Benelli has pulled out all stops in India, bringing in a fleet of large-capacity superbikes, apart from the TNT 300, a small-capacity twin. The TNT 25 is their ticket to really getting to the meat of our market and achieving high sales volumes, making it a crucial bike for its Indian arm, DSK Motowheels. The TNT 25 is the company's first single-cylinder in India, assembled from CKD kits. We’ve just stolen a ride on the TNT 25, to bring out an exclusive report of the entry-level sportsbike, that’s raring to get out there and take on immediate rivals, KTM’s fire-breathing chargers. Do note, this test bike is an early pre-production model, and not a final production example, as the company tells us will incorporate several improvements.
Similarly styled to its twin-cylinder sibling, the Benelli TNT 25 could at a glance come across as the TNT 300, but there are key differences. The latest TNT comes with silvered front upside down forks. Its instruments are a touch too crowded, but do pack in plenty of information. Benelli provides a ‘selected gear’ indicator, along with regulars such as a speedometer, trip-meter, odometer and clock. There’s also a set of plush, comfy palm grips, as well as smartly finished control levers and switches. The front brake lever offers four-way reach adjustability, seldom found on small-capacity bikes.
The TNT 25 comes with a slender fuel tank, split by a black bifurcation running through its centre. The new Benelli’s radiator is protected by a neatly designed protective plastic shroud. A blood-red tubular trellis chassis holds together this TNT, that offers a generous split saddle and well-styled tail fairing. Footrests offer a premium feel. Overall, the latest Benelli is a handsome motorcycle, built from good quality materials.
Propelling Benelli’s TNT 25 is a 249.2cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine. It takes a dab on the starter to wake up this dual overhead camshaft-equipped, fuel-injected engine. There’s a robust exhaust note; the TNT 25 producing a healthy 28.2bhp of power at 9,000rpm. The gearbox shifts smoothly through its six-speed transmission.
Riders have access to a good helping of low-end power, as was clear with this test of the peppy motorcycle that was always ready to sprint off from traffic signals. This Benelli also holds high revs well when pushed, with enough grunt to breeze past 60kph in 3.56secs and nudge a true top speed of 127kph.
The seating posture on the TNT 25 is largely upright, with little weight reaching the rider’s wrists. Likewise, the foot pegs sit exactly where you need them, supporting your knees in a comfortable angle, something that’s a bugbear on the sportier, more aggressive KTM 200 Duke. The Benelli makes for the better bike should comfort feature higher than sporty handling on your priority list. The Benelli also feels more right for taller riders.
The TNT 25 is good to ride in city, with confident handling. High speed bumps are effortlessly soaked in by the suspension, a monoshock at the rear. The new TNT allows you to dive into corners with confidence, with neutral steering manners and reassuring cornering dynamics. The TNT 25 offers a 280mm front disc brake and 240mm disc rear brake, which struggled to provide enough power, and lacked a solid enough feel at the lever, key factors Benelli assured us was only due to this not being the final production motorcycle, on which braking shall be up to speed.
The TNT 25 has a large enough fuel tank that drinks up 16.5 litres to provide the new bike with
a reasonable cruising range.
Benelli has got the TNT 25 almost perfectly sorted out for India. While not quite yet ready in final production guise, the new Benelli bike certainly offers smart styling and strikes a sweet balance between sporty and comfortable, something the segment is hungry for. The engine sounds good, and has proved a strong enough performer, plus there’s good handling and plush enough ride quality. We estimate Benelli to price the TNT 25 around Rs 1.70 lakh.
Please see the August 2015 issue of Autocar India, on stands now, for a complete road test with all the details of the upcoming new Benelli.