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Oxymorons are fun. Terribly beautiful, woefully well balanced, and yada yada yada. Devilishly Angelic; has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Well, this one would go well with our review subject here- the Benelli 502c. And now, that particular oxymoron is not meant to point towards something, in particular, that is prevalent about this motorcycle on the internet. Let us start.
First and foremost and the most obvious; many people have drawn parallels on how it looks like a Diavel. It does in some regard, and it doesn’t in many. All that matters is that it is a Benelli to the core, and fantastically so. Addressing the design first, it is being touted as a cruiser, an Italian cruiser to be more precise and it checks all the boxes in that regard.
It is muscular but not too edgy or boxy. The visual bulk of the motorcycle gels well with its sinuous lines. The exposed trellis frame adds to the brashness that it emanates. And there are just enough sharp edges to make it stand out on the road. And it does that with aplomb. Onlookers have a hard time keeping their eyes off of this one.
There are some things that could have been done better though. The twin-barrel exhaust for instance. It sounds awesome, which is a given considering it is a Benelli. But they lack the visual bulk. It is a twin-barrel, yes, but the barrel itself could have been a bit more fleshy. And that is the general theme for our criticism of this motorcycle’s design.
The rear tyre, again, could have been a bit chunkier. Fatter rubber may have affected the motorcycle’s dynamics but the skinnier rubber has definitely affected the visuals. Next up, the tank, at 21 litres, looks big and brawny like it is supposed to but it also tones down the visual size of the engine area. Finally, the headlight. The DRLs remind you of the killer’s mask in Scream. But more than that, it should have been more proportional to the tank and the chunky USD forks.
The Benelli 502c is not a disproportionate motorcycle at first or even after multiple glances. But when you start to look at it with more intent, that is when all of the things come to the fore. Our criticism is just a smidge more than nitpicking. Overall though, in terms of design and presence, you cannot go wrong with the Benelli 502c.
Now, none of that would matter if the motorcycle does not perform. Thankfully, the Benelli 502c does and, to be honest, pretty darn well. The motorcycle is powered by a 500cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine. It makes 47.5 PS of power and 46 Nm of torque. The fuel-injected mill transmits the power to the rear wheel via a 6-speed gearbox that comes with a slipper-clutch.
Now the tech is out of the way, let us tell you about the experience. It is a hoot to ride regardless of where you are. In the city, you can easily filter through traffic (mind the wide handlebars and the overall length of the motorcycle). On the highways, you can cruise at fairly decent speeds, and if you find some twisties, man, it is a lot of fun.
Because of the torquey characteristics of the engine, there’s power everywhere in the rev-range. The torque also helps tractability as you can just twist the throttle even if you are in a gear or two higher, and the bike will oblige. In the twisties, you can use engine braking to great effect and so that you don’t mess that up by being overzealous, there’s a slipper clutch. Then, once you have had your share of fun through the corner, just twist the throttle and boom. Onto the next one!
The punchiness of the engine reminds one of the good old 2-strokes. It is not quite that but it is very close. What doesn’t remind you of old machinery is the gearbox which is slick and shifts with reassuring clicks and clunks. Then there’s the sound. Benelli has this department nailed on each of their motorcycles and the 502c is no different. It sounds like a much bigger twin than 500cc and that is one of its strongest draws in terms of the attention it gets on the road.
About the refinement, for the most part, it is decent. There are mild vibrations in the lower rev range and amplified when you are redlining. But this is a motorcycle that does not need to be redlined all the time. Have the engine at around 5,000 to 6000 rpm and it’ll be happy all day long. Also, in the case of the Benelli 502c, we did not mind the minor vibrations. It adds to the character which is something you cannot say about a lot of other motorcycles.
One thing that could have helped the engine, even more, is the weight. 216 kg (kerb) is honestly not too bad for a motorcycle like this. But still, if it was a bit more optimized, it would have been a bit better. 21 litres of fuel capacity is awesome because of the range you get from it. But it also means that a lot of weight sits higher when the tank is full.
That means higher CoG and a little less confidence in the handling. Fuel capacity like this wouldn’t have been a problem if the engine had a bit more heft. But then, it is a middleweight urban cruiser, and demands never cease. Overall, there isn’t much to be desired and the Benelli 502c checks most boxes when it comes to an enjoyable riding experience.
Let us talk about the handling now. We have already mentioned that it feels a tad top-heavy when full of fuel but it is not as big a deterrent as it could have been. That is thanks to the stellar geometry and an overall good setup.
First, the 41mm USD fork is a beauty. A perfect balance between stiffness that aids good and confident turn-ins and plushness to absorb bumps. Job, well done. In terms of suspension, the rear is a tad stiffer than we’d have liked but it is not a deal-breaker by a long shot. The tyres, Pirelli Angel GT, are a godsend and have more than enough grip to support Benelli 502c’s handling mannerisms.
Then there’s braking; pretty good again. Twin 280mm petal discs at the front and a single 240mm petal disc at the rear. The overall bite, progression, and feel are pretty good. And the petal design makes for better heat dissipation.
There’s dual-channel ABS that helps enhance the safety aspect. On the whole, the Benelli 502c is a tight package in terms of handling. Long wheelbase for straight-line stability, well setup suspension for twisties, good braking, and wide handlebars to negate the effects of a longer wheelbase in corners. The handlebar lock though makes U-turns a task and the overall heft and dimensions don’t help matters much either.
In addition to the wider handlebars, the Benelli 502c is well set up ergonomically. The plush seat and the forward set footpegs complement the wide handlebars and make for a very comfortable riding position with enough leverage to muscle the motorcycle around in the twisties. In terms of number, the seat height is 750mm which is nice and low and despite that, the motorcycle has a 170mm ground clearance which means you don’t scrape the speed breakers as often.
Another good thing to point out here is that the footpegs are high enough to avoid getting scraped in the corners; for the lean angles possible on this motorcycle anyway. The pillion seat is a little less comfortable than the rider’s but then again, considering how good the rider’s seat is, the pillion is also better than quite a few motorcycles out there.
Now, features. LED lighting rules the roost all around. The one thing we’d like to point out here is that we love the implementation of lighting on the rear. We mentioned that the DRLs on the front and the overall shape of the headlamp are not… spectacular, to say the least. But on the rear, it’s the opposite. The taillight and the style of the turn signals at the rear look radical and suit the motorcycle well.
There’s a digital console flanked by all the tell-tale lights. We liked the console for its adaptive nature. It has an ambient light sensor based on which it changes colour and makes the console easy to read regardless of the conditions.
It has most of the data you need, including a gear-shift indicator (important to mention this nowadays). It does not overdo things and depending on the kind of person, some may like that, some may not. We like things less complicated and if a motorcycle is fun to ride, who cares about the console!
The Benelli 502c is available in either Wine Red or Dark Black with both schemes having a matte feel to them. INR 5.95 lacs (Wine Red) and INR 6.08 lacs (Dark Black). So, there you go. Everything you need to know including the price.
Our two cents are that the motorcycle justifies its price tag; looks great, has a lot of grunt, handles well, grabs a lot of eyeballs, and is an overall fun affair. The fact that it looks like a certain motorcycle? Depends on if that matters to you or not. In our opinion, it should not because the 502c is a Benelli, and an extremely fun one at that.