Considering these two are linked by a common engine layout, what's instantly noticeable is how wildly different their engines feel. The Triumph Speed Triple is silky smooth in all regards, faultless fueling, minimal vibrations and a torque curve that's almost been ironed flat. By contrast, the Benelli TNT Sport is gruffer and rougher. It's not lumpy or jerky, but there's a coarse feeling to it. Blip the throttles and the Benelli TNT growls, the Triumph Speed Triple whirrs.
They're both hugely grunty at all revs, of course, let's not forget we're dealing with 1050cc and 1130cc motorcycles here, but the Triumph feels the gutsiest, despite actually making less torque than the Benelli TNT. It could be nothing more than a gearing illusion, but open the throttle on the Triumph Speed Triple anywhere in any gear and it just wants to vanish towards the horizon. The Benelli TNT Sport wants to storm off too, but it doesn't feel as keen to go. It could be those extra 10kilo keeping the front end on the road longer, or it could be the slight dip in the midrange affecting the rush of the delivery. Either way, stunt monkeys will want to pick the Triumph every time and twice on Sunday.
What's that? The reserved Brits have created a wilder ride than the passionate Italians? Well, not quite. Much of the time the Triumph Speed Triple is quiet and well-mannered, while the Benelli TNT Sport is making itself known. Over bumps, for example, the firmly suspended Benelli TNT does less to disguise the road surface than the softer Triumph Speed Triple. And while the brakes on both are more than strong enough, the Triumph needs a bit more work at the lever.
The Benelli TNT Sport is also sharp on and off the throttle. It's not that the fueling's bad, it's just very responsive, making it hard to find a neutral position, never a problem with the Triumph Speed Triple.
Curiously, it's equally impossible to find neutral in the Benelli's gearbox, at least, not with the engine running. Go looking for it while waiting at a set of traffic lights and you're guaranteed to still be prodding and poking about by the time they've turned green.
However, the Triumph Speed Triple is also afflicted with a fairly crude transmission, occasionally popping out of gear under hard acceleration and generally needing a strong boot.