With the 2008 BX 449 Cross, 505 Enduro and 570 Motard, Benelli has managed to bring a seriously exotic approach to the off-road world. Bikes like the Aprilia RXV have nothing on the Italian-by-way-of-China offerings. Instead of offering whacky engine and suspension combinations, Benelli simply decided to offer bikes that fit into traditional off-road racing categories, but so thoroughly re-engineered, that when you look beyond their carbon fiber bodywork, you hardly recognize the bikes beneath.
Starting with the engine, which uses titanium valves to rev to
11,000rpm — impossibly high for a single — and in 449cc form makes
52bhp. It uses a single-piece cast crankcase to make it incredibly
compact. It also has a right-side chain and left-side kickstart.
But it's the chassis that really differs from the norm. A single cradle
made from forged, cast and extruded elements, the top portion on both
sides features a carbon strut the completes the top of the cradle. This
strut is removable and replaceable with ones of different thicknesses,
allowing riders to tune the chassis for stiffness to suit individual
riding styles or tracks. We wonder if a similar approach could be
applied to road race bikes, allowing teams to tweak chassis stiffness
and therefore on-the-limit handling characteristics.