Trepidation is an interesting word and its meaning is; trembling, alarmed agitation or quaking (that’s not a trendy word for eating porridge). This has been part of my physiology during the last few weeks of the Benelli project, not simply concerned with my numerous and some might say unusual upgrades but the realism of the fact that I hadn’t previously ridden this or any 900 Sei, prior to the strip-down. It was down to pure seduction from the Italian flair and six cylinder exhaust sound. My trepidation is manifested by being a perfectionist and concerns with my choice; have I chosen a good, reliable classic to enjoy and tour the continent, will it be comfortable for long journeys, etc… and most important of all, will it all actually work in harmony the way I expect it to?
Initial road testing of the Benelli was a pleasure, except for the exhaust smoke at high revs which was embarrassing astride a smart looking refurbished bike. My trepidations about the first ride turned into surprise and pleasure. Once I’d remembered to turn fuel taps on and off again (too many years on modern bikes) and activating a manual choke, it was great just to be in the saddle. The 750 Sei seat is more comfortable than the standard 900’s thin excuse.
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But, obviously, this bike is all about the engine. That big single cam motor is amazingly flexible. Admittedly when I first tuned and balanced the three carbs the Benelli wouldn’t tick over below 2300rpm. It would also regularly cut out when changing gear or stall at a junction. Thankfully, a re-tune with the aid of a Carbtune balance tool, and a mixture reset after the first 100 miles sorted out these issues. She now ticks over at 1200rpm (there is no flywheel or its low rpm effect) and happily pulls from 1500 to 9000rpm in top gear. And there was me prior to riding, negatively pondering about only having five gears… doh!
The big bike corners with composure too. At least it does now. The new shock absorbers I’d bought in my early online shopping spree turned out to be three-quarters of an inch too long causing the centrestand to barely steady the bike and affecting the way the rear end handled. Oops. I asked Hagon Shocks for assistance and was advised to fit a pair of model 2810 units adjustable for spring preload plus 10 positions of bump and rebound damping. This permitted fine tuning of the handling and improved the ride. I asked if I could swap the normal damping adjuster at the bottom of the shock for one at the top of the strut because the Benelli’s six hot silencers would prevent easy adjustments, which was done – now that’s what I call service. So now I have pleasurable handling and the added bonus of being able to tweak settings if the Benelli is loaded with a passenger and/or luggage.
Security and paranoia
Who’d want to nick a one-off Benelli hybrid special? I’m taking no chances. The most frightening aspect of recent bike theft is the fact that bikes, including classics, are stolen simply for their scrap value. But alarms kill batteries on laid-up classics. Datatag, where the bike’s components are tagged is good, but passive. Tracking is interesting though.
Datatool’s latest product is called TrakKING; a 24/7 monitored device that works with police to recover your bike using GPS and GSM technology. It also has its own battery with three months duration. The system tracks the motorcycle only when triggered by the bike being moved without the ignition key and sends the owner a text message to a mobile phone.
It costs £299 plus installation (around £50) and comes with a year’s free monitored subscription and can be transferred from bike to bike.
The next and last instalment of this Benelli rebuild will introduce a modern take on cylinder head tuning, making this 900 Sei a Honda’s CBX 1000 trouncer among these classic 1970/80s six-cylinder superbikes.