IGNORE THE POLICE regalia – these pictures show the designs for a new large-capacity tourer from Benelli’s parent firm Qianjiang.
As with many high-end Chinese bikes, the first examples will be made to police spec and offered to the country’s authorities – a policy which ensures the cops always have access to better kit than the general public.
Qianjiang has previously confirmed that it intends to make a range of 1200cc three-cylinder Benellis using an engine that takes its inspiration from the existing 1130cc triple. This looks like it will be the first of those bikes. Although it’s impossible to see much of the engine in these pictures, it’s clearly an in-line design. Meanwhile, the machine’s codename – QJ1200GS – confirms it’s a 1200cc.
Despite initially appearing to have an aluminium frame, closer inspection reveals those are merely cosmetic panels over a tubular steel chassis. And while the engine might borrow some of its architecture from the old 1130cc, it’s largely a new design. The cases appear new, and for the first time there’s a shaft-drive transmission fitted. A BMW Paralever-style single-sided swingarm carries the drive to the rear wheel, with a torque reaction bar installed above it to prevent the rear from jacking under acceleration. At the front there’s a hefty-looking upside-down fork and radial mount brakes, suggesting that the firm hasn’t skimped on suspension.
The styling might not be jaw-dropping, but it isn’t stomach- churning either – a step forward for Chinese-designed bikes. In technical terms, it’s also leagues ahead of anything built in the country before. The 1200cc size will make it the largest-capacity home-grown Chinese bike, while the plethora of bar-mounted buttons suggests it’s not going to be short on tech either. There’s an electrically adjustable screen, and no doubt there will be a full complement of kit including stereo, sat-nav, heated seats and multiple riding modes on the finished bike. Dual TFT screens on the dash, plus a pair of conventional dials, are also evident.
By Ben Purvis