Benelli was finding it difficult to find its identity amidst in the modern and competitive world, even more after it was acquired by a Chinese firm. But now it seems like a thing of the past, more of a ‘myth’ one could say. Benelli started showcasing us products designed by CentroStile Benelli and slowly their reputation got back to their original charm.
The same design house has once again wowed us by showcasing the Leoncino (pronounced Leon-cheeno), meaning the Lion Cub and the Leoncino Trail is its scrambler edition. This street and scrambler motorcycles was first showcased at the 2015 EICMA as a concept and people had then put a lot of money on these bikes because of the potential shown. Then these motorcycles missed the recently culminated Indian Auto Expo 2016 and the Indian fans were disappointed and rubbished it calling it a rumour. But Luckily, DSK Benelli chief, Mr. Shirish Kulkarni, has confirmed the arrival of the Benelli Leoncino and Trail. We saw the production versions at the ongoing EICMA 2016 as well and we are glad to report that it has maintained the rugged and beautiful lines. Rejoice everyone.
The retro – modern design language is literally in vogue now. And this Leoncino has got the same treatment by the fashion gurus at CentroStile Benelli. It is an intelligent fusion of an old-school cover over modern technology that is born to live both the city and the wild life. Both the Leoncino and its sibling, the Leoncino Trail, have been designed to carry their own individual character where their differences are more than subtle. The first is designed to be a street bike while the Trail is more of a sporty all-terrain scrambler. Nonetheless, both of them attract equally and reminds you of the pure emotions that Benelli is famous for.
The curvy fuel tank, round headlight, stubby mudguard and floating tail section is an intelligent fusion of old-school design with modern touches that will appeal every enthusiast. LED package takes care of all illumination duties on the motorcycle and the highlight has to be the Lion of Pesaro which sits atop the front mudguard.
Front façade especially looks very imposing on both the models and the visual differences they carry define the individualistic character. The Leoncino tends to have a more sophisticated look due to the alloys and street radials, whereas, the Trail edition has the vintage styled spoked rims, petal discs and wide-sectioned knobby tyres that is synonymous to scrambler design religion. Both engine and the trellis frame gets the black theme along with the padded Alcantara pilot seat to give the permeated X factor.
Both the Lions will get a heart in the form of a twin-cylinder, four-stroke engine, liquid-cooled, 500cc, with maximum power of 48 bhp at 8500 rpm and maximum torque of 45 Nm that comes in at a low 5000rpm. This early surge of torque will enable the Leoncino to get off the block quicker and also give the scrambler a strong mid-range power band while on the move.
It also features a 37 mm dual throttle body, clutch in oil bath and a 6-speed gearbox completing the picture of a motor-safe and modern transmission wile duly abiding Euro IV emission norms.
|Bore/ Stroke mm||59/66.8|
|Type||Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, In-line 4-cylinder, DOHC|
|Valves per cylinder||4|
|Clutch type||Wet- Multiplate|
RIDE AND HANDLING
Given the genre of these motorcycles, the riding position is quite upright with the slightly raised handlebar and footrest position. The saddle will provide sufficient cushion and its contour puts the rider at ease and comfort. The frame is of the trellis type lattice of steel tubes on whose terminal part is hidden under the tank. All of this leads to more control over the bike, with enough room to move around and stand up on footrests when the situation demands for it.
When it comes to the way they handle, they are two separate worlds with their varying mechanics and components. The Leoncino was born to live in the city. It adopts 17” alloy wheels running with 120/70-ZR17 at the front and 160/60-ZR17 for the rear, guaranteeing grip, stability and performance in any condition. Suspension duties are handled by upside down 45mm adjustable forks and the rear swingarm’s movement is controlled by a laterally mounted shock absorber. Braking the speeds are with 4 piston brake callipers gripping 320mm disc at the front and a 260mm disc with a single piston calliper at the rear with ABS as standard.
The Leoncino Trail is a whole other ball game. The knobby 19″ front and 17″ rear tyres of the motorcycle accommodate wide-sectioned 110/80-ZR19 at the front and 150/70-ZR17 rear, clearly stating its purpose and seem like they could ride dusty back roads as well as rough terrain with ease all day. Upside down 50 mm forks make up the front suspension unit while the rear swingarm’s movement is controlled by a laterally mounted shock absorber. 320 mm petal discs at the front are gripped by 2 piston brake callipers acting along with a 260mm disc single piston calliper at the rear to halt this scrambler with standard ABS safety.
The Lion Cub and Cub Trail will be available in the first half of 2017 in red, silver, green and black, at an extremely competitive price still to be defined and more importantly, it will be assembled in India. As a result, the Leoncino is likely to carry a price tag between ? 4.5-5 lakh (ex-showroom).
As the scrambler series of bikes are in the picture, how can one forget the company that has termed the word ‘scrambler’ in their model line-ups. Ducati. And the entry-level cosmic orange Sixty2 will match the Leoncino considering the pricing bracket although it is down on performance figures.
The Scrambler Sixty2 sports a 399cc L-twin, Desmodromic, air-cooled engine that produces 41.5PS of peak power at 8750 rpm and 34.6 Nm peak torque at 8,000 rpm. The power mill has been configured to deliver the right amount of torque in third gear to pass new Euro 4 regulations.
Designed to perfectly match the motorcycle’s sharp forms with harmonious lines all the while representing the pure emotion that Benelli is famous for, both the Leoncino and the Trail edition will flaunt unique styles of riding to give the riders a modest, yet a tasteful take on the young generation of bikes.
It is a sincere attempt by Benelli to enter the retro styling bandwagon with this scrambler. The strategy many manufacturers like the Ducati and Triumph have been spurned by. Competition for them, a treat for us. Bravo!