When it comes to naked inline-Four 600cc streetfighters, Benelli’s TnT600 Tornado is in a class of its own due to an absence of competitors. Similar motorcycles exist in parallel-Twin form from Honda (CB500F $6,099), Kawasaki (Z650 $6,999), Yamaha (FZ-07 $7,199), and a V-Twin from Suzuki (SV650 $6,999), but each of those is two pistons shy of the four-cylinder Benelli. However, just last week Honda announced that its four-cylinder CB650F (a naked middleweight based on the faired CBR650F) will be imported to America beginning this August for the 2018 model year. A price has yet to be announced, but we expect an MSRP around $8k.

Honda announces the CB650F is coming stateside for 2018

For anyone currently shopping in this range of price and performance, we urge you to sit tight a while longer because we have a shootout brewing between most of the aforementioned models (sans the just-announced CB650F). From it we’ll decipher strengths and weaknesses, and how each compares to the other. Until then, consider this single-bike review of the Benelli an appetizer to the main course.

2017 Benelli TnT600 Tornado exhaust

The measured curb weight of 512 pounds for the TnT600 is relatively hefty for a 600cc motorcycle, and the placement of the exhaust cans make it seem even heavier. However, underseat exhaust is clean and attractive, and the TnT600 is one of the few new bikes out there sporting the style.

The TnT600 isn’t a new model, originally announced circa 2006, and made public at the 2012 EICMA show after Benelli had been purchased by the Qianjian Group. The underseat exhaust rage of the time indicates the TnT600’s age, and there’s even a family resemblance to the earlier, more exotic TnT 1130 model reviewed here.

Producing a claimed 82 crank horsepower should put the TnT in the mix of rear-wheel horsepower of the KTM 690 Duke, FZ-07, and SV650 (70ish) when we measured those last year. All those bikes peak between 8500 and 9000 rpm, while the Benelli and its inline-Four spin up to a peak of 11,500 rpm. And, it’s not the quickest spinning engine, taking its time to reach its peak power and exacerbating the engine’s weak midrange (38.5 lb.-ft. at 9000 rpm claimed at its crankshaft compared to 44.9 measured lb.-ft. at 8100 rpm for the SV650).

2017 Benelli TnT600 Tornado rear suspension

The linkageless rear shock is adjustable for preload and rebound damping. It performs modestly well, at least better than the non-adjustable inverted fork. Shift lever throw is way longer than it should be and shifting feels sloppy.

The Benelli’s front end must contend with a variety of riding situations from commuter to canyon carver for a variety of sizes of riders. It’s a big ask, and the TnT performs as good, if not a little better, than can be expected of an inverted 50mm fork with no adjustability. Definitely somewhat soft for comfortably going fast, but for the newer to intermediate rider we expect this bike to attract, it’ll perform fine until it’s time to buy a new bike. The rear shock adjustable for preload and rebound damping is a little more capable of handling the variety of tasks asked of it.

Braking performance from the TnT’s dual 320mm front discs and radial-mount calipers isn’t what we’d call confidence inspiring. Pull at the lever is substantial to get the binders really working – to the point of concern that you’re applying so much pressure the non-ABS binders are about to lock. That never happened, and we slowly came to terms with how much pressure was necessary to stop (semi) quickly. Could be a case of a little air in the brake line.

2017 Benelli TnT600 Tornado action

The TnT holds its line well, as it should with a 58.3-inch wheelbase, which is significantly longer than other models in this segment. There seems to be an extra amount of roll in the twistgrip before reaching the throttle stop.

The TnT’s seating position is what you’d expect from a 600cc bike – a little cramped in legroom for my 5-foot-11 frame, but not beyond what is normal, and somewhat wide between the knees. The reach to the bars is comfortable, and the bars themselves reach out to keep the rider upright with a slight forward lean into the wind. They’re also wide enough to provide good leverage without going overboard.

2017 Benelli TnT600 Tornado instrument cluster

Large analog tachometer and digital speedo comprise the instrument cluster. Some of the information is on the small side, but more importantly, our speedo reading was way off, reading in excess of 10 mph faster than a BMW R-nineT pacing alongside.

2017 Benelli TnT600 Tornado
+ Highs

  • Only bike in its class
  • Exotic by default
  • A good do-everything beginnerish bike
– Sighs

  • Heavy
  • Weak front brakes
  • Not even preload adjustability for the fork

Retailing for $6,999 doesn’t give the TnT600 any kind of price advantage over its Japanese competitors – something many lesser known manufacturers use to help move someone further down the purchasing decision. We recently reviewed the Benelli TnT300, and came away impressed, but it seems to be a newer design compared to its big brother. We’ll know better shortly when we take measure of the TnT600 against its peers, and see if it doesn’t need a price advantage to stay competitive when competing the likes of Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki. Stay tuned!

2017 Benelli TnT600 Tornado

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  • Old MOron

    Hmm, based on this preview I’m not optimistic about the Sino-Italo bike’s chances in the comparo. But shootouts can throw up unexpected results, so bring it on!

  • azicat

    These have been available in Asia/India and Oceania for a few years now. I had the chance to test ride one of these two years ago. Competent in a 1990s kinda way, but heavy and peaky. Most shoppers here think of it as a CFMoto competitor instead of an alternative to Japanese brands (even though most of these are now made in Thailand).

  • JMDGT

    Benelli needs more of a differentiator to compete in this class or any class for that matter. Good luck to them.

  • Brett Lewis

    Maybe it should be compared to the Hyosung GT 650, which seems to have some advantages, including about 70 pounds less weight and full adjustability on the suspension. The GT doesn’t have as much peak horsepower listed, but since Benelli fudged on their weight I would suppose there are other things they’re not being open about.

  • DickRuble

    “Could be a case of a little air in the brake line.” .. nope… that’s not how air in the lines manifests itself.. It would be a case of lack of engineering and manufacturing know how.

  • allworld

    Doesn’t seem like a winner……. Not really ready for top tier competition, perhaps a shoot out with Hyosung.
    Dealer network should be a part of all shoot outs, IMO.

  • ColoradoS14

    The styling on this thing sure drew a ton of “inspiration” (read: ripped off) the Aprilia Shiver. Underseat exhaust, similar frame panels and half trellis, passenger grab handles….
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fed5f5accb32b2c55f26c10453d888b54e4ede851a1f85b2ab47b17442fc1aea.jpg

  • Rich Wentz

    These things are cool. Pig heavy but cool. Of what I’ve read Benelli reengineered these for durability to sell in the Far East. Guys in India ride these things through rivers….lol
    As for the brakes ? Who knows… Theyre rebadged Brembos…

  • GIBBED

    It’s a shame that these Benellis are so heavy. It’s been my experience working with Chinese manufacturers that they prioritize manufacturability above all other design parameters. In this case, that would be weight.

  • Jeevan Chaukar

    Benelli 600i model (or TNT 600 whatever you call it) is indeed doing a fair amount of business in India for sure. It is a motorcycle with very attractive exhaust sound that alone has caused many people to buy it. I did the test ride of this one some months ago. It is smooth, the bike seems well built and by now several hundred if not thousands of them are running on Indian roads (which admittedly are tough for any superbike category!). It is not a real fast bike per se due to its porky weight. But surely while riding it doesn’t feel all that heavy. It has a clutch which can be said to be on heavier side. Since last year, ABS version of this bike has been launched in India. The brakes are not very sharp but that is in a way intentional. Most people graduating to this bike in India are coming from much smaller capacity bikes which don’t have sharp throttle or braking response (except KTM Duke range). So Benelli 600i is a much friendlier and easier to live with bike with sweet sound – a large section of buyers are happy with that…Service interval is irritatingly less at just 4000 km! But overall a decent offering…

  • Daniel Brown

    With the 300 down to $3188 I wouldn’t be surprised to see this drop at least a full G to move them… Could be decent for the money if they did, apparently they are easy to work on too.