’69 Wards Benelli Cafe Racer
“Hey man, where’d ya get your Bike?” “Monkey Wards.” Yes, boys and girls, back in the good old days you could walk in to a Montgomery Wards store and walk out with a refrigerator, a new couch, a new toilet and…a new motorcycle. In the ’60’s Wards partnered up with Benelli to sell small displacement motorcycles here in the US and for a while it was a fairly lucrative project for both. The most popular were the small 2 strokes but the larger 250 and 350 models started doing well in the later part of the decade. By around 1970 the partnership ended, bikes that were left in the stores and warehouses were sold at prices that made buying a bicycle look expensive. Today these Wards Riverside models have developed quite a cult following. Internet forums, rallies, parts businesses specializing in these bikes…it’s amazing.
I found a really neat Wards Benelli cafe racer on ebay today and while doing a little research I found out that the model this guy is selling actually started life as an Enduro…yeah, an off road bike? The Mojave 360 was an early attempt by Benelli to get into the US off road market. Only a handful, it seems, have remained in the original form, most have been converted into something else, like this very nice cafe racer.
This Benelli Mojave is done very minimally, yet quite nicely and that is what makes a good cafe racer. The motor has been gone over and a few bits and pieces thrown in to add a little more power, the electrics have been freshened up and it has one of the coolest tail lights I’ve seen. The bike has very low miles and looks to be a fun bike to ride. If it’s not an instant attention getter when you ride it to your favorite Sunday morning breakfast stop, as soon as someone notices the tank badge, there will be a small crowd your little ‘Monkey Wards’ racer. Click on the pics for a couple more and what info the owner has given.