Benelli India are back like a phoenix from the ashes under the banner of the Mahavir Group.
The Benelli TnT 300 is now the Italian marque’s most accessible offering in the country. We slap on some testing equipment to find out if this one goes as good as it sounds
Story: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Sanjay Raikar
In the recent past, the DSK Group that manufactured and sold Benelli motorcycles in India fell into trouble and Benelli motorcycles were off the map for a short while. Now they are back like a phoenix from the ashes under the banner of the Mahavir Group. In their updated line-up, the TnT 300 is the most accessible offering. Globally known as the BN 302, in India it directly rivals the Kawasaki Z250; the only other small-displacement, naked, parallel-twin in the country. One of the TnT 300’s biggest flaws was the lack of ABS which Benelli have now included as standard. We decided to put in some test runs and a comprehensive city-based review for this slightly upgraded Italian naked.
The design team in Pesaro did not hold back on the Italian flair. That has resulted in an intimidating stance that befits the TnT 300’s naked appeal. The glossy white tank and bikini fairing stand out while the bright red trellis teases the eye as it pokes out from under the tank and ends at the offset monoshock (on the right-hand side). The tail-end of the TnT 300 looks stocky and is complemented by the 160/60 rear tyre. The only eyesore on an otherwise good-looking motorcycle is the boxy collector-cum-catalytic converter just behind the silencer but that has been hidden well.
Swing a leg over and you will find that the saddle is well-padded and a rather comfortable place to be in. The riding position is upright and relaxed as well with the wide handlebar offering good leverage. However, moving the foot-pegs forward by an inch or two will certainly make things more comfortable; for city use, at least.
The switch-blade type key brings the rather simple instrument cluster to life. This digi-analogue console features a tachometer, speedometer, two trip meters, clock, and even a button to change the metric (Fahrenheit-mph or Celsius-km/h) but the quality of the switchgear could have been better. This thought process was drowned out when I started the motorcycle. A guttural growl that does the Benelli lion proud was all I could focus on for a few seconds.
Enclosed within the red steel trellis frame is the 300-cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine. It produces 38 PS at 11,500 rpm and a peak torque of 26.5 Nm at 10,000 rpm. This engine is mated to a six-speed gearbox. After riding around in the city for a couple of days, it became evident that this engine has a relaxed nature and is certainly not looking to make a mark on the drag strip. Off the line, the small Benelli completed the 0-60 km/h sprint in a decent 3.87 seconds and went on to pull off a top speed of 141.88 km/h. The TnT 300’s torque is served best in the mid-range and that is where the motorcycle is most fun, right up to 10,000 rpm, but beware of vibrations creeping in at 7,000 rpm through the foot-pegs. The best part is that opening the throttle will orchestrate a symphony that is, perhaps, unrivalled in this segment as yet by any other stock motorcycle. The Benelli opera is best enjoyed when the motorcycle is ridden hard. The parallel-twin screams to the red-line and is fully capable of encouraging you to keep that throttle wide open.
That does not mean that performance at the bottom-end is dismal. It is adequate for city use and works well with the well-spaced gear ratios. In fact, the Benelli was able to pull away without a fuss from 30 km/h and reached 70 km/h within 9.27 seconds; in sixth gear, no less.
A few hours in the city made it crystal clear that the Benelli is a comfortable motorcycle to ride. The ride quality is on the stiffer side but not uncomfortably so and the best part is you can tweak it to suit your needs since the suspension at both ends is adjustable. On the twisties, the motorcycle’s weight is noticeable and it is not particularly eager to dive into a corner. However, once turned in, it will hold the line without ado, drawing ample grip from the Pirelli Angel ST rubber.
Time to move on to what is, perhaps, the best feature of the TnT 300 after its exhaust note: braking. The TnT 300 is the only motorcycle in its segment to have twin 260-mm discs reining in the front. The feel at the lever is good and the inclusion of an adjustable lever and ABS aids safe, comfortable, and precise braking. Meanwhile, the rear is managed by a single 240-mm disc that is bitten on by a single-piston caliper. The motorcycle comes to a dead halt from 80 km/h within 30.87 metres in just 2.71 seconds. Impressive, is it not?
If I had to sum up the Benelli TnT 300 in a few words, I would say that it is a good city motorcycle that feels better equipped to munch miles with a saddlebag than carving corners on twisty roads. A good choice for riders who are thinking of upgrading to a naked parallel-twin from their 200-cc (or smaller) single-cylinder motorcycles. The power delivery is relaxed and the motorcycle itself is quite forgiving, making it easy to use in a variety of conditions; a jack of all trades, if I may.
As for the price, at Rs 2.99 lakh (ex-showroom), the TnT 300 is slightly expensive but it does hold an ace up its sleeve in the form of adjustable suspension. If you are in the market for a stylish, naked parallel-twin that is not intimidating to ride, then you should certainly give this 300-cc Italian a shot.
Also read: Fast facts about the Benelli TRK 502