The handling fails to impress. Granted the incredibly bumpy and inconsistently surfaced roads we tested the bike on in northern Italy would put most suspension through its paces, but I’d like to know what the front end was doing while cornering. As we rode the bikes, I never had any idea what was going on – the front end felt distant and failed to instill any confidence. The low seat is incredibly plush, though. The brakes feel incredibly spongey for most of the travel on the front lever, only biting when the lever is almost touching my other knuckles. The brake lever is span adjustable, but I found it almost impossible to feel any difference between the four settings.
There's a severe lack of power from the 500cc parallel twin, which combined with that 235kg weight - just 9kg less than a BMW R1200GS Exclusive TE - is really noticeable. The bike makes 47bhp so it’s A2 licence friendly, but it coughs and wheezes as it struggles to pull the hefty machine. There’s no character or powerband either, just a huge spread of not very much power trying its best to pull a lot of weight. Overtakes have to be planned meticulously, and can only be performed when you're absolutely certain you have enough room.
Beneli's partnership with the Chinese group Qianjiang is still relatively new, so reliability hasn't quite been tested yet, although we're not aware of any major problems. It should be noted that one of the bikes on the launch got stuck in first gear.
At £5699 the Benelli is just £100 cheaper than the Honda CB500X, its closest rival, but it feels much cheaper than its Japanese rival.
The specification sheet for the Benelli is pretty basic - which isn't a bad thing. ABS is provided by Bosch, although it's not on par with the best Bosch ABS systems on top of the range models. The screen isn't adjustable but it provides a decent level of wind protection. The Givi panniers come as standard.