Since '02 xBhp is different things to different people. From a close knit national community of bikers to India's only motorcycling lifestyle magazine and a place to make like-minded biker friends. Join us
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
I first sat on a Benelli back in 2007 in Sydney
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 doesn’t 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!
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.