Motorcycle historians will be familiar with the name Benelli, but we imagine most people are hearing the Benelli name for the first time.
Despite that, off-road escapades weren’t part of the company’s portfolio.
Benelli weren’t able to sustain the kind of financial success as some other Italian companies and dropped from the motorcycle landscape. Today, Benelli is back thanks to Chinese investment in the company.
The motorcycles are still designed in Italy, but they’re made in China, with the obvious advantage being a lower price tag than Italian-made motorcycles.
With how hot the adventure market is today, Benelli dipped its toes in the category with the TRK 502 X, which we’re told is the company’s best seller.
At EICMA 2021, Benelli unveiled its new flagship model, the TRK 800. It’s a wise move, considering the mid-weight sector of ADVs is the hottest niche within this already hot niche. With that, let’s get to know the Benelli TRK 800 a little bit better.
Like other Benellis, the TRK 800 was developed in Italy, Pesaro to be specific, where the company’s headquarters, R&D department, and Benelli Style Center are all located.
From where we’re standing, we think the design team hit a home run in the style department. The TRK 800 clearly evokes Italian style, but with a clear ADV twist.
Not surprisingly, the TRK 800 carries over some of the design elements of its little sibling in the TRK family, like the arched double LED headlights (complete with daytime running lights), pointed nose beak, and similar shoulders.
On the engine side Benelli has come up with a new 754cc parallel-twin engine – the same used in the Leoncino 800 cafe racer and scrambler models. It has dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and 43mm throttle bodies.
Benelli claims the engine will make 76.2 horsepower (56 kW) at 8500 rpm and 49.4 lb-ft (67 Nm) of torque at 6500 rpm. This won’t be enough to topple the likes of KTM’s middleweight ADVs, but the power can give bikes like the Yamaha Ténéré 700 and Suzuki V-Strom 650 fits.
Putting power to the ground is a six-speed gearbox with a torque-assisted wet slipper clutch. A chain final drive transfers the power to the rear wheel.
The engine is cradled inside a steel trellis frame with a strategically placed high-strength steel plate Benelli says will give great handling and comfort in all riding conditions, including long-distance touring.
To that end, the rear of the TRK 800 doesn’t come with any luggage, but we can see what appears to be mounting holes for some kind of luggage system. Maybe as an accessory option?
Ergonomically, Benelli says the TRK 800 has an “intuitive” riding position for both rider and passenger, even with luggage attached. It’s unclear how much thought was given to the TRK’s ergos when standing, but it looks like the fuel tank is relatively slim where it meets the seat. But as we know, looks can be deceiving.
Especially press photos with black backgrounds. Speaking of fuel tanks, the TRK has a spacious 5.5-gallon (21 liter) capacity. This should mean you can go far before needing to fill up.
From where the rider is sitting, they’ll appreciate the large adjustable windscreen and hand guards, especially when the weather gets sour. Other nice touches include passenger grab handles, center stand, and an impressive 7-inch color TFT display.
A Marzocchi 50mm inverted fork is the suspension of choice in the front. The stat line reads nicely, too, as it’s fully adjustable – meaning you can change compression, rebound, and spring preload settings to suit the riding conditions.
A single shock is found in the rear, but unlike the front, you get rebound and spring preload adjustability. Unfortunately, compression adjustments are off-limits.
With 6.7 inches (170mm) of suspension travel at both ends, the TRK 800 isn’t meant for hardcore adventure riding but should be enough for light adventures while providing a comfortable ride while touring.
It’s a little surprising to see Brembo brakes on the TRK, but considering the Italian connection maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising.
Dual four-piston calipers are radially mounted. Disks are 320mm semi-floating units on the front. In the rear is a 260mm disc and single-piston caliper. We expect to see ABS since Euro5 regulations require it, but traction control is unknown.
The choice of a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheel should give adequate tire choices, but it appears the TRK isn’t meant for extreme adventures.
The TRK 800 looks like a solid entry from a company steeped in history, charting a new path with new ownership and product categories.
We don’t expect the TRK 800 to give GS or KTM Adventure owners any worries, but someone looking at the softer side of ADV bikes, with an eye towards light trails and the ability to tour on pavement, could be a potential customer.
The large fuel tank is a big selling point. Benelli says the TRK will be available starting Q3 2022. Price is yet to be announced. But with global supply chain issues being what they are these days, who actually knows how accurate that arrival prediction is.