Little hot rod two strokes are way too much fun to ride. Like a lot of us of a certain age, we grew up riding little ring dings, dirt bikes or street bikes, the late 60’s and early 70’s were ruled by two strokes. Three out of the four Japanese manufacturers based their whole product line on the smokers and so did many of the European builders.
Two stroke motorcycles are great fun for a number of reasons…they are lighter, easier to work on, they love to rev and I like nothing more than leaving bigger, heavier, high horsepower bikes in a cloud of blue smoke on a tight twisty road. Small displacement two strokes have a high giggle factor.
While Japan was making their inroads into the American market the Euro’s didn’t just retreat into the background, which is really what they did do looking back, some of them tried to make bikes that would appeal to the American buyer by bringing European performance and handling. Sadly, most of them just got beaten by the Japanese. Japan was able to build light, fast and reliable bikes at a much lower cost than the Europeans. Here in the USA at that time, cheaper was better and low cost bikes sold like hot cakes. Its sad too because the bikes from the grand houses of Europe were generally better. Yeah, the fit and finish wasn’t all that great (neither were the Japanese), the electrics were always a bit dodgy (so were the Japanese), but…the Eurpoean bikes’ handing was always far superior, the downside was that at that time, handling was not as important as horsepower and straight line speed.
I found on ebay this morning an early 70’s Benelli 250c two stroke that has winter project written all over it. The Benelli 250 2C was one of those bikes that the Italians trotted out as a direct competitor to the Japanese models. It had a more bland style than some of the bikes that had been brought before but still had a Euro flare to it. The 2C had a good chassis, quality suspension, a high revving motor and was comfortable to ride. All in all a very good bike, except for one little thing…you still had to mix the gas and oil yourself. While the competitors were using self mixing units (separate tanks for gas and oil and a pump did the mixing for you), you would have to measure out the right amount of oil at each gas stop and mix the two together. A minor nuisance but still a bother compared to one of the Japanese bikes. Honestly, I’ll deal with the minor hassle of mixing gas and oil to have the handling of the Benelli.
The bike I found this morning is going to need a lot of love, it sat outside for over 20 years and it looks it. The chrome is rusted, paint faded, the seat cover is gone (it does still have the Benelli logo on the back though), the gas cap won’t close (that’s why the tank is a bit cruddy I imagine), BUT…it’s all there! It’s a complete bike and it has only 681 miles on the clock. All too often I find bikes like this that are missing all kinds of parts and have absolutely no hope of ever being a motorcycle again, this one just needs some love…OK, a lot of love. But give it that love and you will have a very unique and fun little quarter litre bike to blast around the canyons with a big grin on your face. If it were me though, I’d leave it all rusty, just get it running, spoon on some new tires and just have fun.
One more little tidbit here, the Benelli 250 2C was also marketed as the Moto Guzzi 250TS, same exact bike, made in the same factory, different badge.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.