Ridden: Benelli, the little Italian lion
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It wasn’t so long ago that Italian motorcycles had a bad wrap for being beautiful, but rather expensive machines that needed a lot of TLC.
That’s all changed recently, with Benelli Motorcycles solving the price problem with its range of learner-approved 500cc parallel twins, and recently released 750cc lineup.
Since 2005, Benelli has been owned by Qianjiang Motorcycle in China, with the resulting bikes much more attainable than your perception of an Italian bike should be, while not losing any of the styling that makes an Italian designed machine so desirable.
After some ups and downs, Benelli re-launched into New Zealand with the learner approved 500cc parallel-twin TRK 502 adventure tourer. This was quickly followed by the Leoncino and a pair of slightly more off-road friendly X models.
The range has widened to branch out from the LAMS segment with the addition of the 752S, Leoncino 800 and TRK 800 - all powered by a 754cc parallel twin engine and bestowed with modern amenities including TFT dashboards and more premium components including Marzocchi suspension.
The LAMS class is still the bread and butter of the Benelli marque here in NZ, and the brand has an ace up its sleeve in the form of the TNT 600i - one of the only four cylinder LAMS bikes currently on the market.
Based around a 600cc DOHC engine producing 44kW at 11,170rpm, the TNT 600i not only looks the business with its stunning styling, being a 600cc machine it also qualifies for the cheaper registration bracket.
"With a long line of heritage and inspiration to draw from, combined with its broad range of quality-built and multi award-winning motorcycles, Benelli is becoming one of the most competitive contenders in the ANZ market, says Joseph Elasmar, CEO of local distributor Urban Moto Imports.
“We've seen significant growth over the past two years, with over 85 per cent growth rate in 2021 alone, even with the stock shortages during the pandemic. The 500cc Benelli platform has been a popular choice for motorcycling enthusiasts across the ANZ market, and we anticipate that this growth phase will continue with the introduction of the TRK 800 Adventure model, and the Leoncino 800 models arriving in 2022. This year we celebrate over a decade as the exclusive Benelli distributor in the region, and look forward to seeing the Benelli brand and community continue to grow in the years to come."