After a long wait, Benelli finally entered the entry-level performance space with a fully faired offering in the form of the 302R. One of the biggest draws of motorcycles in this class is design, and in that regard the Benelli does reasonably well. The large front fairing gives it the bulk that buyers in this class appreciate. But the mass is not evenly balanced, and it makes the 302R look a bit odd from certain angles. Thankfully, the colour schemes that Benelli offers somewhat helps conceal this imbalance.
Borrowing its engine from its naked sibling, the 302R churns out 38.26bhp and 26.5Nm. Just like the TNT 300, Benelli has tuned it to give it a sweet-sounding exhaust note. Mated to a 6-speed transmission, the engine performs well in the city – allowing you to trundle around town at 30km/h in top gear. That being said, despite pumping out a similar output to the Kawasaki Ninja 300, it doesn’t feel as quick. A lot of that has to do with the 190kg weight of the motorcycle, which is more than 20kgs heavier than most of its rivals.
While riding at the track, we could certainly have done with better in-gear acceleration. At higher speeds, some vibrations are felt on the foot pegs and the seat, but they aren’t overly intrusive. Speaking of which, the flat handle bar, centrally placed foot pegs and the low seat don’t quite offer a natural seating posture.
Fitted with rebound adjustable USD forks (a first in class) and a monoshock at the back, the 302R offers a supple ride quality. The trellis frame, suspension setup and the Metzeler tyres work well to make it positively fun around corners. But, the foot pegs are placed too low and tend to scrape the road while cornering hard.
Benelli’s biggest advantage over its rivals, though, is that the 302R is the only motorcycle in the class to come with ABS. At the same time, priced at Rs.3.48 lakh (ex-showroom), the Benelli 302R is cheaper than the Ninja 300 too.