As a more mature male, I wanted a motorbike, something to use not just as a run around. Not just for town but to have some fun on as well. It needed to fit a 6″ 1′, 44 year old males frame (think weight and creaky joints). It wasn’t to break the bank and importantly it has to look good. Much research later and the Benelli brand popped up. A few more clicks later and I was staring lovingly at a Benelli TRK502. Then a click later the Benelli TRK502 X. They both looked stunning, staring at me from a web page. Being sceptical about the price on display, which was only £4999, I needed to know why they were so cheap. Were these going to be just a cheap, nasty bike scam or a genuine, quality deal?
Researching the brand, it seemed that Benelli has an Italian racing heritage, dating back to 1911. In 2005 they sold out to the Chinese motorcycle group, Qianjiang (a massive motorcycle outfit). Now it seems that the Benelli brand is being relaunched. The bit of research that stood out from the rest was that the Benelli brand has a very loyal following. The brand is highly regarded and has a cult following. The only other brand that this reminded me of, was Ducati.
Next step was to find a reputable dealer, this was actually quite easy. Facebook has a Benelli owners group and there was lots of chat on there including dealers getting involved. Chat was mostly about which dealer to use, tips and tricks on peoples own bikes, with owner posting photos and write ups about how much they “Love” their bikes!
Not to be blinkered by Benelli, I visited several mainstream dealers, including, Triumph, Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki. I sat on many beautiful bikes and stared lovingly at their curves and the staggering amount of colours in their range. Knowing the price of the Benelli, I saw the price tags. Clipped to the handlebars of each bike, the passion to own one of them suddenly died, along with my want to test ride them. It just fell away and really quickly.
The Benelli had thrown out its bait and I was getting hooked. More due diligence was needed to be done. Comparing insurance deals was a surprise, being it is only a 500cc engine, Insurance quotes came back at only £130 for the whole year (remember my age..) This was fully comp (even with no no-claims bonus as I am returning to biking) I thought that was cheap. These sorts of costs were not to be ignored and needed to be added to the cost of the bike, other main stream bikes were returning quotes between £350 and £700.
Contacting several Benelli dealerships with the help of the Facebook hive, I ended up speaking to Nick at Spa Motorcycles. They are based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Nick was enthusiastic and said I could come over and ride one. He had all 3 colours of the Benelli TRK502 X in stock and said the choice was mine. Making an appointment to look at them at the beginning of March, I told him I fancied the grey one. I made my way over and found his place on a busy Industrial estate.
Before I go any further people are going to be asking what the ‘X’ stands for. The differences between the TRK502 and the TRK502 X is minimal. Both are big machines and can hold a presence on the road, both with 500cc engines. The differences are small, TRK502 has a stubby exhaust under the foot pegs and the 502X has a full exhaust (both in stainless steel). The TRK502 has smaller alloy wheels and the TRK502 X has larger wired spoke wheels, which means there is a ride height of 800mm and then 840mm on the X, at the saddle. With a greater ground clearance on the TRK502 X, because of a few adjustments it means it is better off road. There is also a fitted engine bar that extends across the riders shins and gives some protection.
I had parked at the front of Spa Motorcycles. But sat outside the dealership there was a Grey TRK502 X. In the cold light of day it looked amazing. Walking over to it, it got more impressive. It seemed huge. Going into the dealership, I was met by Nick. He was the nicest and most engaging sales person I have ever met. He was not pushy and just wanted to talk about bikes. He believed that Benelli bikes they sold themselves and told me his customers love them.
Agreeing to the test ride, I grabbed my helmet and was shown to the bike outside the dealership. The grey TRK502 X, the one bike I had admired walking in, was to be my chariot. Starting it up, the TRK’s engine sounded throaty and had just the right note in the exhaust. Swinging my leg over, the height of the saddle felt a little unnerving.
With a set of trade plates on the back, first gear was selected and the bike rolled away easily. After taking a few junctions, where I had to put my foot down and then having to balance the bike on one leg it started to feel more natural. Riding out of Cheltenham, I was trying to hit a dual carriage way to put it through its paces. The bike was light and easy to control. Dipping in and out of lanes, it made easy work of traffic. With each turn the bike became easier to use. All the controls were light to the touch, even through my thick gloves, they were all positioned perfectly. The upfront digital display was clear and easy to read, it looked perfectly suited to the bike.
Getting to the dual carriageway, the bike performed great. It revved and pulled easily, getting me up to 70 quickly and effortlessly. At this speed the big screen at the front and the hand guards buffeted all the wind and the chill away. It was a pleasure to be out on it at the beginning of March.
Returning to the dealership, my confidence was higher and I found myself throwing the bike into the corners. It was holding the line without me feeling vulnerable, it really was an easy ride.
My mind was made up, this bike was perfect for me. A big, imposing bike for the road, light and easy to ride with a price tag that just demanded more attention to the discerning buyer.
Getting back to the dealership, Nick was happily waiting for me. He asked what I thought of the Benelli TRK502 X. There was no need for a sales pitch, it was just a genuine question. I was elated, the return to riding gave me a huge boost and I needed to sort my head out about the bike. He let me wander around the shop for as long as I needed. I wanted to calm down from the ride and not make a rash decision. Five minutes later my heart was made up but five minutes more were needed.
Speaking to Nick, my only complaint was the angle of the gear selector. He explained it was a minor adjustment and it can sorted in 5 minutes. He said I could ride the bike home if I wanted.
After another ten minutes, I went over to find him. We ended up shaking hands, making a deal. He popped out to the bike I had test rode and whipped off the trade plates. Underneath there was a brand new number plate. He had found a registration he had in stock, it was close to my initials and I thought it was a great personal touch. Nick had a huge smile on his face and said that he knew I’d be buying the bike. He said that all of his customers who rode them were instantly smitten. The bike was wheeled into the workshop and a mechanic had the gear selector readjusted in minutes, then the TRK502 X was perfect.
Never having bought a new bike before, Nick was calm and knew exactly what to do. He had the Benelli TRK502 X registered, had it taxed for 12 months and it was in my name all within minutes. I was now one proud owner, it had made my day.
Even when it came to insuring the bike Nick was on hand to help. The insurance company initially refused to insure the bike as it was not on the ‘database’. With Nicks calm demeanour he took the phone and explained that this was an unregistered bike. That an insurance company needs to put it on the system so it can be insured. The price of the insurance went up by £40 because I had to call them, this process could not be done as an online booking but the bike was now mine, I had little choice but to pay up (oh well).
The TRK502 X was roadworthy and now it was now all legal. I had the ride back to Swindon which gave me a chance to put some miles on the clock and to test the real comfort. It ate the miles up along the A417 and flew up the steep, Birdlip hill with ease. It was a cold day but the time spent on the dual carriageway was a joy due to the wind protection from the bike.
Is it any good for touring?
UPDATE – Having rode the bike for a few months now, I have being using it more and more everyday and because it is now an everyday ride I purchased a set of luggage/panniers for it. As an everyday bike, I wanted to be able to carry bags and even shopping, so I opted for a set of SHAD carriers (read the review here). With an extra person the back and the panniers full the bike is still stable but as expected it does get a little sluggish. It still performs and is a very comfortable bike on long rides but it will not sprint off when it is unburdened. With an experienced pillion passenger, cornering does not seem to be effected however I did note that braking gets a little softer/longer (I will keep an eye on this after another long ride) but it is nothing that I have had to worry about.
The fuel economy also goes down when fully laden, but I am still getting around 200 miles to a tank of fuel so it is an incredibly cheap motorbike to run. It has a set of long legs so that I am not in a fuel station every 20 minutes. With the comfort and fuel sorted there really is no excuse not to take the Benelli TRK502 X out more often.
The verdict – Benelli TRK502 X
The TRK502 X is truly an amazing bike. Parking it back at the house, my neighbours were coming over to admire it and to pass comment. The following Monday the bike was put to the real test. The daily commute to work. Using it in traffic and riding the smaller streets of Swindon, meant throwing the bike around tight corners, dodging potholes and taking roundabouts in the wet, all were no trouble at all.
Parking it at work, the entire office wanted to know about it. They inspected it and admired the styling and then its size. Jealously was rife but they all applauded the stature and poise of the Benelli TRK502 X.
Having returned to motorcycling at an older age, this bike has hit all the right spots. The Benelli TRK502 X turns heads and it has re-lit the fire that I never knew I had missed. From the very first test ride I knew this bike was going to impress and it has not disappointed.
The Caveman office wants to hear from other Benelli owners, to hear their thoughts on the brand. I wonder if this is just an exceptional bike or does it represent all the Benelli bikes? Contact us here.
For those that wish to experience a ride on a Benelli TRK502 X, Nick at Spa has kindly offered all our readers a chance to visit his showroom. Just mention that the Caveman sent you and he has promised that you will be well looked after. Just be careful, he has the entire Benelli bike range in stock and the range of colours, you won’t be leaving empty handed.
If you want to get back into biking and you do fall in love with a Benelli, I can guarantee that you won’t be alone. Happy riding!