Benelli TnT125 | Bike Tests | Latest Tests
Benelli gets in on the novelty-sized motorcycle craze with the TnT125 – but can it beat the Japanese at their own game?
Would the difference between one single kilowatt of power and 99 bucks matter to you when it came to choosing your next motorcycle? It might when that one kilowatt represents well over 10 per cent of the bike’s total power. Those two figures are the difference between Honda’s 125cc Grom and its all-new European-branded challenger, the Benelli TnT125, which I recently spent a day sampling at the South Morang Go-Kart Track in Melbourne’s northern fringes.
For the sake of transparency, it’s important to declare I’m a very big fan of novelty-sized motorcycles. Not only do I own an original 1982 Honda Z50J, it’s by far the most prized two-wheeled piece in my ever-growing collection.
You might recall a time when Benelli exclusively produced large-capacity high-end exotica from its Pesaro-based factory. There was the Tornado 1130 triple-cylinder superbike, the TnT 1130R nakedbike, even the 1130 Café Racer. But ever so quietly, and under the guidance of its Chinese owners Qianjiang which purchased the Italian firm back in 2005, Benelli has stopped producing top-shelf Italian-made finery, and started reacting more cleverly to the current-day market in a bid to future-proof itself. Its latest TnT125 is just another example of these new ways.
Believe it or not, you actually can’t buy a new Benelli-branded motorcycle these days for more than about eight grand, or with a capacity of over 600cc. But don’t be fooled by the Chinese ownership. The bikes may be produced in the company’s Wenling factory, but they’re designed in Italy, quality control is overseen by the Italians, and there’s simply nothing on the current crop of learner-approved machines that gives away their country of origin, the sub-$3500 TnT125 included.
As you’d expect, a once-over of the specs sheet of Benelli’s newest pocket rocket is rather underwhelming. The TnT is powered by a 125cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine mounted in a steel-trellis frame. It rolls on 12-inch wheels and it tips the scales at 121kg ready to ride. Line that specs sheet up with its Japanese rivals, however, and the Benelli rises slightly in the whelm-realm. Most importantly when it comes to price. At $3250 (+ ORC), the Benelli is $99 less expensive than the Grom and $949 cheaper than the Kawasaki Z125 Pro. That starts to sound even better when you consider the Benelli’s got more poke (just), significantly more robust USD fork tubes, an extra gear, a combined braking system, two extra valves in its head and 24 months’ roadside assist.
Read the full review in the current issue of AMCN (Vol 67 No 09) on sale now
TEST KEL BUCKLEY PHOTOGRAPHY JEFF CROWE