TRK 502 Review
Benelli TRK 502 road test.
"First things first, I am not a motorcycle journalist but I have been afforded the opportunity to test the Benelli TRK 502 which I had for 5 days, 150 miles in all weather conditions.
I’ve been riding motorcycles since 1979 and a police motorcyclist since 1999. My current steed is an Italian large capacity v-twin adventure style motorcycle which cost two and a half times the price of this Benelli and the last time I owned anything less than 600cc’s was 1989.
So in testing this bike I aimed not to compare it with my own motorcycle but to evaluate it on its own merits as an A2 licence friendly adventure motorcycle.
The model I tested was fitted with 17 inch alloy wheels and Pirelli Angel tyres. Optional spoked wheels are available with a 19 inch front wheel and more off road orientated tyres.
As standard it is well spec’d being fitted with hand guards, crash bars, upside down chunky 50 mm front forks, 4 piston radial front brake callipers with abs, side mounted stubby exhaust, digital speedometer with analogue tacho and frame rails were fitted to the model I rode ready for the optional panniers.
The bike is quite heavy but like most tall adventure bikes that weight seems to fall away the instant the bike gets moving.
I was immediately impressed with the smoothness of the engine and its ability to happily potter through town in 5th gear (normally I’d be in 3rd with associated V-twin lumpiness) followed by the ability to easily accelerate from 30mph without the necessity to change down. This smoothness renders the well placed mirrors crystal clear at all speeds.
The gearbox was very smooth going up the box but required a firmer tap going down, however this was a zero mile bike when I rode it so it may have been a bit tight. It certainly got better the more I rode it and adapted to it.
With 47.6hp and a dry weight of 213kg it would be unrealistic to expect superbike levels of acceleration but I can tell you that it was able to slightly out accelerate a Seat Leon Cupra in a drag race to 70mph from a set of traffic lights situated on a private section of the A19!!
The engine has very linear power characteristics with power spread broadly across the rev range and no real detectable sudden surges in power, it reminded me of some of the numerous Triumph triples I have owned which share these characteristics. This in combination with the Pirelli Angel tyres makes it easy to ride in the wet with no power surges to worry about causing a loss of traction. Whilst some may consider these power characteristics bland I feel they are ideal for the nervous or inexperienced rider who may be using a bike such as this as a stepping stone to bigger bikes.
Although un-adjustable the screen was ideal for my 5’10” height. In fact it was quieter than the multi adjustable one on my own bike. This quietness together with the smoothness and quietness of the engine led me on a couple of occasions to looking down at the very clear speedo to find I was going faster than I thought. For me, who suffers arthritis in hips and shoulder, comfort on a bike is a priority and I certainly found this comfortable with a big bike feel to it.
Despite what you may have read elsewhere I had no problems or misgivings about the brakes. No, it hasn’t got the latest Brembo M50 monoblocks but they are radially mounted and offer progressive feel with no signs of grabbing that can afflict more powerful systems and catch out the inexperienced. The brake lever is adjustable and I did not have to alter from my usual two finger braking technique. I was able to activate the abs in the dry with no problems using only two fingers without trapping my other fingers and prior to the abs activating the bike was decelerating quickly and under control.
I did find the suspension to be a bit on the firm side but I didn’t adjust it from its standard settings. I’m also used to much more expensive semi active suspension so perhaps I am unfairly comparing it to my motorcycle in this aspect. Of course, like the engine, the suspension was brand new and I either got used to it or it got better as the miles went on and parts bedded in. I don’t feel someone coming up to this bike from something smaller would be as critical as me or others brought up on a diet of the latest exotica.
I took the bike to a “Biker Down” road safety seminar where it was parked between a Triumph Tiger 800 and a BMW 1200GS. Attendees to the event thought it had a bigger engine than the Triumph until they saw the 502 sticker on its flanks. Of five people who saw it their estimates of its price ranged between 7 and 8 thousand pounds.
I have only spoken to one other rider of this bike, a big bike owner who used it for 50 miles whilst his was being serviced; his main criticism was that the un-adjustable clutch lever was too much of a stretch for his small hands.
My only real criticisms of it, and even then they are just more of a niggle, are the very wide crash bars which made me wary of filtering as they have a wide tubular section on them which appear to be designed to carry extra lights. Additionally I would have liked a centre stand fitted although Benelli have thought to fit stand bobbins to facilitate use of a paddock stand.
Treating the bikes on its own merits I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the TRK and feel it would make a good choice for someone making their way up the licence categories with aspirations towards one of the larger capacity adventure bikes or as an alternative bike to a big scooter for commuting.
If you have read this far and have an interest in this bike I would recommend putting any prejudices aside as a result of reading other tests or where it is built and take one for a test ride.
Taken on its own merits; its equipment levels, riding experience and price tag and presuming good reliability and longevity it gets an 8 out of ten from me."