WHENEVER you think about Benelli, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the crazy Tornado 1130. Outrageous and beautiful. The same goes for the TNT, both 1130 and 899. But when Benelli announced that they wanted to diversify and reach a larger audience, we were curious about what they had in mind. Soon after, we had the Imperiale 400. And not too long after, the Imperiale 400 BS6. I got to ride it and well, I am impressed… and perplexed.
The reason for being impressed is what this review is all about. For being perplexed… well, that’s because it is very hard to form an opinion about this motorcycle. But follow along and you’ll understand. Like always, we’ll discuss the various aspects of this motorcycle and we’ll start with the looks.
If I had to keep it short, it looks good. At least when compared to the competition it has. It is not that the competition is ugly, it is just that Benelli, despite sticking to the at-the-brink-of-being used-but-screw-that-cuz-we-can’t-have-enough retro theme, has kept it tasteful. Very tasteful actually.
Round headlight, check. Twin-pod instrument, check. Just the right amount of chrome, check. Long exhaust and a long rear fender, check. Spoked wheels, check. Teardrop tank (with a nicely done tank pad on either side), check. Split seat, check. Black, check. Door-handle like pillion grab rails… wait, what!? Or are those just there so you can tie some stuff up at the back?
So the checklist is complete and the Imperiale 400 BS6 is more than qualified to be called retro. The last bit, those grab rails… they kinda overqualified it. I wonder whose idea it was. Anyway, I really like the Imperiale 400 and the biggest reason is proportion. Despite motorcycles being made for so long, it is an easy-to-make mistake but the Benelli has nailed that part.
The bits I really like are the turn signals, the tail lamp, the fenders, and the blacked-out engine (thank you, Benelli). The bits I don’t like are the grab rails, of course, and the oversized leg guard. That thing is huge and messes with the overall balanced look of the bike. Overall, it is a good looking motorcycle and it has a very European old-school feel to it.
Onwards to the performance. Benelli Imperiale BS6 is powered by a 374cc single-cylinder, air-cooled engine. It has 4 valves and a single overhead camshaft. The engine is good for 29 Nm of peak torque that arrives at 3,500 rpm and around 21 bhp of power which arrives at 6,000 rpm.
My initial impression of the mill was a little disappointing and the reason is the exhaust note. It is just sufficiently burbly but then, it was Benelli who spoiled us with the mind-boggling soundtracks of their motorcycles. It was their sacred art but they seemingly forgot where they kept that scroll when they were making the Imperiale 400 BS6. But as soon as you get a move on, it more than makes up for it.
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