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Benelli TRK502 | Gassit Garage | Long Term

Designed in Italy and made in China, can this sub-$9k soft roader cut it in Aussie conditions? We’re glad you asked

Adventure bikes have enjoyed a stronghold on the Australian marketplace in recent years; BMW, Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda and many more all have a firm grip on the increasingly lucrative segment, in both the full-powered and LAMS-approved categories. After all, why wouldn’t they? The world has changed significantly in the last decade and motorcycling, as a result, has been forced to be more things to more people.

Or perhaps a more accurate way of saying it is that motorcycles individually have been forced to be more things to more people. Gone are the days of having a sportsbike in one corner for warm days, a dirtbike in the other for the rainy ones and, depending on your bank balance or your preference, perhaps even a trials bike or a cafe racer in the middle for those in between. Cos those were different days (for all but a lucky few); days before a rich reality TV star presided over the most influential country in the world.

These days we (all but the lucky few) ask a lot of our motorcycles – they’re often asked to be the warm-days sportsbike as well as the rainy-days off-roader and, sometimes, even a bike that hipsters may or may not approve of. And that’s why long-legged upright roadbikes rule the world. Well, maybe not, but it’s what makes them an awfully practical option for the all-genres nut who wants a bit of everything.

When Benelli’s all-new TRK502 lobbed, it filled a hole no one really knew existed; a full-sized adventure bike with mid-capacity intimidation levels, topped off with a low-capacity price tag. But Benelli, for reasons unknown to me, repeatedly cops a beating with the made-in-China stick. Despite nearly every one of its rivals opting for south-east Asian manufacturing facilities without so much as a snigger, poor old Benelli seems destined to forever be unjustifiably hampered by the fact that its dedicated and deep-pocketed owner is based in China.

And so it’s for these reasons that the Benelli TRK502 soft-roader is the perfect candidate for a Living With stint. A couple of hundred kays on a launch is one thing, but can an Italian-designed sub-$9K machine really hack harsh Aussie conditions over a decent period of time?

That’s what we’re going to find out.     

This is the plan

The plan’s pretty simple. We asked Benelli Australia to throw us the bike which had the most kays on it in order to get a good sense of how this bike’s going to age and, to its credit, it did – happily. It’s just about due for a service, so we’ll go along and find out what it needs doing and what it’s likely to cost. We’re also pretty keen to unpick exactly what you do and don’t get with your two-years Roadside Assist as part of the bike’s warranty package.

We’ve got a couple of trips planned; one of which is camping – that’ll let us trawl through the accessories catalogue and see what’s available, and another, which is 1600km over two days, so that will give us the opportunity to not only get a feel for its versatility – can I set it up to really suit me – but we all know  there’s plenty to be learned in a couple of 800-kay days.

By Kel Buckley