Benelli TNT 600i ABS First Ride Review

24 October 2016, 11:01 AM Charles Pennefather

What is it?

Benelli's middleweight streetbike, one of the products that has been spawned after its new ownership. It is the most economical way to approach the accepted superbike noise in India, aka 'firing'. This one's a major update because it now sports ABS, and as we found out, a remapped ECU.

How does it ride?

Like a streetbike should - it's got impeccable manners in the city, and out on the highway it will keep its good manners going until its top speed, which is around the 200 kph mark. The ergonomics aren't extreme, and they will be comfortable for all but the smallest-built customers. The four-cylinder engine means that at standstill there is a bit of heft, but it all is under control once you get rolling. Suspension duties are by USD forks up front and an offset monoshock at the rear. The motor makes a relatively tame 83 bhp but at a screaming 11,500 rpm, and max torque is developed at 10,500 rpm. 

If you're looking for twist-and-go thrills, the TNT 600i is probably not the bike for you. It behaves more like a 300cc twin, in the sense that it is docile almost right through the rev range, with serious progress available only at the uppermost reaches of its rev range.

Anything else I should know?

ABS has just been installed on the TNT 600i, and is switchable via a button fitted onto the left mirror yoke. This isn't a very elegant solution, but it works. The motor is from an old Yamaha R6, which is why we believe it will be dead reliable - it also explains the strangeness of the power peak being beyond the redline. Benelli has also changed the fueling at low revs, and it is a lot smoother, especially during throttle on/off transitions. However, that also means that at speed, you don't get as much engine braking as you'd like out of the TNT. 

We still don't like the lack of feeler bolts of the footpegs - sure, it is a streetbike, but that doesn't mean we wouldn't like to go peg-scraping on it. There's also a superfluous headlamp on/off switch - today even a Hero Splendor has an auto headlamp in anticipation of the of the rule in 2017 requiring it. It's also an incredibly silent motorcycle to the people around you, so if you want to draw attention to yourself, you're going to need aftermarket exhausts.

Why should I buy one?

It's the most economical way to get a new inline four in the Indian market. It is also the only streetbike with ABS in its segment, and it is the only 'big bike' around its price point that offers ABS. The ER-6n is a more fun motorcycle to ride, yes, but until it gets ABS, the TNT is the only real option as far as we're concerned, despite the Rs 37000 premium, ex-showroom, over the non-ABS version. 

Where does it fit in?

It fits in somewhere between the Kawasaki ER-6n on one side and the Ducati Monster 821 on the other, but the price difference between the three motorcycles is so great, there isn't any real option. If you're a safety-first customer, the Kawasaki Versys 650 offers ABS and the Harley-Davidson Street 750 will soon offer it as well. However, for all practical purposes the Benelli TNT 600i stands in class of one. 

Gear Check

1. Arai Astro-IQ Second in the Arai street models hierarchy, the Astro-IQ is a comfortable, stable helmet at any speed. Price: 50,000 

2. Alpinestars T-GP R Air A textile jacket that is a good middle ground between the protection of a textile jacket with the cooling of a mesh jacket thanks to the well-designed airflow, the T-GP Plus is one of the better jackets for an Indian summer. Price: Rs 16,500 (T-GP Plus Air)

3. Cortech by Tour Master Injector gloves These full-length gloves are a cross between a touring glove and a racing glove. Has moulded plastic for knuckle protection, a leather back and perforated leather in between the fingers for ventilation. A fleece liner will keep you warm during the winter - but is surprisingly good during the summer as well. Price: Rs 8700 before shipping and duties (Impulse RR)

4. Joe Rocket Phoenix 2.0 pants Mesh is a wonderful thing in our heat, and the Joe Rocket Phoenix mesh pants manage an ideal combination of protection via the removable armour and airflow. Price: 9600 (Phoenix Ion)

5. Alpinestars SMX-6 boots A full-length road-going boot, the SMX-6 has perforations all along the front of the boot, giving it great ventilation. It is comfortable enough to wear all day long. Price: Rs 21,500

Photography by Kapil Angane

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