Reviews and Test ride
Reviewing the Benelli TnT125: A Small but Stylish Streetfighter
Reviewing the Benelli TnT125: A Small but Stylish Streetfighter
Sponsored by Moto Animals

Established in 1911 in Pesaro, just a stone's throw away from the Misano Circuit Marco Simoncelli, Benelli proudly holds the distinction of being the oldest surviving Italian motorcycle brand. Over its century-long history, Benelli has experienced its share of highs and lows. Highlights include victories in the 1939 Lightweight TT, the 250cc World Championship in 1950, and the 1969 Lightweight TT, all showcasing the brand's racing prowess. However, the company also faced setbacks, notably when it ceased production in 1988 under the ownership of Argentinian Industrialist Alejandro de Tomaso. After a failed revival attempt in 1989, Benelli found a new lease of life when it was purchased by Andrea Merloni in 1995. The brand re-emerged with the Tornado Tre900 in 2002 and continued production until 2014, gaining recognition for its remarkable engine and handling but struggling with a reputation for reliability issues.


In 2005, the giant Qjian Jiang Group from Wenling, China acquired Benelli, breathing new life into the once-revered marque. QJ, known for the Keeway RKS125 and its variants in the UK, initially rebranded some Keeway models with the Benelli logo, blurring the brand's identity. However, in recent years, Benelli has returned to its roots. General Manager Ms. Yan Haimei emphasized Benelli's Italian heritage and commitment to research, design, and development in Italy, with Chinese manufacturing capabilities complementing European creativity. This partnership aims to restore Benelli's glory and compete with Japanese rivals in terms of quality.


Benelli introduced stand-alone Benelli-designed models in 2014, including the BN302 and later the TRK502 twin-cylinder adventure bike in 2016. In 2017, they launched the subject of this review, the compact TnT125 Tornado. These models marked Benelli's resurgence, with the Leoncino featuring a liquid-cooled 500cc twin and more new models planned for the future. The company aims to expand rapidly in the 400cc and 750cc segments, anticipating the release of 250cc, 400cc, and 750cc models between 2018 and 2019.


For the European market, Benelli-branded machines are designed in Italy, manufactured in China, and undergo final quality control in Pesaro.

Now, let's delve into the TnT125 Tornado, a petite yet stylish streetfighter. This pocket rocket boasts a streetfighter aesthetic with features like a trellis frame, steep fork angle, short wheelbase, slash-cut twin exhausts reminiscent of MV Agusta, and a futuristic headlight cowl housing twin LED running lights. The monoshock rear suspension, edgy tank design, and an ergonomic cockpit with aluminum handlebars add up to a visually appealing package.


The instrument cluster is modern and functional, featuring an analog rev counter, digital speedometer switchable between kilometers and miles (with a 12% over-read), fuel gauge, clock, and mileage recorder/trip combination. LED indicators enhance visibility, and the front footrests are neat rubber-faced cast aluminum, though they lack return springs. Pillion accommodations are available for transporting a small child, but it's not designed for adult passengers. The mirrors look trendy but may not offer the best view, making the 'life-saver' head check a safer choice.

Weighing in at 121kg when wet, with a seat height of 780mm, the TnT125 suits riders around 5' in height. The footrest/seat/handlebar triangle, aided by tank knee cutouts, provides an appropriate riding position, reminiscent of a supermotard. However, some riders find the seat to be hard and sloped forward, which can be uncomfortable for extended rides.


The TnT125 Tornado is available in three color schemes: black with a red frame, white with a red frame, and red with a black frame. Notably, all models feature red brake calipers.

Powering this little dynamo is an air/oil-cooled 124.8cc 4-stroke engine with twin-spark ignition, producing 11bhp at 9,000 rpm and a peak torque of 7 lbs ft at 7,000 rpm. The engine's rev limiter kicks in at just under 10,000 rpm, but optimal power delivery occurs around 9,500 rpm, making smooth gear changes through the close-ratio 5-speed transmission effortless. The clutch operates smoothly, and finding neutral is a breeze. The engine exhibits minimal vibration for a single-cylinder unit, with only a slight buzz at higher revs. The SOHC four-valve head may produce a mild clatter at partial throttle openings, but it's not a significant concern.


The engine's build quality is impressive, featuring high-quality castings and a sleek gray finish. Checking the oil level is simple, thanks to the sight glass on the right side of the sump.


At the rear, the offset monoshock is preload adjustable, though it may feel firm even at the softest setting for lighter riders. The 41mm upside-down forks are substantial for a small motorcycle, and their travel of just under 5 inches, combined with the 12-inch wheels, helps absorb bumps on less-than-ideal roads.


To meet Euro IV standards, the TnT125 comes equipped with Combined Braking System (CBS), with the brake pedal actuating the rear disc and one part of the three-piston caliper on the front disc. The handlebar lever operates the other two pistons on the front disc. While some riders have criticized the setup for a soft brake pedal and lack of feel, it offers progressive braking. Combining both brakes provides a sense of safety, particularly in emergency situations.


In conclusion, the Benelli TnT125 Tornado may be small in stature, but it packs a punch in terms of style and performance. With a blend of Italian design and Chinese manufacturing, Benelli is poised to reclaim its position in the global motorcycle market.

#Moto #Bike #Benelli #TNT125 #Tornado #Motorcycle

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