I'm a dyed-in-the-wool motor scooter fan, and some of my favorite businesses are motor scooter shops like SCOOTER STATION and PTOWN SCOOTERS here in Portland, Oregon. And brands like Sym, Vespa, Piaggio, Kymco and many others sell real well and move fairly briskly both as new and used models. However, Benelli, a long-time name in decent Italian motorbikes just hasn't seemed to catch much fire in the U.S. marketplace yet. Even the Benelli motorcycles are relatively slower sellers in the U.S. as well.
So as of this writing, I still own the one and only copy of this little Benelli American version of their European Quattro Novex here in Portland, Oregon. This great little bike design is distributed by Power Sports Factory here in the United States badged as the Andretti X50. It is the smallest bike I own at just 71 inches long, and meant to compete with other compact design motor scooters such as the Italian Vespas and others.
The little Benelli features a peppy 2 stroke engine design, with automatic oil feed system. The 2 stroke engine design gives this small bike plenty of pep and great power for it's small engine size. And the build quality is very good on the small bike as well. It has plenty of storage space under the seat for groceries or even a helmet. For less than $3,000 dollars, the little Benelli is a decent alternative to the older styled Vespas and other classic design motor scooters.
Even the Benelli styling is very fresh, with many styling clues lifted from the full sized sport motorcycles. The little bike even features a front mounted gas tank with an aircraft styled filler cap, which looks very cool. And the bike gets a decent 62 miles per gallon and tops out at about 50mph top speed with a nice tuned exhaust note. It's a fun little city driving toy for sure. So why don't these little Benelli machines sell much better?
The owner of PTOWN SCOOTERS has had a few marketing conversations with Power Sports Factory, and so far they seem to have been somewhat unwilling to buy many ads in scooter magazines or to better promote their products as good as they are. Soon it will be Spring, and more and more riders will choose two wheelers for fun or as transportation, and they will likely pass up on the great little Benelli machines unless Power Sports Factory becomes a little aggressive and better promotes their great little bikes.
Although racing legend Mario Andretti has been recruited to have his name stamped on the little Andretti machines, little more promotion other than a few motorcycle show events was really planned by Power Sports Factory. And a few writers who publish motorbike news were pretty impressed with the revolutionary styling of the little Andretti X50 which might be the best looking 50cc motor scooter since the CPI GTR 50 which has been recently discontinued in the U.S. and now replaced with a faster and larger engined 180cc liquid cooled four stroke engined model.
One part of the problem with Benelli might have been that the Italian company run into some financial problems with the development of new models a few years back, and a Chinese company bought into Benelli and now produces the bikes in China, although in Pesaro, Italy, designers for Benelli still work on new designs and all Benelli bikes are built to the same high quality standards of any Italian bikes. Yet, it seems that many American buyers are still reluctant to pay the better part of $3k for a Chinese built bike, no matter how good it looks or performs. Benelli builds high end motor scooters with great detail and great warranties. Yet many American buyers don't seem to want to bite just yet. In Europe, the Quattro Novex bikes sell well and are nearly a cult item with some fans much like the CPI GTRs are.
Another problem for the little Benelli Andretti X50 bikes might just be the very tall seat height, which may deter many shorter buyers or those who like a lower center of gravity such as on most motorcycles or on the low slung Vespalike motor scooters. The tall seat height might just have been a major marketing design mistake and unpopular with potential customers.
Benelli might offer some very nice high end motor scooters of excellent build quality, but it just might be the poor promotion by the American distributor, the high price tags, the tall seat height and the fact that the Benelli brand is now built in China that sends many buyers out looking at other brands first. And that's a real shame. The Benelli motorcycles as well as firearms have always been known for being a quality brand and having decent features. Benelli will always continue to be known as a quality Italian brand name. But for a real crack into the American marketplace, Benelli needs to improve their promotion of their products and perhaps offer some designs more rider friendly with more realistic seat heights and a lower center of gravity. But I promise that any Benelli product won't disappoint you. This is a great brand, and well worth buying.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!