Ellaspede Benelli SS 125
By James McCombe - 17 Mar 15
We all know there are still those bikes tucked out of sight, long forgotten and gathering dust. Deep under a pile of magazines and old dust sheets at the back of the shed of that curmudgeon across the road. There be gold in that garage, but like treasure, finding it is only half the problem; you've still got to dig it out. And when you do, will it still shine as brightly as when it was out of reach? Even for those bikes which are part of the family, a known quantity when laid up, once wheeled back out into the sunlight after decades in the dark, taking the rose tinted specs off may provide some shocks. So it was for John, owner of this delightful 1974 Benelli SS 125. Fond memories of Uni days spent zipping about on the little Sports Special were strong but having been laid up for more than 25 years, what would he find? Ellaspede Co-Founder Steve Barry fills us in: "This story begins in 1978 when John purchased new, another bike (the same as this one) to commute to Uni on. After years of service, including at least one long road trip, the little piston gave up and the bike was disassembled for assessment, boxed, then put into storage. Cut to 1986 John happened on an advert for what was at the time the only other 125SS he’d ever seen. So now he had two Benellis with broken engines. The 2nd one (the one you see here) was mechanically righted and ran for a while until the engine gave up again, with an apparent misaligned bore cited as the issue." "Fast forward to 2013, John revisited the pair of 125s (still in storage) and via some encouragement from his wife, decided to resurrect one out of the two. By this stage the once fresh baby Benellis were not all they use to be and John knew it would require serious work to get one going again. After seeing one of our other bikes in an exhibition that year, the couple approached us. After consultation we made a start on the build in the second half of 2014." "John’s thoughts were to rebuild mechanically and freshen aesthetically using salvageable parts from both of the bikes where practical. Well, the mechanical rebuild was big and the aesthetic freshen up turned out to be major, transforming this little Italian basket case into something brilliant. The 125cc engine (known as “eggs” for obvious reasons) required 40 years worth of work to bring back to life. We thought we’d be fabricating and machining new parts to replace certain old parts, such is their scarceness, however John managed to find a replacement piston and rings along with some other items in Italy. With these in hand and after some hydro blasting, we sent the 125 motor through the mill and produced a sweet little single the Benelli brothers themselves would be proud of." "As mentioned, the idea of an aesthetic freshen-up grew to something more and part of that incorporated some subtle modifications to modernise usability and toughen the looks, whilst importantly maintaining “elegance and sophistication”. After a complete strip the frame was given a general clean up, the pillion peg mounts were removed and bracing added. The centre stand required straightening and was also braced for good measure. "The frame (along with many other parts) was then sent off for powder-coating in satin black. A local chroming house did a great job in refurbishing the interesting clip-on handle bars, headlight lip, under-tank strips and side cover plates. The original seat pan was shortened, beaten to suit, lowered, re-foamed, shaped and upholstered." "New Ikon shocks now hold up the rear end and the forks were re-chromed then re-built with new seals. Wheel choice is important and the the original hubs came up a treat after blasting and light polishing with 1.85 x 18 front and 2.50 x 18 rear Excel rims laced on. Avon Roadriders are the tread on duty and as a package this combo gives the bike a more substantial presence." "Paintwork is similar to the original colour with “the right amount of metal flake” for a bit more 70’s flare and glitz. The electrics were all rebuilt to 12V specs and the addition of indicators help the safety side of things. In this case Posh Chamfers were employed. The original taillight was cleaned, polished and mounted on an interface to the custom rear stainless guard. The front guard is also a fabricated stainless unit." "Many hours were spent rebuilding, refinishing and replacing items across the bike. John supplied us with three old Delorto carbs to get it running. After a clean and inspection it was decided to go new and the Delortos were set aside in favour of a Mikuni round-slide. With a modified Postie bike manifold fitted, numerous jetting changes, mixture adjustments and timing tweaks we had the egg singing better than Pavarotti." "The final piece of the puzzle was applying the “Motobi” logo to the seat rear. (Some internet research will provide an understanding of the Benelli/Motobi logo relevance) Over the course of the build this cute little bike has become a favourite around the workshop and now once again has proudly hit the streets, starting the next chapter in it’s story." With both aesthetic and mechanical improvements abound, Ellaspede have worked wonders with the little Benelli and the owner John once again has the base on which to make a million new memories. Be sure to follow the guys on Facebook and head over to their site for the latest projects.