Zane is back from Europe and has been reunited with his Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail long-termer. Check out the scenic Royal "Nasho" National Park ride he took it on as soon as he returned....
It’s been a while since I’ve taken the Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail long-termer for a spin. I’ve been overseas for the past month and the past few weeks have been spent catching up on everything I’ve missed while I’ve been a while, so I decided to take her out for a Nasho run!
The Royal National Park is a staple of NSW motorcycle and car culture. The very first day I got my motorcycle licence, I took the bike for a fang out to Royal National Park. Since then, it’s been one of my favourite roads to ride, granted you don’t catch any public holiday or weekend traffic.
Royal Nasho Short Loop
Royal Nasho Long Loop
As you can see, there’s a heap of routes to take through the Nasho, the main one I take starts at Bald Hill and exits at Waterfall (the short loop). You can also take a much longer ride that ends at Sutherland via Audley but the roads are a little iffy and there’s always highway patrol on the straights.
I live relatively close to the RNP, it’s a relaxing 20 minute ride to Bald Hill where everyone usually meets. If you have the time, take the coast road down to Thirroul and ride along the Sea Cliff Bridge, it’s just an enjoyable ride at 60km/h and soaking in the beautiful South Coast.
Bald Hill is worth a stop for lunch, there’s a café up there and sometimes a food truck. It’s worth a stop to watch all the nice bikes riding past and to meet some like minded people. No matter what time of day, there’s always a large group of people there and almost everyone is happy to chat about bikes.
From there, you head north to enter the Nasho. There are some epic views around and a little café on the left. Of course I manage to choose a day where the road is closed. It’s no stress though as I looped around, headed up towards Helensburgh and headed down the M1 to start my ride at Waterfall.
If the road is open, there’s an epic ride with a succession of corners that flow so well. It’s one of the very few places around the Illawarra where I feel comfortable getting my knee down on the road. Highway patrol do patrol around there, but they’re very fair as long as you’re not absolutely fanging it on the straights. Where’s the fun being quick on the straights anyway?
I don’t like starting at Waterfall as the road is quite steep on the downhill and there are usually branches off to the side of the road. But there are some epic corners on the way up. If you have some friends or your partner with you there’s plenty of stop-in bays where you can sit and have a nice picnic.
When you make it past the roadworks that have been on since we had those crazy floods years ago (the traffic conductors are just sitting there idly as the works suck into taxpayer money), there’s an epic set of low-speed corners that allow you to get the bike cranked over. I’ve done a few shoots here!
When you make it down the hill, you get to where the road that leads to Waterfall that was closed up near Bald Hill. There’s another epic picnic spot down here when you turn right, but if you want to head up for the long loop you turn left.
I do occasionally head left to hit some of the twisties and then turn back around at Watamolla before the ride sets into harsh roads and straight aways. If you keep following that road you’ll eventually reach where I managed to dump my first bike and end up under a car when I was 18.
I didn’t have time today, but usually on my way home from picking up test bikes I’ll stop in at Legendary Fish and Chips along the highway at Waterfall. They have some of the best potato scallops and it always gets me amped up to head down into the Nasho…
Regardless of the bike or route you take, the Royal National Park is a ball to ride. It’s still nowhere near as good as Old Pacific Highway but it’s good enough for locals of Sydney and Wollongong.
My main advice for the Nasho is:
- Do a ride through at a reasonable pace at least once to scout out any fallen branches or wet patches.
- Take it easy, it’s not a race track
- Check to make sure the road is actually open, usually the main first part is but Audley is prone to flooding so it might be worth double checking before you leave
- Don’t gun it on the straights, there’s usually highway patrol at the end
- Get lunch at “Legendary Fish and Chips at Waterfall
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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