2019 Benelli TRK 502 Launch Ride Review

01 March 2019, 11:44 AM Janak Sorap

Introduction

This is the new Benelli TRK 502. Now, assembled and sold in India by the Mahavir Group, it is available in two variants, touring and off-road. The latter is christened the 502X. We rode these bikes in the dirt and on tarmac in Chikmagalur.

The visuals

The Benelli TRK 502 is your affordable ADV. And, it is a good looking one at that. It has a prominent front-end with a beak-type fairing with several contours that give it an aggressive and a perched up stance. It has the silhouette of BMW’s GS range, which is good considering that the BMW is the benchmark in this segment. The fit and finish is even; the quality of materials used feel nice to the touch; and the paint quality is good, giving the bike an upmarket feel.

The TRK has strong road presence too, it looks big and intimidating. Swing a leg over, and you are seated ‘in’ the bike than ‘on’ it. The split-seat offers a lot of space, and the rider’s seat – at least on the TRK 502 – isn’t too high either. It is 800mm off the ground, which was comfortable even for someone like me, measuring 5’6” in height. However, in the case of the 502X, with a seat height of 840mm, I could only tip-toe around.

Built around a steel trellis frame with a chunky fairing and a 20-litre fuel tank, both bikes tip the scale at 213kg for unladed weight, which is heavy.

The package

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 5,00,000

In terms of kit, the TRK 502 and the 502X might not be feature-packed motorcycles, but they do offer a decent list of features. The crash guards, a 12V power socket, a rear carrier, adjustable front brake lever and a hazard light switch, are all offered as standard. However, while the TRK 502 features an underbelly exhaust, the 502X sports a big upswept exhaust can and an additional bash plate for the engine. 

Both bikes, in the meantime, sport large LCD instrument consoles. These display speed, gear position, fuel level, coolant temperature, time, an odometer and two trip meters. The tacho, though, is an analogue unit. The instrumentation is easy to read even when the sun is right on top. The bikes also get tall windscreens which keep the wind blast at bay at three-digit speeds. But, these aren’t adjustable. And, the vision through the visor is not clear either.

Both bikes are powered by the same 500cc parallel-twin liquid-cooled DOHC motor. It produces a max power of 47bhp at 8,500rpm and a peak torque of 46Nm at 6,000rpm. The engine doesn’t boast of an exceptionally strong low or mid-range grunt. It´s at its happiest higher up in the rev range. Not the ideal setup for an ADV, but it’s manageable on the road.

As for electronics, neither bike gets riding modes or traction control. These do get dual-channel ABS which is switchable.

The TRK 502 runs beefy 50mm inverted forks up front and a monoshock at the back. The front is non-adjustable but the rear gets rebound and preload adjustment. The resultant ride is on the stiffer side. But, it’s not uncomfortable, and it helps keep the bike planted even on poor road surfaces. It’s the same for the 502X, but unlike the 502 which runs 17-inch alloy wheels shod with road-focused tyres at both ends, the 502X uses a 19-inch front and a 17-inch rear wheel, both, of the spoked variety and wrapped in dual-purpose tyres.

The Ride: On-Road

The TRK 502 doesn’t feel all that heavy on the move. In fact, it is easy to filter with, and doesn’t feel cumbersome around corners either. The grip from the tyres is good, and the brake bite and progression, especially for a heavy bike are impressive too. It also has a light clutch pull, and the 6-speed gearbox is slick to operate. 

Around the twisties of the densely forested roads, the TRK 502 managed to climb inclined sections at 30kmph in the third gear with ease. Riding the bike in second and third gear for a good amount of time does result in some heat that can be felt near the feet, but it disappears once you pick up speed.

The Ride: Off-Road

The TRK 502X has identical heat dissipation characteristics. But, courtesy a shorter final drive, the X manages to have more grunt at corner exits. And that’s simply because it is sitting closer to the power band for the same speed and gear as the road biased 502. 

Handling wise, the X is almost identical to the 502 on tarmac. But, off-road, it’s a handful, at least initially. And, that’s probably down to the slower speeds one has to stick to off road. Plus, having to tip-toe when crawling over dirt courtesy the taller seat height, didn’t do much for my confidence. However, once I got a hang of it, it was more fun. Since there isn’t enough power to spit you out violently even if you do get a slide wrong on dirt, I was able to use the throttle more liberally. Also, the brakes on the TRK 502X have a softer bite compared to the 502, which again helps when riding on dirt. 

The conclusion

Should you buy the TRK duo? If you want a do-it-all bike that’s also fast and exciting and fun, then maybe the 502 will not work for you. But, if you want a do-it-all bike that won’t break you at the end of a long journey, the TRK 502 might work. The 502 is happy to cruise on highways, the X can handle some light off-roading, and both might be alright within city confines too. 

As for the TRK 502 and the 502X’s competition, these don’t have any direct competitors. The ones that come closest are the Kawasaki Versys 650 for the touring TRK 502, and the SWM Superdual T for the off-road biased TRK 502X.

Photography by Kapil Angane

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