The Benelli 302R is not an outright performer. But, its comfortable seats and smooth riding characteristics make it a perfect tool for daily riding
It's finally arrived. Presenting the Tornado 302R. No, wait; wasn't it supposed to be called the 'B302R'? Or was it 'BJ300GS'? Bringing all the confusion to an end, DSK Motowheels has launched its latest compact sports bike, the Benelli 302R. And, it's quite a looker.
When it comes to styling and sex appeal, few can come close to the Italians. The Benelli 302R is no exception to that, right from the intricate headlight design, exhaust, and the shapely fuel tank. There are a few changes from the pre-production model we had ridden exclusively last year. The frame is all black, instead of the earlier red, and the exhaust has some more detailing on it. The fairing is slightly bloated near the belly-pan, which hampers ground clearance to a certain extent. The mudguard-mounted front number-plate and sari-guard also do try to spoil the party. Yet, it manages to have a sporty race-bike-like appeal.
300-cc inline-twin offers strong mid-range
Although the 302R borrows its powertrain from the TNT 300 street bike, the two are very different otherwise. The 302R is narrower in width and shorter in height, but in spite of having the same wheelbase, it is slightly longer. The 300-cc, parallel-twin, is liquid cooled and comes mated to a six-speed gearbox. It produces 38.2 PS and a peak torque of 26.5 Nm, that's more than what the bike produces in some of the international markets.
It's a fairly peppy machine, but somehow the power seen on paper doesn't meet the expectations on road. Probably because of the heavier kerb weight of 198 kg, which doesn't help its power-to-weight ratio.
Switchable ABS means you can control the influence of the electronics
Its 0-60 km/h sprint isn't earth shattering, and it should manage it in just less than four seconds. However, this Benelli can effortlessly cruise at 140 km/h in sixth. The gear-shifts are smooth and precise, but it did surprise us once with an uncharacteristic false neutral. The beauty of this motor is its ability to gather speed from as low as 30 km/h even if it's slotted in top gear. There's absolutely no engine knocking or judder forcing the rider to shift down. And, the short gear ratios make it very easy to ride in the city. Like its sibling, the 302R is also low on vibes and has a linear power delivery.
Braking power is augmented with twin-disc setup up front. Pics/Sanjay Raikar
Then there's the exhaust note. The Benelli is among those rare species that has managed to survive the stringent emission norms and yet sound so beautiful. It not just sounds right, but also handles really well.
The front gets a meaty 41-mm upside down fork and at the rear is a centrally-mounted monoshock, which is adjustable for preload. The setup is on the firmer side, which endows it with nimble handling. Though the 302R isn't overtly comfortable, it does iron out most of the road undulations.
For an average Indian, the low seat, clip-on handlebar and moderately rear-set foot-pegs add up to a riding position ideal for sport-touring. The Metzeler tyres did a fabulous job of sticking to the road even in treacherous conditions.
There is a decent list of features, which include an analogue rev counter with a digital cluster to give out information such as the speedometer, gear indicator, fuel-gauge, trip meter, and even a clock. The twin front discs up front are reassuring, but despite the adjustable brake lever, the feel isn't very progressive and one needs to apply more than usual pressure to shed speed. Thankfully, the bike is equipped with ABS and it can be switched off if desired. With its 14-litre fuel tank and an average fuel economy of about 25 km/l it should be able to cover 350 km before a refill.
The Benelli's sharp looks, therapeutic exhaust note, refined twin-cylinder engine and decent features add up in the bike's favour. Unlike its competitors, this is neither over sporty nor over-priced. We have to admit, the 302R is one of the strongest propositions from DSK Benelli in recent times.
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