Established in 1911, Benelli is one of the oldest Italian motorcycle manufacturers that is well-known across the globe. In global markets, there are few places where their bikes haven’t been sold. Of late, Benelli has been spearheading the Italian onslaught on the Indian bike market. It already has five models in naked, sport, touring and classic categories in the Indian market. Now, the bike maker is launching a new category bike here, a scrambler.
Two models have been launched in the category - Leoncino 250 and its 500 cc model. We take the Leoncino for a spin around Kochi.
After its split with the DSK Group, Benelli has tied up with Hyderabad-based Mahavir Group's Adishwar Auto Ride International to re-enter India. The first launch after the return is the Leoncino. The bike has been designed at Benelli's CentroStile studio in Italy.
These days leading companies are reintroducing their best sellers of yore and they have received great acceptance. And, Bennelli too is following in the same path and the Leoncino is a salute to the Italian brand's 'lion cub' models of the 1950s and 1960s.
The Leoncino is a modern classic creation that incorporates the neo-retro flavour wrapped in scrambler's clothes. The distinctive design elements start right from the Benelli log on the front fender.
The bike has a simple yet sporty design. And that is the USP of Leoncino. However, there are enough elements that provide the muscles. For example, the front forks. The motorcycle has a fat 50 mm upside down fork. The headlamp has the classic round shape. It houses a LED and a unique inverted ‘U’ DRL. The digital instrument console is very basic in nature.
The fuel tank is a slim unit that features plastic panels on both sides. It has a capacity of 12.7 litres. The single-piece seat is covered in good quality leather. The high tail section, wide tyres and the chrome-laden exhaust accentuate the muscular look.
The Leoncino shares its engine with Benelli's tourer model TRK 502. The 500cc inline twin-cylinder engine produces 47.5 bhp of peak power and 46 Nm of peak torque. The wide, flat handlebar and low seat height with an upright riding position are typical of modern-day scramblers. The ground clearance is also low at 160 mm. The low seat height is a boon for riders who are not tall. But the fairly low ground clearance means the bike fails to do justice to its scrambler tag, which are known for their higher than average riding height. The result is, you can't push the Leoncino to the worst terrains. You could scrape the bottom of the bike if you rush through rough roads. However, it is a different story on good roads where it picks up speed rather quickly and is a breeze to ride.
The engine feels very refined with no evident vibrations that can make the ride uncomfortable. A distinct highlight is the beefy exhaust note. Downshift and the growl that follows is drool worthy. The bike doesn't reward you with instant power at start; instead it picks up speed rather gradually. However, it has good torque, which is noticeable quire early.
The power delivery is linear. You can reach 130 kmph without breaking a sweat. The top speed is rated at 170 kmph. The six-speed transmission is smooth which impresses with its precise shifts. However, the clutch feels quite heavy, making city rides a bit tough.
The suspension provides great stability and ride comfort. The mono-shock suspension in the rear can be easily adjusted for preload and rebound without the help of any equipment; you just need to turn the knob on the side.
Though the bike weighs 186 kg, it is easily to handle. Zipping through traffic is easy as a breeze and the high-speed corner will be tackled easily too. The Pirelli tyres provide good grip. The brake is spot on. Dual-channel switchable ABS is standard.
Benelli Leoncino 250 prices start at Rs. 2.50 lakh (Ex-Showroom).
The USP of this Italian 500cc bike is the affordable price tag it comes with. The bike is powerful. To top it, it has the classic-sporty look too.