We spend some time with the Benelli 502C. This is a new power cruiser that was recently launched in the Indian market.
Story: Azaman Chothia
Photography: Apurva Ambep
Benelli are trying to make a comeback with a host of launches for the Indian market. The Benelli 502C is a new power cruiser that has recently been launched following the launch of their 500-cc ADV called the TRK502. The company has been marketing this new motorcycle as an “Urban Cruiser”. Let’s see what the motorcycle offers, why it is so unique, and whether it is really something the Indian market will appreciate.
We have all loved the idea of a power cruiser because of the big, mean, and savage Ducati Diavel. But that is a motorcycle only for those who can afford to spend upwards of Rs 16 lakh for a bike, which is not feasible for most. So, Benelli seem to have come up with an answer for the many power cruiser lovers.
In terms of design, all bike enthusiasts are going to notice the resemblance between the Diavel and the 502C. Its well-sculpted and large 21-litre fuel-tank is the first major detail that catches the eye. At the front, the 502C gets a wide and tall handlebar with sharp mirrors and a chunky USD fork. The rear is a short section just like the Diavel’s with a flowing two-piece seat where the rider is tucked inside with the pillion sitting slightly higher up. The rear section sports a neat tail-light section just like the Diavel’s and there is also a tiny back-rest for the pillion extending neatly out of the seat. The number-plate and indicators are placed on the tyre hugger unit.
According to me, the headlight unit with the LED DRL is a really unique one but does not go with the rest of the design of the motorcycle because of its narrow and tiny profile. The exposed parts on both sides are covered with plastic panels that have a carbon-fibre finish for a more premium appeal. Overall, the fit and finish is decent but there are a few places such as the switchgear where Benelli could have done better considering the premium quotient of the motorcycle.
Nevertheless, the 502C did manage to grab a lot of attention over the two days that I spent with it in the city because of its chunky and unique appeal. A tiny colour LCD screen at the front gives the rider all the basic information and a nice touch is a feature where it changes from light to dark mode depending on the intensity of the light. The display did get slightly hard to read, but this was only in the peak afternoon hours when the sun was shining bright and directly upon the display. These two modes can also be switched manually according to the rider’s preference. Interested customers might have liked to see some kind of Bluetooth connectivity on this power cruiser considering that all bikes nowadays, even those in the lower price bracket, have some kind of connectivity features.
The ergonomics make for a comfortable highway cruiser with foot-pegs that are set far ahead for a rider’s legs to be stretched out, keeping them comfortable even over longer rides, and a wide and raised handlebar. So, the overall verdict when it comes to comfort is that a rider will be sitting upright without any strain and quite comfortable astride this motorcycle.
The engine in the 502C is a familiar one: the same 500-cc, parallel-twin motor that we have seen in the Leoncino and the TRK502 models. This engine runs in the same state of tune, putting out 47.5 hp at 8,500 rpm and a peak torque of 46 Nm at 6,000 rpm. It is mated to a six-speed gearbox and, as a new feature, Benelli has equipped this motorcycle with a slipper clutch as part of the standard equipment.
As soon as I got to ride the motorcycle, I really appreciated how friendly this 500-cc motor is. The clutch is light and as soon as the throttle is opened, the power delivery is linear all the way up to 7,000 rpm, after which there is a slight surge in the power delivery. This motor is also very tractable and can handle low speeds of around 45 km/h in the higher fifth and sixth gears without any juddering. The most special part about this engine, though, is that unmistakable Benelli growl from the new twin-barrel exhaust unit that kept the ride engaging throughout. Rev the engine all the way to the red-line as the deep sound increases, release the throttle and enjoy the pops and crackles as the 502C backfires while the revs drop, imitating a race-spec motorcycle with a free-flow exhaust. A first-time buyer might feel that a 500-cc engine sounds like a lot of power, but this engine did prove to be a friendly one with good fuelling, throttle response, and mainly high refinement levels.
The suspension set-up comprises a USD fork at the front with 136 mm of travel and a monoshock unit at the rear with a 50-mm travel. This set-up was slightly on the stiffer side, so many of the undulations in the road surface were felt during the ride, but this was not something that bothered me so much considering the fact that we were testing the motorcycle in the city and the speed was at a minimum. Furthermore, to give the rider the best level of grip and stopping power to complement the 500-cc engine, Benelli have equipped the 502C with a strong braking set-up and tyres. Dual 280-mm disc brakes do the job at the front end, a single 240-mm disc brake at the rear with dual-channel ABS and for excellent grip, the 502C gets Pirelli Angel GT tyres as stock. The tyres sit on 17-inch alloy wheels.
Another similarity with the Diavel is the wheelbase of the 502C which stands at 1,600 millimetres. Even with this large wheelbase, the 502C does not disappoint when it comes to handling. It is easy to manoeuvre and stable through a corner while keeping the rider confident and the heavy kerb weight of 216 kilograms of this motorcycle is hardly felt. The only time that the 502C might feel a bit too large is while cutting through neck-to-neck traffic because of the wide handlebar and the mirrors extending even further out.
With a relaxed riding position, a refined and friendly engine with a crazy roar, and giving the feel of a big bike, the 502C proved to be an exciting motorcycle for daily commuting. Benelli seem to have made a smart move by entering a very unique segment. A 500-cc power cruiser for the Indian market has not been seen until now and the introduction of the bike will give us insights into how Indian motorcycle enthusiasts respond to it. It is something that only time will tell.
At Rs 4.98 lakh (ex-showroom), the motorcycle is somewhat expensive and it also has no direct competitors in the market. The closest bike that can compete with it is the Kawasaki Vulcan 650 which is priced at Rs 6.10 lakh (ex-showroom).