Benelli’s Triple threat

Published: 25 May 2016

The second new Benelli we’ve unearthed is a three-cylinder that’s likely to sit near the top of the firm’s revamped range.

It uses the existing 121bhp 899cc triple motor, which can be traced back to 1999 and the revival of the Benelli brand under Andrea Merloni, who created the Tornado superbike. It lived on until 2014 in the TNT 899, although that model has since disappeared from the range, leaving only the larger-capacity, 158bhp TNT 1130R.

Compared to the existing TNT, the new model seen here has clearly been made with affordability in mind. The trellis frame is a simpler design than the current bike, and the use of a single radiator instead of the TNT’s twin, side-mounted units will also make it cheaper. The existing TNT’s unusual under-seat exhaust is also switched for a much more conventional design. It has the same fork and brakes as the new 750cc machine, and looks like it should be positioned between that bike and the existing, high-end TNT 1130, both in terms of performance and price.

The styling is far more in keeping with current naked superbike trends than the 750, though. It carries over the existing TNT fuel tank but mates it to a new tail and side panels as well as a redesigned headlight. The TNT also donates its swingarm to the new model.

It remains to be seen whether the old 1130cc TNT will remain in Benelli’s line-up once the two new bikes are launched at the end of this year. Much will depend on whether the firm can massage the bike to pass Euro4 emissions rules – particularly given that the bike’s under-seat exhaust is so central to its styling. The side-mounted can of the new triple seen here hints at the difficulties in satisfying the latest rules.

Regardless of the old TNT’s future, the new triple is sure to be a much cheaper machine. At the last count, the now-discontinued TNT 899 was £9499, while the 1130R is £12,299. It’s likely that the new model will be nearer the £8000 mark, while the 750cc twin should come in somewhere close to £7000, on a par with bikes like the Aprilia Shiver.