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The Imperial March
The Imperial March
This retro-styled Italian motorcycle is now the most affordable Benelli you can buy.But is it worth it?
Anosh Khumbatta

DRESSED ALL IN BLACK, THE IMPERIALE 400 COULD EASILY BE MISTAKEN for a mid-20th century british or european standard motorcycle. this timeless design has been recreated time and again by several manufacturers over decades, and for us in india, it is synonymous with royal enfield. consequently, it may not be easy for the Benelli Imperiale 400 to create an identity for itself in our competitive market. the bike, as i discovered, is actually quite likable. read on to know more.

The design and nomenclature for this motorcycle have been inspired by the motobi Imperiale sport, a 125 cc single-cylinder motorcycle produced in the 1950s and 1960s. For the history buffs, the motobi brand was established in 1949 by Giuseppe Benelli, founder of the Benelli marque, and produced several small-capacity scooters and motorcycles from inception to 1977, when it closed its doors. Just like its predecessor from half a century ago, the imperiale 400 is a no-frills, bare-bones motorcycle, designed to fit into the accepted mould of a modern classic with all the mechanical bits on display.

Built around a steel double-cradle frame with the tall 374-cc single nestled within, just the sight of the imperiale 400 conveys a sense of relaxed cruising rather than back road blazing. the 12-litre peanut-shaped tank leads down to an old-school split seat, with a sprung rider’s perch for that period-correct look. keeping the classic theme going, the round headlight gets a chrome bezel, the turn indicators also get the chrome treatment, while the wire spoke wheels, handlebar, mirrors, tail-lamp, and grab-handle are all bathed in shiny metal. the large 19-inch front wheel gives the bike a tall stance, again in line with the classic theme, while the rear gets an 18-inch hoop. contact with the road is managed by tVs remora rubber.

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December 2019