Some bikes make furiously lashing live wires look positively tame and the Benelli TnT 899 is definitely one of them, being among the world’s most addictive naked roadsters offering dynamite performance and an explosive personality. Is it as mental as it looks?
Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Rommel Albuquerque
Explosions! Over 200 of them per second. Blowing up microscopic droplets of fuel in three enclosed spaces, releasing fire and all its fury loose, only to push chunks of metal down making me go faster and getting me even higher. Give the Italians metal and the power of fire and electronics and they create works of art you don’t hang on the wall or keep on a pedestal, but ones you can ride (and drive). The Tornado Naked Tre, or TnT, is just that: explosions in the palm of your hand, riding glove and all, completely at your beck and call. For those who don’t count explosions, at peak power speed they call upon 122 horses. Before we get carried away and blow things out of proportion, it’s time to rewind.
When you’ve grown up to what is widely considered the dark side of music, with all sorts of two-wheeled contraptions gracing your walls, adorned with sheets and shards of fibre-glass with cylinders hidden away, and when you see an Italian motorcycle which simply blows your mind with its super-aggressive face, exposed frame and meaty motor, the heavy metal memory bank in your brain lets loose. Thoughts are flooded with the soundtrack, imagery courtesy the motorcycle, and high notes from what you expect the engine to sound like. There was no high-speed internet back then, so as the massive 800×600 image slowly took form on the screen, line by line, my eyes widened and heart-rate climbed ― chiselled headlamps, sculpted tank, purposeful shrouds, and a name to reflect the forces of nature that spawned its creation. I’ll reverse the name here: it’s a triple, it’s naked and, by golly, it’s a tornado all right!
Unlike one of my black metal anthems which tells me an enemy led the tempest, the beauty of the TnT is that I’m in control of this Tornado. The forces of nature at my disposal, or so I’d like to think. Earth to tread, fire in its heart, wind in its wake and water, er, in its cooling system, giving my heart a jump start and getting me more than ready to get going on this ballistic Benelli.
DSK haven’t fired a shot in the dark; they’ve gone ahead and brought an iconic Italian superbike brand here in India, a name I never imagined I would see on sale here. It was over 10 years ago, when I was even more of a kid, that I made a list of ‘top 10s’. The TnT on these pages was the number-three bike. Needless to say, I hadn’t ridden any of them at the time, so this was purely design, numbers and desktop wallpaper appeal speaking. Had I been told that 10 years down the line I’d be riding it a few kilometres from where I live, I’d have said it would rain in January before that happened.