OMG, has it really been ten years since the three wise men Duke, Brissette and Fonzie, mounted their modern-day dromedaries to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far? All three have left MO, but their hard work remains in the form of this scripture, and even a recently (this-morningly) unearthed not-bad video. We know if we’ll only be true to their glorious quest, that our hearts will lie peaceful and calm when we’re laid to our rest, and the world will be Better for this. What? Amen.
You’d think we’d learn our lesson by now with these darn 24-hour races. Our Grom debacle was a serious test of our resolve and had us questioning why we even rode motorcycles in the first place, while our time aboard the Kymco K-Pipe we also rode around the clock didn’t present us with any problems, but boy was it ungodly slow. Maybe in my attempt to recreate the sense of accomplishment that comes with being the first electric team to complete a 24-hour race, I’ve tricked my MO cohorts into thinking racing little bikes for a whole day is fun. Thankfully, being MOrons, we clearly don’t learn our lesson.
Church of MO: 2008 Oddball Literbikes Comparison: Benelli Tornado Tre 1130 Vs. Buell 1125R Vs. Ducati 1098S
On this 100th Armistice Day, what better, less inappropriate way to remember all the WW1 gefallenen than by throwing an American and two Italians into battle. Okay, yeah it would be better with also a BMW and a Peugeot or Midual. It didn’t happen ten years ago, alright? But this comparison did. Nice work, Pete, and a moment of silence please, for Erik Buell – who gave the last, final measure of devotion not once, but two or three times. So far.
Say what you will about Chinese motorcycles; in most cases the MO team would probably agree with you. When your core market is the Asian continent simply looking for cheap transportation, as a manufacturer you stamp out cheap motorcycles by the truckful to meet the demand. Transport nearly any of those motorcycles to the U.S. – where the expectations are entirely different from the Asian market – and we’re going to be severely let down. Moral of the story: a cheap bike is a cheap bike.
If you’re in the market for a motorcycle like the Honda Grom or Kawasaki Z125 Pro, pump the brakes and take a look at this: the Benelli TnT135. No matter how many times SSR, the US importer and distributor for Benelli, say the 135 isn’t aimed at taking down the Grom and Z, it’s impossible to think otherwise. Priced at $2,499, the TnT undercuts the Kawi by $700 and the Honda by $850 (which jumps to $900 if you’re looking at the 2019 Grom). When you’re talking about price points this low, this is a massive difference.
People love their Honda Groms and Kawasaki Z125s; now Benelli wants some o’ that action with its new TnT135. Some of Benelli’s bigger bikes, like the TnT300, were closer to our pleasure center than others ( TnT600)… but then we were really pleasantly surprised by SSR Motorsports’ (the US importer) Razzkull 125 a couple years ago.
We were intrigued when Honda introduced its Grom for the 2014 model year, as the little 125cc street-legal playbike looked to be a fun and accessible way to ride a motorbike around town. It proved to be one of Honda’s best-sellers in its street lineup. It was lightly updated for 2016, which inspired a ridiculously fun shootout between new competitors from Kawasaki (Z125), Kymco (K-Pipe 125), and the SSR Razkull.
An Italian is joining the small-displacement fun with the other kids, bringing to the U.S. market the 2018 Benelli 302R. The 302R carries the same inline two-cylinder motor as the previously seen in the Tornado 302, an Italian-designed, Chinese-manufactured naked bike from Benelli.
Three years ago in its maiden season, the Yamaha FZ-07 came out with both 80mm pistons blazing to take the win from five other tasty middleweights (including the KTM 690 Duke) in our 2014 Middleweight Mash-Up Six-Way Shootout! Last year, we threw the Yamaha in with the Duke 690 again – also the reborn Suzuki SV650 (alongside Gabe’s old SV, because why not?), and watched as the Yamaha lost out to the Duke by the slimmest of margins (a different set of testers…), on its way to beating up (barely) the new Suzuki SV.
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.
So far, we’ve had a hit-or-miss relationship when it comes to Chinese-built motorcycles. We were pleasantly surprised by the mini Ducati Monst…errr… SSR Razkull 125 when we rode it alone and amongst its peers in our 125cc Ankle Biters Shootout. The little playbike seemed to be put together moderately well and delivered impressive performance in the class, all for less than two-grand. For a price that low, we excused much of its shortcomings, especially compared to the almighty, but costly at $3,200, Honda Grom.
Hmmm… the Benelli 300’s VIN plate says Made in China, but if it said Italy you could just as easily believe it: Check the nice welds on that red trellis frame, respect the braided steel lines leading to the dual front discs which are clamped by calipers that look like Brembos. Behold an instrument panel and switchgear that wouldn’t look at all out of place on any Japanese motorcycle. The stylish pointy footpegs look like something from an MV Agusta, and both shift and brake lever tips are eccentric-mounted adjustable. Eyeballing it, this is the nicest Chinese bike we’ve seen – by a long shot. Heck, it even has a cute little switchblade-style ignition key.
Some of you may not be familiar with SSR motorcycles, but with 200 dealerships across America, the company is steadily establishing itself within the industry. At AIMExpo 2016, Tom Roderick visited the SSR booth, where he saw first hand some of the cool new models the company will be releasing soon, including the Buccaneer Cafe and Buccaneer Classic. Both are powered by 250cc, air-cooled V-Twins with stylish designs and attractive price tags. Other models include the scrambler-style XF250-DT and custom-looking XF250 Snake Eyes. Both are powered by a 250cc Single. Rounding out the range are the Lazer 6 moped and SEEV-800 electric scooter.
Benelli introduced a new adventure touring model at EICMA called the TRK 502. With its wire-spoke wheels and longer suspension travel, the TRK looks to be a bit more off-road capable than the 471cc Honda CB500X, but at a claimed 463 pounds (dry), is significantly heavier, weighing about a pound more than the BMW F700GS (.
Benelli may now be Chinese-owned but that hasn’t stopped the Italian brand from having a presence in Milan, presenting three new motorcycles at EICMA. Shown here is a new scrambler model called the Leoncino, or “lion cub”, a name that traces back to a line of lightweight Benelli models from the 1950s.