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Benelli Imperiale 400 BS6 Long Term Review: Touring and Final Report

30 April 2021, 06:12 PM Neil Nair

Introduction

Right Side View

Well, I have had the Benelli Imperiale 400 as my long-term companion for a good six months now. And in these 180 odd days, the Imperiale and I have mostly sifted through the streets of Mumbai, spent the majority of the time on the famous Palm Beach road, and did a couple of intra-city trips to Pune. 

But 200kms is the maximum one-way distance the Benelli Imperiale 400 had seen. It was nearing the end of its tenure in the BikeWale Long Term fleet and I wanted to ride it for a longer distance before handing it back.

So, just like most other memorable road trips, my road trip with the Benelli Imperiale 400 was (mostly) unplanned. With just the thought of spending the weekend in Goa and a backpack with the essentials, I left home before the break of dawn. 

Things I liked

Left Rear Three Quarter

As we got on to the ill-lit highway, I was instantly amazed at the spread and intensity the Imperiale’s halogen headlamp provides. The unit offers good visibility in both low and high beam settings. Since visibility was optimum, I was able to ride a bit faster and make time before the city and its incessant traffic woke up. Maintaining a cruising speed of a healthy 100-110kmph was effortless for the Imperiale 400 that did it without a whimper or vibe. As I twisted the throttle harder, the Imperiale continued to sprint ahead to a top speed of 120kmph. Although the bike did feel a bit restless, it never threatened to leave my hands numb with the buzz of vibrations.   

Benelli Imperiale 400

Benelli Imperiale 400

  • Displacement374 cc
  • Mileage - Owner Reported32 kmpl
  • Max Power(bhp)20.7 bhp
  • Kerb Weight205 kg
  • ;

Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 1,89,661

And in my time with the Benelli Imperiale 400, I have always admired the abilities of its 374cc motor the most. It has enough torque in the lower and mid-range to please Royal Enfield loyalists and overtake vehicles along with credible power at the top end for riders who wouldn’t mind some spirited riding on the highway. And most importantly, it does all of it with the least of vibrations. 

Things I disliked

Front View

While its engine is a gem, the clutch pull is heavy compared to the smooth transmission and does need some improvement. But during my 1200km road trip, the clutch was the least of my concerns. Or it would be if I could shift my focus away from my uncomfortable backside.

Well, it all stems from the shape of the seat. While it looks spacious, the seat has somewhat of a downward slope to its design. So each time I braked, I’d be sliding forward and that’s not a great feeling in the slightest. Then, there is the seat’s cushioning that is firm and unyielding. I found myself needing to stand up or come to a halt nearly every 120kms for some relief.

Right Front Three Quarter

To make matters worse was the rear suspension. Now, the night before starting the journey, I dialed down the preload to make the ride a bit softer. This made the small bumps and joints on the highway bearable, but the larger, squarish bumps turned out to be a nightmare. The feedback from each undulation was spine-jarring, forcing me to slow down or stand up on the pegs. Although, the front end is way more pliant and does a good job at absorbing bumps.

On the ghats, the Benelli Imperiale 400’s engine shone, but the suspension and the unnecessary weight kept bogging down its performance. The Imperiale’s weight is manageable on the highway straights and you would get used to it on the twisties too. But it would be far from fun and closer to fighting the bike into corners. 

Fuel Efficiency

Through the 600km ride to Goa, the needle was at a steady 100-110kmph with a couple of bursts to 120kmph on the highway. Here, the Benelli Imperiale 400 managed to return a decent 33-35kmpl. As we hit the ghats and went through the city, it dropped down to 30kmpl. On the return 600km leg, I hardly pushed the bike over 100kmph and it returned 37kmpl. Not bad indeed.

The final goodbye

Left Side View

Well, soon after I was back, Benelli called to inform me that they had finally found a fix to the idling issue (the bike automatically revved to 3,000rpm and even stayed there for a few seconds at times!). The fix was simple and took less than 10 minutes. An ECU flash that has also been done to all BS6 versions brought the idle down to 1500rpm and the Imperiale 400 suddenly became so much more pleasant. The gear shifts and throttle became much smoother, there was lesser pressure on the brakes and the fuel efficiency increased.

But even after the Imperiale became much better than when we first got it, I was still sulking. I was sulking and disappointed because it was time to hand the bike back and the travel restrictions meant riding was going to be impossible. Well, I do wish the fix was done sooner so I could bid farewell to the Benelli Imperiale 400 with happier memories.

Until next time then, with all the necessary updates, I hope!

Bike Stats

Odometer- 5200km

Kilometers ridden this month- 1400km

Fuel Efficiency- 33-36kmpl

Gallery

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