DSK-Benelli TNT 899 Review: First Ride – domare l’indomabile
Taking a Benelli TNT 899 out for a ride requires a leash in the mind, a muzzle at the throttle and a jungle made of divine tarmac. This ain’t no street fighter ready to pick on infuriated little Chihuahuas, this machine attacks the big league, those docile super bikes disciplined with electronics. Let’s see what the Italian’s got packin.
First up, on picking up the switchblade keys from the hook by the window, notice the 899’s beefy stance in the crack of dawn, it looks like an inflaming Rottweiler sitting briskly ready to pound on whatever treads its way. It is the collective appeal given by insanely aggressive four-eyed headlamp unit, bold bald fore-skull in the absence of a bikini fairing; alien-head shaped, well, head unit; tacho dominated instrument panel, really thick handlebar, gecko-like grips, ergonomic switch gears, stylish wing mirrors that doesn’t lack field of vision; oh the tank, the mighty chiselled reservoir that holds just 16 litres of gas probably because its filled with drool, and notice the projections? Who am I kidding, that Alienware CPU kind of extrusions housing a radiator each and of course cooling fans, apart from the main heat exchanger ahead of the engine; cannot miss anyone’s eyes.
Then the seats, with sophisticated, protuberant trims and exposed stitching, makes one wonder if the Italians go to design school somewhere out of the earth. Beneath that is the alloy tail piece, which is one clever sculpture that boasts a sense of virility while remaining minimal, and sweeping towards the rear to give rise to tail lamp.
Emerging from what should be the rear fairing on either side, the set of red lights that exhibit rage in an elegant manner. And to the final highlight on the upper body of Benelli TNT 899, the under-seat exhaust that curls its lips and sticks its hollow tongue out with a contemptuous grin, to those who are two wheels behind the Tornado Naked Tre.
Below the belt, the Treacherous Naughty Tool has a thick carbon fibre fender mounted on the pair of inverted Marzocchi tubes that hold Brembo callipers on either stem. Attractive set of petal discs grip the 120/70-ZR17 Michelin Pilot Power shoe to halt. Midship, there is the wriggly exhaust tube unearthing its way to the posterior of 899, almost encircling the 898cc in-line tee cylinder power house capable of thrusting 122 PS and 88 Nm via 6-speed rotation manipulator.
Sandwiched between the crankcase and fusion of triple exhaust is the belly pan, made out of carbon fibre. Just above the engine, seemingly sprouting from the tank extensions, is the wild red chassis tubes taking abrupt end past the crankcase towards the rear. Complimenting those is the stocky steel tube trestle swing arm, also painted in same shade of red. The slanted fork holds 190/50-ZR17 that pretty much glides through all possible punishments Indian roads try on it. And the rear mono-shock with preload and rebound adjustment sheds the undulations well, before it reaches the racer.
So, on establishing that Benelli TNT 899 is a machine that is left savage; it doesn’t even have ABS; one can say that it will be best suited for riders who seek thrill in playing with power. It has a reputation of sprinting from 0-100 kmph in just 3.5 seconds, the time taken to lace one’s shoe; and it manages top speed of whooping 240 kmph. Still, those who wish to foray into this segment with the TNT 899 can rest assured that it won’t stumble or overwhelm without a warning if the master is not yet a master.
On handling front, the 202 kg (without fuel) Benelli TNT 899 easily dives into corners demanding no panicking effort to lay it down or erect it back, when the twists ahead are surprising. Even in city traffic, gear shifts are shrewd and the bike is nimble enough to negotiate auto rickshaws, busses and even pedestrians who are habituated to watch out only on the wrong side of one-way street.
What’s a bit disappointing in Benelli TNT 899 is that brakes lack bite, sure one can handle more teeth even without ABS.
And exhaust note could’ve been composed better; it would prick the buyer’s heart to rip off the factory muffler and attempt an aftermarket. Apart from these, build quality, overall fit and finish, and all those standard checks are no concern for the money it is going to demand (hopefully, on the pricing part), except for the switch gears which could’ve been more sturdy and tactile.
In short, if you’re rich and in a fight with your dad about keeping you in a shell away from the fickle society, January 2015 could be the right time to go marry the Italian supermodel, and show off the inner brute.