The Benelli TRK 502 may be a fully dressed adventure tourer, but its modest 500cc powertrain makes it a friendly and easy-to-live-with – yes, even for new riders. But, does it cut it as the perfect middleweight tourer?
Adventure tourers are increasingly gaining traction among motorcycle enthusiasts these days. And why shouldn’t they? This breed of motorcycles can take you on every kind of journey, dismissing every obstacle, topology or challenge that you’re faced with – including going off tarmac. Of course, depending on the scale of your adventure, there are several versions available on the market. You have full size adventure tourers featuring 1,000-1,200cc engines, and smaller ones with 650-750cc engines. But, what if you want something even smaller?
Up until now, the only available option came from Honda’s stable in the form of the much-appreciated CB500X – it’s a different story that it’s not available in India. However, of late, there have been an onslaught of new small-to-medium engine capacity adventure touring machines in global markets. Some of these will also make it to the Indian market. And the first one of this new breed of affordable adventure tourers that’s expected to arrive on Indian shores is the Benelli TRK 502. So, can it carve a niche for itself in a nascent market like India? Well, we’ve tested this 500cc motorcycle on and off-road to find the answer.
From a technical point of view, the Italian-Chinese manufacturer has played it quite safe. The engine here is an in-line twin-cylinder generating 47bhp at 8,500rpm, and it comes mated to a six-speed gearbox. Other than ABS (which can be disabled for off-road use through a button), there’s no other electronic wizardry in the TRK 502. The twin-cylinder engine is encased in a steel tubular trellis frame, while the swing-arm too is made of a similar material. The front forks and rear shock absorber are manufactured by Benelli itself. The front setup is adjustable, and so is the rear damper with adjustable spring preload and rebound damping. You’ll find 17-inch rims on both ends, shod with Pirelli Angel ST rubber – which, we think, are more suitable for tarmac than gravel or dirt. On the aesthetics front, this Benelli has a typical touring temperament – the front features a beak, a wide and protective plexiglass screen (not adjustable) and a 20-litre fuel tank, which ensures a good riding range. The saddle is a split type. The rider’s seat is only 800mm off the ground, meaning it’ll be easier for smaller riders to ride. The tail features a tubular frame bolted to the bike, so that you can hook up to two decently sized bags. At the back, there’s a thin structure that can act as a luggage carrier as well as a handle or grab rail for the pillion.
From its first sighting, it’s quite apparent that the TRK 502 is meant for one job – and that’s touring. This impression is further reinforced by its easy riding position. Although, I have to say that the saddle will feel a little too low for someone who’s over 180cms tall. But, it’s easy to get used to it since the seat is comfortable. On the go, the comfort factor is further enhanced by minimal vibrations from the engine at low and medium speeds. This also means that it’ll have great cruising abilities during fast highway jaunts. The engine feels quite fluid in the way it delivers power, and the gear ratios are well matched for the job. In sixth gear, when the revs drop to 2,000rpm, you can once again pull up to speed comfortably without any judders. Till about 6,000rpm, the engine pulls neatly, but it just doesn’t have enough punch. The transmission has tall ratios, and the light clutch increases rider comfort.
While the engine feels a bit underpowered, it’s the suspension setup that feels a bit odd. The front forks are stiff, whereas the mono shock is unrestrained and soft. This translates into excessive movement from the rear if you enter a corner at high speeds. The best way is to ride in a relaxed and easy-going manner. You may be tempted to play around with the hydraulic damping and dial the suspension to its stiffest setting, but that makes the ride quite uncomfortable – especially in off-road conditions. The braking system also needs to be improved, as the brake lever is too long and there isn’t enough bite from the pads. The ABS system, on the contrary, feels excellent.
From an aesthetic point of view, TRK 502 is well shaped and resembles other famous and bigger adventure tourers. It’ll be sold with a rear tubular structure that’ll allow riders to hook up bags and panniers.
The instrument cluster is simple and clear, although you could say that it doesn’t relay that much information to the rider. The wide and comfortable saddle is impressive, especially for passengers.
Inline Twin-cylinder, 499cc, bore x stroke 66.8mm, liquid cooling system, compression ratio 11.5:1, twin overhead camshaft distribution, 4-valves per cylinder, electronic injection, with two 37mm throttle bodies, wet sump lubrication.
Chain final drive, multi-disc clutch in an oil bath; six speed transmission.
Tubular steel trellis frame, 50mm reversed steel swing-arm and shock absorber adjustable for preload and hydraulic brake extension.
Front: Two 320mm discs, 4 Pistons radial mount calipers; Rear: 260mm disc, double piston caliper; ABS
Front: 120/70 ZR17; Rear: 160/60 ZR17
Length 2,200mm, Width 915mm, Wheelbase 1,525mm, Seat height 800mm, 20-litre fuel tank,
Kerb weight 235kgs
47bhp @ 8,500rpm, 45Nm @ 5,000rpm