The Benelli Jarno is the only liquid-cooled 125 road bike produced by the Pesaro-based manufacturer. For the time being we will not discuss the perhaps better known 125 "2C" which, as enthusiasts will remember, was air-cooled and therefore "daughter" of the 70s, a period before the 80s and 90s to which, instead, we have dedicated 125stradali.com.
Presented at the Milan Motor Show in November 1987 and marketed from June 1988, the Benelli Jarno, named in honour of the late Finnish rider Jarno Saarinen who had given Benelli several successes in the early 70s, was the last road bike produced by De Tomaso management and the swan song for the Pesaro-based manufacturer.
Unfortunately, modern equipment in line with the competition, such as a beautiful aluminium frame and an engine complete with electronically controlled exhaust valve, is accompanied by the inevitable need to reduce production costs, with the adoption of certain outdated components, such as the 16" lenticular wheels, which make the Jarno a road 125 already obsolete at birth.
Quoting the Benelli Historical Register: "The decline is slow but inexorable. In 1988 Benelli was in agony: production was almost at zero, technical and commercial offices were dismantled and about 250 employees were laid off. The glorious Pesaro-based company was saved from an uncertain future by an ex-worker, the Pesaro industrialist Giancarlo Selci, owner of the Biesse group, who took it over on 23rd October 1989. The company started from scratch, focusing on the moped sector, postponing further ambitious projects for some time, and all their efforts were concentrated on new models: Così, Devil, Scooty. For Benelli it seems to be calm again, but after the first moments of euphoria the future becomes uncertain again."
The price in 1988 was Lire 5,033,700 and the colours initially available were black and white with a choice of green or red inserts and a black saddle. The other colour is white with red inserts and a red saddle. All colours have white rims.
So the Jarno is not a bad bike, but compared to the fantastic 125 stradali presented in 1988 by Aprilia with the Sintesi, Cagiva with the C10R, Gilera with the MX1 and Honda with the NSR-F, the Benelli is simply not up to scratch. On the other hand, in a market driven by young and fickle users (who isn't at 16 years old!) who were very attentive to new products that practically followed one another every six months, presenting technologically and stylistically dated products was tantamount to commercial death.
The Jarno also took part in the Italian Sport Production championship in the 1988 season, but without achieving great results and despite having experienced limited circulation, it remained in production until the early 1990s. Today Jarno takes perhaps its most important revenge by starting to interest collectors precisely because of its limited circulation and availability.
The bike in brief
Compared to the competition, the Jarno has rather compact and slender dimensions compared to other 125 bikes stradali which tend to be more of a medium sized bike. The Jarno is characterised by a very simple, no-frills line and although it comes with a full fairing that completely hides the frame and engine from view, it retains a particularly slim appearance that in the white/green and white/red colours is also particularly elegant.
The small fairing with two small side air intakes integrates perfectly with the fairing, which is composed of two side panels with two large air intakes to facilitate engine cooling and two lower shells that close off the lower part, allowing part of the exhaust expansion to exit to one side.
Unfortunately, the sheet metal tank cannot be folded down, but together with the side panels, it integrates masterfully with the fairing to form a single unit that is very pleasing to the eye. The saddle extends forward on the sides, also integrating well with the tank and side panels, and once removed gives access to the air filter box and battery located in the front area and a small tool and document compartment located in the rear. Very unusual, not to say stupid, is the position of the plug for the mixer oil, which incredibly is located under the instrumentation! The oil tank is therefore hooked to the frame near the steering head and therefore hidden behind the fairing.
The CEV instrumentation, specially designed for the Jarno, is well made, even if its design is dated, while the electrical controls are the valid CEV common to almost all Italian motorbikes produced in the second half of the 80s. The foot controls are well made with the rider's footpegs equipped with well-designed aluminium supports and the passenger's footpegs equipped with cheaper iron tube supports, but just as well designed. Note the rear mudguard that partially fairings the rear wheel.
The Jarno's chassis is a double load-bearing beam in boxed aluminium. The engine, set into this structure, is supported at the front by two triangles welded to the main beams. The seat frame is made of square steel tubes.
Suspension is provided by a classic 35 mm telescopic hydraulic fork from Foral at the front, and a preload-adjustable hydraulic monoshock at the rear. The rear swingarm is a classic steel square tube design.
The braking system of the Jarno is a different note in the panorama of the 125 stradali and sees at the front a double fixed 240 mm disc served by efficient double-piston callipers and standard aeronautical type piping. At the rear we find a fixed 240 mm disc served by a single-piston caliper.
The design of the alloy wheels, on the other hand, is rather dated, as are the dimensions, which are two 16" wheels. The Pirelli MT 75 tyres used have the following sizes: 100/80-16 at the front and 120/80-16 at the rear.
The Jarno engine produced by Benelli incorporates the most important innovations in terms of two-stroke technology and is therefore equipped with an electronically controlled throttle valve in the exhaust and of course reed valve intake, balancing countershaft and electric starter. The fuel supply is entrusted to a Dell'Orto PHBH 28 BS carburetor, while the exhaust is an expansion combined with an aluminum final.
The Benelli engine has a less sporty character than its competitors and according to the tests of the time seems to suffer from vibrations at high revs. In any case, the measurements taken at the time indicated performance that was not too inferior to the competition. In fact, the Jarno recorded a maximum power at the wheel of 25.57 hp at 10500 rpm and a top speed of 154 km/h.