Benelli go touring: 1200GT reaches production and it’s on its way here

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Benelli’s long-awaited 1200GT – the first new big-capacity triple from the firm since the takeover by Qianjiang in 2005 – has gone on sale in China at a price that massively undercuts similarly-spec’d rivals.

Although shown in prototype form last year, the model on display at the recent Motor China event in Beijing was a production-spec version, complete with subtle equipment changes and the long-awaited announcement of its price, which on the Chinese market is pegged at 99,800 Yuan (around £11,000). That makes it a pricy machine in Benelli’s adopted homeland but vastly less expensive than its rivals.

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In China, a BMW R1250RT would set you back 285,900 Yuan, or £31,600. Although that price difference will inevitably be vastly reduced by the time the 1200GT makes it to European markets – as and when Benelli decide to bring the model here – it’s still an indicator that access to Chinese mass-manufacturing offers the ability to make well-equipped bikes relatively cheaply.

The 1200GT is poised to become the largest Chinese-made motorcycle to go on sale, albeit not for long. Its key rival, CFMoto’s 1250TR-G, which has a similar tourer style and a KTM-derived, 1279cc engine is set to take that crown shortly, but has yet to be given a price or on-sale date.

In the meantime, the Benelli, which uses a 1209cc version of the three-cylinder engine that debuted back in 1999 as the 898cc Tornado Tre superbike triple, is the biggest, most powerful bike to emerge from a Chinese factory. With 134hp at 9000rpm and 88.5lb.ft at 6500rpm, the engine has been comprehensively reworked to suit its touring role, although Benelli’s original plan to equip the bike with shaftdrive instead of a chain has fallen by the wayside.

Changes to the 1200GT since its initial showing include a much larger TFT, around 15in from corner to corner, to replace the hybrid digital-and-analogue setup originally seen. It’s a change that’s likely to be a response to a similar dash on CFMoto’s 1250TR-G, and Benelli have had to restyle the inner front fairing to suit.

The dash includes a vast amount of information, including tyre pressures, and is part of an electronics suite that includes keyless ignition and even front and rear-facing cameras.

The revival of Benelli’s triple is just part of a masterplan for the firm which includes the adoption of a new four-cylinder superbike motor derived from an MV design. The unanswered question is how long it will be before these China-focused bikes arrive here and how they’ll stack up against mainstream rivals.

Benelli 1200GT explored:

  • 1209cc triple Benelli’s signature three-cylinder engine makes a return on the 1200GT
  • Top-spec kit Satnav, tyre pressure monitors, electrically adjustable and auto-folding mirrors and an electric screen are all standard
  • Camera gear Instead of following rivals down the radar route, Benelli have added cameras front and rear to monitor traffic ahead and behind
  • New TFT dash A vast colour screen replaces the small module seen on last year’s prototype, allied to button-strewn, backlit controls on the bars
  • Brembo brakes Benelli’s 1200GT doesn’t ditch its European connections, using Brembo radial calipers kitted out with Bosch ABS

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Ben Purvis

By Ben Purvis