Benelli finds a new partner
Benelli owners can now breathe easy as the clouds over the future of the brand’s operations in India gradually clear away. Sources in the know have told Fast Bikes India that brand Benelli that had entered India with DSK Moto Wheels will now partner with Hyderabad based Mahavir Auto. Although Mahavir Auto has no prior legacy of automotive assembly or manufacturing, the group has built a huge reputation for itself as the largest and one of the oldest automobile dealerships in Telengana and Andhra Pradesh. While there is no official announcement of the partnership from either Benelli or Mahavir Auto, word is that the Chinese owned Italian marque will also shift its CKD operations from the DSK Benelli plant in Wai, Maharashtra, to new premises in Telengana not too far from the Kia Motors factory.
Future plans delayed but not shelved
The company is also working double time to end the spares drought that Benelli owners had been facing since trouble loomed over DSK Benelli, said the sources. This should be happy news indeed for all those whose rides have been held up due to unavailability of spares. They also said that despite the delays, Benelli’s plans to introduce products like the Leoncino and the TRK 502, which had been announced at EICMA 2017, have not been shelved. On the contrary they are India bound and enthusiasts should expect them to be on our roads soon.
The Leoncino is Benelli’s take on the modern scrambler. It is powered by a 499.6cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin that makes around 47bhp 8500rpm and 45Nm at 4500rpm mated to a six-speed transmission. It also gets upside-down forks and a monoshock at the rear. Braking duties are taken care of by a pair of 320mm discs up front and a 260mm disc. Leoncino is a an Italian word which means ‘Lion Cub’. It gets its name from a line of lightweight Benelli models which were introduced in the 1950s. The Leoncino, which was scheduled for launch around the Auto Expo, is probably going to be priced around Rs 4 lakh. At that price it will have a free run since there is absolutely no scrambler available the Triumph Street Scrambler that carries a price tag of Rs 8.6 lakh, ex-showroom.
Benelli TRK 502
The TRK 502 is an adventure tourer that should do very well given how popular adventure tourers have become over the past few years. The motorcycle is powered by the same engine that powers the Leoncino. The TRK 502 is also equipped with basic adventure-touring aspects like 230 mm of ground clearance, long-travel inverted telescopic fork, adjustable monoshock, tall windscreen, LED headlamp and a long range 20-litre fuel tank. The chassis comprises a steel trellis while for braking the bike gets a pair of discs up front and one at the rear. If Benelli launches this baby between Rs 4.5 to 5 lakh, ex-showroom, then we expect the TRK 502 should have a good many buyers since currently there is nothing in that space save the over priced Kawasaki Versys-X 300.
The Benelli story in India
Benelli had entered India with much fanfare as part of DSK Moto Wheels back in 2014 with a slew of five motorcycles, including the TnT 1130R, TnT 899, TnT 600, TnT 600GT and TnT 300. Since then the company introduced an updated TnT 600i with ABS and followed it up with a single cylinder TnT 25. The company’s final product in India under the DSK Benelli umbrella was the fully faired Tornado 302 last year. Meanwhile, waters at DSK Moto Wheels continue to remain murky. While it is clear that its partnership with Benelli is at an end, the future of its partnership with Hyosung continues to be unclear. Stay tuned to Fast Bikes India for we will continue to track this story closely and bring you up to date with developments.