We get this asked a lot! What according to you is the best motorcycle in the country? But the thing is, one just cannot pick a certain bike up and say, this is it, this one is above the rest. The main problem in this , is the fact that the Indian motorcycle industry, much like us, is a complex state of affairs and to tick every requirement asked of a motorcycle in India is both tough and an engineering challenge for every manufacturer.
This brings us down to the question and the answer lies not in one particular product as such, but in a segment, in what we at Bikeportal call the 'Sweet Spot of Indian Motorcycle Industry'. It is a segment that largely consists of motorcycles from 250cc-800cc and which are priced between 2 lakhs to 7 lakhs around. These bikes have decent power and range to deal with most of the terrain and conditions that our country vastness can throw at them, they are also cheaper to maintain (comparatively) and above all they have a desirability that is highly required in these times.
We got to Road Test one such motorcycle in the form of the Benelli TNT 300, a bike that is one of the most significant motorcycle for its manufacturer in the country while being present in the aforementioned segment along with its bigger siblings, the TNT600i and the TNT600GT. DSK it seems have hit a bulls eye by bringing Benelli to India and to have such interesting products with a brilliant price tags. So how was the smallest and the most affordable motorcycle from the iconic Italian brand, let's find out...
Looks and Styling:
One thing is for sure, the Italians know how to design utterly sumptuous motorcycles. Yes! we know that these bikes come from China but trust us when we say, the level of detailing on the Benelli TNT 300 shouts out aloud its Italian connection, and truth be told, the TNT300 probably betters motorcycles even one or two segments above when it comes to the eye on detail parameters.
The overall looks and styling of the bike aren't as exciting as say, a KTM Duke 390 but the TNT300 is a mature design, with bulges at the right places and minimalism where required. However, you need to see this machine up close to actually know what we are talking about since the bike looks way more handsome in person than in Photographs or Videos. We particularly liked the way the foot pegs have been designed in minimalistic yet beautiful soft triangles, and the way Benelli has used a bronze-copperish paint on the foot peg frames exudes craftsmanship and sheer detail.
Our test bike came in Black body colour that glorified the red painted chassis, making the bike look sporty and classy at the same time. The Switch gear has this bold click to it when operated while the plastic quality is acceptable without any doubts. When it comes to detailing, we particularly liked the way Benelli has installed the Headlight assembly on the frame, it is so delicately and intricately done that it can only be them Italians, look at a TNT300 side on and you will know what we mean.
What we also liked about the TNT300 was its overall size, at a length of 2130mm and a height of 1120mm alongwith a width of 800mm, the bike is proper old school big and that makes is a far more versatile product than any of its competitors. You can seat two properly on this bike, and if there comes a desire to go touring, the bike gives ample space to strap in your saddle bags, another something the competition dearly lacks. Look around and you will see that most of the bikes these days have been shrinking in sizes, which we reckon isn't exactly a trend we admire too much.
Overall, the TNT300 is a handsome mature design which looks tall seen upfront while still being low as seen side on and add to that it has a level of detailing that can shame a lot many bikes way more expensive than it. Saying that, we would have loved just little bit more aggression in the design, however, astride one, you cannot help but notice a big instrument cluster that is part analog part digital. The instrument cluster does not show a hell lot of data that might require engineering degree to understand, but gives all the necessary details in a big neat readable at all speeds and conditions format. We liked it.
Engine and Performance -
The mature philosophy in the design is further complimented by the character of the TNT300's parallel twin 300cc engine which is a 8 Valve Liquid Cooled Mill. The Engine produces a potent 38bhp@11500rpm alongwith a meaty 26.5Nm@10000rpm. The acceleration isn't as frantic as , say a KTM Duke 390's, however, it is still linear and rapid for a bike that weighs as much as a heavy 196kg. However, twist the throttle from sad traffic speeds in 2nd -3rd gear the TNT300 shows its sporty intent and shoots ahead spiritedly in a way that plasters a grin on your face. The bike also impresses by being easily ridable at speeds as low as 30-35kmph while still being in 6th gear, unlike its competition that just doesn't like to be sedate come what may.
The bike takes around 3.4 seconds to reach 60kmph from standstill while 0-100kmph comes in at a decent 8.4 seconds, like we said, it isn't class leading, but fast anyways. The TNT300 engine is brilliantly smooth and if you hop on to one after riding its biggest competitor, the KTM Duke 390, then, my friend your bum would be the happiest thing on the planet. When puttering around in the traffic the TNT300's buttery smooth engine is bound to make you addicted to it, with virtually nonexistent vibrations throughout the rev range with only minor vibrations creeping in at high end of the rev spectrum.
However, the TNT300 has one ace up its sleeve that makes it stand out not just among its competition but among a whole crop of more premium motorcycles and that is.....
Yes! the sound the TNT300 produces needs to be talked about separately and WHAT a sound that is!! Search and search and search but you wouldn't find a 300cc motorcycle except for the TNT300 that sounds so incredibly sumptuous! That you can spend days drooling over the utter deliciousness of the TNT300's exhaust note wouldn't be an overstatement. Truth be told, the way the TNT300 sounds, it can easily shame a lot many bikes way higher up in the spectrum. We haven't heard a 300cc sound so sweet, Ever. Period.
Thumb the starter and there is a meaty growl that greets you and makes you wonder, just how could such a small stubby exhaust produce a sound so viscerally captivating. Hopping on the bike, putting it in gear and as you start moving the pleasure continues in a epic symphony which just keeps getting better and better and intoxicating, as you keep shifting to higher revs. The buttery smooth gearbox keeps clicking into flawless shifts as the corresponding smoothness of the engines schemes to make you keep accelerating and the sound from this parallel twin 300cc unit just turns magical. This we tell you, is a never before sensation in this segment and makes every other motorcycle in the price bracket and a few above it sound like our bathroom singing endeavours. You need to visit a Benelli showroom close to you to understand the depth of sheer brilliance that Benelli has somehow managed to gift the TNT300's exhaust.
Handling and Living with it -
Bestowed with the Italy's favourite, trellis frame, here it is made out of high tensile steel construction the TNT300 has a neutral handling which can motivate novice riders and at the same time impress more seasoned riders as well. In order to change direction all you need is a gentle nudge to the wide handlebars and the bike eagerly leans into the desired direction, in fact the way the bike rolls you would be surprised to know that this is a 196kg motorcycle.
The seating position is upright and gels well with the wide handlebars that combined together gives the rider a fairly comfortable riding posture. As we mentioned earlier, the TNT300 is a big bike, and the roomy saddle gives ample space for riders of a varied dimension ranges to be comfortable on it, from yours truly 6 feet(almost) and 100ish kg (As you can see in the below pic) to someone around 5feet 3inch and 50 kg weight, everyone can feel at home on a TNT300, a brilliant seat height of 795mm adds to the versatility factor of the baby Benelli.
Please Note: In case you are wondering why I was holding this white board? The Video review will have the answer!! and it is Coming Soon!!
A long single stepped seat proves to be hugely comfortable for both the rider and the pillion proving the fact that the TNT300 might just have a pretty capable tourer in its DNA. The touring credentials are further accentuated by the gearing which isn't really very short which means the TNT300 provides just enough sportiness to call itself a spirited tourer without anyone complaining about it.
The Suspension too is designed to provide a plush ride and the front 41mm inverted telescopic suspension with a travel of 115mm provide ample feedback and yet deal with the B-Road potholes with a finesse. Same holds true for the side mounted rear monoshock that is adjustable for damping and provides a decent range of adjustment depend on the terrain and the weight you are carrying, in the stock form, the suspension is both comfortable and good enough for your favourite set of twisties.
The Equipment listing on the TNT300 justifies its pricing by providing equipment such as adjustable brake lever, adjustable front and rear suspension, tubeless Pirelli Angel Tyres that provide ample grip on all sort of tarmac. Another shining ace in the TNT300 specification listing is the braking assembly with a segment best steel-braided line fed 260mm twin disc setup up front while an impressive 240mm single disc does duty at the rear. However, in this age and time, giving ABS a miss for such price is actually the only sore point in an otherwise decent motorcycle, that said, the braking is always confidence inspiring with the bike remaining stable at all the conditions we could throw at it.
The TNT300 has a lot many things going for it, and Benelli has been smart in giving its smallest and the most affordable motorcycle the highest level of concentration in terms of detailing and build quality. The Baby Benelli is big on size which makes it versatile for a number of riders and its smooth engine block makes sure your touring rides go vibration free. A long comfortable saddle means that touring is in the character of the motorcycle and the way the power and torque are delivered throughout the rev range it is absolutely clear that the TNT300 is bound to give you long lasting smiles.
And then, there is that sound that the TNT300 is capable of producing, and trust us, we would not be surprised if anyone goes and pay the 2.99 lakh ex-showroom price just for the way the bike sounds. Living daily with the TNT300 is not just going to be a comfortable affair but the way this bike can make you feel as a rider makes its price point sound way more affordable and apt.
We started off talking about the question we have been asked often, What according to us is the best motorcycle in the country? well, here is the thing, the Benelli TNT300 might just have been our answer had it been priced around 2.5 lakhs ex showroom.
What a Bike!!
Photography - Mohd. Nasir