Benelli struggle on with style
Although Benelli hasn't gone the way of compatriots Moto Morini (which went into administration last year), there's no doubt it has been struggling, with model updates limited to minor revisions on a now ageing range of nakeds and sportsters based around the Pesaro-firm's charismatic three-cylinder engine.
The new TNT R160 is the latest example of the breed. Effectively Benelli's only new offering for 2011, it's an uprated version of the seven-year-old 1130 TNT super naked. That uprate comprises a claimed power boost to 160bhp (hence the name) and higher spec cycle parts and bodywork.
Benelli's recipe of decent performance and striking design is already appealing and better still, the firm has reduced the price from £11,999 to £9999.
But it doesn't appeal to all. In places the styling is a little OTT while the finish is poor in some areas - our test bike was virtually new but bolts and brackets were showing signs of age, as were the exhaust downpipes. Meanwhile, the clocks appear dated and the number plate bracket looks home made.
Mechanically there are question marks, too and, unfortunately, Benelli hasn't the best reputation for reliability. Our bike's fuel gauge was wildly inaccurate, as was the oil warning light.
Thankfully, as is traditional with Italian machines, the R160's performance and handling mostly makes up for those niggles. The inline, 1130cc triple is the perfect balance of power and torque, delivering hard acceleration in almost any gear at any rpm.
Read the full test in this week's issue of MCN (3 August), on sale now. Get MCN from only £1 an issue when you subscribe today.