Benelli TNT R review, test ride
Published on Jul 16, 2015 03:05:00 PM
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Which leads us to the TNT R engine; pull the clutch lever in, dab the starter and the 1,131cc, in-line triple comes to life with a powerful, bass-rich rumble. At idle, there’s a noticeable racket that you can’t miss and doesn’t sound welcoming. This only changes when revving the big Benelli, when a far crisper, cleaner sounding howl comes in. The exhaust howls distinctly at high rpms, with a heady pop and crackle feeding back to the rider as soon as you roll off the gas. To top that, the intake rush and engine note rise as does a mega power delivery that steps in once past 5,000rpm, making it difficult to ride this 135.2bhp bike without enthusiasm. Which led me to clock an indicated 185kph, the big TNT feeling smooth and completely vibe-free as you clock higher speeds.
Benelli would do well to sort out fuelling on the TNT R, as our test bike stalled without real reason on occasion, and there was often hesitation when performing throttle-off to throttle-on transitions, which becomes unnerving on a powerful motorcycle such as this. As with several rival heavy bikes, the TNT R’s clutch feels a tad heavy too. The big Benelli’s gearbox shifts smoothly through its six speeds, in the one-down, five-up pattern.
The Benelli TNT R deploys upmarket, fully-adjustable, upside down Marzocchi forks and an adjustable Sachs gas-filled monoshock at the rear, which makes for premium kit as expected from a flagship bike. What this translates into for us is that the TNT R provides really good ride quality, with road undulations being nicely absorbed.
Handling is another front where the Benelli proves worthy. This isn’t as light a bike as you’d hope for, at 231kg, but once out and into the twisties, that’s quickly forgotten and you can get gutsy and corner really hard, the fuel-tank providing good support, but playing spoilsport because of a pair of shrouds that protrude exactly where you need your knees to grip the tank, getting in the way of a more ideal situation. Benelli has some catching up to do with rivals, for not providing traction control, or even a slipper action enabled clutch. When riding really hard on the TNT R, you do sometimes miss the reassurance of these safety features, more so in India where conditions often call for extra caution. The TNT R does, however, make up to offer grippy Michelin tyres, these working hard throughout our test ride to offer stellar traction. Another positive are the powerful brakes, Brembo made, petal type 320mm dual discs in front, with a single 240mm unit at rear, offering fierce bite and stopping performance. It takes no more than a dab on the front lever to bring in incredible stopping power to haul the fast bike down from any speed. The TNT R lacks ABS brakes, even as optional, Benelli assuring us they are working towards this, to add these essential features in months to come.
Overall, the TNT R ranks amongst the most interesting naked motorcycles we’ve ridden in a while, typically raw and character-rich as expected from an Italian steed, with exciting, eccentric and evergreen style. The engine has its share of rough edges, and lacks adequate electronic aids, yes, but does still offer serious performance and a heady exhaust note at high speed. The highlight of Benelli’s TNT R is its handling prowess, which the factory has excelled to fine-tune perfectly.
At Rs 11,81,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi), the TNT R makes for a big bike that’s well priced versus direct rivals, but still has ground to cover before it matches up in terms of features, and electronics, now fast becoming standard on motorcycles in this premium space.
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