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Benelli Imperiale 400 – First Ride Review

With the Imperiale 400, Benelli is targeting the Entry level Modern Classic Segment which has been ruled by the Royal Enfield with their Classic 350. Here is our first ride report.

Photo Credit : Siddharth


The Italian motorcycle manufacturer Benelli, now under Chinese ownership has been aggressively targeting the Indian market and the company’s latest offering is Benelli Imperiale 400. After the Benelli TRK 502 and 502X, Leoncino 500, and Leoncino 250, The Imperiale 400 is the fifth Benelli motorcycle to be launched in our country this year. With the Imperiale 400, Benelli is targeting the Entry-level Modern Classic Segment which has been ruled by the Royal Enfield with their Classic 350. BWAutoworld was a part of the First Media Ride of the Imperiale 400 and this is our report.

The Looks Department: How does the Imperiale 400 look? Well, it looks RETRO, it’s based on the designs of the bikes, Benelli made in the 1950s. The 400 looks something of a mixture between the Classic 350 and Jawa. The Round clear-lens headlamp, spoke wheels, twin-pod instrument cluster, tear-drop shaped fuel tank and the low sprung seats with the long single exhaust pipe comes together very well. The matte black engine and gearbox look neat, while in this segment buyers do prefer chrome but as an overall package, the 400 looks complete.

What do we like?

Clear lens headlamps

Matte black engine housing

What we did not like?

Only available in three colors

The Kit : Benelli has given the Imperiale 400 a lot of kit compared to the competition. The first thing you notice is the instrument cluster, the twin-pod instrument cluster is Analogue-digital unit. The digital display shows the time, Trip1 & Trip2 along with the gear selector display in the middle. The switchgear used is of good quality and you don’t get auto cancelling turn indicators, what you do get is hazard lights. While the competition is still using single-channel ABS, the Benelli comes with dual-channel ABS with 300mm front disc, 240mm rear disc. The Handlebars are wide and upright, adding to that the positioning of the gear level and footpegs are supportive and offer a relaxed and fatigue-free ride. The mirrors offer decent rear visibility and do not vibrate at any speed. The Imperial 400 comes with a 19-inch front wheel with 110/90 rubber and an 18inch rear wheel with 130/80 rubber.

What did we like?

Instrument cluster

Gear shift indicator

Dual-Channel ABS

19” front wheel

What we did not like

Low seat height

The Mechanicals: The Classic Benelli comes with 374cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder, SOHC engine. This Delphi ECU equipped EFI motor pushes out 21ps of power and 29nm of peak torque. The BSIV engine,  mated to a 5-speed gearbox delivers power in a linear fashion with enough grunt in the lower rev range. The 400 comes with 41mm telescopic front forks and pre-load adjustable rear springs. The Benelli also has a longer wheelbase than its counterparts resulting in nimble handling. The fuel tank capacity of the Benelli is 12liters with 2 extra litres in reserve. The bike is heavy at 205kg unladen and it shows while moving it around during parking, once on the road, the weight of the bike is well masked.

What we liked :

EFI motor

Longer Wheelbase

Higher Ground Clearance

What we did not like :

Overall Weight

Not BSVI ready

Ride and Handling and Sound: Once you fire up the Classic Italian, the first thing you notice is the vibration-free idling. The engine fires up to a smooth single-cylinder idle, Benelli’s are known for their exhaust notes and the 400 surely sounds nice. The Thump is present although it’s kind of muted, nothing that an aftermarket exhaust can not solve. The Imperiale 400 comes with a 5-Speed gearbox with well-spaced ratios, the bike can easily cruise at 100kmph all day long. Above 100kmph the motor runs out of steam and vibrations creep in, but this bike is not meant for high-speed rides anyway. In the City the Imperiale 400 is comfortable. Even with 205kg dry weight, the Benelli offers agile handling, the power from the 374cc motor is always available and overtaking is dealt with briskly. BWAutoworld team had an opportunity to take the Imperiale 400 on to the banks of the River Ganges, the route to the holy river was lined with potholes and sand and dry sugarcane leaves. The Benelli Imperiale 400 impressed us with its ride quality. The ride quality is a bit firm at slower speeds but this results in a smooth ride at higher speeds.

What we liked :

Tractable Vibration-free Motor

Smooth Gearbox

Good Suspension

What we did not like :

Lack of a 6th gear

Vibrations at speeds above 110kmph

Conclusion : There is finally some competition to the Classic 350 and Benelli has hit the spot with the Imperiale 400 in India. At Rs. 1.69lakhs ex-showroom the Imperiale 400 makes a compelling case for itself. Apart from this, Benelli is also offering a standard three-year unlimited-kilometre warranty but with only 24 customer touchpoints as of date getting hands on the Benelli could be a problem. Overall we like the Imperiale 400, Kudos to Benelli to launch the bike at this price even when a lot of parts are imported. For buyers looking for Classic motorbikes in the under 500cc segment, Benelli Imperiale 400 gets thumbs up from BWAutoworld.

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