Benelli Leoncino 250 BS4 Review
What we have here is the Benelli Leoncino 250 or the Leoncino Duecentocinquanta as the Italians would say. It is the manufacturer’s smallest offering in the Leoncino range. We spend a couple of days with the Leoncino 250 to find out what it's all about..
Pros: Attractive styling, good quality components, nimble handling
Cons: Clunky gearbox, intrusive ABS, slightly pricey
What we have here is the Benelli Leoncino 250 or the Leoncino Duecentocinquanta as the Italians would say. It is the manufacturer’s smallest offering in the Leoncino range. Benelli calls it a scrambler, just like its bigger sibling, the Leoncino 500 which we tested a while ago.
But going by the looks of it, this one too seems to like its roads well paved. Confused as to what the motorcycle was all about, we thought it’s best to spend a couple of days with the Leoncino 250 to find out more.
Benelli seems to have left no stone unturned when it comes to getting the quality right on the Leoncino 250. From the first glance, everything on the motorcycle looks premium; the quality of plastic all around the bodywork is good, the switchgear feels tactile to touch and operate and the quality of paint is top-notch as well. Overall, the fit and finish is spot on and there’s nothing to complain about except the design of the handlebar grips which left the palm of my hands sore and pink after a few hours of riding.
In terms of styling, the attention to detail is commendable. Elements like the Lion on the front fender and the ‘Leoncino’ branding here and there is a cherry on the cake and adds premium-ness to the package.
The Leoncino 250 will not boast of big dimensions from afar, but once astride, it does feel like a big bike. This is courtesy to the shape of the 12.5-litre fuel tank which is large at the front and tapers as it nears the seat. Speaking of which, the seat is well-cushioned and comfortable to sit on, although for a short while. Since it has a bit of a slope and taper upfront, it won’t be long before you find yourself shifting and adjusting.
Now, the motorcycle offers a mildly aggressive, scrambler-like riding posture that is comfortable enough for city riding. However, all of the Leoncino 250’s ergonomics seems perfect for the average-sized Indian but for someone nearing 6 feet, the bike would just be too compact. Push it off the side stand and a 162kg kerb weight of the Leoncino can be felt instantly. Interestingly, it is only a kilogram heavier than the KTM 250 Duke which feels way lighter.
On the move, the motorcycle will surprise with its ride quality. The suspension is well set up and provides decent insulation over small potholes as well as on larger bumps. Although on corners, the Leoncino’s front end tends to skip about.
The 249cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled motor comes to life with a bassy note of the exhaust. This is also where the buzzy vibrations begin to creep in; first on the handlebar and the tank followed by the seat and footpegs. While the vibrations are present all through, they are thankfully not bothersome. Now, the engine feels peppy and enthusiastic. The Leoncino 250 also feels nimble while filtering through traffic and making quick lane changes.
Overtaking is a breeze too, as the engine has enough power to offer all along the rev band. While the gearing is short, the motor can pull through 15-20kmph in the 4th cog sans the drama. However, the Leoncino suffers from a clunky gearbox and false neutrals. The clutch pull is heavy, making it tiresome to ride in slow-moving traffic. Its braking hardware could also use an upgrade. The setup lacks bite and feel and needs to be coaxed hard to bring the bike to a halt; well, that is if you can fight the Leoncino’s overly intrusive ABS .
In terms of technology, the Benelli Leoncino 250 comes with all the essential equipment. It gets neat-looking full-LED lighting for the headlamp, tail lamp as well as the turn signals. Then there is an LCD which provides basic information including a fuel-gauge, engine temperature and gear position indicator.
The Leoncino 250 returned a decent mileage of 35.4kmpl on our test route. With a fuel tank capacity of 12.5-litres, the motorcycle is expected to cover a distance of 440kms before having to stop for fuel.
Fitness of Purpose
Benelli already has the Leoncino 500, a retro-styled scrambler motorcycle at Rs 4.79 lakhs. What about the customers wanting a similar bike but with a lower budget? That is when the Leoncino 250 comes in. It offers almost everything that its elder sibling does although with half the displacement, a cylinder less and with a price tag of Rs 2.50 lakhs, it also costs nearly half of the Leoncino 500.
But when compared to its competitor; the Honda CB300R (Rs 2.41 lakhs), the Benelli seems like an expensive proposition. The CB300R offers better equipment, better technology and a more powerful engine for Rs 9,000 lesser.
The Benelli Leoncino 250 is flickable and fun to ride in the city. It is also comfortable and has great road presence thanks to its retro-inspired styling. However, it seems like a motorcycle one would get bored with easily. It does not have many thrills to offer in terms of equipment or performance. An upgrade to its braking hardware and clutch feel would also do wonders in enhancing the Leoncino 250’s riding experience.
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi
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