Sur­prise packet

Benelli TRK 502

Old Bike Australasia - - SUITABLE PARTNERS - Road Im­pres­sions Clyde Ikin Pho­tos Jim Scays­brook

Benelli, un­der Chi­nese own­er­ship since 2005, now has a 500cc par­al­lel twin en­gine plat­form that does ser­vice in sev­eral guises; the Leon­cino, a tra­di­tional look­ing city slicker, the TRK 502, and soon, the TRK 502 X, which is an Ad­ven­ture-aimed ma­chine based on the stan­dard TRK 502.

It’s that mid­dle model that is the sub­ject of our test, and to po­si­tion it, the TRK 502 is a learner-ap­proved 500 with the styling cues of a GS BMW or Du­cati Mul­tistrada, with con­sid­er­ably less power. And con­sid­er­ably less price. For just $8,870 ride way, this mo­tor­cy­cle rep­re­sents in­cred­i­ble value for money, and within rea­son, de­liv­ers pretty much all that is re­quired for the av­er­age rider. OK, it’s no pow­er­house, but the en­gine is flex­i­ble, happy to rev to 9,000, and it han­dles very well. Amaz­ingly, the TRK weighs 235kg, which is 28kg more than the Leon­cino, and that’s all down to the ex­tra gear that’s been added in the ad­ven­ture style; steel struc­ture to hold the screen and top body­work, higher-rise han­dle­bars beefier rear end and lug­gage rack and so on. How­ever I never found this weight to be a prob­lem, and although ini­tially a bit cu­ri­ous if the 800mm seat height would be com­fort­able for my 185cm build, I had no qualms af­ter a 200km ride. On this ride I was ac­com­pa­nied by sev­eral 700/800cc bikes and I had no trou­ble keep­ing up.

Chas­sis-wise, the trel­lis frame looks im­pres­sive, as does the beefy front end with 50mm up­side down forks with 145mm travel that would not seem out of place on a bike of twice the ca­pac­ity. Front sus­pen­sion is non­ad­justable and the rear cen­trally- mounted shock has ad­just­ment for the spring pre-load only. The brakes are very high spec­i­fi­ca­tion with twin 320mm discs, but in no way fierce, do their job well, and for a learner rider, would be very easy to live with. The ABS sys­tem can be switched off if you fancy a bit of off-road­ing. I was im­pressed with the dash, which is well set out, with a dig­i­tal speedo and ana­logue tacho, fuel gauge and clock and the usual in­di­ca­tor lights – all easy to read. There’s a 15V USB charg­ing point near the dash for a GPS or phone. The screen is not ad­justable but it seems to be in the right po­si­tion for me. The bike han­dles very well, and the stan­dard Pirelli De­mon tyres have a hand in this. The only thing I was not keen on are the footrests which have fat, flat rub­bers and feel a bit vague.

I do the Syd­ney to Phillip Is­land ride fairly reg­u­larly and I would have no prob­lem do­ing the trip on the Benelli. Out on the open road it buzzes along at le­gal speeds very hap­pily, and the 20 litre tank ca­pac­ity also means you can do a very long stretch – Benelli say up to 400km (and my ride sup­ports this) – be­fore re­fu­elling is nec­es­sary.

Over­all, I think the TRK 502 is a sur­pris­ingly ver­sa­tile mid-ca­pac­ity tourer, that also hap­pens to be LAMS ap­proved.

ABOVE AND BE­LOW Rider and pas­sen­ger seats are plush and com­fort­able.

Fin­ish and at­ten­tion to de­tail are first class.

Stan­dard rear rack ac­cepts Givi lug­gage. Fat 50mm forks with twin 320 discs on the front end.

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