The Benelli TNT R is like a whirlwind, as it clocked the fastest lap time on the track – of 2 minutes 26.9 seconds. Now the obvious retort would be that it is a 1,130cc bike with 135bhp of raw, unadulterated power – so it’s expected to naturally achieve this feat. Well, it’s not quite that simple. After all, you need the full package to make it around the BIC in a sub-2:30 time. Sarath explained why the TNT R managed to get full marks on the track – and that’s primarily because it doesn’t behave like an all-powerful litre-plus machine, which tends to lose all its fizz in the turns. On the contrary, this bike is happy to be in the twisties and gets in and out of turns like a breeze – with a chassis that’s happy to comply. The Pirelli tyres too have a part to play, as they provide ample grip and support.
With such stout displacement, it could have achieved even better results in the performance department, but the tall gearing put on a bit of a dampener. Even though the TNT R was regularly flirting with the 220-225km/h mark, it wasn’t able the breach the 230km/h figure like its smaller sibling – the TNT 899.
The advantage the TNT R has is the ease with which one can effortlessly change gears while accelerating and decelerating thanks to the smooth and efficient clutch. On a long distance ride, or at the track, the slightly heavy handlebar adds more stability and control. The Brembo brakes are extremely effective and stop the bike on a dime. But, while the front brake provides more than enough bite, the rear brake lacks the same intensity.
Now the TNT R lost some points when it came to refinement. At idle, it sounds as though it’s been revved up – it’s loud, unpolished and even annoying. It just lacks finesse. The quality of the plastic panels could have certainly been better – and this takes some of the sheen off the TNT R.
There’s no doubt that, when it comes power and performance, it can hold its own. And, despite having an aggressive riding position, it’s quite comfortable. But the TNT R is not a cheap bike, and apart from the price tag of Rs.11.81 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Pune), there are not a lot things that go against it. Although, refinement and plastic quality do let this bike down, and that’s really what determined it’s final standing in this test.
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