The bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. – Anton Ego, Ratatouille.
If there’s any purpose to RiderZone, it’s to show you the world from the eyes of one man. The obvious side-effect of this purpose is that everything here is my opinion, deeply personal opinion. In a world dominated by BuzzFeed and ScoopWhoop, devoid of any personality or meaning, I like to think of my blog as an act of rebellion, an act of observation disconnected from the final result: Money, even if some of the stuff that comes out of my brain is fucking disgusting, even for me.
However, it would be entirely stupid of you to base your motorcycling life on the words of just one man. If, for example, you are interested in buying the Benelli 600i, and decide not to after reading this article and nothing more, no test rides no speaking to owners no further research, you are defeating the entire reason why this site exists, and you should repeatedly stab yourself in the throat with a rusty fork.
I picked up the Benelli TNT 600i from Driven superbike/supercar rental service in Hyderabad because I was always interested in it since the time it was launched. When I got it, the bike had already done 10,000+ kms, and being a 2-wheeled prostitute, nobody had been too nice to it.
I rode it for some 350 kms over 2 days, which included mild off-road, city, highway and track rides. Here’s what I think of it.
Benelli TNT 600i review: Positives
Let’s finish off the positives first, since the negatives are going to take a while.
Sound and Looks:
It sounds bloody brilliant, and looks like a big bike.
Benelli TNT 600i review: Negatives
OK then, time for the rant.
At 231 kgs, the 600i is a fucking fat ass, and that’s the biggest problem with this bike by far. Everything from acceleration to top end to stability and ease of use is destroyed by its obesity, and more so by the fucked up weight distribution. The bigger problem is that I can’t even see where all the weight is, it’s not like a Bullet where you can say “Oh I’ll just remove these guards and the suspension cover and the rear mud flap and the side boxes and there goes 50 kgs”, there is nothing to remove, it’s like there are dumbbells welded somewhere under the seat, or maybe the frame tubes are filled with Mercury, or possibly the engine casing is made out of Thor’s hammer.
The only reason for the flab that I can think of is the exhaust system. The 4 pipes flow out of the engine, then under it, before slithering below the seats and out the back. I don’t know how much weight you’ll save by putting in an underbelly exhaust, but I’m pretty certain the weight will drop to somewhere around 200 kgs. However, putting money to change the exhaust system on this bike is like a porn star paying a doctor to cut his dick off. It’s the only part that’s of some use, the rest is just there in supporting role.
With just 54 Nm of torque and a respectable 84 Bhp of power, I had expected this thing to be docile at low RPM, and a screamer past 10,000. The screaming part worked out, but not the docile one.
1st gear is strictly for going from 0 to 10 kmph, the throttle is far too snatchy to be able to handle the power. 2nd gear isn’t much of an improvement either, and I found myself regularly sliding out the seat every time I tried to accelerate out of a slow corner. 3rd is relatively nice, but you can’t use it to smooth out the power delivery because the gap between you twisting the throttle and something happening is about 7 weeks. Things get better in 4th and 5th, with 6th being there just to constantly confuse the shit out of the rider about what gear he is in.
And that’s a pity, considering how good the rear seat is on this thing. With the under-seat exhaust, I had imagined a pillion’s ride would be something like sitting on a frying pan that’s attached to the butt of a Great White Shark. In real life, the rear seat is surprisingly comfortable, but everything goes to shit the moment you get on the move, at which time all you end up doing is headbanging back and forth, like that old lady did on Clarkson’s V8 rocking chair.
I have never ridden a bike with a steering like this one, ever. Either that particular rental bike had repeatedly been crashed face-first into a wall at 180, or that’s what all 600is are like, I don’t know. The only way to describe the front end feel of this thing is to imagine a bike with a square wooden wheel with no rubber on it.
First off, the Benelli TNT 600i has the turning radius of a cargo ship. I’m not shitting you, imagine if a 600i was magically floating on the Atlantic just like the Titanic, and it noticed the iceberg a few kilometers away just like the Titanic, just like the Titanic, the Benelli would go straight into the fucking white monster, unable to turn in time.
On top of that, it weaves like a bitch. I don’t know if it’s the weight or the throttle, but the moment you try to lean it into a corner, it becomes a raging bull, trying its best to make you fly and then trample you with its balls. If you thought tank slappers were something that happened only to MotoGP riders, try the Benelli, the tank will slap your rocks off even at 5 degree lean.
Wind blast on naked bikes is not a new thing, I’m pretty used to it on my Duke. Since this thing weighs more than an adult Rhinoceros, I had expected the bike will at least be stable at high speeds, but it turns out that mythical Royal Enfield logic doesn’t really work.
Thanks to the dodgy steering, it’s an extremely scary bike to take past 140. Even the slightest of cross-wind makes it cry, and there is no moment past 160 when you are not praying for the sweet release of death to stop the madness. It feels like the front is very very heavy, which is kinda weird considering that big bulky exhaust in the back. Something is terribly wrong somewhere.
Can’t trust the brakes:
You realize how bad the brakes are on a bike when you start using the rear much more than the front.
With the fat rear tire, I felt its braking action to be much more precise and controllable, which is obviously stupid since rear brake can never offer even 10% of what the front can.
The front brake is vague, spongy, unpredictable. It kinda reminded me of the Duke’s front brake, except the lack of a little thing called ABS. One moment it engages at half lever, the next moment it locks the front at 10%, followed by nothing till the lever almost touches the throttle. I was scared of folding the front, so I never really pushed it hard, but damn those were some bad brakes. I’ve seen better ones on Royal Enfields for fucks sake.
Clutch is too far away:
This is the video PowerDrift made when this bike was about to be launched. It was published in December 2014. Sagar clearly says in the clip that the clutch is hard to reach. Fast forward to one and a half years later, no change.
This kinda gives you an idea of how much Benelli cares for customer opinion. A rather popular media house gave them feedback about an obvious problem, and their response is basically “Piss off”.
The lever being too far away is a big problem, mostly because in the city you need to constantly ride it in 1st and 2nd if you don’t want to find yourself parked across the nearest divider. The clutch is already hard, and then every time you try to reach it, you almost need to take your palm off the handlebar. People who are used to 2-finger clutch would be especially pissed off, since that seems to be an almost impossibility here.
Severe heating issues:
The first time I picked this bike up, I rode it through some minor traffic for some 4 kilometers. In that time, my balls were thoroughly roasted, and the inside of my thighs, especially the left one, were burnt till the bone. The problem seems to be the red frame, which kinda absorbs the heat off the engine and then gets super hot. The way it is positioned means that your thigh invariably touches it, at which moment you scream inside your helmet and curse the moment you decided to rent this thing.
There’s a tiny temperature gauge on the tiny instrument cluster, and the moment it goes above 90 a fan starts. The fan doesn’t help, at least not the rider, the hot air is aimed squarely at your nuts. It feels like Benelli spent a lot of money in wind-tunnel testing to ensure the maximum amount of sperm death possible.
Shit instrument cluster:
Speaking of the instrument cluster, it feels like the designers forgot to put it in final production, and then panicked at the last moment and stuck a bit of plastic in there. I tried pushing the buttons to change the Trip mode, and it felt like the whole thing will fall off, so I stopped.
The only thing readable on the dash is the speed, the fuel and the RPM, which isn’t such a bad thing, except that there should’ve been a gear indicator too, and the rest of the stuff should’ve been big enough to be readable without a magnifying glass. There are no shift lights either, so the only way to know for sure that you are in 6th is to depress the clutch and give it a go. It feels kinda nooby to do that.
There is a clock in there somewhere too, but to read it you your helmet visor must be in direct contact with the display.
Shit service and support:
I got the bike at 4 PM on a Friday. I rode it probably some 30 kms that day. Saturday morning I was going out for a ride, and the clutch cable broke, just snapped clean off. It was 7.30 in the morning, I called up the Driven people, and they must’ve called up the Benelli people, and turns out Benelli service doesn’t open till 11:30. I think they are facing some sort of identity crisis, not being sure if they are a service center or a liquor store.
The Driven people were helpful and sent a guy of their own, who tried to fit some different cable in there, but that didn’t work out. By that time it was already 12, and apparently the Benelli people were still searching for a clutch cable, and unable to find one. The dude then went out and found something that would fit, and the job was done by 1.30, by which time Benelli SVC still had no idea what the fuck had happened.
Think about this, Driven is a giant corporate entity with big money and lots of influence, you are you. I think the standard thing to do if your Benelli develops a fault is to pour some petrol on it and set it on fire. I’m sure the insurance payout will happen faster than anything the service people will be able do about it.
Lack of purpose:
My major problem with the Benelli TNT 600i is this: There is no reason for it to exist. Most bikes are good in one area or the other, the Himalayan is good at off-roading, the Daytona is good on the track, the Duke is good at cheap thrills, the 600i on the other hand sucks at every single thing that I tried with it.
It obviously was a failure off-road, was almost unusable inside the city, was too cumbersome for the highways, and was the most disappointingly bad motorcycle I have ever ridden on the track. I am no racing God, but I have some experience of the track, and me on this 600cc motorcycle was not able to break away from a guy on a Duke 200, or the guy on the FZ 16. Do you have any idea how embarrassing that was? There was a Honda Navi on the track too, and I’m sure he’d have overtaken me, but I quietly slid the bike into the pits to make sure that didn’t happen.
Thanks to its weight and dodgy steering, it’s one of those rare bikes that you get tired of riding. I did some 200 kms in a day, and by the end of it my ass was burning, my ears were ringing, my palms were paining, and my head was about to burst. Every time you accelerate, every time you brake, it feels like you are attempting to ride a polar bear through a hoop that’s on fire. I was tired, mentally and physically. That has never happened before, even when I rode a 1000 kms in a day.
So if you are one of those douchebags that rides around in chappals and chaddi without a helmet, redlining the bike in neutral, making the world a sad place to live, this is THE bike for you. It’s cheap, is loud, and looks big, and that’s about all what you care for. For anybody else who’s even remotely interested in actual riding pleasure, stay the fuck away.
Check out my attempt at a video review of this thing below.