The Benelli Tornado 302R is a gorgeous looking sportsbike, and the first new fully faired motorcycle in 10-years. The design is flawless. The fit-and-finish levels are also decent although the basic instrument console could have been a bit fancier… Apart from that there is hardly anything in terms of design that we can complain about, everything is just in the right place.
While most parts of the Benelli Tornado 302R are new, the 300cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, parallel-twin engine is borrow from the popular TNT 300S, Benelli’s capable small street-fighter. However, for the Tornado 302R, Benelli have retuned the 300cc parallel-twin engine, it will make 36 horsepower at 12,000rpm, with 27.4Nm of torque at 9,000rpm.
A smooth six-speed gearbox transfers the power to the rear wheel via a traditional chain final drive. The gear ratio have been kept short so the engine revs to the limit pretty quickly, asking you to shift up.
Despite being the same engine as that on the Benelli TNT 300S, it certainly felt quite different. The smooth and refined character of the TNT 300S engine was missing. The moment the engine reached 5,000rpm, the buzzing started and it intensified as the tacho needle reached 8,000rpm. The vibrations, however, are comparatively less than what some of the more powerful motorcycles in the +300cc segment produce. Now Benelli may say that torque comes in at 9,000rpm, but the motorcycle picks up pace from 6,000rpm and pulls strongly once you cross the 7,000rpm mark. In linear power and torque delivery make it an easy motorcycle to ride in the city and the short-ratio gearbox also helps in this because you can ride the Tornado in a higher gear at slightly lower rpm.
The engine also responds in a very civilized way rather than in a frenzied way. When you open the throttle, gently, the motorcycle did charge ahead but in a very calm and relaxed manner. The throttle response was crisp and precise and the engine felt nice and responsive. Vibrations were manageable and the gearbox was slick with a positive feel.
Performance is good, though the Benelli Tornado 302R is not really a pocket-rocket. It does make a good amount of noise as the tacho needle rushes to the red-line but the speedo doesn’t display the same urgency. Despite that the motorcycle gets to decent cruising speeds pretty quickly. For a thorough performance test you have to wait until Benelli Thailand decide if they going to sell this model in Thailand.
As for the cycle parts, the Benelli Tornado uses a new frame and rear suspension combined with upside down front forks and new wheels. These are major changes that decide the overall ride quality oand handling characteristics of the motorcycle and, luckily, Benelli have got the setup right. Although the 41mm front forks are not adjustable, the rear monoshock is adjustable for preload. The standard factory setup is slightly on the softer side which endows the motorcycle with a good ride quality on roads in Thailand and it doesn’t really affect it handling much. Throw this motorcycle into a corner and it adheres to the chosen line well. Only one complaint here would be that the foot-pegs ground quite easily and the exhaust, which is mounted quite low, also tends to kiss the tarmac a bit under full lean.
Overall, the Benelli Tornado 302R tends to be stable in the corners and quite capable when it comes to quick directional changes. We enjoyed riding the Benelli Tornado 302R in the corners because its handling is superb on twisty roads. The 150 section rear and 110 section front tires offer oodles of grip even when the rods are slightly wet. The balance of the motorcycle in the corners is excellent and confidence-inspiring and its stability is marvelous.
The new Benelli Tornado 302R is quite a good motorcycle. It has got good handling characteristics that allow you to push the motorcycle harder ever time you see a corner and its stability is also amazing. The ergonomics are spot-on, except for the low-mounted rear-sets… The engine feels a bit rough but it still packs a punch. Ride quality is pretty impressive and our test motorcycle was equipped with Metzeler tires that stick as glue to the road, our Benelli contact could not confirm that the Metzeler tires would be on the motorcycle if it comes to Thailand.