Celebrating Speed - Plan B Motorcycles Benelli 512M

"Let me start by saying that this is not a restoration and it's not a replica either. Nor is it a proper tribute, but more like a celebration of a very important and iconic machine. The Ferrari 512M Endurance car was a milestone in racing technology which I have represented in this two-wheeled machine."

These are the words of Christian Moretti, the man behind Plan B motorcycles in Northern Italy. The motorcycle he is referring to is his Benelli '512M' and the following is his account of how this awesome bike came to be.

"The starting point of the build was a Benelli 354 Sport. I wanted an Italian bike to celebrate an Italian car as a bit of patriotism is not so bad every once in a while. The bike was in fair condition but had been left sitting in a dusty garage for almost twenty years. The 354s have a small frame and were also quite light for their era, but the small engine wasn't ever really a powerful performer, and by today's standard it was hopeless. So, before even starting the project, the whole block was swapped for a 500cc engine."

"The bike now had almost twice the power and way more torque packed into a smaller and lighter frame. Well, half the frame actually, because to make things more interesting the whole rear end was cut away and the twin shock setup replaced with a fully adjustable mono shock system from Gears Racing. I then bolted a new lighter aluminium subframe was bolted in to support the seat, the lithium battery and the fuse box of the brand new electrical wiring."

"The head of the now bigger motor was then ported and polished a bit, just to let it breathe a bit better. The original points and condenser nightmare was ditched in favour of a brand new Dynatech electronic ignition system which literally added some more "spark" to the whole build.

To cope with the rear suspension changes the front end and brake system was traded for a Buell M2 system which was polished and cleaned. The big 340mm rotor with the six pot calliper fit well to the 18" wheels, which eventually became the only thing left from the original bike. They have also been equipped with Avon rubber made especially for vintage racing."

"Four flat slide carburettors with custom velocity stacks work in harmony with the new exhaust system. An unusual 4-into-1-into-2-into-4  with four HP Corse hydroform silencer, all ceramic coated in white. You can't get any more seventies than that!

All the bodywork harks back to racing bikes of the 70s and was made by mixing different materials and techniques. The gas tank is made from 0.8mm steel, with two big windows on the sides to keep an eye on the fuel level. The seat and the upper part of the fairing are fiberglass, while the belly pan, big air scoops on the sides and all the rest were made from aluminium."

"The strange looking handlebars I built help to provide a bit more space and allow the bike's pilot to lean more on the tank, positioning their weight further over the front of the bike. The upper tree houses all the warning lights and hand controls and is topped off by two gauges, a classic Veglia rev counter and a mechanical stopwatch that's electronically operated via controls on the handlebar. The stopwatch allows the rider to keep track of lap times in a very classy way, either on the circuit or on the everyday commute to work."

"Because the 512M is a road going bike it features a side stand that is also electronically actuated from the cockpit and when it's not in use it stows away inside the aluminium belly pan. There's no real technical reason for that just an added bit of wow factor.

At the end the Benelli 512M is probably a way to show that it is still possible to build custom bikes outside from the usual cafe racer or scrambler scene, celebrating the past while experimenting something new with shapes, lines and gizmos."

Photography by Michel Deguernel

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