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Ever since the DSK Motowheels group brought the iconic brand Benelli to Indian shores a little over a year ago, the brand has seen considerable growth thanks to its competitive pricing and the value for money tag apart from other goodies that the DSK-Benelli bikes offer. Apart from these, it has also caught the fancy of the motorcycle aficionados in the country is the poser value (read radical design) and/or the aural pleasure that they get when they go for a Benelli. And there is one Benelli available for every pocket, starting from the TNT 300 to a litre class TNT-R, and in between you have the inline four 600s and an alien looking 899. Buoyed by the response they got, the folks at DSK-Benelli recently brought the TNT25, a single cylinder 250cc machine, to make further inroads in the Indian market. The pocket friendly Benelli TNT25 was launched evidently to reach out to a bigger pie of Indian audience and to give some volume to their sales. We were there at the launch of the baby Benelli in Pune and were really impressed with the overall package that was offered. What remained was a road test to actually see how the bike performs and we got to do that last weekend when we got the bike for a couple of days to ride in and around Delhi. Here’s what we could make out of our date with the Benelli TNT25.
Overall, the Benelli TNT25 offers mean and muscular streetfighter looks that are minimalist in nature. The bike get a large portion of its muscular character from a tastefully designed tank with 17 Liter fuel capacity that has a black tank pad/ plastic tank lining running all the way from the beginning of the tank to the edge of the rider seat. The engine is held together by a trellis frame that also adds to the visual appeal of the bike. The headlight has a tiny wind screen on top and looks similar to its elder sibling, the Benelli TNT300. Apart from the red, white, and green stripes on the underbelly hood and on the tail portion that add an Italian flavour to its styling, the TNT25 sports minimal graphics on the tank and elsewhere on its body. The digital + analogue console doesn’t offer anything fancy except for a gear indicator; however, it has all the necessary information that you’d need during your rides, like the speedometer, tachometer, 2 trip meters, digital fuel gauge, and a digital clock as well. The grips are comfy and plastic on the switchgear is of good quality as well. The rear view mirrors do their job without hiding too much from the rider’s field of vision. Other goodies on the bike include LED tail light and the turn indicators. The material on the seat has been given a carbon fiber type finish. The paint quality and the overall fit and finish is very upmarket.
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The Benelli TNT25 has a 4-stroke, single-cylinder, 249cc, liquid-cooled engine that makes a healthy 28.16 bhp at 9800 rpm and a torque of 21.61 Nm at 8000 rpm. This engine is mated to a six-speed gearbox that was smooth and functioned flawlessly. The engine itself was rev-happy and quite responsive to throttle inputs. The bike moves effortlessly from standstill. There is truckloads of bottom and mid-range torque available, making the TNT25 super fun to ride in the city and for those highway sprints. The power delivery is smooth and linear. The engine holds itself effortless in the high revs too. Needless to say, with the TNT300, the DSK-Benelli folks have set a benchmark when it comes to the exhaust note, and the TNT25 does well to match up to that. There is a lot of grunt and volume to that exhaust note. It makes you feel like you are going much faster than you actually are. Such an aural pleasure it is.
Ride comfort and handling
The split seat on the Benelli TNT25 offers a generous saddle space for the riders, even for those with big bottoms. Though we could not say the same for the pillion seat. It is comfortable but not big enough. Otherwise, with the flatter handlebar and the rearset footpegs, the overall riding stance and ergonomics give it a big bike feel. Even the riders with large body build would find it comfortable with an upright sitting posture with perfectly placed footpegs that are neither too commuterish nor too awkward like the Duke 200. It handles well too. The meaty upside down forks at the front and a monoshock suspension at the rear are well sorted and keep the bike planted in all sorts of riding condition. The ride felt balanced and neutral to take on those quick turns and never-ending long curves quite effortlessly. Though it didn’t feel as sharp or as intuitive as a Duke 200 does.
To tame the 28 horses of the TNT25, Benelli has fitted a 280 mm single petal disc upfront with 4-piston caliper and a 240 mm petal disc with twin-piston caliper at the rear, which felt enough on paper, but not in real world. The brakes on our test mule felt spongy and did lack the bite, and the same was the feedback from a couple of other riders from other cities who rode the bike. Clearly, this is one area where there is a scope of improvement. The good news is that Benelli is working on an in-house ABS system and will be fitting it on the TNT25 and the ABS version should be available in the market in around 8-9 months from now.
To make it stand apart from the crowd, DSK-Benelli has thrown in a set of sticky Metzeler rubber and a bunch of customization options for the buyers, which is available at a price of course. The standard variant of the TNT25 comes fitted with MRF tyres; however, those willing to pay an extra 8 grand, can get the premium version that has Metzeler rubber. Quite a deal we must say. Do go for it if you can because you can have much more fun on tyres that offer extra grip and that extra grip can be a lifesaver as well.
And like we said, DSK-Benelli is offering a bunch of other customization options in the form of decals and accessories like foldable brake and clutch levers, custom brake oil reservoir cap, and other CNC machined parts which would let the buyers customize their bikes according to their taste.
Benelli TNT25 Review and Comparison with KTM Duke 200
Let’s talk about the design and aesthetics first. Fundamentally, both the Duke 200 and the Benelli TNT25 follow a similar design philosophy of a minimalistic naked streetfighter. The Duke 200 adopts a bare-bone and sharp/edgy styling, while the TNT25 goes for more muscular looks. The Duke 200 evokes a sense of hooliganism, while the TNT25 settles for more sophisticated and a little subdued looks but overall a big bike feel. And since this is a very subjective matter, it will ultimately boil down to the individual choice of the buyer.
The Duke 200 is a versatile performer that has already proven itself over the years in a variety of roles, be it a rally bike, a street bike, or a tourer. Much credit goes to its ultra-responsive and torquey engine, a sorted chassis, and its ultra-light weight. While riding, it lets you do things which you probably didn’t even think that you could do.
The TNT25 has a herculean task ahead of itself if it wants to reach or breach the parameters set by the Duke in terms of performance. But the fact that it has all the ingredients to perform as well as the Duke gives us a lot of confidence. The rigid chassis, a responsive engine, linear power delivery, and power/ torque figures of the TNT25 all indicate a bright future for it. Of course it is approximately 30kg heavier than a Duke 200 and the handling and riding stance also seem to be tweaked towards comfort and ease of riding than pure performance.
Talking about ride quality and comfort, the TNT25 has plentiful of it. The feet rest perfectly on the rearset footpegs. The fuel tank provides enough space even for tall riders to grab it with their knees and move around. The seat space is generous as well. On the other hand, the word comfort and Duke 200 don’t even go together. And no, we don’t mean to say that the Duke is uncomfortable. It just has a very peculiar riding stance that literally keeps you on your toes, wanting you to push the performance envelope. Not to mention its tiny seat, particularly for the pillion. So the TNT clearly scores better than a Duke 200 when it comes to ride comfort.
Price/Value for money
The KTM Duke 200 is retailing at around 1.6 lakh on road in Delhi and the standard variant of the Benelli TNT25 can be bought for INR 1.96 lakh on-road Delhi. Considering the goodies Duke 200 offers in terms of performance and style, this price point seems hard to beat for anyone. Bajaj manufactures the KTM bikes locally, so it has much better control on the price. The TNT25 on the other hand comes as a CKD and is assembled at DSK plant in Maharashtra with very little to almost no localization. So the final retailing price of the TNT25 contains a big chunk of the tax component that DSK-Benelli pays to the government. But is the 2 lakh plus price tag justified for the TNT25? Well, almost! We’d say! For those extra cash, you are getting a marquee Italian brand and extra riding comfort without losing too much on the performance front.
So to conclude, we’d say that although KTM Duke 200 and the Benelli TNT25 have a lot of similarities that would confuse a prospective buyer, you just need to set your priorities right before deciding as to which one of these is for you. If you have budget constraints and are looking for an out and out performance machine, then you should look no further than a Duke 200. But if riding comfort tops your priority list and you want something sober and have 40k extra lying in your pocket, then the Benelli TNT25 is for you.
Technical Specification comparison of the Benelli TNT25 and its closest rivals
Benelli TNT25 Vs Mahindra Mojo
Benelli TNT25 Vs KTM Duke 200
Benelli TNT25 Vs KTM Duke 390
Benelli TNT25 Vs Kawasaki Z250