Benelli Leoncino 500: Road Test Review

19 November 2019, 06:16 PM Pratheek Kunder

Introduction

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino action

Pros: Great styling, has an amazing exhaust sound, easy to live with

Cons: Stiff ride, overall quality should have been better

This is the new Leoncino 500 - Benelli’s newest addition to its 500cc range of motorcycles. Now, Benelli in India is known for motorcycles that offer great road presence, decent pricing and an exhaust sound that turns heads even in a crowded city like Mumbai. But this bike, which Benelli likes to call a Scrambler, is slightly different from what we have seen so far. It doesn’t have large body panels nor does it have any brand recognition as of now. But, it has a few traits that make it a very interesting motorcycle. 

Quality

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino front three quarters

The Leoncino belongs to a segment where a lot of focus goes on the visual experience. The styling has to be great. And the overall quality, too, needs to be perfect. While Benelli got the styling spot on, it should have spent a few more dollars and time to get the quality right. I mean, the quality is great for a motorcycle that’s priced around Rs 2 lakhs. But the Leoncino commands almost Rs 5 lakhs, and so it’s only fair to have such high expectations.

Benelli Leoncino

Benelli Leoncino

  • Displacement500 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)46.8 bhp
  • ;

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 4,79,000

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino

The switchgear reeks of mediocrity. The plastics around the cluster and the headlamp unit feel a bit cheap. The routing of wire also could have been done in a much better way. However, the paint finish is outstanding. Our bike had a matte finish and it felt premium in every possible way. 

Comfort

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino action

The Leoncino has a seat height of 785mm and that’s a sweet number for an Indian buyer. With an accessible seat height like that, the Leoncino becomes a favourable proposition for a large number of Indian buyers. Even the seating position is comfortable for riders of all sizes. The wide handlebar, decently placed footpegs and low seat height feel natural. For a pillion, there’s a decent amount of space for short hauls. 

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino

In terms of the ride setup, the Leoncino benefits from adjustable suspension at the front and the rear. But the stock setup is too stiff for our liking. My back took a lot of beating especially when the motorcycle was ridden on bad roads at low speeds. The rear monoshock can be adjusted for preload and rebound using a knob. But weirdly, even the softest setting wasn’t to my liking. I had to be careful every time I saw a pothole. 

Performance

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino

The 500cc parallel-twin motor on the Leoncino has been borrowed from the TRK 502s. The power figures are the same – 47bhp and 46Nm of peak torque. This motor is refined and builds up power quite linearly. It can do triple-digit speeds all day long, but the lack of wind protection brings in a lot of limitation, especially on the highways. 

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino action

The Leoncino performs quite well within the city limits. The comfortable riding position, along with a motor that has lots of mid-range torque makes life a bit easier in a crowded city like Mumbai. The gear shifts are smooth as well. But the clutch feels a bit heavy. The motorcycle is well balanced due to which it’s easy to navigate through tight city traffic. The wide handlebar gives a lot of leverage. 

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino action

Coming to the brakes, the Leoncino is equipped with dual-discs at the front and a single one at the rear. This system performs really well and sheds speeds without much fuss. The power and bite are great. But we wish it could develop some good feedback on the levers. The dual-channel ABS can be switched off, but we don’t ever recommend that action. 

Technology

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino

The Leoncino 500 is a modern bike in every way. It gets liquid-cooling, fuel-injection and has a dual-channel ABS that can be switched off. It has LED lighting throughout, but the best system can be seen on the DRL and the taillight. 

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino

The instrument cluster gets a basic design but gives out all the necessary information. Other than the regular ride data, it shows clock, engine and ambient temperatures. The suspension is adjustable. However, it misses out on USB charging facility which has become a norm in most of the two-wheelers in India. 

Fuel Efficiency

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino

The Leoncino returned 26.8kmpl and that’s not a bad figure at all. With a fuel tank capacity of 12.7 litres, the bike can be ridden for approximately 340kms before stopping for a refill. 

Fitness of Purpose

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino action

Scramblers need to possess two strong traits – it needs to have a design that can turn heads and should also have the ability to take the rider wherever he wants. The Leoncino ticks the first box quite well, however, for the second aspect, it does just an average job. 

Our Take

Benelli Leoncino Benelli Leoncino headlamp

The Leoncino is priced at Rs 4.79 lakhs (ex-showroom Mumbai) and for that price, you get more than just a motorcycle. You get a machine that sounds good and makes you look cool wherever you go. I honestly enjoyed this motorcycle. In fact, I think it’s the best Benelli I have ever ridden. It has great ergos, a friendly motor and it’s so easy to live with. 

So if you are in the market for a multi-cylinder motorcycle and want to stand out in the crowd and live with it comfortably, then you should definitely check out the Leoncino 500.

Photography by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi 

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