Benelli bikes have been known for their Italian design, build quality and the mighty exhaust notes. So far their product line-up has included naked bikes in the form of TNT 300, TNT 25 and TNT 600i with a semi-faired sports tourer, TNT 600 GT. There was no proper fully faired sports bike and with the launch of 302R, Benelli has bridged the gap and in an exciting note, too. Benelli 302R promises a lot more than just a faired version of TNT 300. Will the 302R be a good alternative to Kawasaki Ninja 300 and Yamaha R3?
From the dual headlamp design to the full body fairing, the 302R invokes the big bike feel, which dilutes towards the rear. The bike looks great, especially in the White Rosso colour scheme. Overall design looks sharp without being aggressive. Apart from the engine and a few parts from the TNT 300, the 302R is all new. Surprisingly, Benelli has dropped the ‘Tornado’ from the name tag, which would have been great if they had kept it. From the front, the dual headlamps are attractive and so is the chiselled tank. Clip on handle bars are low set but not too much. New additions include split seat, two-into-one exhaust and grey alloy wheels. And then there’s this cool lion emblem in the tank that earns the 302R easy cookies.
Apart from the tail that looks unattached from the rest of the bike, the instrument cluster, too, looks plain. It’s not bad as it displays all the necessary information but it’s just that it doesn’t feel special as much as the bike. Another thing you cannot complain about Benelli is their build quality and the 302R feels like it’s built to outlive the next decades-long regional mega drama series without a nut loosening up.
Though the 302R is powered by the same 2-cylinder, 300 cc in-line engine as the TNT 300 with similar power and torque outputs, the gear ratios have been changed. The 302R has been tuned to shorter gear ratios to make it a good city bike but that doesn’t mean, it’s shy on the highways. Wring the accelerator and the 302R rages forward immediately, without scaring the socks off the foot like the “men-in-orange”. We liked the way the 302R handled triple digit speeds and the sound that accompany it. The exhaust isn’t as raspy as its naked sibling but good on the ears nevertheless.
The riding position is sporty but not too aggressive to cause discomfort and assists in the maker’s aim to make the bike more cruise-worthy. That being said, we would have liked the foot pegs placed a bit higher as they kiss the tarmac much sooner, limiting the leaning angle around the turns. Handling the 302R is easy as the bike behaves well to your commands, without any unexpected surprises. There’s good grip and stability on both straight line and the corners.
The speedo was still adding the numbers over 150 km/h and the engine didn’t miss a beat. Vibrations are well controlled but when you are listening to the wonderful soundtrack, you wouldn’t feel them.
The bike comes with inverted telescopic fork to the front and a mono shock at the rear to take care of the suspension duties. Braking is taken care by dual discs to the front and a single disc to the rear with ABS as standard (which the R3 and Ninja 300 miss out).
Benelli’s first fully faired motorbike has a lot to go in its favour. If you overlook the odd rear and some vibrations, the 302R will get you a great looking sports bike that rides well, has great mid-range driveability and is a whole lot of fun.