It’s probably not a good omen when you start a bike review with a disclaimer, but a bit of background is required before we can speak about the Benelli 302R. Now, the bike that we rode isn’t up to production spec yet. When this bike goes on sale in January 2017, DSK Benelli said that some things will change, and a few of these could even be considered critical. So think of this as more of a preview of this near-quarter-litre faired motorcycle rather than a full-blown review.
A matter of perspective
With that out of the way, let me just say that I think this Benelli is a pretty good-looking motorcycle. Sure, some of you might think otherwise and I agree that some proportions seem a bit off. The fairing does feel a bit too wide in places, especially around the bellypan, and that bulk doesn’t gel too well with the slim tail. But there are lots of delectable design details like the shape of the headlight, the windshield and even the exhaust. The stickers on the fairing, however, are rather busy, almost to the point of looking like racebike livery. And there’s so much text that you’ll be standing there scratching your head wondering what this bike is actually called – B302R, Anniversary, BJ300GS-C, TXV and even Supermoto. Thankfully, all of these will be axed and the launched bike will be just called Benelli 302R. Phew!
The 302R is powered by the same motor that you get on the naked TNT 300. It’s a 300cc, parallel-twin, liquid-cooled unit mated to a six-speed gearbox. Now the international specs for the bike read slightly lower power and torque figures as compared to the Indian version of the TNT 300; we suspect that’s down to the Euro-IV compliance. However, we were assured by DSK Benelli that the 302R will have the same outputs as its naked sibling, which puts peak power at 38.2hp and peak torque at 26.5Nm. So that’s one thing you can wave in the face of some other European bike makers. But as this bike isn’t production-ready yet, we thought it best to keep performance measurements for later. It suffices to say that the 302R feels peppy enough, but like the TNT 300, it’s not as quick as you would expect a bike with those power figures to be. However, it could reach and hold speeds of up to 150kph fairly easily.
But what totally blew our minds was the sheer tractability of the motor. It just seems unreal when you open the throttle at 30kph in sixth gear and the bike gets going just smoothly, without the slightest judder. Going to have to chalk that one up to some black magic on Benelli’s part. Of course, when I say smooth, I mean that relatively, as this bike does have vibes – quite a few more than the TNT 300 (which is actually almost vibe-free) – and they are felt at pretty much all rpms. Hopefully, this should get addressed by the time the bike hits showrooms. The exhaust note too is a bit rough compared to that of the naked. Clearly, DSK Benelli has gotten rid of that TNT’s exhaust box that housed a metal replica of Pavarotti’s vocal chords and replaced it with a bit of Slip Knot. But it should make cornering easier as one doesn’t have to fear scraping that exhaust box in right-handers. Or, so I thought!
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Issue: 209 | Autocar India: January 2017
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