Test and previews Tue 20 March 2018

Benelli TRK 502

Testing a motorcycle during winter is always a problem: it rains, it’s cold, asphalt has little grip, the photographer complains about the light not being right, in other words, forget it and wait for spring.
Benelli gave us the TRK 502 and limited time to test it; here in Tuscany the weather has been as described above for days. We have to find an alternative and the Motor Bike Expo in Verona seems like a good one: two days at the exhibition and two more roaming the hills of prosecco and of other fine wines.
More than 300 km of highway separate me from the city of the Arena; with temperatures close to 0°C, I decide to wear my Adventure Alpinestars suit which protects me from the cold. After only 20 km, I barely have time to take refuge under an overpass when a hailstorm with thunder and lightning hits the highway. Apparently, this storm is the tail-end of a low-pressure event that lasted for days, in fact not 5 minutes later the sun comes out and stays with me for the whole trip.

The new 500 cc twin engine of this Benelli runs smoothly and progressively, with a lot of pickup even on mixed ground where it calls for upshifting, and if you take on a hairpin turn with a too long gear ratio, the excellent torque helps you to correct the mistake gradually picking up again. On the other hand, when riding at full speed you feel the need of an additional gear since the twin engine tends to pullback, but let’s not forget that we are riding a bike with a relatively small displacement.
Since it is an “Adventure”, therefore made for long travels, the aerodynamic protection is important; in this case it is ensured by a wide plexiglass that excellently protects the motorcyclist, no turbulence around the helmet which would annoy for the noise and would tire neck muscles on the long run. Using a Caberg Tourmax Marathon helmet with sun peak this problem could have been accentuated but by remaining behind the windshield one rides relaxed and comfortable. A well-shaped, medium-soft seat, wide footrests covered with rubber to dampen vibrations and handlebars with riser to adjust position and distance from the seat, only confirm its comfortableness.
The frame is a trellis of tubes with a plate made of high-strength steel, as the oscillating swingarm fixed to a single shock absorber with externally adjustable preload. The forks, with 50 mm dia. tubes and a 145 mm travel, seemed a bit soft at the beginning but after a few minutes turned out to be efficient even on the few off-road trails we tried.  

Meeting with my endurance friends!
I have an appointment for lunch, which I absolutely can’t miss, with a group of endurance friends from Verona who love to wander the valleys inevitably finishing the day around a table in an eatery where local cuisine is tradition. It’s with them that I want to meet but we did not agree on a meeting spot; following my instinct, I start wandering along the Val di Mezzane discovering many twisting little and entertaining roads. While I’m thinking that I have a good feeling with the bike, the side kickstand touches the pavement, pumping my adrenaline. Actually, it’s the kickstand that slightly sticks out but, nonetheless, in that moment I feel like a great “leaner”.
In Castagnè I see the motorcycles parked in front of a restaurant and I finally join my friends. We leave the dining table at 4 pm!

The shape and style of this motorcycle is a well-conceived mix that reflects the aspect of the most notable Duals of the moment, the front is dominated by a huge mudguard that supports the headlights, mostly Led and very efficient.
A pointy panel covers the 20 lt tank that, considering the nature of this 48 hp engine, offers an impressively long range
The rear of the motorcycle is conveniently setup for side bags and top box, which are not included.   
The braking system is composed of a semi-floating 320 mm disc with a 4-piston caliper in front, that guarantees powerful and well adjustable performance, while a 260 mm disc with single piston caliper has been chosen for the rear. On the active safety side there is only the indispensable ABS, but the lack of other electronic devices didn’t affect us given the docile nature of this Adventure bike.

In the end, we found this Benelli to be an excellent compromise. The bike is easy to handle both on paved and dirt roads, it is very comfortable granting excellent mileage for long journeys and it comes at a very good price, 5990 € which is half the price of other bikes of the same level on the market.
Even if assembled in China, the know-how is totally Italian, and each machine is carefully and thoroughly tested in the workshop in Pesaro (Italy) before being put on the market.
Neither very good nor very bad, but the price is attractive!

Text: Pietro Bartolomei
Photos: Marco/Alessia

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