Zane has been zipping around on his Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail long-termer, enjoying it on the twisites and during his daily ride. Check out his thoughts three months in!
Month three already with the “Little Lion”! The Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail has been treating me well, I never thought I’d like it as much as I do now. Giving it a thrashing through the twisties every second day has made me reconsider my initial thoughts…
This month has been a tough one for me in terms of getting around, I have a habit of not owning a reliable form of four-wheeled transport. Out of the eight cars I currently own, none of them get me to where I need to go, they’re either too uncomfortable, too unreliable, flat-out racecars or won’t do 110km/h and my “daily driver” has suddenly decided to destroy some lifters (which GM put under the heads to make sure it’s not an arvo job), this is where the little Leoncino 800 Trail has come in handy.
Stay up to date with Zane’s Leoncino 800 Trail updates here…
My workshop is a 150km round-trip from my house, so when I need to go work on the worst collection of Japanese vehicles on the east-coast, I just jump on the Leoncino 800 and go for a blast. I’ve been taking the long way a lot more lately, which is a run up the twisty Macquarie Pass…
I will admit that I had my reservations about the Leoncino 800 when I first rode it, I’m way more of a sportsbike kind of guy. However, I’m more than happy to give anything a go, and I’m glad I’ve been spending way more time in the twisties rather than my usual commute, this thing is awesome!
Mac Pass has plenty of tight turns, requiring heaps of grunt on corner exit. The Leoncino 800 has plenty of grunt to give, the parallel twin 754cc loves to burst out of the corners! Where other bikes in the same class would fall off as the revs climb, the Leoncino just keeps going and going and going.
Revving the life out of it causes an epic noise to come out of the exhaust, I’m pretty surprised considering it’s still a stock system and the strict current EURO regulations. I would still really like to put an aftermarket exhaust system on, but aftermarket parts are still scarce unless you buy off Alibaba.
I’ve been riding a few LAMS bikes lately and jumping on to the Benelli straight after makes it feel like a rocketship. That’s the beauty of Benelli’s 800 range, the power is so easy to manage that you don’t realize just how much you have at the twist of your wrist.
I’ve been mucking around with the preload in the rear but I haven’t really notice a whole heap of change in riding comfort, I’ve yet to have a pillion passenger on just yet but I’m interested to see how the rear shock handles some extra load and if that preload adjuster comes in handy.
The USD forks do an awesome job of tackling the turns too, there’s plenty of feedback through the front and don’t dive a whole heap under braking. I do dream about what the spec’d up Mazorochi forks would’ve been like if we got the European model here, but the Benelli home-brand 50mm forks do a good job of handling Aussie roads.
I’m still not enjoying the brakes greatly; the lever is too firm. I was hoping it was just a pad-bedding issue but there’s no feel there, the strange thing is that I don’t remember having any issues with the brakes on the Aussie launch and this is one of the bikes from the launch. I’m wondering if the master-cylinder was overfilled at its first 1000km service or something along those lines. I need a spare minute to bleed the fronts which I’m hoping to do before next month.
Another thing I’d like to get done before next month is to make a tail tidy for it. The tail section on the Leoncino’s look super cool but are ruined by that big ADR approved plate holder, there’s nothing you can buy off the counter for these but it should be super simple to make one out of some sheet metal.
I’ve been averaging around 200km a tank before the fuel light starts flashing, the bowser tells me I’m putting in around 11.5-12L at the brim of the 15L tank. By my math, you should be able to get around 250km before the bike runs completely dry, but I’m not game enough to try this just yet… This all translates to just under 6L/100km, it’s not terrible for the category but it’s not the most fuel efficient.
Now that launch season seems to be calming down and I can spend some more time with the bike, I’m looking forward to changing a few of the things that I believe will transform it into a perfect machine. Stand by and check in next month!
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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