One of Italy’s oldest motorcycle manufacturers that began in 1911, Benelli, has entered the scrambler game.From Ducati to Triumph to BMW, each OEM’s scrambler has become a brand within itself, helping increase sales. Now Benelli wants some of the market share. The Pesaro, Italy, based company’s solution is the Leoncino, which translates to “Lion Cub” and pays homage to the lightweight Benelli motorcycles of the 1950s.
Unfortunately, there are limited Benelli dealerships in America, but we’re hoping that changes soon. Regardless, the new Leoncino is worth reading about. The Leoncino is offered in two versions—the base Leoncino and the off-road worthy Leoncino Trail.[Visit the 2017 Motorcycle Previews page]Benelli, part of China’s Group Quianjiang, surprised many when it released the new TRK 502, a 500cc parallel-twin mid-weight adventure bike. Now that same engine goes to work in the Leoncino scrambler motorbikes.Both Leoncinos are powered by the liquid-cooled twin, which produces 46 horsepower @8500 rpm and 33 ft/lbs of torque @5000 rpm. The engine is modern with fuel injection, dual-overhead cams, four-valves per cylinder, a hydraulic clutch and six-speed transmission. The engine is cradled inside a traditional trellis frame. Further enhancements include ABS, a digital dash, and LED technology.One unique design on both the Leoncino and Leoncino Trail is the Lion of Pesaro, which appears like a tiny hood ornament on the front fender.
The base Leoncino is built for the street; it features 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 120/70 and 160/60 rubber. The front suspension features a 45mm upside-down fork with 4.9 inches of travel, and the swingarm is suspended by a laterally mounted shock absorber that provides 4.4 inches of travel.Braking on the Leoncino is handled by dual 320mm discs up front squeezed by four-piston calipers, and a single 260mm disc out back squeezed by a single-piston caliber.
Benelli Leoncino Trail
The Leoncino Trail features the same frame and brakes as the base, but is enhanced for off-road use. The Trail has typical dual-sport wheel setup of a scrambler, with a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear. The wheels are shod in 110/80 and 150/70 tires.The front fork is a hefty 50mm, combined with the same suspension as the Leoncino street bike out back. The Leoncino Trail features additional suspension travel over the street model: 5.3 inches front; 5.4 inches back.Both Leoncino scrambler-styled motorcycles will be available in red, silver, green, or black at “an extremely competitive price” yet to be defined.Benelli sums up the new Leoncino: “The all-new Leoncino represents an authentic and pure-hearted design concept that rediscovers the style and accessibility of the original, all while delivering a contemporary motorcycle that provides a sporty and exciting experience. Original.”We’re huge fans of scrambler platforms, and are very curious to see how this 500cc twin would perform among the others. Now, if we can only get more Benelli motorcycle dealerships to the American market.
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!