Air cooled, four stroke, a horizontal single
Bore x Stroke
74 x 57mm
24mm, Bs2 Dellorto
Battery and coil /
24 hp @ 8200 rpm
5 Speed / chain
Swinging arm hydraulic shocks
Single 260mm disc
Road test reporting should, ideally, be
objective; however, emotional responses inevitably creep in. Value judgements,
psychologists call them. Such was the case with our test bike, the 250cc Benelli
Barracuda: an attractive, well-made but not particularly exciting cycle if one
equates excitement with speed.
Why then, did we enjoy tootling about on this
single-cylinder popper? It's certainly no stormer. The handling is good but not
exceptional; it starts well but balks occasionally. The brakes are not
Remember the mountain man? A now-vanished
American of the rugged individualist mold, he subsisted (with his squaw) by
trapping and hunting. His transportation had to be reliable—and a fiddle-footed,
high-spirited speedster might break down when most needed. No. Our
American-folk-hero required a good, reliable, mule.
Now you fanciers of fine horseflesh might
consider this to be a rather arbitrary, unfair decision and could cite endless
accounts of purebred horses going on and on while other animals failed. Well
they might have—but don't bother the mountain man with such fol-do-rol; he made
his value judgement and he'd stay with it.
Enter the Barracuda… while other bikes might
flash past her, the Benelli 250 seems to say, "Keep your shirt on Ace. Do you
want to get halfway there in record time, or get all the way there today?"
Certain differences between the Barracuda and the mountain man's mule should be
cited. For instance: from a looks point of view the Barracuda need take a back
seat to very few. A snappy combination frame of pressed and tubular steel
employs a double-action hydraulic front fork and screw-down steering damper. The
rear is gussied up with swing-arm suspension of usual design. The steel gas tank
is attractively sculptured to look good and provide a genuine knee-grip on its
3.5 gallon capacity. (In fact, the entire riding position is excellent, with a
really nice balance and feeling of oneness with the bike.)
The front forks were a trifle soft, but had over
three inches of travel and served admirably in all our testing. Stock Pirelli
Universals (3.00 x 18 front; 3.25 x 18 rear) didn't hurt the ride, either.
The engine also contributes to the bike's looks,
being a horizontal unit with an attractive repeated elliptical theme. The 245cc
single has a bore of 74mm and a stroke of 57mm. If the power of the unit was
commensurate with its appearance, the bike would really perform. As it is, the
bike has, we are told, 24 bhp at 8200 rpm.
As readers of CYCLE probably know by now, a
race-tuned Benelli won the 250cc Sportsman race in this year's Daytona madness
and distributor, Cosmopolitan Motors, is justifiably proud. The kinship of the
racer to the Barracuda seems a bit distant to us, however. For, while our test
machine exibited the standard single-plunker tractability, a windit-up-and-wail
bike it isn't. There is an impression of reserve in all ranges as our top
quarter-mile time of 67.85 mph with an E.T. of 18.18 indicates. Now if that
reserve could be brought into play through modifications, a much different
package might result.
It would seem that the builders have tuned for
dependability instead of speed and they have succeeded in their aim, perhaps too
well. The fact that the bike weighs in at 232 pounds, and seems to afford all
manner of possibilities for power-boosting, holds out some hope for all you
do-it-yourself nuts; though we believe in letting the factory do it, and wish
A prod or two and the engine was purring along,
its soothing tones disturbed only by the tiny sip-sip-sip sounds that the wee
carburetor was making. Hence, there is a logic to having the low compression
ratio and the tiny carburetor throat: i.e. tractability.
One other point we have always been quite
sensitive to is placement of the kick-starter. The Barracuda is a delight in the
ease in which the starter can be swung out and down. At its lowest point the
pedal will touch the foot peg, but your foot is safely above and away from any
bruising contact. The starting response proved quite good, although ample warm
up time is recommended lest the thump-thump sip-sip stop as the gear is engaged
and the clutch let out.
When warm-up is completed and the bike is in
fettle, the engine is always quite solid and dependable… a joy in city traffic.
Its light weight and good manners should definitely be considered by the distaff
side of the market, when they get tired of hanging onto hubby's coattails and go
to buy their own iron.
Another nice feature of this bike is the dual set
of folding pegs. Nothing seems to limit a bike more than welded-on dirt and
pavement scrapers. And with a seven inch ground clearance, this machine could
easily be converted for use in the dirt.
The five speed gearbox is also a fine idea, but
rather unnecessary. In this state of tune, a 2-speed Powerglide would be ample;
but with a hotted-up version the new gearbox should serve very well.
The brakes work welt at the speeds attainable
with the mildly-tuned engine. Rear unit is a single trailing shoe measuring
158mm x 31mm while the front single leading unit has 176mm x 31mm resting
beneath its Italianate dummy air scoops.
While we're on the subject of origin it is
interesting to note that 1967 will surely go down as the year the Italians
discovered the candy-apple barrel. Seems like each new chariot this year is
finished in colors guaranteed to tittilate the psychedelic set.
On the positive side, the noise level on our test
machine was quite good, with the Brevetti "Silentium" muffler allowing a nice
tuned sound. Another fine Italian touch was the heavy-duty clutch and throttle
cables, very sturdy and worthy of imitation by certain other manufacturers in
The clutch itself was a multi-plate wet unit that
always engaged well with no evidence of slipping or fade, and would "free"
fairly well when cold. That trouble area on most bikes, the battery/tool case
was no trouble, opening easily and closing tight. Unfortunately, there were no
tools inside but that was just an oversight not stock condition. We examined the
kit of a friend who owns a Barracuda and found it adequate for most roadside
All the electrics are quite nice; out of the way
and simple. The high-styled headlight nacelle has a speedometer and high beam
indicator resting above the "approved" seal beam unit.
The air cleaner is another of those
gravel-strainer units we do love so well. If you are passing a coal truck, no
lumps will get inside your engine, but anything smaller will be inhaled—although
perhaps expelled through the full-bike-length neoprene crankcase breather tube,
if the engine masticated the anthracite sufficently.
Another nice touch had nothing to do with the
Barracuda, but is worth mentioning. That being, the Benelli 49cc Fireball, and
boy is it ever. The nice folks at Cosmopolitan provided the little devil as a
courtesy-chase-bike and we gratefully took it along wherever we went. It proved
to be a real favorite. (ed. Note… "Value judgement") Utilizing a little
two-stroke, the Fireball whonks through the gears so impressively that we were
actually going to run it through the traps at the National Speedway, but
darkness called a halt.
This little bike is such an outstandingly quick
tiddler that we found it drawing our attention at odd moments. The test staff
took a lunch-break during our "in- town photo session. Two teeny-weeny-boppers
shot up on their trikes and emitted cries of "Look 'a motycycle'."
They then proceeded to climb on and hug the
little Fireball, while its Barracuda brother stood by ignored and unloved.
The quality of finish on the little Fireball is
high as the 250 and no loss of elan resulted from riding the little bike around
our high-performance haunts.
Both the Baby and the Big Barracuda have lovely
leather seats with heavy double-stitching for stress-strength and close fit. To
our tastes they are just a mite too narrow, though.
The horn on both bikes could stand some beefing
up. A moth went flitting by as we were trying them and we couldn't hear either
klaxon over the infernal racket its wings made.
All negative value judgements about candy-apple
colors aside, the finish was fine and the chrome gas-tank sides and polished
aluminum engine cases were very attractive.
If a bike that can spend ten or twelve days
outdoors and then start easily and not show rust is to your fancy, then the
Benelli Barracuda will satisfy you amply. The bike used in our test was
unavoidably forced to sit outside in some of the coldest and rainiest spring
weather we've experienced in this area for years and its ability to withstand
such punishment is worthy of mention here… so we mentioned it here.
All in all, we were left with a curious mixture
of feelings about this bike. Surely the bike is dependable and will give
predictable, if plodding, service for a long period of time. The detail and
design are good and the engine is strong and potentially powerful. It just seems
a step away from completion. Like many of those little two-seaters that began
the groundswell of performance and handling requirements that have drastically
altered the American automotive scene, the Benelli Barracuda has the beginnings
of a movement there. Somewhat unbalanced toward reliability at the expense of
performance, but certainly worthy of a place in our motorcycle market. It may
not get you there first; but it will get you there every time. And that should
count for something when it is time to buy
Source Cycle Magazine
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