We sent Zane down to Victoria to take the new Benelli Leoncino 800 and 800 Trail for a spin on and off-road. Check out what he thought of it! Photos: Tom Fossati and Jeff Crow.

Benelli have established themselves as a great option in the LAMS market Down Under, and now they are playing with the big guns in the full power category. We head to Melbourne to check out the long-awaited Leoncino 800 and 800 Trail, their second full power model.

We sent Zane down to Victoria to check out the new Benelli Leoncino 800 and 800 Trail. Check out what he thought...

We sent Zane down to Victoria to check out the new Benelli Leoncino 800 and 800 Trail. Check out what he thought…


Check out our Leoncino 500 long-termer here…


‘Chinese built’ has been becoming a much less scary term for motorcycle fans with brands like KTM, Benelli and CFMOTO releasing some seriously cool machines at a low price, in fact there are very few motorcycles on the market that are not in some way Chinese manufactured. To get a bigger picture of how things change, we have to take a look at Japanese manufacturing from the 1970s and 1980s.

My parents would always tell me how embarrassing it was to be seen in a Datsun or Toyota in the 1970s due to rumours, I assume, that were started by Australian manufacturers that Japanese cars are low quality, now they’re these mega cool collector’s items. It’s China’s turn to become that driving force of cool machines and “future classic’s” as they called the Leoncino 800…

Ready to head out on a massive loop down to the Great Ocean Road then back up to Melbourne via Sorrento.

Ready to head out on a massive loop down to the Great Ocean Road then back up to Melbourne via Sorrento.

Landing at Melbourne, I’m greeted by sun in the sky and no rain, unheard of in Sydney for the past eight months. After a short tour around one of the many UMI office’s around Melbourne, we got to see the new Leoncino 800 and 800 Trail models. Both are awesome looking machines in their own way.



It’s clear that Benelli’s design department still resides within their hometown of Pesaro, Italy.  Like all Benelli models, it looks like an Italian bike, possibly a little road-trip down the E45 to Bologna was had to have a peek through the window at the new opposition models, who knows, but the 800 is stunning.

It’s clear that Benelli’s design department still resides within their hometown of Pesaro, Italy.  It looks like an Italian bike, but comes with price tag of Chinese manufacturing!

It’s clear that Benelli’s design department still resides within their hometown of Pesaro, Italy.  It looks like an Italian bike, but comes with price tag of Chinese manufacturing!

Anyway, LED lighting, wire spoked wheels (full alloy on the road edition), sharp lines, exposed frame, plenty of cool badges and that signature Lion of Pesaro on the front. The Trial, which I personally prefer more, kicks it up a notch with a twin exit exhaust and a sweet number panel on the side among other small things like a raised lip on the headlight surround.



Time to throw a leg over the new machines, we are in for a treat. A long ride down to Lorne, through the Great Ocean Road, back to Torquay, through some dirt/gravel roads, where we will spend the night. Then jumping on a Ferry to Sorrento and riding the long way back to the UMI offices just North of Melbourne city!

The standard version of the Leoncino 800 features less suspension travel, smaller front wheel and a few different styling cues!

The standard version of the Leoncino 800 features less suspension travel, smaller front wheel and a few different styling cues compared to the Trail.

Starting on the standard edition Leoncino 800, I instantly notice how small the bike is for an 800. The seat height is quite low so you sit on top of the bike instead of being cradled in. It does make for a comfortable ride but it’s a little awkward through corners. Our first stop was at Aireys Inlet so a long ride down the freeway allowed me to become acquainted with touring on the new machine.



The Leoncino 800 and 800 Trail are powered by the same 754cc twin-cylinder seen in the 752c. Chatting with the Italian designers they said that the Leoncino 800 has a different engine map to the 752c, the figures are exactly the same at 56kW@8500rpm and 67Nm@6500rpm so the change in mapping is minimal.

Leoncino 800 Engine.

The engine is the gem of the bike, it’s super easy to control at low speeds and allows for plenty of mid and top end grunt. It sounds spectacular for a twin-cylinder, when you get over 5000rpm the throttle-bodies growl with anger!


“The engine is the gem of the bike, it’s super easy to control at low speeds, allows for plenty of mid and top end grunt and It sounds spectacular for a twin-cylinder.”


Comfort is quite nice on the road edition, the beauty of that wide and flat seat means that you’re not going to get a sore arse from sitting for hours along the freeway. Bar height is nice and foot positioning makes for an overall un-fatiguing and comfortable riding triangle.

The only real issue when it comes to design function is that exposed frame. One of the tubes that houses a bolt kept catching on my knee, hitting hard bumps or coming down from a wheelie would cause the side of my knee to hit it, getting quite sore after a while.

"Comfort is quite nice on the road edition,  the beauty of that wide and flat seat means that you’re not going to get a sore arse from sitting for hours along the freeway."

“Comfort is quite nice on the road edition,  the beauty of that wide and flat seat means that you’re not going to get a sore arse from sitting for hours along the freeway.”

The suspension on the road model (which has slightly less travel than the 800 Trail) left a little to be desired, the upside-down forks with 50mm tubes sounded really good on paper but felt quite loose on the road. They aren’t terrible but I was expecting far more feedback and stability from a USD setup.

International markets could possibly be treated to the Marzocchi setup mentioned earlier in the year but here in Australia, we get the Benelli developed set-up. I would’ve loved to stiffen it up a touch through the twisties with the adjustable Marzocchi forks.



The only other real difference between the Standard and Trail editions (besides dimensions) is the wheel size and tyres. The road edition features a smaller front wheel and Pirelli MT60RS tyres,  I found myself tip toeing around these hoops are they didn’t inspire much confidence on the road, they looked cool on the bike though [in past testing, we have found the MT60RS to be a fantastic on road tyre, particularly on the Ducati Scrambler, so these may be Chinese issue or a different compound – Ed].



After stopping for lunch in Lorne, it was time to make our way back to Torquay but on dirt roads. The Trail was hot-property for this section so I got stitched up with the road edition. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’m shocked with how well this handled the dirt for a road bike.

We reached some stupid speeds and the standard Leoncino 800 just flew across the loose gravel and dirt, there was no bone shattering vibrations and I had the time of my life giving it full throttle in fourth gear and feeling the rear wheel spin up.



I did smack a pot hole which made me think I broke my wrist for a second and I was certain I had just buckled a wheel, but nope! The little Leoncino kept pushing on. Obviously not meant for this treatment, but we had to transport the bikes!

"We reached some stupid speeds and the standard Leoncino 800 just flew across the loose gravel and dirt, there were no bone shattering vibrations."

“We reached some stupid speeds and the standard Leoncino 800 just flew across the loose gravel and dirt, there is no bone shattering vibrations.”

I finally managed to pry one of the other Journo’s off the Trail edition and the machines are like night and day between the two besides being the exact same bike with some small modifications. The higher ‘bars combined with taller suspension travel and bigger front wheel made for plenty more confidence on and off road. The Pirelli Scorpions are awesome hoops on the dirt and allowed the Leoncino 800 to be leant over more off road without feeling too loose.

"The USD setup favours the bigger wheels and taller suspension travel. With more of an off-road focus, the front end seems to step up to the challenge of controlling the Leoncino."

“The USD setup favours the bigger wheels and longer suspension travel of the Trail. With more of an off-road focus, the front end seems to step up to the challenge of controlling the Leoncino.”

The USD setup favours the bigger wheels and longer suspension travel. With more of an off-road focus, the front-end seems to step up to the challenge of controlling the Leoncino. While the rear also received slightly more travel, the rear shock is still quite harsh. Following the other journo’s on the freeway, you could see the whole bike shake when they clobbered a pothole.



Funnily enough, the clutch action is completely different between the two. The standard Leoncino 800 has a close bite action with plenty of slip, while the Trail seems to bite right at the end and has a more aggressive feel to it thanks to changes in spring calibration, discs and clutch damper. The Trail did receive a reduction in overall gearing, giving it just that little bit more pep low in the rev range.

Zane reckons the Trail didn't just feel better off-road, but the bigger front wheel and longer suspension travel seemed to make the bike nicer to ride on the road.

Zane reckons the Trail didn’t just feel better off-road, but the bigger front wheel and longer suspension travel seemed to make the bike nicer to ride on the road.

The Trail did tackle the off-road sections just that little bit better thanks to the Pirelli Scorpions and bigger front wheel. The difference between the two was much more noticeable on road than off, I believe that you’re not really going to be taking the Leoncino 800 Trail on paths that purpose built adventure machines would go on it but it tackles the odd off-road section quite well.



On the road, the Trail is much more comfortable and the slightly different seating position compliments the chassis just that little bit better when it comes to touring.


“On the road, the Trail is much more comfortable and the slightly different seating position compliments the chassis just that little bit better when it comes to touring…”


No complaints about build quality here. When I say they got a thrashing off-road, I mean they got a proper thrashing. Nothing rattled off, nothing broke and I even hit the odd little jump with confidence! The funniest part was going through a river crossing, which was much deeper than it looked, and the Leoncino 800’s sounded like the were sucking in a heap of water.

Somehow, they kept going with zero issues. No clue how they didn’t get waterlocked but if that isn’t a testament to how well these engines are put together, then I don’t know what is.



The Trail version puts on an extra 12kg to the already beefy Leoncino 800 to give it a wet weight of 234kg. You can’t feel the weight while riding and Benelli have managed to make it a well-balanced package, but you can’t help but wonder where all that weight is. The engine as a stressed member seems to keep the weight down a little further, overall a nice and sturdy setup.

Zane was pretty much under water and the Leoncino 800 had no issues after most likely sucking in some water...

Zane was pretty much a submarine and the Leoncino 800 had no issues after most likely sucking in some water…

Braking is sorted by Benelli branded twin four-piston calipers up the front and a single twin-piston at the rear. The brakes are pretty good, I think some decent hoops on the road edition would compliment the bike a bit better.



The only real issue I have with the brakes is the fact that you cannot switch the ABS off, even at just the rear, this made for some extended stopping time while out on the dirt. It would’ve been cool to have some sort of controllability over it!

"No complaints about build quality here! When I say they got a thrashing off-road, I mean they got a proper thrashing."

“No complaints about build quality here! When I say they got a thrashing off-road, I mean they got a proper thrashing.”

The electronics are quite simple, aside from the ABS previously mentioned there are no other assists. The TFT dash is an awesome addition, it rounds up the bike nicely and add that extra feeling of quality and tech. Kept relatively simple, the tacho looks best bouncing off the limiter I reckon.



The 2022 Benelli Leoncino 800 and 800 Trail are an interesting ride, the sit in between a road bike and an adventure bike, which already fits between two categories. I’d classify it more as a scrambler than anything, the retro style queues make it fit nicely into that category. You have three colour options, Forest Green, Rock Grey and Terrain Brown. The Forest Green is a personal favourite of mine, but all three colour options look tops!

"At $13,490 rideaway for the standard and $13,990 for the Trail, you can’t go wrong. It’s an awesome base for modifications and makes an easy ride for returning riders look to throw a leg over a bike again..."

“At $13,490 rideaway for the standard and $13,990 for the Trail, you can’t go wrong. It’s an awesome base for modifications and makes an easy ride for returning riders look to throw a leg over a bike again…”

At $13,490 rideaway for the standard and $13,990 for the Trail, you can’t go wrong. It’s an awesome base for modifications and makes an easy ride for returning riders look to throw a leg over a bike again and follow the Adventure bike craze going on at the moment.

We can’t wait for our Leoncino 800 long-termer to arrive, Zane will be daily riding it and throwing some extra goodies on. Tune in next month. After the fun we had with Simba, our 500 Leoncino long termer, we are excited to get the 800!

We can't wait for our Leoncino 800 long-term to arrive, Zane will be daily riding it and throwing some extra goodies on. Tune in next month...

We can’t wait for our Leoncino 800 long-term to arrive, Zane will be daily riding it and throwing some extra goodies on. Tune in next month…

The 2022 Benelli Leoncino is a testament to how far Chinese manufacturing as come and yet shows just a last bridge they need to cross to really appeal to the Western market, an assist system would really cement the Leoncino’s spot in the Australian market….


MNA


Tech Talk Benelli Leoncino 800

Leoncino 800 Standard
The heart of Leoncino 800 is the 754cc, liquid cooled, four-stroke, twin cylinder engine; which is now Euro 5 approved. Suitable for off road use thanks to the configuration with crank pin angle phase of 90° from which it gets an irregular firing sequence (0° – 270° – 450°).



The new cylinder head has been redesigned to integrate the secondary air system, and optimise the intake and cooling system. The distribution case has also been stiffened in order to reduce noise emissions and strengthen the engine/chassis fixing points.


RatedR Parts

The suspension consists of a front upside-down fork with 50mm tubes. On the back there is a swingarm with central adjustable monoshock in the spring preload and rebound damping. The frame is a steel tube trellis (ALS 420) with cast and forged details. It has four engine fixing points on each side. The engine participates in strengthening and stiffness. On the left there are adjusting screws to minimize pre stress due to tightening.



The braking is sorted by double 320mm diameter semi-floating disc on the front and four-piston radial-mount monoblock calliper, and a 260mm diameter disc on the back with a double-piston calliper. Despite early press information showing Brembo calipers and Marzocchi suspension, Australia will not receive this equipment. Suspension, Brakes and ABS were all development in-house at Benelli. 

The standard edition features 17in front and rear, tires are Pirelli MT 60 120/70 17 on the front and Pirelli 180/55 17 on the rear.



Leoncino 800 Trail
The 800 Trail features everything previous mentioned but adds a double exhaust in a raised position and 19in front wheel. Also different is suspension travel length. 



The transmission has undergone updates to the clutch (spring calibration, discs and clutch dumper) and to the final ratio, now reduced with the 46 tooth sprocket. The exhaust system has been completely redesigned, low and short silencer for road version, high with double exit for Trail version.


Suzuki 2024

In turn, the suspension has been upgraded: the up-side down front fork with 50mm diameter tubes has longer travel, from 130mm in the road model to 140mm in the Trail version. The same upgrade took place on the rear, a single, central swing-arm with adjustable spring pre-load and rebound damping, travel was also increased (140mm from 130mm). The Leoncino 800 Trail seat is raised to 834mm from 805mm in the road model.



The spoked rims are tubeless type (19in front, 17in rear), Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires, 120/70 19in front and 170/60 17in rear.


 

Suzuki 2024
 

2022 Benelli Leoncino 800 (Trail) Specifications

benelli.com.au

Price: $13,490 rideaway ($13,990 rideaway)
Colours: Forest Green, Rock Grey and Terrain Brown
Claimed Power: 56kW@8500rpm
Claimed Torque: 67Nm@6500rpm
Wet Weight: 222kg (234kg)
Fuel capacity: 15L


Engine: Liquid-cooled, in-line two-cylinder, four-stroke, DOHC, four-valves per cylinder, 754cc, 88 x 62mm bore x stroke, 43mm throttle-bodies, 11.5:1 compression ratio, 6-speed gearbox, slipper clutch.


Chassis: Frame: Trellis steel tubes
Rake: N/A Trail: N/A
Suspension: Upside-down forks with 50mm tubes 130mm travel. (140mm Travel) (f) Aluminium rear swing arm with central shock absorber spring preload and hydraulic rebound adjustable 130mm travel (140mm Travel) (r)
Brakes: Twin semi-floating disc 320mm, mono block radial caliper four pistons and ABS (f) Single disc 260mm with double piston and ABS (r)
Wheels & Tyres: Aluminium alloy (Spoked Wheel),  17in x MT3.50in (19in x MT3.00), 17in x MT5.50in (17in x MT4.25).


Dimensions:
Length: 2140mm (2200mm)
Height: 1160mm (1210mm)
Width: 870mm
Seat Height: 805mm (834mm)
Wheelbase: 1406mm (1480mm)
Ground clearance: 162mm (191mm)


Instruments & Electronics: DRL, LED lighting, TFT Dash


 

UMI
 

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