Benelli is one of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers in existence. It was founded in 1911 by the Benelli family, consisting of an enterprising mother and her six sons, based in Pesaro, Italy. Initially, they started out by repairing bicycles and motorcycles. In 1919, the company built its first motorcycle, and a year later, developed its first engine. In 1921, Benelli launched its first production motorcycle that incorporated an engine designed in-house.
Soon after, Benelli started to take part in various motorcycle races across Europe, with considerable success. In the 1940s though, when World War II broke out, the company suffered damages that forced it to halt production. In 1949, production resumed, and by 1951, Benelli had a line-up of motorcycles ranging from 98cc to 500cc on offer. They were quite successful, and had expanded their operations to the United States, apart from Europe.
By the end of the 60s though, the Japanese had begun upping their game in the motorcycle industry, something that Benelli and other European manufacturers found hard to compete with. In 1973, they were acquired along with Moto Guzzi by Argentinian entrepreneur Alejandro de Tomaso, under whom they produced some competitive products, and enjoyed limited success. That wasn’t enough to keep Benelli afloat though, and the company ceased production in 1988.
In 1995, it was revived by Andrea Merloni. The company launched one of its most popular bikes of all time, the Tornado Tre, in 2002, followed by the TNT series. Benelli is now a part of the China-based Qianjiang Group, and is still headquartered in Pesaro, Italy. The company tied up with the DSK Group of India for their Indian operations, which began in 2014.