Most motorcycles from the ‘70s and ‘80s offered an upright and broad-chested riding posture and the Benelli Imperiale 400 evokes the same feeling as a result of its wide, slightly-pulled back handlebars and neutrally-set foot pegs. To perfect the riding ergonomics, Benelli has fitted the Imperiale’s peanut-shaped tank with a tank grip that feels natural to dig your knees into.
The Imperiale’s seat has a firm, but comfortable cushioning at both ends with the rider seat sprung underneath for additional support. And with a low seat height of 780mm, the Imperiale will be a good fit even for short riders. While it is fairly easy to flat-foot, the motorcycle’s kerb weight of 205kg can make it daunting to move around. However, the weight starts to feel manageable once in motion and the Imperiale becomes surprisingly nimble, even in traffic.
Complementing the handling is the sprightly 374cc, single-cylinder air-cooled engine with a bassy thump that is sure to put the BS6 Classic 350 to shame. While the output has differed minutely from the BS4 model, the motor still offers an enthusiastic grunt all through the rev range. However, the engine is at its best in the mid-range from 3500rpm to 5500rpm and can cruise at 110kmph all day. All this while, the engine feels supremely refined and has absolutely no vibrations at any point, although it tends to heat up in heavy traffic. But it is only when the needle hits 120kmph that the Imperiale starts to feel unsettled. There is a slight buzz on the handlebar and the front end starts to wobble in complaint.
Now, Benelli hasn’t tweaked or changed the suspension hardware on the BS6 Imperiale, so it continues to have a stiff setup which is unforgiving even over small bumps and potholes, especially when riding solo. Nevertheless, with a pillion on board the ride improves drastically as the suspension manages to cushion out larger undulations with ease.