Last year at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Benelli surprised everybody with its new Leoncino scrambler and 500cc adventure bike – but it looks that they have a few more surprises for the motorcycling world.
Some leaked pictures from a forthcoming new model, with the code name BJ750GS reached us. Given that the Benelli TRK502 was developed under the code name BJ500GS, it's pretty clear that 750 refers to its engine capacity.
That's actually a surprise, since the engine is visually identical to the old three-cylinder unit featured in the Tornado, TNT and Tre-K, and that in previous versions has been available in 898cc and 1131cc versions. So 750cc suggests it's been either de-stroked or sleeved down significantly. It also means that the same basic motorcycle you see in the picture could just as easily be offered with either of the larger engine capacities.
While the original Benelli TNT was a typical Italian design and development with high-end components, bristling with Brembo and Marzocchi parts and earning a price tag reflecting that, the new Benelli 750cc is likely to be right at the other end of the market. With an engine that's long since amortized its development costs, relatively cheap, Benelli own brakes and suspension parts will be fitted. It's likely to be a bargain naked-bike rather than an exotic premium motorcycle.
As with most other Benelli motorcycles, final assembly may still be done in Pesaro, Italy, even if many components come from Chinese Benelli factories.
The reduction in engine size might also be related to cost saving. While smaller pistons aren't going to save much money, the resulting lower performance would allow knock-on savings in areas like brakes and suspension. Cutting capacity could also drive down stresses on other engine parts, allowing cheaper components and materials to be used.
The frame is less exotic than the original, and the old under-seat exhaust is replaced with a big side-mounted can – presumably to meet more modern emission regulations. Other legally required additions include ABS
In terms of style, the new 750cc Benelli machine is clearly intended to take on the name of TNT. The rumor is that the original TNT1130 and TNT899 have now been discontinued, as has the Tornado, leaving the Tre-K as the only Benelli to use the three-cylinder engine that first was introduced in 1999.
The fuel tank aside, the bodywork is new, as are the headlight and all-digital instruments. There's a single, conventional radiator instead to the old TNT's twin, side-mounted rads, which should also help cut costs.
Some of the carried-over elements of this design – like the swingarm – might well only be place-holder components while new ones are developed. Even so, the overall shape is likely to remain much as you see it in the picture when the final motorcycle is released, probably in November or December this year.