Benelli Imperiale 400 Review
Bike Tested: Benelli Imperiale 400; Road Test No. 1157; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 2,10,500/-
Imperiale is a retro-styled classic motorcycle, a first from Benelli in India
We Indians love retro classics when it comes to motorcycles. You can’t deny the fact that a retro-styled motorcycle has a special place in our hearts. No wonder bikes from Royal Enfield sell in huge numbers even though they don’t have the best to offer all the time. Now Benelli has decided to try its luck in the classic retro-styled motorcycle market with its Imperiale 400. Unveiled at EICMA 2017, Benelli finally launched the Imperiale in the Indian market in October 2019. The Imperiale 400 is one of the first single-cylinder motorcycles from Benelli after it made its comeback.
Motor Quest: In the early 1900s, Benelli has produced cruisers in the past. While they entered India with their high-performance motorcycles in naked sport and adventure category, the Imperiale is the first single-cylinder retro-styled cruiser motorcycle by Benelli in India.
Styling - The design language of the Imperiale 400 screams only one thing and that is “retro”. With design elements inspired from the past, the bike is tastefully designed and sets a bar for what a retro classic should look like. Imperiale has round headlamps, teardrop-shaped fuel tank, oval tail light, and round indicators. Subtle chrome accents all over the body keep it modern with a blacked-out engine and exhaust pipe along with a split seat. The design of the bike would definitely make heads turn wherever you go. The bike is also quite huge giving it a lot of road presence.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear - The Benelli has dual-pod analogue-digital instrument cluster. It has analog needles for both speedometer and tachometer. Using an analog instrument cluster goes well with its classic design, twist the throttle and needles going up would definitely make you satisfied. At the same time, it keeps itself modern and user-friendly with a digital console that consists of an odometer, a trip meter, fuel gauge, and a gear position indicator. The quality of the switchgear is decent and up to the mark. It feels solid and well built while it is easily accessible on the go. There are no LEDs, all halogens.
Ergonomics - The Benelli Imperiale 400 has an upright riding posture. This gives the rider a commanding poise while riding. With a seat height of 780 mm, it is comfortable for the average Indian height rider. Catering to its upright riding position are the wide handlebars and center-set footpegs. The fuel tank has rubber grips, to aid the rider grip on while riding. The brake and clutch lever has a long reach, this would be difficult to get used to initially, but it is acceptable to a certain degree. The pillion has a smaller seat but the posture is similar, making it quite comfortable for both. The mirrors are wide and give a decent view of what's behind.
Performance - The Benelli Imperiale 400 is powered by 374cc single-cylinder motor which produces 21 PS of power at 5500 RPM and 29 NM of torque at 4500 RPM. The motor has a strong mid-range with a decent top-end too. The throttle response is quite linear and the redline starts at 6000 RPM, but if pushed, it revs almost up to 7000 RPM. This power is transferred to the tarmac via a 5-speed gearbox which is slick shifting and the clutch isn't too hard either. The bike lacks initial low-end torque which essentially characterizes a cruiser. The gearbox needs to be downshifted to gain speed after a slow down.
The exhaust note is typical and bassy but not too loud to be bothered
Thanks to the counter-balancers, Benelli has relatively won the refinement game. The bike experiences some vibrations at idle, but it diminishes as soon as the revs climb on the tachometer, giving it a smoother riding experience. The bike doesn't heat up much even in stop-and-go traffic. The sweet spot where the powerplant comes alive and vibrations are at a minimum is between 80 to 100 km/hr. Some amount of vibrations can be felt on the handlebars and foot-pegs at higher speed post 100 km/hr and the Imperiale tops out at 130 km/hr.
Riding Dynamics - Imperiale 400 is impressively comfortable on Indian roads as it has an upright riding position. This with the not-so-wide handlebar makes it easy to tackle through Indian traffic. Long rides on this bike are no issue, as the rider seat is sprung underneath and the cushioning on the seat is soft yet firm. The 41 mm front suspension and pre-load adjustable rear suspension can take on a bad patch of a road without much hassle. The suspension is on the softer side which makes it a very comfortable package. It is very agile and comfortable during the straight-line but not much confidence inspiring while tipping into corners.
Long wheelbase and soft suspension setup make the Imperiale a comfortable motorcycle to be on
The Benelli Imperiale gets 19-inch front and 18-inch rear spoke wheels shod to TVS tyres. The tyres aren't wide but they grip really well and the feedback is adequate. It also gets dual-channel ABS as standard with a 300 mm disc at the front and a 240 mm disc at the rear. The feedback from the brakes is progressing and it misses out on an initial bite. But the stopping distance isn't much of an issue as the brake and tyre combo works well. The Imperiale has brilliant ride quality while the dynamics are suitable for the character of the bike.
Verdict – The Imperiale 400 is the first cruiser by Benelli in the Indian market. Considering the retro looks, styling, performance, ergonomics, and excellent refinement levels it is a well-rounded package. Yet, not much can be said about the reliability of the bike as it is a fairly new one. Also, penetration of the after-sales network of Benelli in India is not as widespread as the competition. This Benelli is priced at around Rs. 2 lakhs and it offers great value. So if you are someone who is looking for a retro-styled classic motorcycle with great engine refinement, Benelli Imperiale 400 is certainly worth considering.
* Feedback from the brakes is impressive
* Classic retro styling has good road presence
* Comfortable for short as well as long-distance riding
What’s Not So Cool
* The motorcycle isn't hardware rich
* Longer wheelbase robs away the flickability
* After-sales isn't as vast as the competitors offer
Benelli Imperiale 400 Specifications
* Engine: 374cc, Air-Cooled, Single-Cylinder
* Power: 21 PS @ 5500 RPM
* Torque: 29 Nm @ 4500 RPM
* Transmission: 5-Speed
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Fuel Consumption: 35-40 km/l
* Frame: Double cradle chassis
* Tyres: 110/90/19 (Front), 130/80/18 (Rear), TVS Tyres
* Suspension: Telescopic Forks 41 mm (Front), Adjustable Monoshock (Rear)
* Brakes: 300 mm Disc (Front), 240 mm Disc (Rear)
Benelli Imperiale 400 Dimensions
* Length x Width x Height: 2170 mm x 820 mm x 1120 mm
* Wheelbase: 1440 mm
* Seat Height: 780 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 12-litres
* Kerb weight: 205 Kgs (dry)
Benelli Imperiale 400
Benelli Imperiale 400 Review
After the comeback, the Imperiale 400 is the first single-cylinder motorcycle from Benelli. Also the first retro-cruiser and a motorcycle close to a price tag of 2 lakhs. It has a very simple design language all around while it is the largest motorcycle in its segment with a brilliant road presence. The performance is linear and the motorcycle is agile on a straight-line. But it isn’t as flickable as the motorcycle has a softer suspension setup and quite a long wheelbase.