Style-wise, the TNT 899 manages to stand out from the mass of naked motorcycles that surround it. Its far headlamp is unusual, but no different from Triumph’s Street and Speed Triple dual light offerings. But while the Triumph Speed Triple is smartly dressed, the TNT, especially the under-seat exhaust, definitely looks dated.
The three-cylinder machine isn’t too bad at delivering a respectable grunt up front and comes complete with a good amount of power. Fueling can be a bit ‘fluffy’, especially when going from a closed throttle to fully open at low revs, but it is very rare to dive into this area. But all is forgiven when the addictive sound of the three-cylinder penetrates the helmet and the earplugs: the hum of a triple at full volume is as unmistakable as the smell of chips and vinegar.
Gear changes are much healthier on the left foot compared to the Benellis of yesteryear. In fact, the engine itself is much sweeter than the rough old 900cc machines that did for Benelli sales what myxomatosis did for rabbits. Overall, she is a good engine that is just as happy to be caught while moving on guarded roads. But beware of the downside of enjoyment, which is high fuel consumption. The worst observed was 31.3 mpg compared to “normal” driving where 44.7 mpg was the average.
In terms of comfort, it’s definitely a thumbs up for the TNT. The pegs are not tall and the bars are well positioned to keep all shapes and sizes happy. Surprisingly, given that the TNT is born from the heritage of Italian racing, the seat is a comfortable and suitable place. Obviously not touring specs, but it’s fine for 170-mile drives.
Helping keep the idea of a Benelli purchase on the boil is a chassis that is stiff and luscious when things get rolling. Tubular side sections glued and attached to reinforcing plates is unusual, but it has merit for being it. The suspension is not adjustable, but Benelli has got it right from the test stage to deal with UK roads, should that mean Italian roads are worse than UK roads?
It’s not silly when it comes to cornering. Pull or push the bars and the TNT will tip over in a neutral and relaxed way. It certainly won’t scare anyone; if anything, it is a bit too stable because faster cornering speeds will cause the motorcycle to steer up. Not by much, but long enough to know what understeer is when you’re not staying in the line you’re looking for.
So the big question: should you buy a Benelli? I can’t say for the other models, but the TNT (Tornado Naked Tre) 899 is worth a look. Better to forget about the reliability issues of yesteryear because the latest rigs seem to be holding up quite well. One to chew on is the 899.
+ points – not everyone has one. Designed to be different but everything works.
– points – starting to look dated. Better known machinery is available for the same performance and less money.
Price: £ 9 499
Can: 118bhp, 65 foot pounds
Empty weight: 215 kg
Seat height: 830 mm