Naked bike performance in all its unrestrained
glory! Thatís what Benelliís TNT R160 streetfighter is all about, as it
doesnít rely on electronic aids, a steering damper or other support networks
to get the job done: itís all about a stonking engine (with an awesome
exhaust note) and a supreme chassis to tear apart twisty roads with
The R160, which was first released in 2011 as part of Benelliís centenary
celebrations, isnít as refined as the Triumph or Aprilia, which is an issue
around town with its jerky fuelling under 4000rpm, where itís difficult to
maintain a constant speed; a heavy pull on the dry clutch, which replaces
the cable version on the stock TNT; and average turning circle.
But when itís time to tap the top-end on the
shoulder, the Benelli becomes the master. Above 5000rpm the power delivery is
manic, and the sweet-shifting gearbox will allow clutch-less gearchanges if you
want to increase the tempo even more.
And if you like to broadcast yourself with wheelstands and general mischief,
well then look no further. This is uninhibited riding at its best Ė and a reason
why the R160 is a fresh point of departure in the streetfighter stakes.
The R160 engine is an evolution of the companyís signature 1131cc inline
three-cylinder engine, which now has a higher compression ratio of 12.5:1, more
aggressive camshafts (increased lift and duration) and shorter intake trumpets.
The bore and stroke is 88mm x 62mm.
The changes have been profound: maximum power has now surged to 155hp at
10,300rpm, an increase of nearly 20hp. Meanwhile, torque has been increased a
little to 120Nm at 8400rpm. Healthy numbers on both accounts, and the balance
shaft does a great job Ė for the most part -- of keeping all those power pulses
By the way, the R160 chews up about 6.3 litres of
fuel every 100km Ė not that fossil fuel conservation is a prime consideration
when youíre riding this bike in fast mode. The tank holds 16 litres.
The suspension on the R160 has been uprated and is now fully adjustable at both
ends Ė a 50mm Marzocchi upside-down fork working alongside a Sachs monoshock.
Thereís a steel trestle frame, with an aluminium-alloy subframe. The wheels are
five-spoke aluminium on Michelin Pilot Power tyres Ė 120/70-17 and 190/50-17.
The suspension is stiff, just like the Apriliaís, so it doesnít always massage
away road imperfections. But on the flipside, the odd high-compression jolt
through the body is a sacrifice for brilliant cornering prowess, where the R160
remains a beacon of stability and composure. In that heady environment, it
certainly doesnít feel like 208kg (dry) of machine is being hailed around.
The riding position is quite upright, with just enough of a sporting bias
without putting too much pressure on the wrists. And the cockpit itself is quite
roomy, the pegs are mounted quite low in the chassis, and thereís a comfortable
seat to top off the spacious accommodation.
Even though the Marzocchi fork is quite firm,
thereís still quite a bit of dive once the Brembo monobloc brakes are engaged.
And thatís because the brakes basically go from nothing to razor-sharp in one
fell swoop, which always increases the risk of lock-ups without the back-up of
And Iím speaking from experience, as Iíve locked up another streetfighter with a
similar brake package and speared straight off the road. More potent doesnít
always equate with better real world performance.
The R160 isnít cut from the same cloth as its competitors, and thatís the beauty
of it. Itís not micro-managed by a haze of electronics, so itís all up to the
pilot to get the best out of it Ė whether thatís eating up hairpins or trying to
keep it burbling along at a constant pace in the city. It isnít a perfect
machine Ė even some of the panel fitment is questionable Ė but you canít hold a
grudge against it.
The R160 is never going to be a volume seller, but riders looking for something
with a distinctive style and demeanour should seriously take a look.
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