or 250cc and choise for 4 or 5 gear.
Proto type Motobi-Benelli Tornado 650, 1968
Not only MINI bikes and “eggs” were sold in the U.S.A., but also the Tornado. This bike was special devellopped for the American market. The 650 cc twin had to beat the Triumph Bonneville, Moto Guzzi V7, Laverda and MV Agusta. But Benelli was too late. The first proto-type ride on the Italian ways in 1968, but the first motorcycles for the customers left the factory in 1970 / 1971. In our country’s, the first one came in 1972. It was too late to become a big seller!