Words: Mike Ryan
Photos: Benelli Australia
Remember Benelli’s BN 600? No shame if you don’t, as it never made a huge impact in its time on the market. Now it’s back – sort of – with a new look and a new name, but a familiar powerplant.
The BN600 differed from established Benelli practice of the time in that it was powered by a four-cylinder engine, instead of a triple. It was also the first all-new model released since Benelli was purchased by China’s Qianjiang Group in 2005.
Released locally in 2014, the BN600 was powered by a 600cc four-cylinder engine and offered in both full power (BN 600R) and restricted LAMS (BN 600S) variants, with the former producing 60kW, while the latter was limited to 44kW.
Both had a starting price under $10,000 and came with some quality componentry as standard, including Marzocchi forks, Brembo brakes and Metzeler tyres.
Despite good spec, strong performance and reasonable pricing as standard, it’s fair to say the BN 6000 didn’t make a major impression in its first year on the local market.
Not much changed after the BN600 was rebranded as the BN 600i for 2015, but the model fell by the wayside when the Benelli range was revamped the following year. That change saw the introduction of the Leoncino and TRK 502 (and their related spin-offs), both of which have been very successful for Benelli, with the TRK 502 the top-selling bike in its native Italy and a major contributor to the brand’s record sales in 2019.
More recently, the Benelli range has been expanded with the arrival of the 502C, TNT 135 and, most recently, the 752S.
The common thread across this range (except the TNT 135) is that they’re all powered by parallel twins. The imminent arrival of the TNT 600i will change that, as it’s powered by a four-cylinder with similar size and output as the BN 600S.
Unlike the BN 600 offering from a few years back, the TNT 600i will only be offered in LAMS form – at least for now.
That means the 600cc DOHC 4-valve inline four-cylinder engine is restricted to 44kW at 11,170rpm, with maximum torque of 51Nm at 10,500rpm, both of which are almost identical to the outputs of the BN 600S.
The liquid-cooled inline four features a 65 x 45.2mm bore and stroke, with 11.5:1 compression, EFI induction and electric starting.
Delivering what Benelli says is constant, progressive acceleration, the engine is matched to a wet multi-plate clutch and six-speed gearbox as standard, with chain final drive.
Being a naked, the TNT 600i has the engine on display, which serves as a stressed member for a steel trellis-style frame. This frame appears to be much the same as the BN 600, but the swingarm is different – one of the few areas where the new four offers visual difference from the old one.
The swingarm is aluminium and supported by what Benelli say are sturdy aluminium plates in the swingarm pivot area.
Another point of difference is that, unlike the BN 600, there’s no abundance of branded componentry on the TNT 600i, except for what appears to be Pirelli tyres.
Listed specs include 50mm USD front suspension and an offset lateral rear monoshock, with preload and rebound adjustability on the latter. Listed travel is 123mm at the front and 50mm at the rear.
Despite the lack of Brembo branding, the braking package looks substantial, made up of dual semi-floating 320mm discs with four-piston radial calipers on the front and a 260mm disc with two-piston caliper on the rear. ABS is standard. This combination, according to Benelli, ensures powerful, modulated and well-balanced braking performance.
Seventeen-inch aluminium alloy wheels feature at each end, with a 120/70-ZR17 front tyre and 180/55 ZR17 rear tyre. As mentioned, the tyres appear to be Pirellis, specifically the Angel ST sport touring tyre, based on the press imagery presented.
The most notable spec upgrade on the TNT 600i over the old BN 600 is the TFT instrument screen. With a distinctive graphic layout, the full-colour screen is dominated by a larger speedometer display in both numerical and ribbon form, with a ribbon-style revcounter, too. The display also includes a gear indicator, engine temp and fuel gauges, clock and tripmeter, along with an array of the usual warning lights.
Backlit switchgear is standard and, if the TNT 600i follows the specification of a similar model presented with QJ (QianJiang) badging last year, it’ll have keyless unlocking and starting, too, but that remains to be confirmed.
For its return under TNT 600i badging, the BN 600 gains some new graphics on the radiator covers and tail unit, with a new LED headlight being the main stylistic difference.
The narrower headlight is of a vertically-stacked configuration and does away with the small shroud for the instrument display.
Other changes are limited to colours and graphics, with two colour options available – Midnight Black and Alpine White. On the former, the rear spring is finished in black, while the latter has a red spring, red rim stickers and black tail section.
Distinctive styling features, like the dual underseat exhaust with triangular-shaped exits, aggressively-shaped sidecovers and fuel tank, look to be unchanged from the BN 600 era.
The seat is set-up for two, with rider seat height of 820mm.
Other important measures include a 14.5-litre fuel tank, 1480mm wheelbase and 220kg dry weight.
Announced at the start of August, the TNT 600i was due for Australian release in September, priced from $11,790 ride away, which is just $200 under the pricing of Benelli’s larger, non-LAMS 752C.
The TNT 600i is backed by Benelli’s 2-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and 24/7 roadside assist service.
Benelli’s range of LAMS models have performed quite well in the local market and Australian distributors, Urban Moto Imports, are no doubt hoping the TNT 600i will continue that trend.