Benelli is supposedly working hard to regain market share and respectability, with talk of several new models in 2020, including a new 1200 cc touring bike.
Here’s some background: For decades, Benelli was a prominent Italian manufacturer, but during some lean years, the company was sold to China’s Qianjiang Group. Now, the bikes are built in China, but supposedly still designed in Italy. They’ve been a rare sight in North America for a few years (not that they were ever extremely common), but they’ve made a comeback in the US, thanks to SSR Motorsports. And in Europe, they’re selling like gangbusters now. In 2019, Benelli actually sold more motorcycles than Ducati, and is not only selling bikes, but also its designs. If you look at the new Harley-Davidson 350-class bike that’s being built for China, it looks an awful lot like a Benelli …
Right now, Benelli’s flagship bikes, if you could call them that, are the TNT600 naked bike and TRK 502 adventure bike. Nothing wrong with those machines, they’ve got more than enough horsepower for public roads, but people always want more, more more. And word is, that’s what Benelli is about to deliver.
The moto-press, especially in India, is abuzz with talk of a new 1200 cc sport tourer from Benelli. Supposedly, it’s coming this year, and some outfits are even running a photo of what they claim is the bike (click here to check it out, but prepare to be appalled by its low resolution). Called the QJ1200-3, the machine has supposedly passed emissions testing in China. It’s a three-cylinder machine, and will come with factory luggage and a chain drive, with 137 mph top speed.
Pricing isn’t known yet, but as always with any Chinese bike, the question will be not whether it’s cheaper than a new Japanese bike, but whether it’s competitive with used machines from the Big Four. CFMoto had an excellent-looking sport tourer on the market about six years ago, based on its interpretation of Kawasaki’s parallel twin 650 engine, but even though pricing was very good, they just didn’t sell in North America.