Shootout: Benelli TRK 502 vs Suzuki V-Strom 650XT
Shootout No. 209
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 6,40,700/- (Benelli TRK 502), Rs. 8,63,753/- (Suzuki V-Strom 650XT)
Touring capabilities with a hint of adventure? Both these bikes are loaded to go the distance you can only think of
There have been a lot of motorcycles coming in, in the last few years. But it is the adventure category that has had made everyone go nuts. While we rode the Benelli TRK 502 just a few weeks back and also had a chance to ride the Suzuki V-Strom 650. We thought what if we compare both the middle-weight adventure-tourers. Priced quite apart, both the motorcycles serve the same purpose, a battle of an Italian heavy-weight against a sharp Japanese machine.
Motor Quest: Suzuki launched the V-Strom last year in India, while it was on sale worldwide since quite some time. This year, Benelli launched the TRK 502 and the 502X which they had showcased 3 years back in IBW. Both the motorcycles have been on sale worldwide while they enter the Indian market when everyone is looking for an adventure.
Styling - The Benelli TRK 502 was showcased in 2016 and since then the design has been exactly the same. However, the V-Strom incorporated the design from its elder sibling and looks a lot similar to the V-Strom 1000. In comparison, the Benelli is bulky, speaks for road presence while the Suzuki stays sleek and small. The adventure fairing on the TRK is edgy and almost twice the size of that on the V-Strom. However, the headlight unit is bigger on the V-Strom while the windscreen visor also seems more purposeful. There are a lot of tubular parts and exposed chassis on the TRK while the V-Strom stays quite covered and neat. The Benelli gets LED indicators while the V-Strom has halogen units while both get LED tail light.
Both the motorcycles are attention seekers, while the V-Strom is sleek, the TRK 502 is a bulky machine
The crash protectors on the TRK also make it look huge however the same on the V-Strom are small and appropriate. The TRK 502 is equipped with 10-spoke alloy wheels whereas the V-Strom gets spoked wheels. The colour scheme on the V-Strom is also quite appealing but the single shade all over the TRK looks attractive too. The V-Strom here had a plastic topbox which stil made it look sleeker, however, the TRK 502 had metal panniers adding more to the bulk. Overall, the Benelli has the looks and attracts more attention over the Suzuki.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear - The instrument cluster on the V-Strom as well as the TRK is an analogue-digital unit. But the one on the V-Strom displays a lot more information and it is segregated really well. Both the consoles have a tachometer in the analogue section while the digital bit includes the odometer, twin trip meters, clock, temperature and fuel gauge and a gear position indicator. With a single switch, one can switch between miles to kilometres on the TRK. However, the V-Strom provides more information with the battery voltage, current traction level and live and trip mileage indicator.
The console on the V-Strom is also easier to read in bright daylight as compared to that on the TRK
Switchgear quality too feels better on the V-Strom as the buttons have a better fit and finish. The TRK does duty with simple switches both on the left and right. While the V-Strom gets a mode switch on the left with which the rider can toggle through the cluster and also change the traction levels. ABS is not switchable on the V-Strom and hence it does not get a button for that. But the TRK has switchable ABS and as a reason gets a separate dedicated ABS switch on the left side.
Ergonomics - Both the V-Strom and the TRK have an upright riding posture but the Suzuki has 35 mm of extra seat height against the Benelli. The handlebar is also taller and closer to the rider on the Benelli while the V-Strom feels slightly further away. Shorter riders would find the TRK more comfortable and accessible than the V-Strom but the pillion seat is too high on the TRK. Hence the pillion would love to be on the V-Strom as it has more space to move around. The rear-view mirrors on the Benelli are not that useful but look good while the ones on the V-Strom might look too huge, they provide a good view of what's behind. The V-Strom also gets knuckle guard and both the bikes get adjustable brake levers. Overall, the V-Strom is an easy goer but the TRK feels more composed.
Performance - On paper, the V-Strom has an upper-hand over the TRK but both the engines are quite different. The Suzuki has a V-Twin motor while the Benelli comes with a Parallel-Twin setup. Although, the difference is over 145cc between both the motors, the major difference is with the tuning. With more power and torque on offer the V-Strom just zooms past the TRK. It has a very strong mid-range and it is widespread throughout the rev-range. Benelli, on the other hand, has a completely opposite tune. It has a very good low-end and an enjoyable top-end but there is no mid-range punch at all! While the V-Strom's motor is suited for off-roading duties, the TRK's powerplant is suited for touring and mile munching.
V-Strom has a V-Twin rumble but the parallel-twin TRK sounds almost like an inline-4 motorcycle
During the test, the V-Strom returned us a fuel efficiency of 19 km/l while the TRK was close to 21 km/l combined. As both the motorcycles have a 20-litre fuel tank, the range is almost the same. The V-Strom has a lighter clutch as compared to the TRK while the gear shifts are crisp on both the motorcycles. The V-Strom is equipped with traction control and it needs it. The TRK, on the other hand, does not have traction control and as the power delivery is not that immediate, it stays in control with throttle modulations. Both the bikes have some vibrations kicking-in but the Benelli feels smoother in the low-end while the V-Strom feels at home when pushed hard.
Riding Dynamics - The ergonomics of the V-Strom make it a tall boy motorcycle as compared to the TRK. The suspension setup also is more road biased on the TRK while the V-Strom is more suited for off-road riding. The TRK is bulkier and heavier than the V-Strom keeping it more glued to the road. The advantage of weight and the bulk also comes in as heavy wind blasts don't affect the TRK as much as it does the V-Strom. The 502 here comes equipped with road rubber and 17-inch tyres both at the front and the rear. The V-Strom is also equipped with road-biased rubber but the front wheel is an off-size 19-inch unit. The tyres are also skinnier on the V-Strom as compared to the TRK. The front suspension on the TRK is an upside-down unit while the V-Strom gets telescopic forks making the TRK more feedback rich.
The TRK 502 is calm and composed while the V-Strom 650XT is sharp and flickable
The windscreen visor on the V-Strom is adjustable but it is a bolt-on unit, while the one on the TRK is a fixed unit. Seeing through the windscreen isn't really of any help in both the motorcycles. Both the TRK and V-Strom get dual discs at the front and a single disc at the rear. The TRK 502 has a slightly bigger pair at the front and the braking feedback is equally strong. The ABS unit works flawlessly on both the motorcycles and the feedback from the brakes is very good but an option to switch off ABS makes the TRK more suitable for off-road duties. The TRK does not nosedive as much as the V-Strom even with the extra weight as the V-Strom has a softer setup as stock. The rebound on the rear suspension can be adjusted easily on both the motorcycles according to the road conditions.
Verdict – The Suzuki V-Strom 650XT is over Rs. 2 lakhs costlier than the Benelli TRK 502. While the TRK is composed and practical, the V-Strom demands a premium and is more enjoyable. The V-Strom feels very well built and has a 'can do anything' attitude to it. But the TRK is a proper tourer and gives some hint of adventure. The engine of the V-Strom is solid and the motorcycle is a performer while the TRK has the suspension and dynamics well suited for our Indian roads. While the Italian here is quite pleasing, the Japanese motorcycle is the winner of the shootout. But if budget constraints come into the picture, the TRK 502 is a brilliant motorcycle to go for. And while we are at it, there's a 502X as well which can add up some adventure thrill to the party.