It's already been a month since we picked up our Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail staff bike! Zane has been out putting a heap of road KM's on the clock, check out what he thinks so far....

It’s been over a month since I picked up the Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail. I can’t believe it’s already been 30 days on this thing, time flies when you’re having fun. Who knew I’d be bringing in the new year on an Italian designed Chinese built bike… and enjoying it!

It's already been a month on the Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail. Check out what Zane's thoughts are so far...

It’s already been a month on the Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail. Check out what Zane’s thoughts are so far…

I haven’t had my own bike for nearly two years now, as a bike journo I constantly have a new bike to ride or I’ll steal the keys to. The only real issue with this is the fact that only so many bikes are released a year and I usually have media bikes for just two weeks at a time. When there are a few big gaps in between having something to ride, I’ll get the itch to go out for a weekend ride and have nothing to jump on. The Benelli has filled that void.

Check out Zane’s Australia launch report on the Leoncino 800 here…

UMI generously gave us one of their Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail’s to fang around on for the next year. At the Australian launch, I was seriously impressed with how the bike handled being out of its element on dirt roads. Yeah, it is marketed as a bike that can handle off-roading, but it’s more of a scrambler than an adventure bike, it looks angry and ready to tackle some tough terrain but in-terms of specifications, it falls short of something like a KTM ADVENTURE, CFMOTO 800MT or Suzuki V-STROM.

That being said, I’ve spent the past month keeping it on the road to see how it handles everyday duties, so far I’m bloody impressed. I can’t speak highly enough of the 754cc twin that powers the Leoncino 800. Now that the bike has surpassed that 2000km mark on the ODO, it feels like the engine has really come alive, the top-end power is addictive and I find myself revving it all the way out to the top of the range as it gets a second wind around 7500-8000rpm.

The past month has been spent on the tarmac. Seeing how the Leoncino 800 Trail handles daily duties...

The past month has been spent on the tarmac. Seeing how the Leoncino 800 Trail handles daily duties…

The only real issue I am having with the powerhouse is the fuel map, the Leoncino 800 seems to be a bit smelly after riding it hard for a little while, it seems to be running rich after fanging it. There is also the occasional loud (for a stock exhaust) backfire whilst rolling off the throttle into corners, this could just be some bad fuel or something to do with the bike being completely underwater on the launch, but I will keep my eye on it.

The power characteristics are excellent but I can’t help but think about how much better the bike would be with a quickshifter, the midrange torque and peaky power would absolutely love it. It feels like something is missing, especially after riding a few other bikes recently, which don’t have a particularly good shift setup, it makes you realise how well a quickshifter hides less than ideal gearing and engine characteristics. So something like the 752cc on the Benelli would feel even better with one.

We can't help but think about how good this bike would feel if it had a quickshifter! It's a real shame.

We can’t help but think about how good this bike would feel if it had a quickshifter! It’s a real shame.

Benelli have done an awesome job of styling the Leoncino, it doesn’t look like a cheap bike. I don’t feel the need to tell people “This isn’t my bike” when someone asks about it, I guess it’s one of the good things about keeping the design department in Italy. I did have a giggle when dad walked into the garage whilst I had it parked next to the DesertX, when I asked what he thought of the Benelli, he said “I honestly thought there were two Ducati’s there.” Like I said in my launch report, there may have been some peaking in the windows of the Borgo Panigale factory.

While the suspension is excellent for Benelli’s home brewed solution, it’s hard not to think what could’ve been if they went with the originally planned Marzocchi setup ! The longer travel on the Trail model really out-shines the standard model. The Leoncino 800 Trail is able to hold a steady line through turns, I would love to see how the Trail tackles the twisties with road tyres on. Although the Pirelli Scorpions are an excellent hoop, I feel way more confident on road tyres.

The rear shock seems to have softened up a decent amount now it’s broken in. The rebound isn’t as harsh as what I experienced on the Australian launch. I also moved the preload a few clicks stiffer to help with stability while on the twisties and I gave it a few clicks softer while riding home. I haven’t gotten this much use out of a preload adjust on a media bike before, but the rear end feels a lot better after mucking around with it. Despite losing some comfort, an increase in preload made side changes smooth and more direct.

Mucking around with the preload adjuster on the rear sees some improvement in overall handling on the road.

Mucking around with the preload adjuster on the rear sees some improvement in overall handling on the road.

At low speeds, the clutch gets a real workout. The reduced gear size to 46 teeth the Trail model received over the road model does make getting off the lights need a few more RPM than other bikes I’ve ridden recently. I’m pretty chuffed with the slipper clutch though, now that the bike has been broken in, the clutch is allowing for a little more slip while downshifting. On the launch I watched a journo shift down too many gears and release the clutch to be surprised with a wheel lockup mid corner, I haven’t had this issue during my time with the bike as I believe the clutch has loosened up a fair bit.

The chassis is quite nice, Benelli have done an awesome job to make the setup nice and rigid. There’s a sense of quality that comes from riding a bike with an excellent frame, nothing rattles or vibrates, everything feels perfect. It’s weird seeing how far Chinese automotive manufacturing has come, there’s going to be a big shift in people’s opinions on it, I can feel it!


The front brake lever has gone stiff, I cannot entirely remember if it was always this stiff or that jumping off a bike with a real Brembo system onto the Leoncino 800 just makes it feel weird. It’s a shame that Benelli didn’t go with the originally planned Brembo’s because I’m starting to feel that the Leoncino 800 is let down in the brake department, they still work decently but nowhere near what they could be. A brake bleed and maybe some braided lines should sort it out…

The brakes do leave a little to be desired, but a bleed and some braided lines should sort it out.

The brakes do leave a little to be desired, but a bleed and some braided lines should sort it out.

Spending more time with the bike really makes you realise how much more confidence knowing you have traction control gives you, something the Leoncino 800 lacks. It seems silly to not have any assists besides ABS (which you can’t turn off, not super ideal while riding on dirt roads) in this day and age. With this, I’ve been reluctant to ride it in the rain but I’m going to have to at some point to really test it in all conditions.

Everything else is a breeze, the bike is plenty comfortable just cruising around, the rider triangle is nice and relaxed. I’ve been getting around 5.5-6L/100km giving it a proper thrashing most times I ride it, not bad at all!

Tune in soon as we take the 2022 Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail one some tough terrain to see how it handles it!

Tune in soon as we take the 2022 Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail on some tough terrain to see how it handles it!

My new years resolution is to take it on a few hundred km of dirt roads to see if it’ll fall apart or stay together like it did on the launch. It’s just that non-switchable ABS that worries me as it adds a heap of stopping distance on dirt roads. That being said, maybe I should just yank the ABS fuse out.

Stand-by to see how it all goes, for the time being I’m just enjoying having something to ride without trying to cram all my riding into two weeks. I can feel the Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail growing on me more each time I ride it. I don’t doubt that’ll I’ll be refusing to give it back by the end of the year.

Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail Tech Talk 

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 a 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.


The suspension consists of a front upside-down fork with 50mm tubes. On the back there is a swingarm with central adjustable monoshock with 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 is used to strengthen and stiffen the overall frame. 

The braking is sorted by dual 320mm diameter semi-floating discs on the front and four-piston radial-mount monoblock calipers, with a 260mm diameter disc on the back with a double-piston caliper. 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 Leoncino 800 Trail features everything from the standard model 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 damper) 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.

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In turn, the suspension has been upgraded: the  front fork has longer travel, from 130mm in the road model to 140mm in the Trail version. The same upgrade took place on the rear, travel was increased from 130mm to 140mmm. The Leoncino 800 Trail seat is raised to 834mm from 805mm seen on the road model.

Also different on the Trail model are the spoked rims with tubeless tyres (19in front, 17in rear), the bike comes stock with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres, 120/70 19in front and 170/60 17in rear.



2022 Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail Specifications

Price: $13,990 rideaway
Colours: Forest Green, Rock Grey and Terrain Brown
Claimed Power: 56kW@8500rpm
Claimed Torque: 67Nm@6500rpm
Wet Weight: 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 140mm Travel (f) Aluminium rear swing arm with central shock absorber spring preload and hydraulic rebound adjustable 140mm Travel (r)
Brakes: Twin semi-floating disc 320mm, mono block radial caliper 4-pistons and ABS (f) Single disc 260mm with double piston and ABS (r)
Wheels & Tyres: Spoked Wheel, 19in x MT3.00, 17in x MT4.25.

Length: 2200mm
Height: 1210mm
Width: 870mm
Seat Height: 834mm
Wheelbase: 1480mm
Ground clearance: 191mm

Instruments & Electronics: DRL, LED lighting, TFT Dash

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