Having first caught the eye of motorcycle enthusiasts at a 2016 Auto Expo as the Tornado 300, the widely anticipated Benelli 302R was finally launched towards the end of 2017. The Italian sports bike has since undergone a few updates, both in design and in performance, to catch up or perhaps surpass its contemporaries, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 or the Yamaha R3. With a built that reminds bikers of the TNT 300, the Benelli 302R is a relatively heavy sports bike, but is both sharply elegant and considerably powerful.
The 302R wears a classic sports attire, with a bulky front-end and a sleek rear. It has a split headlamp, perhaps enlarged to appeal to a young section of bikers, with strong lights, set above a short mudguard. Behind it, for the calculative riders, is an analogue-cum-digital instrument cluster with all the indicator essentials. The Italian bike has a well-chiselled fuel-tank, with the Benelli lions engraved on its sides making the stylish trunk of the bike almost royal. The twin-pod exhaust at its rear is a beautiful addition to the sports bike and completes its racing-motorcycle impression. The 302R comes in three primary colours: White Rosso, Red Nero and Silver Verde.
Engine and performance
Like the TNT 300, the 302R has the heart of an inline 300cc, two-cylinder motor, that is liquid-cooled and paired with a six-speed gearbox. The bike manages 38.8PS and a peak torque of 26.5Nm at 10,000rpm, but the delivery of its specified power is not flawless. Despite smooth and slick gear shifts, the 302R, in test runs, doesn’t match up to the quickness a beast of its power should attain. Nor does its engine keep away the mild vibrations on the bike’s footpegs and handlebars, especially below the range of 6000rpm. That said, the 302R does get up to 105mph on highways, cruises effortlessly at around 8000rpm, and its exhaust note is considered by many a tester as a delightful, low howl.
Weighing about 436lbs, the 302R is significantly heavier than most sports bikes in its segment. It can be cumbersome to walk or while making U-turns, but an efficient chassis design ensures that the bike feels nimble and light while riding, making the 302R a good city-vehicle too. Despite a bulky front end, the potent chassis and the narrow but gripping tyres help turn the 302R comfortably around tight corners and bends. The split seats are also comfortably positioned and cushioned to make for a comfortable ride. Its brakes perhaps lack bite, with their slightly wooden and sometimes inconsistent levers, but the ABS installation, a first in this segment of bikes, is a welcome addition.
The Benelli 302R is a stylish, heavy sports bike that is suitable both for highways and for the city. While it lacks in the outright speed and sharp braking that some of its rivals may offer, the 302R boasts an efficient engine, a sweet joyful sound, smooth gear shifts, comfortable rides, and a big-bike sense of security.