The second thing that surprises…no…shocks you about the Benelli is the sound it makes when you fire up its 1,131cc three-cylinder engine. It fires with a wheezing cough and settles into a loud crackle with the tacho needle on the digi-analogue instrumentation hovering around just over 1,500 revs. But over and above that you hear a raspy whirr. It can be a little alarming for the uninitiated, but the sound is essentially from the bike’s dry clutch. Yes, you heard right. The Benelli TnT 1130R features a dry clutch, which you can also see in action through the slits on the carbon cover. And, believe me, it’s quite fascinating to watch too.
The clutch action, though, is quite heavy and it’s sensitive too. As a result, it takes a couple of stalls to get used to things. On the plus side the gear-shift action is fairly light and clutch-less upshifts can be managed without even the slightest bat of an eyelid. The throttle also is a sensitive one and the slightest twist of the right wrist sends the tacho needle soaring even as the engine screams louder and whirring clutch becomes a spinning buzz.
Speaking of the throttle, we have a word of caution here. The Benelli’s 1,131cc liquid-cooled three-cylinder in-line engine pumps out 157.8 galloping, thundering horses at 10,200 RPM and 120 Nm of peak torque at 8,400 RPM. And for a machine that tips the scales at just 202 kilos, the result is mind-numbing acceleration where the sheer pace of gathering velocity has the effect of overpowering the rider’s brain. Especially if the rider isn’t used to very fast machines. This is a veritable missile that’s only for the most serious of riders; those who will respect the machine for what it is capable of and not its pose value. To be sure, there is a tonne of pose value, but just for that kind of riding you’ll find plenty of other bikes that will provide that without asking for your commitment and respect. This is a motorcycle that demands your respect. And you better give it that. For if you don’t, then this bike will chew you and spit you out before you can spell b-l-i-n-k.
Getting up to speed is a ferocious affair. Open the throttle continuously and evenly and you are rewarded with a feeling as close to tunnel vision as you will experience without the aid of computer graphics. All right, exaggeration apart, the acceleration is fearsome, even in the city riding mode, which is the more relaxed of the two riding modes available. A round button below the digital speedo allows you to switch to ‘power’ or ‘sport’ modes (essentially a different engine map), which makes things even more mental. We got up to some gibberish speed before we realised and hit the brakes to come back to velocities that the average rider’s mind can comprehend.