BIKE TEST The TNT wouldn`t be out of place in a

BIKE TEST The TNT wouldn`t be out of place in a
The TNT wouldn’t be out of place in a museum or in
your lounge room – thankfully it’s got go as well as show
hat is it? How does it go?
Where does it come from?
Can I sit on it? Can I take
a photo? These are all
common questions you
are bombarded with as
you arrive on a Benelli 899 Tornado Naked
Tre. If you enjoy a quiet uninterrupted
beverage on your own between the twisties,
then this is not the bike for you.
Every time we stopped someone would
admire it. You can’t blame them really as
it’s a beautiful machine. It’s full of quality
carbon parts, Brembo brakes, wavy discs and
attention grabbing pearl white paint. With the
optional carbon fibre seat cowl and optional
carbon muffler fitted, this just added to the
problem. Even when I got off it, I couldn’t
help but stand back and gaze at its beauty.
The Tornado Naked Tre – or TNT for short
– is very much a true factory cafe racer.
The bright red steel trestle frame and
swingarm dominate the side view of the bike.
This basic chassis design has been used
by Benelli since 2004 when the TNT was
launched and features on a number of other
models in the range. There’s a reason for
that; it’s because it works!
Also very noticeable are the side-mounted
radiators with little cooling fans that do a
stellar job of quickly bringing temps back
down to normal when the traffic halts
proceedings. As we tested the bike on
Tasmania’s finest roads, we didn’t come
across much traffic to test a full-on summer
traffic jam you might find in a commuting
situation but I did notice the fans cut in quite
early, at about 90 °C, to stop it getting too hot
and bothered in such conditions.
When you climb aboard the Benelli you
settle into a comfortable upright position
with only marginal weight on your arms.
The bars are a decent width apart and the
dash isn’t far from your view. Your legs tuck
in nicely to the tank and out of harm’s way.
The footpegs are a little on the high side, but
your boots will thank you for that later. The
mirrors offer a decent view without looking
daggy and your elbows only block a very
small amount of your vision.
The basic instrument panel is easy
to read, and looks cool when lit
up in blue in the dark. Only the
necessary info is on display
here: analogue tacho,
speed, shift light, engine
temp, two trip meters,
The Benelli 2013 range
has five models on offer:
TNT 899 as tested
TNT Cafe Racer 1130cc
TNT R160 1130cc, the
flagship TNT model.
Then there’s the
adventure range:
Tre K 1130
Tre K 1130 Amazonas
All of the motorcycles share the same trestle frame also finds its way into
three-cylinder engine either in 899cc the complete range, with some minor
or 1130cc versions. The fantastic adjustments for the adventure bikes.
odometer, clock and a fuel gauge. With only
two buttons, it makes navigating the menu
very rider-friendly. The 830mm high seat is
comfortable enough for the fuel range and
isn’t slippery when riding in leathers – it is
roomy enough and has a nice little pad so you
don’t slide off the back when giving the front
tyre a breather.
Weather protection is minimal, however
the side-mounted radiators did keep your
upper legs somewhat dry when the rain
tried to ruin the party.
Our first day of the Tassie
little bump and imperfection in the road.
Corner entry is smooth and precise; you
can come in late and rely on the powerful
dual 320mm discs with Brembo calipers
and braided brake lines to pull you up well.
The 240mm rear brake disc coupled with
the twin-piston Brembo caliper is also a
very strong combination. Turn-in is intuitive
as the bike takes very little effort to point
it where you want to go and holding a tight
line is effortless as the TNT just loves to go
around bends. Mid-corner adjustments take
a little bit of countersteering but with a light
tour consisted of a short trip down the
highway for breakfast then straight into the
hills. It only took about five corners to clean
the wax off the brand new Michelin Pilot
Powers and get a feel for the TNT.
The first thing I noticed was how good
the chassis feels. It offers excellent
feedback and is extremely well planted;
the suspension is a tad soft for my perfectly
sculpted 100kg but still made light work of
the ugly bumps that littered the back roads.
The stiff swingarm lets you feel exactly what
the rear end is doing and I could feel every
The bike takes very little effort
to point it where you want to go
1. Odd-looking dash sits
close to you
2. Distinctive steel trestle
3. Carbon exhaust
crammed under the
seat sounds great
Ducati Monster
1100 Evo
press of your right toe on the very effective
rear brake it would pull into a tighter line.
Mid-corner ground clearance is excellent,
too, with the pegs never touching the ground.
The transition from mid-corner to exit
is where the TNE struggles. I tried all
different gears and revs, but going from
closed throttle to open was a bit snatchy. It
didn’t cause me any major issues but it was
always in the back of my mind as I went to
open the throttle. Maybe some slight fuelling
adjustment at low throttle inputs could fix
this up. This issue was generally quickly
forgotten as I twisted open the throttle and
let the swingarm earn its place.
As I wound the throttle on hard it would
squat down and drive without complaint. I
loved the wide spread of power available
at all times making the 94.3kW (126.5hp),
110Nm three-cylinder 899cc engine hard to
fault. It made good power all over the rev
range, up until the shift light puts an end to
the fun at a little over 11,000rpm. A solid
snarl from the carbon muffler shoots up
under your helmet telling you to keep going.
The bike was delivered with only a little
over 100km on the clock, so I did my best
to load the engine up without revving the
life out of it; well for the first day or two,
anyway. The low mileage on the TNT was
partly blamed for its petrol drinking habit...
or maybe it was my habit of gassing it up
everywhere I could because it was so much
fun. Our trip took in Tassie’s best twisties
and back roads and the TNT averaged
7.4L/100km. With a 16-litre fuel tank, a
range of 200km is possible but only for the
gambling type – 180km is a much safer bet.
Gearing on the TNT was pretty good for
most conditions. Gear selection is short,
The TNT performed flawlessly
on our six-day Tassie jaunt
A solid snarl from the carbon muffler
shoots up under your helmet telling
you to keep going
1. Excellent rear brake
plus the speedo sensor
is found back here
2. Dripping with carbon
fibre goodies
3. Brembo stoppers great
for hauling up late
AGE 42
HEIGHT 190cm
EXPERIENCE A keen dirt rider,
Josh is a bit handy on the road
as well
The standout for me was the bike’s rigidity. It is truly
razor-sharp in its handling and the information from
the road was feeding back through the stiff chassis to
my feet and hands like a crystal-clear phone call; it
was almost like a sixth sense.
That was a great until we hit the gravel road from
hell – y’know the ones with marbles on top of sand on
top of concrete? Then the feedback was, “Slow down,
you’re gunna die!” But as it turned out the Benelli is
the perfect dirt-road bike, just as long as you steer
with the throttle and hang the back out to dry. And if
it gets a little pear-shaped, the wide bars and natural
riding position help bring it all back down to earth with
little rider input. I also soon discovered the speedo
goes off the rear-wheel speed – the Benelli did a few
more kays than the other bikes that day.
Back on the tar I didn’t take to it quite like Watto
did. I think I just need a few more days to work out
how best to put it through corners with the back wheel
following the front. Sam, I will happily give you a third
sharp and very positive; I didn’t find any false
neutrals at all. I did find the gap between first and
second a bit big. Not really an issue when taking
off, but if you wanted to use first gear in a tight
bend it needed a decent blip before letting the
clutch out or you copped a dose of chatter and
missed your turn-in point. I concluded that first
gear was for stopping, starting and wheelies only.
Weighing in at a claimed 205kg dry, the TNT isn’t
the lightest by any means, but once rolling you
wouldn’t pick it to be over 200kg.
For $15,590 (plus on-roads) you are getting a
lot of bike. The TNT looks and feels like a quality
piece of gear. In spite of this, some adjustable
suspension would be nice. The rear shock has
preload and rebound adjustments with the front
having no clickers at all, though the bike dealt
well with the roads travelled on our Tassie trip
and we covered a large variety of conditions.
Benelli has been owned by the Chinese
manufacturing company Qianjiang Group since
2005 and it’s been pumping millions of dollars into
the brand. I kept looking to see where this had
influenced the Benelli, but I couldn’t find it. The
brand has had reliability issues in the past, but the
TNT performed flawlessly on our six-day Tassie
jaunt which is a great sign.
Either way, it’s the very definition of fun!
1. Wide spread of power
found in the 899cc in-line
2. Rebound and preload
adjustments only on the
rear shock
ConfigurationIn-line three-cylinder
Cylinder head DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Capacity 898cc
Bore/stroke 88 x 49.2mm
Compression ratio12.5:1
FuelingEFI, 3 x 50mm Benelli throttle bodies
Power 88kW @ 9500rpm (claimed)
Torque88Nm @ 8000rpm (claimed)
Type Six-speed
Clutch Wet
Final drive Chain
Frame material Steel
Frame layoutTrestle
Rake 24˚
Trail 95mm
Front:50mm USD fork, fully adjustable,
120mm travel
Rear:Monoshock, rebound and preload
adjustment, 120mm travel
Wheels Aluminium
Front:17 x 3.5Rear:17 x 6
Tyres Michelin Pilot Power
Front:Twin 320mm discs, four-piston calipers
Rear:240mm disc, single-piston caliper
Weight215kg (wet, claimed)
Seat height830mm
Max width790mm
Max height1050mm
Wheelbase 1443mm
Fuel capacity 16L
Benelli celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011, with the
company coming a long way since six Italian brothers started out
repairing motorcycle parts in 1911. Benelli built its first bike in
1921, essentially a 75cc engine strapped to a bicycle frame.
From there it was onward and upwards until the end of the
1960s. At this time, the family-owned business ended and the
factory set up in Pesaro, Italy where it began building 750cc
and 900cc motorcycles until the early 80s.
In 2001, the company’s modern three-cylinder engine was
born, both in a 899cc and 1131cc version with this being the
basis of the engine still used today.
In 2005, Chinese company Qianjiang Group purchased
Benelli. This brought a much-needed boost in funding and a
new lease of life for the manufacturer. QJ Group chose to let the
Benelli factory in Pesaro continue to manufacture the iconic
Italian motorcycles.
Benelli has racing pedigree in its blood with TT wins, 250cc
World Championships and European championships to its name.
It has always taken pride in building quality motorcycles and
has a long motoring future ahead of them.
Fuel consumptionNot given
Top speed270km/h (est)
Testbike Urban Moto Imports
1300 896 245
Colour optionsWhite with red frame, custom
fairing colours at additional cost
Warranty 24 months, unlimited km
Price $15,590 + ORC
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