First debut of a naked roadster prototype by Benelli was in EICMA Milan show in 2015, and now the Benelli Leoncino is available for the market. During Benelli Dynamite Day 2018 at Elite USJ Speedway Circuit, our test rider JayKay got the chance to test ride one of the newest bike from Benelli; the Leoncino 500.
From the new front headlamp featuring cutting edge LED technology, then to the fuel tank and seat, all flowing and emphasizing the personality of this all new Leoncino. A Benelli trademark, the beautiful steel trellis frame houses an all new powerplant from Pesaro; twin-cylinder four-stroke, liquid-cooled, 500cc made by Benelli. This all new engine is smooth and responsive, with maximum power of 48 CV (35 kW) at 8500 rpm and maximum torque of 45 Nm (4,6 kgm). No doubt about it; the Leoncino is a motorcycle you will love being seen on.
Set at an 815mm height, it delivers a spacious and very comfortable riding position, thanks mainly to lower-set footrests. However, it doesnt impact on ground clearance and the stock Pirelli Angel ST tyres give an excellent grip and confidence to ride it on a tricky and technical track like USJ Speedway Circuit. The Handlebar of the Leoncino is quite wide. For a 183cm tall rider it give a quite upright and untiring stance while riding so it feels really relaxing.
One of the main attraction of the Leoncino is the engine. The sound it produce is truly different than any other two inline cylinder bike in the market. With a 360 degree crank format so both pistons rise and fall together, producing smooth power delivery and great sound as the four inline cylinder engine. There is no jerking on low rpm, and the power delivery is really smooth throughout the rpm. The Benelli’s parallel twin carries a single counterbalancer in front of the crankshaft. This results an engine that turns out to be uncannily smooth, with no vibration in seat or handlebar. With a broad spread of torque, going out the tight corner the engine give enough punch without worrying much about which gear to use.
Another key points that add to a much confidence riding is the suspension. It has 1460mm wheelbase, 50mm upside-down forks up front are adjustable for rebound damping. At the rear there’s a cast aluminium swingarm carrying a cantilever monoshock that’s offset to the right and delivers 128mm of wheel travel. It has adjustable rebound damping and – via a remote knob on the side of the shock – adjustable spring preload. Even with a stock settings, the suspensions give great feedback during braking and going out of corner. The bike is firmly stable in long fast corner and agile in tighter turns in the track.
As for the braking system, the front is equipped by a twin 320mm floating discs and are gripped by radial mount four pot calipers. For the rear brake, twin-piston caliper and 260mm disc is very satisfactory. The response on the brake lever is satisfactory as I could modulate the braking very well on corner entry and even trail braking while going in the corner.
Overall, Benelli Leoncino really catches my heart. The built quality seems pretty high for a bike in this price sector. The bike was design for both fun and easy to ride whether in town or the open road. If you are looking something for a daily ride or leisure, i strongly suggest the Benelli Leocino 500.