Jeff has taken delivery of his new Benelli Leoncino long termer and already has a few things planned...
Last month we tested the 2018 Benelli Leoncino 500 (LAMS). We came away impressed with the bike as not only a great learner option but also a really good daily ride for a fully licensed rider.
When we sat down at BikeReview HQ to chat about long term staff bikes for 2018, the Leoncino was top of my list. At 43 and with plenty of sportsbikes to play with, plus my old classic two-strokes and four-strokes, I really don’t need a high performance large capacity road bike. Most of my riding is local running around with the odd country spin on a Saturday morning to relax. I also go to Sydney around once per week and that is a 200km round trip of mostly motorway and urban riding.
The Leoncino appeals to me for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is stylish and it is a Benelli, which is a brand I’ve never lived with for any longer than a week or two. Secondly, it suits me in terms of riding position and ergonomics. For a quick re-cap on my initial test, here is my second opinion from our full review last month.
Benelli Leoncino – Quick Spin with Jeff
I had a quick spin on the Leoncino (Lion, or Lion Cub) and came away impressed, although I’m not a huge fan of the name! I’ll just call it the Benelli 500! My very first look at the bike was when Kris parked it in the carpark we use for BikeReview HQ. For a bike made in China, the quality is impressive, the Italian design unmistakable. The finish is nice and the welds and machining neat. I love the styling, aside from the number-plate holder, and after having a spin around my local area I’m looking forward to spending more time on the 500.
The Leoncino has a torquey, eager power curve that won’t stretch your arms but is impressive for a LAMS bike and on par with the best of the parallel twin 500s. It pulls from low revs yet spins up fast and is thrilling enough to put a smile on the dial of even experienced riders like myself. Clutch action is smooth but heavy and the gearbox positive although I would say it is slightly agricultural in shift, as pointed out by Kris.
Ergo-wise the Leoncino has big bike feel with a non-intimidating seat height and the ‘bars to ‘pegs to seat triangle are a really comfy fit and natural layout. The seat is stylish, but rock hard with sharp edges that dig in. Vibes are not bad for a parallel twin and much better than on the TRK 502 sibling, which shares the same platform.
I was impressed by the brakes on the Leoncino. They have just the right level of initial bite not to unsettle things yet have loads of power as lever pressure is applied more heavily. The rear is strong and offers good feel as well, and I am a heavy rear brake user so appreciate that…
You can see I was impressed by the bike and I reckon it has loads of potential. First job is run-in and a service, which I will do myself, then I will look to do something about the seat. It is rock hard. I also want to get the best out of the twin and need to hear some sweet sounds so I’m on the hunt for a pipe. From there it will be a possible restyle at the back to eliminate the plate holder, to make it a more traditional fender. The bling will continue and I also plan on having a bit of a play with suspension.
So far the bike has run like clockwork. I’ll be running it up on the dyno soon and we will see what we can do to make the most out of it while keeping it LAMS approved…
Simon Harris is going to spend a month with the bike, he is our Italian bike fanatic so it will be interesting to see if he gives it the tick of approval. We also have a learner lined up to do some rider training using the bike and giving us an opinion from a learner rider point of view.
So far so good, stay tuned for plenty more on our little lion!
2018 Benelli Leoncino 500 (LAMS)
Price: $8,990 On-Road (Ride-Away)
Warranty: Two-year, unlimited kilometre
Colours: Leoncino Red, Vulcan Black, Steel Grey, Terrain Brown
Claimed power: 35kW(47.6hp)@8500rpm
Claimed torque: 46Nm@6000rpm
Dry weight: 170kg
Fuel capacity: 13.5L
Engine: Liquid-cooled, in-line two-cylinder, four-stroke, DOHC, four-valves per cylinder, 499.6cc, 69 x 66.8mm bore x stroke, 37mm throttle body, 11.5:1 compression ratio, Delphi MT05 ignition, NGK CR8E spark plugs
Chassis: Steel tube trellis frame, steel tube trellis swingarm
Suspension: 50mm USD forks, rebound adjustable, lateral rear shock, preload & rebound adjustable, 112mm travel
Brakes: Bosch ABS, dual semi-floating 320mm rotors, radial four-piston calipers, single 260mm rear rotor, single piston floating caliper
Wheels & Tyres: Aluminum alloy, 3.50 x 17in, 4.50 x 17in, 120/70 – R17, 160/60 – R17
Seat height: 785mm
Overall Length: 2139mm
Overall Height: 1120mm
Instruments: LCD display
2018 Benelli Leoncino Gallery