Benelli 502C first ride review
The Benelli 502C is the company’s take on a cruiser and it deploys the trusty 500cc parallel-twin mill that Benelli has been using for all their middleweight bikes - the TRK 502, TRK 502X and the Leoncino 500. What is the bike like, is it worthy of the ‘cruiser’ tag and does it manage to differentiate itself from the rest of the range? Read on to find out. And no, before you think about it, barring the glaring visual similarities, the 502C is nothing like a certain Italian bruiser.
Let’s start with the way it looks. Right off the bat, the 502C looks a lot bigger in the metal than it does in photos and videos. It has proper cruiser proportions starting with a wide handlebar placed over a massive 21-litre fuel tank. The fuel tank slopes into a comfortable, ribbed seat that properly cushions your bottom and the ascent to the pillion seat acts as a backrest almost. Speaking of the pillion seat, it is a small unit that is not ideal for long distances. Now as to whether or not the front end of the bike is the best-looking aspect is debatable considering the LED headlight that almost looks like a confused robot.
Another oddly placed stylistic element is the scrambler-style exhaust which definitely sounds scintillating but seems like an afterthought. The 502C’s engine and frame are all finished in matte black and that, in my opinion, definitely adds to its appeal. There’s also a new fully digital instrument cluster that gets day- and night-time modes and displays the standard stuff — speed, gear position, engine temperature, time, trip meter, etc. There are two colours available, the Matte Cognac Red shade you see here and the completely matte black that I’d definitely opt for. And as far as fit and finish are concerned, Benelli definitely seems to have upped their game with the last few bikes they have launched.
The changes Benelli has made to make the 502C a separate bike in the lineup go skin deep. A lot of the chassis components have been updated to ensure that the bike functions as a muscle cruiser and to Benelli’s credit, the changes do add up. The wide handlebar, ribbed seat and forward-set footpeg orientation make for a comfortable seating position but not at the cost of feeling disconnected from the bike on the handling front. That being said, taller riders will feel slightly cramped in the saddle after long riding days. My five-foot-ten frame definitely did. We have also come to accept that all Benellis are heavy bikes and this bike is no exception. It weighs 216kg fully fueled but once you get moving, the bike hides its weight well and the low 750mm seat height will ensure that any rider can comfortably snake the bike even through chock-a-block traffic.
The 502C is a long bike. With its 1600mm wheelbase it is the longest bike in the line-up, 95mm longer than the TRK 502 even. Now as to whether this increase in length comes from a longer swing arm or a raked-out front-end or both remains to be confirmed. But honestly, that hasn’t hampered its handling.
The 502C is surprisingly agile and can do a lot more than just cruise in a straight line. It handles with the gusto of a bike much lighter than itself. It will tip into a corner without much coaxing, hold the line with a lot of stability, and exit the apex nice and clean. The chassis inspires a lot of confidence and the Pirellis offer a good amount of grip in both dry and wet conditions. In fact, spend some time understanding the bike and you’ll be scraping the foot-pegs wishing for more cornering clearance. And as for the ‘cruising’ that the bike is intended for, the 502C handles that like a champ. The new suspension setup is pliant and soaks up pretty large bumps and potholes without unsettling the bike in the slightest. And despite the low seat height, Benelli has managed to squeeze 170mm of ground clearance from the bike, meaning I never bottomed out the bike even on the most aggressive of speed breakers. The braking setup is adequate and the ABS system is well-calibrated and intervenes only when the situation gets hairy. The only hindrance in this entire setup is the lack of wind protection. The engine is identical to the TRK 502 and the Leoncino 500, so we know it is tractable and capable of cruising at 120kmph without breaking a sweat. But at that speed on the 502C, the wind-blast will be unbearable for anything longer than a few minutes at a time. You’d best stick to cruising at around the 100kmph mark unless you manage to figure out an aftermarket solution to deflect wind.
At an ex-showroom price of ₹4.98 lakh, the 502C is another great value for money proposition from Benelli that allows the buyer to get something that gives them a proper big bike feel without breaking the big boy bank. And it will definitely remind you of the XDia…