But it wasn’t to be just yet as Argentinian businessman Alejandro de Tomaso threw a spanner in the works. De Tomaso owned both Moto Guzzi and Benelli brands and had decided that the Benelli Six was his chosen attack on the sport bike market. Tonti’s project was put on ice, only coming to light at the Milan Motorcycle Show in November 1975, and production finally got underway in ’76.
It was an interesting time in the motorcycle world with the British and American bike industry crumbling and Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha rising in status. But the Japanese didn’t have it all their own way, with a resurgence from Italian and German manufacturers. In fact, the top three on the list of fastest bikes were all Italian, namely the Ducati 900SS, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Laverda Jota. And the BMW R90S was a close speed contender too, but led the ranks as the best all-rounder, mixing sporting abilities with touring comfort. With a large-bore, air-cooled twin and shaft drive layout, the BMW was on paper the closest to the Le Mans. While the R90S was regarded as better finished and offering a suppler ride, the Guzzi was considered hairier-chested with a stronger frame, stiffer suspension and ability to trounce the German in the acceleration and top-speed department, thanks to the brutish 71hp enabling a max of 130mph.