Zane shows us around his local testing and photography loop on the BikeReview Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail long-termer. Head out to the Jamberoo Road loop and check it out for yourself!..
There are very few roads on the south coast that are both enjoyable to ride and are empty of the caravan and cyclist plague that infects all nice roads around here. I took the long-termer Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail on part of my road-test photography route, the Jamberoo loop.
Before I head off to Europe for my first real holiday (longer than half a week) since 2017, I suit up to head out on one of my favourite roads to take photos on, the Jamberoo/Swamp road loop. Before NSW decided to get hit with some of the worst flooding/rain we have seen in years, this road used to be connected to a much larger, two to three hour loop I would test bikes on. Part of the road was affected by a landslide and seems to have no firm date to when it will re-open or if it’ll even actually become a road again.
Check out all our Benelli Leoncino Trail updates here…
Before the land-slide, you’d take Macquarie Pass, head up through Robertson, down through Jamberoo Mountain Road, join up with Jamberoo road then back up Mac Pass to restart. You can go down through Kangaroo Valley and end up in Nowra, but that’s pretty much a full day thing and often littered with Highway Patrol and tourists doing half the speedlimit.
Jamberoo Road Loop
You can still have fun on my loop, see some beautiful scenery and enjoy an 80km/h speed limit for some of the twisty bits. Starting out by jumping off the Princes Motorway, ride through Albion Park until you get to Jamberoo Road. This will lead you up through some reasonably fun sections at 80km/h and the road is wide enough to overtake cyclists at a safe distance without them shoving you onto the wrong side of the road.
You’ll pass the famous Jamberoo Water Park while heading down the hill, you will need to dodge the cow poo on the road from where they cross over to another field but pass that and you’ll reach where we actually do a fair lot of photoshoots.
Here, there’s a succession of corners that have a decent speed limit but are quite tight, you can really get the bike cranked through here but it’s always a good idea to run through at a slow pace at least once to ensure there’s no gravel on the road.
From here, you’ll continue heading downwards to two tight hairpins which catch a few people out in adverse conditions. This road will lead you into Jamberoo town, the speed limit goes down to 50km/h and there’s always Highway Patrol sitting where the speed limit changes. It’s also only fair to the residents that you don’t ride like a knob through here.
There are a few little shops to have lunch at, the pub serves a nice hearty meal and it’s a good place to meet up with friends before commencing your ride. There’s also a few café’s here which will serve some tasty snacks and an IGA if you want to just buy a packet of chips.
Here, you head down towards Kiama and there’s a number of different routes you can take. There’s a road that leads out to Saddleback Mountain (one of the best views on the south coast), an epic riding road that leads out to Kiama and a road I often take that leads you back to Shellharbour, Swamp road. You can honestly just spend all day riding these roads and taking all the different routes, using Jamberoo as the central location.
Swamp road is another photo location we use. Very few cars actually drive along here, the cyclists have their own path and there’s pretty much no neighbours to annoy while darting up and down the section of road we use. It’s also where I had my first on-road motorcycle accident after holding my licence for like three weeks.
These sections aren’t pathed the best but it’s where the Leoncino 800 Trail really shines, the longer travel suspension makes it more intuitive to ride over than something like your typical nakedbike. It’s also good to just enjoy the cruise back to the Highway at the speed limit to soak in all the lovely surroundings that Swamp Road and the coastal farm land has to offer.
From here, you have the choice to turn around and head back up one of the other routes, head towards Kiama for some lunch or head down the Highway to start the loop again. I head back home along the highway and the Leoncino loves to cruise along at 110km/h + which seems to be most of the riding I’m doing at the moment.
As for how the Leoncino is going? It’s still chugging along, there are a few oddities I’ve noticed since my last update with the main one being the speedo. I have my suspicions that Benelli didn’t adjust the speedo with the different tyre size and gearing compared to the road going version. I’ve yet to check this as I don’t have a spare phone mount to look at the GPS speedo. But, sitting on 130km/h while riding down the freeway would usually mean I’m flying past the regular traffic, on the Leoncino Trail people are flying past me.
Despite that, the bike feels like it’s freeing up a lot now that it’s down a few thousand KM. The exhaust note is certainly a lot more exciting and almost relinquishes the want for a slip-on muffler, but the thumping parallel twin would sound spectacular with a high-flowing system.
The suspension is still stiff, this is something I don’t believe will get any better now that the bike is well and truly broken in. I have to admit that it certainly does get quite uncomfortable for the lower back on longer journeys and your brain gets rattled when you hit a pothole. I have had people in the comments of previous posts asking about how to make the suspension more comfortable, hopefully some parts to make the forks adjustable to an extent will help it out but that rear shock may need a little more work.
It’s still a fun bike to ride with bucket loads of power, the powerplant is a real gem but it’s getting a little harder to see where the advantage of the Leoncino 800 is over the 752s, it’s certainly not the first choice of an off-roader in the Benelli range when the TRK exists and the 752s chassis suits the road so much better. It’s in this real awkward spot between the two which isn’t a bad thing, you’d just pick it based on it’s looks.
I really hope that Benelli Australia start getting in some accessories, I’ve had a quick look at the Italian and Chinese genuine accessories parts and it seems that not even they’re getting much besides panier racks (which I would love for my rides to the airport) and mirrors.
Check back in next month for another Leoncino 800 Trail update!
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.
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.
2023 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.
Seat Height: 834mm
Ground clearance: 191mm
Instruments & Electronics: DRL, LED lighting, TFT Dash
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