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Ridden: Benelli TnT125 | Bike Tests | Latest Tests

Benelli wants in on the compact-sized motorcycle craze

Does the difference of one single kilowatt of power and 99 bucks matter when it comes to choosing your next motorcycle? It might when that one kilowatt represents well over 10 percent of the amount of power available to you. It’s 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, but it’s by far the most prized two-wheel piece in my collection.

On Paper

As anyone would expect, a once-over of the specs sheet of Benelli’s newest pocket rocket is rather underwhelming. A 125cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine mounted in a steel-trellis frame, rolling on 12-inch wheels and tipping the scales at 121kg ready to ride. Line that specs sheet up with its Japanese rivals, however, and it becomes slightly more elevated in the whelm-realm. Most importantly, price. At $3250 (+ORC), the Benelli is $99 less expensive than the Grom and $849 less expensive than the Kawasaki Z125 Pro. Not remarkable, but certainly relevant, especially when it’s got more poke (just), significantly thicker USD fork tubes, an extra gear, a combined braking system and two extra valves in its head.

First impressions

I could not get two feet flat on the ground of the Benelli Tnt125. There, I said it. But of course it didn’t matter, it’s like very single motorcycle I’ve ever ridden (except my seat-less Trials bike). The point is it may look like a small and cute and novelty-sized bike, but its 780mm seat height puts it in the same league as, say, BMW’s six-cylinder K 1600 GT, and it’s far from being a novelty-sized bike. The reality is, regardless of the size of your wheels, you still need to be seen and have a certain amount of presence on the road to stay safe, regardless of how small and cute your motorcycle is. Other than that, the engine felt stronger than I expected and, despite only having minimal kays on the clock, was nimble and versatile around a tight circuit where short straights and decreasing-radius corners called for less gear changes and more neck ringing.

Getting serious

Motorcycles and closed circuits are oodles of fun but, after scores of laps of a sub-one-minute go-kart track there’s only so much you can learn. I threw a fully-grown man on the novelty-sized pillion pad behind me and, frankly, the little Benelli pulled it off rather convincingly. Sure, my speed at the end of the back straight was 10km/h down on my previous best of 65km/h, and my lines weren’t as tight as they should have been, but what started out as a funny sight gag left me and the bloke on the back quietly impressed.

On the road

Free of my pillion, I reattached the mirrors and headed out on the road to get some real-world experience on the Benelli TnT125 and it was here where it made the most sense to me. I didn’t feel vulnerable, and I thought I would. I took off quicker than cars at lights, and I didn’t think I would. I saw 109km/h on the speedo, I didn’t think that would happen, and I ran out of road before I ran of go. It handled well, it wasn’t too vibey and I concluded that I’d happily commute on a novelty-sized bike to and from work each and every day. It’s the epitome of efficient and would turn an otherwise boring commute into an every morning and every night hoot!

You can read the full test in an upcoming issue of AMCN.

By Kel Buckley