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Thread: Ciao, India! We welcome DSK Benelli to India : We ride the BN600i, 600GT and the 899!

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    MotoGrapher Sunny's Avatar
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    Default Ciao, India! We welcome DSK Benelli to India : We ride the BN600i, 600GT and the 899!

    Photos : Sunny, SunilG and MG (Gourab)

    Text: Sunil and Sunny

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    Benelli : A primer

    Benelli is one of the oldest Italian motorcycle manufacturing companies which was founded in 1911 in Pesaro, Italy by Teresa Benelli. Teresa became a widow and decided to invest all her savings into a small garage to secure the future of her 6 sons - Giuseppe, Giovanni, Filippo, Francesco, Domenico and Antonio Tonino Benelli. The workshop repaired bicycles and motorcycles and also produced spares for cars/bikes. They also produced guns for the Italian military during the first world war.

    Benelli produced their first motorcycle engine, a single cylinder 2-stroke 75 cc machine - that was put into a bicycle frame but it didn't work that well. They built their first proper motorcycle in 1921 and have never looked back since. Benelli won many racing championships in Italy and Europe, thanks to Tonino Benelli, who was a gifted rider. The company went on to produce many different motorcycles for civilian and military use, including some ground breaking models like a 250cc supercharged engine in 1940.

    Over its 100+ year history, Benelli has seen many ups and downs, the most prominent of them being the complete destruction of its factories during World War II and then shut down in 1988 due to declining sales. But each time, the company has risen up from the ashes like a phoenix and has given us some really desirable machines.

    Benelli is currently owned by a Chinese group called the Qianjiang group who make everything from scooters to quads, electric bikes, generators, pumps, etc. The QJ group produces about 1.2 million two wheelers per year.

    However don't let the Chinese connection dissuade you from considering this brand. The quality is top notch. And like many luxury brands (Apple etc), some Benellis will also be made in China.

    Benelli has set foot for the first time on the Indian soil with the help of DSK Motowheels and looks set to launch 5 motorcycles from its current stable. We thank DSK Motowheels for bringing these Italian beauties for us and wish them all the success.

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    Some important milestones in Benelli's history




    DSK Motowheels: Established in 2012, DSK Motowheels, a part of the DSK Group (a diversified business group with a turnover of over Rs 5000 crore) forayed into Indias rapidly growing automobile sector when they bought Hyosung from Garware and started selling the Koreans under the brand name of DSK-Hyosung.

    Headed by Mr. Shirish Kulkarni, who is an avid biker himself and a great person to hang out with, DSK Motowheels soon made it clear that they are here to stay when they announced their plans for setting up a new plant in Maharashtra for assembling and manufacturing the Hyosung bikes and also their plans to enter the mass market by bringing motorcycles in the 125 cc category.

    They added another jewel to their crown by announcing their partnership with Benelli, one of the oldest Italian motorcycle brands and bringing them to India.
    DSK Motowheels will be opening 7 exclusive Benelli showrooms across the country to begin with. These showrooms will be opened in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata.

    The DSK Motowheels Benelli joint venture will be assembling and selling the following bikes in India from their stable TNT 302 (inline two cylinder 300cc), TNT 600i (600cc, inline four), TNT 600GT (600cc, inline four), TNT 899 (898cc inline three), and also TNT 1130R (1130cc, inline three).

    With a CKD plant in Maharashtra, the brand enjoys the status of having the strongest and most well entrenched superbike network in India. DSK Motowheels is known for its high-end biking experience, extended product line, technology and quality. DSK Motowheels also prides itself in providing the best customer centric service and aftersales support in the Indian Superbike Market.

    We believe that the arrival of Benelli motorcycles will write a new chapter in the Indian motorcycling history as it will give more options to the Indian motorcycle enthusiasts and give them access to an iconic and exotic yet affordable (going by DSK Motowheels history and our discussions with the company officials) brand of motorcycles.

    DSK now will have big biggies at both ends of the spectrum - Hyosung can be bought by people who want affordability while Benelli can be bought by people who are brand conscious and have a statement to make.

    Having ridden and worked with a lot with the Italian marque - Ducati, I have developed a strange love and fondness for everything Italian. With the power shifting to Asia it should not be surprising that Jaguar is now owned by an Indian company, KTM is almost half owned by our Bajaj and Benelli is owned by someone in China.
    A few days ago, we got a chance to ride 3 Benellis in Pune, namely the TNT 600i, the 600GT, and the TNT899, and heres what we think about them.


    Benelli TNT 600GT Reviewed by @sunilg

    If your memory serves you right, youd remember a mid-size semi-faired bike with a couple of panniers thrown in, sharing the stage with all the other nakeds during the DSK-Benelli joint venture announcement. I saw the same bike at EICMA at the Benelli stall.

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    ^The bike looks purposeful. Even without the panniers.

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    ^And it helps in posing

    The bike showcased there was the Benelli TNT 600GT, which is a touring variant of Benellis popular TNT 600 naked with a wider seat, semi-fairing, huge tank (27 L), and a dual projector headlamp setup. Powering the Benelli TNT 600GT is the same liquid-cooled, DOHC inline-four machine that is fitted onto its naked sibling, the TNT 600. Available on tap from this engine are 82 horses at 11,000 rpm and around 56 Nm of torque at 8000 rpm. This fuel injected engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox, which transfers the 82 horses to the rear wheel in a rather calm and subdued manner. There is no sudden rush of adrenalin even if you twist the throttle vigorously, but a smooth and seemingly unhurried surge of power. This makes the TNT 600GT a suitable bike for those who are planning to upgrade to a powerful yet unintimidating machine that would take care of their city commutes as well as occasional long hauls to the Himalayas or some other unexplored territory. A change of tyres to something which can handle gravel and off roads would however be prudent.

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    Absorbing the impact from the road is the suspension system consisting of a 50mm USD fork at the front and a single side mounted monoshock at the rear. Braking was well taken care of by two 320 mm twin discs up front and a 260 mm single disc at the rear. This bigger tank and the fairing do make the Benelli TNT 600GT appear huge from some angles; however, once you sit on it that bulkiness seems to disappear completely. From the saddle, the GT looks well balanced. Even riders of short stature would find themselves at ease sitting on it. Despite all its visible bulk, the best thing about the 600GT was the way it handles. Thanks to the sorted chassis and the suspension setup, the bike simply surrenders itself to the rider and does exactly what he wants it to do and goes exactly where he wants it to go, be it in crawling city traffic or high-speed runs on the highway. Ample low end torque let it take the bumper-to-bumper city traffic with utmost ease. Thanks to the ultra-sticky Pirelli rubber, it seemed eager to take on the corners of Lavasa with aplomb and even while riding in the Pune city traffic on a Monday evening for around an hour, the bike showed no signs of overheating and that for me was a wonderful thing. Fit and finish wise as well, the bike didn't leave us disappointed.

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    ^And its lot of fun

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    It was a rather short ride we had on the Benelli TNT 600GT to review it in detail. However, there was hardly anything negative that we could find or say about it.
    The Benelli TNT 600GT will be available in India in 3 colours white, black, and the matte army green. The panniers may or may not come as standard fitment decision yet to be taken by the management. And the price of the bike will be revealed soon when the bike actually goes for sale in approximately the second week of December. There have been lot of speculations about the price of it; however, we are pretty confident that the folks at DSK Motowheels are going to price it very aggressively.

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    Benelli TNT 600i

    Reviewed and Ridden by @Sunny

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    The Benelli 600i was a sweet surprise. I will start off with a verdict first: This is one of the best 600s I have ever ridden.

    Looks : Edgy and futuristic. Except the front headlight which is pretty ordinary (but by no means bad) compared to the rest of the bike, the whole package is attractive. I rode the red one and it was the red we are used to seeing on Ducatis and Ferraris, in other words Italian red. Nothing suits better than red on an Italian machine somehow, eh? Well this is another proof.

    The frame is comprised of a front steel trestle and rear aluminum. I would have preferred the trestle to be red as well ala the 899, perhaps it would it give the bike a sportier look? (see below)

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    The instrument cluster is again minimalistic, but by no means ugly. The panels lines are angular and the stickering minimal.

    The best part of the bike for me was the rear with its dual edgy and triangular underseat exhausts. It should look better with tail tidy and mini aftermarket indicators. I find no reason (other than perhaps gaining more power) that one should replace the stock exhausts with aftermarket ones. They also look and perfectly match the lines of the bike.

    The side scoops give the bike a meaty streetfighter look. I would still prefer a projector lamp up front ala the 600T should Benelli thing of making this bike a perfect looker.

    Overall the bike looks very attractive, though not obviously Italian (like the 899). The fit and finish is top notch and you would have to try pretty hard to fight the fact that it is made in China (with all due respect many luxury products and electronics are indeed made in PRC).


    Performance and Engine:

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    ^Pirelli Angel GT tyres seemed a little soft but were grippy

    There are hardly any 600s in the Indian market today. And I suspect that the BN600i will be amongst the more exciting ones. Once you thumb the starter the bike gives you instant aural pleasure. It is already loud and sweet in its stock form. The seating posture is comfortable enough for long rides and it feels torquey right off the mark though the real fun starts at around 4500 rpm. It is an inline four (unlike the 899 which is an inline three) and it revs pretty high for a street naked 82 Bhp at 11500 rpm and 52Nm at 10500 rpm.


    The bike feels pretty light and peppy. Despite being an inline four 600 the initial pull is good enough for slow traffic. Overtaking is also relatively easy with a linear powerband that also makes it suitable for touring. A fly screen and saddlebags should turn it into a good long distance machine. Maybe spacers would help take off more loads from the wrists for that odd Iron Butt ride you may plan.


    It will also serve to be a great transitory bike before jumping onto a litre class from a quarter litre. The power is not brutal and the overall nature of the bike is forgiving. In fact I sometimes thought I was a riding a Japanese, yes it was that smooth (despite it being a media test bike).

    I was particularly at home in the corners with the bike light and flickable. Though definitely ABS would make it more newbie friendly, the brakes do a good job.


    It has also got the best ground clearance (178.5mm), the best being that of the Hyosung GT650N at 185mm in this CC segment, so you can think of taking it to Ladakh with appropriate tyre, underbelly plate and a handlebar riser mods.


    I think this will be one of the hottest selling bikes in India, if they price it right and have the appropriate service backup and spare part inventory.


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    Benelli TNT 899

    Ridden and reviewed by @Sunny

    Legend has it that the first TNT 1130 super naked models were almost untamable, wheelie addicts with a certain raw character that you will rarely find in the super refined engines of today. This was in 2004, when the first naked TNT came out. Things have changed since then. The current TNT 899 Naked which I rode is touted to be much more refined and docile monster (pardon the pun which might refer to a certain model of another Italian marque). The engine of this bike was derived from the original 1130 superbike engine that Benelli had developed.

    The 899 used to come in two flavors, the T and the S, the latter being introduced in 2008. The two versions differ in suspension, with the S having a fully adjustable front fork. Now it has been consolidated, but surprisingly leaving the ability to adjust the front fork behind. There is still some confusion as to which models are still available globally, but in all probability it will be only 899 TNT, the T version.


    She's got the Looks

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    This was shot by Kulpreet Singh way back in 2007 on The Great Australian Roadtrip (which was done on two Hyosung Gt650Rs, 22000 kms) in Wollongong, Australia near Sydney. I spotted this Benelli and was excited to see the exotic for the first time in my life. I did not know that one day I would be riding it on the Indian roads! This is the 1130 Cafe Racer. I usually never sit and pose on bikes which I do not test ride / own but I made an exception to this one! And what a coincidence - both the brands : Hyosung and Benelli are bought to India by the same company - DSK!

    It is touted to be one of the best renditions of the naked motorcycle theme, and I agree. Being an Italian it had to look radical. The first look will leave you intrigued. There is a lot going on to keep your eyes busy. From the unique side mounted radiators to the suave petal discs and the unique front static headlight arrangement that is complemented by the underseat exhaust flanked by interesting two piece taillights and a red swingarm and frame which stands out.

    The front 3/4th view looks the best and very meaty for the 899. The most unique visual feature of the 899 has to be the side mounted radiators. But the Benellis have been known to put their radiators in strange places. The Benelli Tornado Tre 1130 had its radiator under the seat (!) and two radiator fans right below the tail, giving it a faux exhaust look which looked really cool!

    The instrument console is pretty basic but again functional.

    The build quality and workmanship of the 899 (which is made in Italy and not in China) is excellent.


    Firing it Up

    The 899 is an inline three setup. The sound is literally music to your ears, it is not as refined as an inline four, but it is not as raw as a Vtwin either. It is loud enough to warrant for some sort of modification while being homologated for sale in India. I hope that doesnt affect too much performance.


    And off you go

    The bike feels solid once you sit on it. I was a little disconcerted when I realized that the front headlight is static, taking a bit away from the naked theme, but after a while I didn't really realize it. The gear shifts are precise and the first gives you a reassuring thud. Release the clutch and the 118 Bhp / 88 Nm of torque do their bit to coax you into twisting that throttle until the bike gets into a frenzy, which it does at around 8000 rpm. Soon enough you want to behave like a hooligan on it. The upright stance coupled with a slightly aggressive rearset pegs encourages you to flick the bike in corners like I did en route to Lavasa. In no time I was thrashing it like a superbike, the sound goading me on. The Lavasa surrounds propelled me into day dreaming that I was riding somewhere in Italy, which I have come to love so much in the last few years of riding there.

    I took it off road and over potholes too. The suspension, I felt, was a little too hard but then I was riding it on all kinds of road a little too hard.

    Make no mistake, even though it is just 118 odd bhp, remember its from a 900cc mill and it is Italian. The overall package is very attractive, though I would have loved to have ABS and traction control on it to make it a complete package. What is interesting though is that Kawasaki seems to offer ABS as standard on the Z800 in India. But the 899 is a lot lighter than the Z800 (see compare charts). What is more interesting is the Ducati Streetfighter is the only modern Ducati that doesn't have ABS! Makes me wonder what might be the reason? However, I am used to riding a Yamaha FZ1000, which is 150 Bhp without these aids, however they do make life easier and safer on the roads. The Brembo brakes however do ensure enough bite via 2 x 320 mm discs up front and one 240 mm disc at the rear.

    To sum it up the 899 will be a great option for a mid range power naked. Everything now depends on the pricing, if it is priced around 7.5 ex, it should be a winner!

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    Speculations and Things to Note:

    Cost of the Benelli 899 : 8.5 ex showroom (things to note: it is made in Italy)
    Cost of Benelli BN600i : 6.25 ex showroom (things to note: inline-four and made in China)
    Cost of Benelli 600GT: 7 ex showroom / 7.4 ex with side boxes (things to note: made in China and inline four)
    Benelli showrooms will be set up in 7 cities around India by December , covering all metros
    Along with these the 1103, the 302 will also make it to India. The cost of the 302 should be around 3.25 ex.

    Please note: All costs are speculative.
    Thanks to @MG (Gourab) for assisting us in the review:

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    Last edited by The Monk; 11-25-2014 at 04:22 PM.
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    Default Re: Ciao, India! We welcome DSK Benelli to India : We ride the BN600i, 600GT and the

    Our first Benelli ride and review is now live!
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    Default Re: Ciao, India! We welcome DSK Benelli to India : We ride the BN600i, 600GT and the

    The Benelli TNT 899 seems to be the way to go if they price it aggressively,not to mention the Killer looks and the 'made in Italy' part!Great review guys!
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    Default Re: Ciao, India! We welcome DSK Benelli to India : We ride the BN600i, 600GT and the

    The TNT was one of the first exotic bike I had fallen in love with, seeing it in a Bike magazine. and now it is coming to India Looking forward to the Z800, Striple and 899 wars
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    Default Re: Ciao, India! We welcome DSK Benelli to India : We ride the BN600i, 600GT and the

    There seems to be some mismatch in the tabular data. Isn't the street triple's maximum output at 105bhp and does it not have a seat height of 820mm?

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    Default Re: Ciao, India! We welcome DSK Benelli to India : We ride the BN600i, 600GT and the

    Quote Originally Posted by AmitRavi07 View Post
    There seems to be some mismatch in the tabular data. Isn't the street triple's maximum output at 105bhp and does it not have a seat height of 820mm?
    Hey Amit

    Cross checked the figures in the table, it is correct. Please have look at the Triumph Website - Street Triple - The Spirit of Triumph | Triumph Motorcycles

    Cheers
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    Default Re: Ciao, India! We welcome DSK Benelli to India : We ride the BN600i, 600GT and the

    Quote Originally Posted by AmitRavi07 View Post
    There seems to be some mismatch in the tabular data. Isn't the street triple's maximum output at 105bhp and does it not have a seat height of 820mm?
    Recently most of the bikes in Triumph lineup got detuned. Street Triple was hit maximum at 27PS
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    Default Re: Ciao, India! We welcome DSK Benelli to India : We ride the BN600i, 600GT and the

    Love the 'Made in Italy'shot on the 899. But is the 600 as reliable as 899 since they are from the Chinese stable ?? though under the same Benelli Banner ?? please enlighten on that.
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    Default Re: Ciao, India! We welcome DSK Benelli to India : We ride the BN600i, 600GT and the

    for the models that are made in china, that italian finesse is clearly missing (as seen in pics). the design is awesome in some portions, busy & crowded & overdone at other portion and weird at some portions.

    That tourer is meant for touring on roads only and never step out of road.

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    Default Re: Ciao, India! We welcome DSK Benelli to India : We ride the BN600i, 600GT and the

    All of them are looking beast, Benelli really made them bulky & beautiful, But TNT 600GT took my heart and that 27L fuel tank is amazing for touring, I don't remember I have seen any other SBK with 27L tank :O

    Why Benelli discontinued Tornado Tre 1130, any info on this?
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