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Benelli 502C: First Ride Review

31 August 2021, 12:00 PM Neil Nair

Introduction

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Benelli says that it sees heavy potential in the 250cc to 500cc motorcycle segment in India. Its current line-up also holds on to that statement. The brand has the Imperiale 400, Leoncino 500 and the TRK 502 range catering to different masses and it recently introduced a cruiser to the mix in the form of the 502C

And since Benelli handed us the motorcycle to sample over a couple of days, we rode the 502C extensively in and around the city. We also added some kilometres on the odo riding on the open highway.

Read on to know if the Benelli 502C lives up to the “Urban Cruiser” name and if it is worth the Rs 5 lakh price tag it comes with.

Quality

Right Side View

I know what you are thinking, because it came to my mind the first time I saw the 502C as well. It does look strikingly similar to the Ducati Diavel in more ways than one. But this also means that the 502C effortlessly grabs attention wherever it goes. 

Left Side View
Benelli 502C

Benelli 502C

  • Displacement500 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)46.8 bhp
  • Kerb Weight220 kg
  • ;

Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 5,46,369

The shape of the LED headlamp is the biggest giveaway to the styling reference. Then, there is the large 21-litre fuel tank that makes up for more than half of the 502C’s bodywork. It also gets a cantilever seat design that sacrifices space for the pillion for an aesthetic looking rear end. And speaking of aesthetics, the LED turn signals that are fitted vertically on the tyre-mounted number plate holder look neat and so does the split tail lamp setup. When it comes to quality, the Benelli 502C is well built for the most part with no panel gaps or ill fitted components to be found. However, the switchgear looks and feels cheap and could do with better quality.

Comfort

Benelli 502C Bike Seat

All of the Benelli 502C’s bodywork sits on a tubular trellis frame that is completely different than what the Leoncino 500 uses. In fact, the 502C is longer and lower than the Leoncino and even offers a low seat height of 750mm. So getting on and off the motorcycle even for short riders isn’t a worry. Nor is being able to plant your feet on the ground. 

But with a kerb weight of 216kg, the 502C is a bulky motorcycle and the lack of a grab rail also makes it even more difficult to pull the bike around. However, once seated, moving the 502C does feel a bit manageable.

Benelli 502C action

Now, the Benelli promises to offer a relaxed, cruiser-like riding position with wide handlebars and forward-set controls. While the bars feel nice to hold on to, what I didn’t like is the shape of the fuel tank. The upper edge of the tank offers little knee support, and would surely inconvenience taller riders. That said, the seat is plush at first and locks you in the riding position, but can feel firm after riding a long distance. 

Benelli 502C Front Wheel

As for the ride quality, Benelli needs to work on the 502C’s stiff suspension setup. Since the rider sits right above the monoshock, every bit of feedback is transferred to the lower back. While it is acceptable at speeds of up to 30kmph, any faster than that and the experience turns extremely unpleasant. The front end with the 50mm, inverted forks is also equally stiff sending shocks to the handlebars. 

Performance

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All is not lost though thanks to the 502C’s 498cc, parallel-twin engine. And since this is a Benelli, it undoubtedly sounds great.

This engine is the same as the one on the Leoncino 500 and TRK 502, although with a slightly different tune. It offers 46.8bhp and 46Nm of torque in a linear and predictable manner all through the rev range. It feels smooth and refined with only a few vibes coming in at higher revs on the handlebar.

Benelli 502C action

Moreover, the 502C’s motor is also extremely tractable and can tread as slow as 40kmph in higher gears making it quite forgiving to ride in the city. However, it does require a couple of downshifts to overtake swiftly. And even though the 502C’s output figures are decent, due to its heft, it feels a bit sluggish when you twist the throttle. 

Apart from the wide handlebars posing a problem when filtering through small gaps, the 502C felt agile through traffic. And out on the highway it can cruise at around 130kmph and push past that mark after some coaxing. Did I mention the howling induction roar? Oh, it is immensely addictive! 

Benelli 502C action

But with the wind deflecting off the headlamp and smacking me right in the face, the need for a windscreen was felt almost immediately. Chance on some twisties and the 502C feels sportier, switching sides almost instantly. Add the smooth throttle response and the slick shifting gearbox and the whole package becomes a delight. Even the brakes on the 502C are pretty decent. At 280mm, the discs are smaller than the ones on the Leoncino, but they offer good bite and progression at both ends.

Features

Benelli 502C Instrument Cluster

The list of features offered on the Benelli 502C aren’t extensive but better than what the Kawasaki Vulcan S has to offer. So it gets a fully-digital display that shows all essential info and has dashes of colour on the redline and fuel gauge. There also is the full-LED lighting all around and a dual-channel ABS. As for the back rest and engine guard that you see here, these are offered as optional accessories. 

Our Take

Right Side View

To sum things up, the Benelli 502C is a treat to ride in the city thanks to its agility and the engine’s tractable nature. The motor is also easy to use for someone upgrading from a 150-200cc motorcycle. Not to forget that raspy exhaust note and a styling that is guaranteed to turn heads. Moreover, its biggest USP is the Rs 4.98 lakh price tag, which makes the 502C a lakh cheaper to buy than the Kawasaki Vulcan S that is priced at Rs 6.10 lakh.

Tail Light

It seems like the Benelli 502C is a jack of all trades. But as they say, a jack of all trades, can be a master of none, and that is exactly the case with the 502C. It would be a much better motorcycle to ride with improvements to its suspension setup and ride quality. And since it is a cruiser, we’d have loved to see it fitted with a windscreen and a plusher seat to improve the high speed and long distance ride experience. 

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi 

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