I’m sure you already know that Chinese owned Italian motorcycle maker Benelli has finally, after a delay of 3 months, launched its range of bikes in India. The pricing and photos are all over the internet, and for good reason. Their mid-range bikes, from 300 to 600cc, are priced at a pretty kick ass level. Can’t say the same for their big bikes, but I’ll let you decide that on your own. Here are their ex-showroom Delhi prices:
- Benelli TNT 302: Rs 2,83,000
- Benelli TNT 600i: Rs 5,15,000
- Benelli TNT 600GT: Rs 5,62,000
- Benelli TNT 899: Rs 9,48,000
- Benelli TNT 1130: Rs 11,81,000
You can read here what I had to say about their machines when the news first broke of Benelli attempting to penetrate India. You can find all the specs and shit over there, or at any other pus-ridden website for that matter. I’ve seen the bikes in flesh, first at IBW, and then at the sad little Xbhp meet for the pointless #ThankYouRide. Let’s talk about the positives and negatives of Benelli and their bikes in India.
Benelli in India – The negatives:
1. The DSK connection: Benelli has been brought to India through DSK, the company best known for fucking up the whole Hyosung thing. Maybe I’m being too harsh on them, maybe Hyosung was fucked to begin with, but it’s an undeniable fact that DSK hasn’t really helped the cause.
What you have to understand is that DSK has nothing to do with motorcycles, it’s a business house that invests in whatever it thinks will make profit. You can read what they have to say about themselves here, and excuse me for not trusting a company that started with the “innovative” idea of scented telephone service.
2. No ABS: By far my biggest grouse with Benelli, I mean what the fuck are they thinking? Apart from the 300, all of their bikes will have a top speed somewhere around 200 kmph. This is a time when companies are shoving electronics down their motorcycles, technologies like cornering ABS, cornering lights, multi-level traction control, active suspension, and 3 mode orgasm enhancers are coming as standard. And Benelli can’t even manage something as simple as ABS?
A lot of people say that bikes should have as less electronics as possible, and I totally agree with them. Sensors and wires are all points of failure, the more of them you have, the less confidence you’ll have in your machine. What I don’t agree with are people who treat rider aid electronics as some kind of automated castration machine. I’m sure you have heard such slimy goo oozing out of these ignorant G-strings at some point in your life:
Real men don’t need ABS or traction control. If you stay within your limits and have total domination over your motorcycle, nothing will ever go wrong. Also, real men don’t need condoms. If you pull your cock out just before it’s about to sneeze inside someone’s cha-cha, you’ll never have overconfident man-childs like me dying around on our city streets.
I really hope Benelli is not making the same mistake Royal Enfield has, to cling back to the past and attempt to sell based only on tradition bullshit. Benelli is the oldest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, and they may be taking that too seriously. Yes your designs are still alien looking, yes your bikes feel tough and reliable, but don’t take that to mean that stuff that was awesome in 1958 works for all even today.
3. Lack of Remarkability: Most bike manufacturers are known for something. Kawasaki Yamaha, and Suzuki are known for speed, reliability and surgical refinement, Ducati is known for looks, Harley is known for chrome, Triumph is known for being British. Benelli is not known for ANYTHING. When you think of Benelli, nothing comes to your mind apart from weird looking machines that sound nice.
Benelli is not a remarkable brand. There is nothing that they are masters of. Their machines are known to be unreliable and unrefined, not universally loved for their looks, don’t involve any chrome, and are not British. Even though they might have a long history behind them, Benelli as a brand comes off as very confused.
4. The Italian connection: Italians are known for beauty, and I personally like how the Benellis look. What Italians are not known for is everything else. Reliability, practicality, refinement, usability, price, speaking understandable English, you name it and Italians will find a way to suck at it.
There is not one single long term, positive ownership review that I can find of ANY Benelli bike on the entire internet. This is a very troubling thing, because you can find anything on the internet. You want a possum humping a kingfisher mid-flight, or a baby panda sneezing, or 2 random girls vomiting into each other’s mouths, you’ll get it on the internet, no questions asked.
One thing that you will get is their track record and public image of making nice but unreliable bikes. Check out this thread on ADVrider and you’ll see what I mean.
Benelli is like that girlfriend that you want to love and marry someday, but you can’t simply because she is an unpredictable psychopath you can never trust with your life.
Benelli in India – The positives:
1. The pricing: Yes, the pricing is impressive, especially considering the shitfest Triumph brought in after promising a beautiful spring morning. The 300 looks nice, and although at over 3 lac on-road and without ABS I think it’ll be a tough choice to make over a Duke 390. The Z250 has now some competition though.
The 600i and 600GT are priced just right. The benchmark is obviously Kawasaki ER-6n, which undercuts both the bikes, but I think the Benellis have an advantage over the Kawasaki. First, they have more exotic appeal. Second, they sound much better than the disappointing murmur of the Kawa. Third, the Benellis look much more purposeful, they are 2 different bikes meant for 2 different things, the ER-6n is kinda in no man’s land.
The Kawa on the other hand has a well established fan base, thousands of happy customers, and a service network that’s spreading faster than swine flu. I am kinda in 2 minds about the 600i, it looks and sounds exactly the way I want my bike to. It’s priced not bad too, but then I know it’s a very bad idea to buy the first batch of any motorcycle, so I’m not gonna be the guinea pig.
The 600GT’s most remarkable feature has to be the 27 liter fuel tank. Being a 390 owner, that number is something that makes jizz all over my pants. The negative of the GT, and for that matter all Benelli bikes, is their weight. I’m a small guy, I can’t handle something that weighs more than a juvenile rhinoceros.
The 899 and the 1130 have been priced higher than what I had expected, and I don’t think they are going to be a big success. But then again I don’t think DSK or Benelli are looking at it as a numbers game. In fact, I don’t even understand what game they are playing. Why does DSK always partner up with such weird brands? Why does Benelli have such a pathetic reputation even after being in business the longest?
2. The 250: The TNT 25, although not the most radical looking motorcycle out there, is probably going to be the biggest seller from the Benelli stable, especially considering its ugly looking cousin, the 7-day-old-black-piece-of-shit Blackster. I saw it at IBW, and it kinda reminded me of the old FZ. Having said that, a 250cc 24 bhp bike would make a lot of sense to fill in the giant holes present in the Indian market.
Having said that too, pricing will again be important. It can’t be in the Duke 390 territory, although it can be slightly higher than the Duke 200. If Benelli wants to stay in India for long, this looks like their trump card, the one that’ll bring in the most money. But then again I don’t know 2 shits about how business works, so don’t take my word on it.
3. The network: Given Benelli’s strong reputation of breaking down without notice, it’s very important that there’s a big service network to fix whatever goes wrong. From what I’ve seen DSK Benelli has done some good work with that. I can see 9 places over the country where you can find a mechanic, and hopefully it will go up with time.
Although there are a lot of people who buy a gazillion rupee motorcycles only to lick their exhausts every other Sunday, those are not the people who steer the public opinion about a brand. This is simply because it is the people who actually ride these bikes that find problems and then try to find a solution to them. These people need support, and hopefully Benelli is up to the task.
4. The sound: All bullshit aside, I have to commend Benelli for giving their motorcycles probably the loudest pipes that you’ll ever find stock on any bike. I don’t understand these pussy manufacturers nowadays, cribbing about noise levels and providing shitty sounding exhausts on super costly machines.
I’m not a big fan of PowerDrift. They started out brilliantly, but have recently become too repetitive and overly nice. They still have the best Youtube channel in the country though, and it is there that I first heard the sound of 600i with those menacing IXIL exhausts.
If that doesn’t satisfy your motorcycle porn requirements, you are a sexually deviant perverted piece of godlessness. The 899 and 1130 sound kick ass too, thanks to the triple configuration. That dry clutch is a bit of a turn off though, and hopefully won’t just choke on our dirty air and die anytime soon.
So yeah, these are my thoughts about Benelli in India through the DSK route. I, from the bottom of my heart, wish that they do well, but somewhere in there I also know that both Benelli’s and DSK’s past records are not the most encouraging ones. If I had to buy one bike from their stable, it would certainly be the 600i. Even though I’m a tourer, I don’t think the 600GT makes much sense for me. I don’t like how it looks, will certainly not be able to handle that weight, and don’t really need a 600cc inline 4 to travel across India.
Even though I detest these superbikers revving the shit out of their machines at IBW, somewhere deep inside I’ve always wanted a machine that sounds good. I’ve owned a Pulsar 150 and a Duke 390 till date, both of which sound slightly better than Justin Beiber with a dick down his throat. To add to that, I hate fiddling with my bike, to put in aftermarket crap, or to fuck with what came from the factory, which makes me love the stock Benellis even more.
But then again, who gives a fuck, I don’t have 6 lacs lying around anyways. Do you?