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DSK Benelli TNT 899: India Review


The new DSK Benelli TNT 899 is a truly exotic motorcycle made with quality cycle parts, future-proof styling, unique engine character and wonderful ride and handling ability. But with competition like the Triumph Street Triple and Kawasaki Z800 already carving a niche, can this Italian-stallion justify its steep price tag?
DSK Benelli TNT 899 India Review
Among all the bikes that DSK Benelli India has brought to our shores, the Benelli TNT 899 is one of the most exciting motorcycles the Italian manqué has on offer. Not only does it have an explosive name (TNT is an abbreviation of Trinitrotoluene, a highly volatile chemical used to make dynamites), but also looks and sounds unlike anything else on Indian roads.
Design: 
The bug-eyed headlight and skeleton-like frame makes the Benelli TNT 899 look quite extra terrestrial and a hostile face like this can easily intimidate lesser mortals on the road. The headlight sticks out and is bolted directly on to the frame. The steel trellis frame and swingarm look gorgeous in red. In a pure streetbike style, the bulk is intentionally kept towards the front and centre of the bike, with a minimalistic tail-piece.
Bug-eye headlight of TNT 899 is bolted straight on to the frame
Like all other Benelli models we’ve reviewed earlier, attention to detail on this bike too is spectacular. Be it the wedged seat with a small carbon-fibre-type-finish triangle section to support the rider’s lower back, or the use of actual carbon-fibre on the mudguard, bellypan and clutch cover. Even the switchblade type key looks pretty premium, but slotting it in to the narrow ignition slot (located deep in the tank) can be difficult especially with gloves on.
Under seat exhaust of the Benelli TNT 899
The three-cylinder 898cc motor is all bare, with glaring teeth to scare-off the faint hearted. Since the bike was designed about a decade ago when under-seat exhausts were a rage, the TNT 899 sports a single 3-into-2-into-1 exhaust. But what’s interesting is that the indicators and number plate are mounted straight on to the exhaust, with split tail lamps placed on top.
TNT 899 has deep recess on the tank for better grip
The tank is large with deep knee recess, and also sports a beautifully crafted fuel-tank lid and the Italian flag. And finally, the peculiar tank scoops with fins host radiator fans to keeps the hot air from the engine away from the rider. In all, the TNT 899 design might not catch your fancy at the first glance, but usually grows on you with time.
Marzocchi forks front USD forks and twin Brembo disc brakes up front
Features: 
Benelli hasn’t compromised on the quality of cycle parts with top-shelf components offered as standard. You get 50mm upside-down Marzocchi forks and at the back a Sachs monoshock, twin petal disc upfront and single disc at the back sourced from Brembo. Really fat and sticky tyres (120/70-ZR17 at the front and 190/50-ZR17 at the rear) do the duty of keeping the bike connected to the tarmac. There’s Brembo sourced twin floating petal discs up front and a single petal disc at the rear. As in the rest of the line-up, the only thing missing on the Benelli TNT 899 is ABS, which hopefully might be introduced by the end of this year or early 2016.
Benelli TNT 899 comes with a large analogue tacho and a small digital display
The instrument cluster has a large analogue tacho and a small digital display with readouts like speedometer, trip and fuel gauge. There is also a gear-shift indicator on the top right, along with a bunch of tell tale lights on the extreme left. Another useful feature is a hazard switch, which makes all four indicators blink together. The soft rubber grip looks and feels up to the mark, but the switchgear could have been a shade better to justify the TNT 899’s Rs 10 lakh plus price tag.
rear design of the Benelli TNT 899
Though the 830mm saddle height makes the Benelli TNT 899 fairly tall, the curvaceous tank design and thin padding of the seat ensures that an average built Indian rider’s feet reach the ground. The wide handlebar, seat and footpeg position create a slightly leaned forward riding posture with ample room for the rider. The pillion has to be careful though, as the under-seat exhaust can toast the buns and even the grab rails tends to get really hot during long rides. Maybe, that’s why they call it piping hot!

Benellis 898cc 3-cylinder motors has a unique sound
Engine and performance: 
A gentle push from the right thumb on the started button fires up the three cylinder motors – firing up one cylinder at a time and rocking the bike a bit. On idle it’s a noisy engine, almost sounding like a farm equipment, but sound much better on higher revs. So when the Benelli TNT 899 pulls over on a traffic signal, the engine clatter and the hot air and turbine line sound from the side mounted radiator fans never fails to startle commuters.
Riding the Benelli TNT 899 on the hills around Pune in India
We rode out of the city to the twisty roads of the hills to see what the on-paper 122PS of peak power and 88Nm of torque feel like on the road. With so much power on the tap, I was pleasantly surprised with its jerk free throttle response and linear power delivery. The rattling from the engine transforms in to a throaty roar from the exhaust once past 4,000rpm and all the way up to its 10,500rpm redline. The one-up five-down gear shift is smooth and the fairly soft to use clutch adds to the experience.
DSK-Benelli official webpage of TNT 899 has no power or torque rating
You won’t find the power and torque ratings on the official DSK-Benelli India website, as the company had to detune the TNT 899 to suit the Indian quality of fuel. And clearly, the TNT 899 hasn’t been honed for blazing the trail kind of performance, but there’s more power than most can handle and more importantly it’s easy to control that power. There’s hardly any vibes from the body to complain about, thanks to the new counter-balancer shaft, rubber mounted footpegs and huge bar-end weights. The smooth power flow, low vibes and easy to shift gears make this big bike usable every day.
The TNT 899 is a nimble around corners
Ride and handling: 
And for everyday practicality, the Benelli TNT 899 is also impressively nimble and manageable. The salad only diet and skeleton frame help the bike maintain a kerb weight of 205kg, which makes it lighter than some of its rivals. The trellis frame is rigid enough not to flex; the 1443mm wheelbase long enough to hold it in a straight line and yet be nimble enough around corners; the 190 section rear tyre doesn’t let go no matter how acute the lean; while the front biased stance and wide handle bar add up to make the TNT a neutral handling bike. It never feels cumbersome, and you won’t have to think twice for last moment change in direction – making it easy to use within the city and when you want to weave a bunch of apexes.
But what’s even better is the ride quality. The fat Marzocchi forks and Sachs monoshock seem to have been specifically tuned for our road conditions. Perhaps, the roads in Italy are not that different after all. The 899 soaks up Indian potholes like its slurping spaghetti, as if it’s meant to do just that, cushioning the rider from any kind of discomfort. And when you lock on to the throttle, the suspension feels firm enough to hold on to the line and remains composed though out.
riding the DSK Benelli TNT 899
The brakes also have a progressive feel with the radially mounted four-piston callipers biting hard on twin floating Brembo discs. But on slipper surface or when braking hard, you really pray Benelli gets ABS soon. In terms of fuel efficiency the TNT 899 returns between 18-20kmpl on an average.

DSK Benelli TNT 899 launched at Rs 10.88 lakh on-road Pune
Verdict: 
The DSK Benelli TNT 899 sits in a comfortable spot where there aren’t too many competing bikes currently, with just the Kawasaki Z800 and Triumph Street Triple to fend off. Sadly for Benelli, both the companies have extremely strong fan following in India, perhaps the strongest after Harley-Davidson. Despite the distinct style, unique engine and sound it will be tough for DSK Benelli TNT 899 to justify the Rs 10.88 lakh price tag. Especially since both of its better established competition are over a lakh rupees cheaper.
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