Benelli TNT 600i: Does ABS make it a better package?
What is it?
The TNT 600i has been DSK Benelli’s hottest selling superbike despite the marque having quite a few smaller and more affordable motorcycles in the line-up and there is good reason for that. The TNT 600i epitomises the dream of every nascent biker – a big bike with a sweet sounding multi-cylinder (read four) motor. The 600i delivered on that part but didn’t exactly satiate the experienced rider on quite a few counts, prominent among them being the lack of electronic rider aids. You couldn’t completely extract the bike’s performance without worrying about the lack of a safety net if a cow decided to cross your path, or if you wished to push it on less than ideal road conditions. Benelli is surely on the right path to address this issue with the bike now having switchable ABS as a standard fitment.
It is not. This is merely a feature update and the TNT 600i retains the same styling as before which isn’t a bad thing. The 600i has always been pleasing to the eye thanks to its design that would befit a much larger capacity bike. The design still appeals to most mainly due to its large dimensions that includes the sculpted tank and meaty twin exhausts.
The inclusion of ABS on to the TNT 600i necessitated the change of front and rear discs and a completely new ECU. This is bad news for existing 600i owners who were looking forward to retrofit ABS on to their bikes as the modifications required will be prohibitively expensive. The ABS is switchable and can be deactivated via a switch on the left mirror stalk (smart move as the bike does not need new switchgear which would add to cost). The ABS, by default, stays on and will come on the next time you start the bike.
FUN TO RIDE?
The TNT 600i falls in the middleweight category but weighing in at 231kg kerb, isn’t one of the most dynamic bikes out there. It isn’t a sharp handler like other middleweight bikes and you do feel the weight while riding around but then the 600i never made claims about being one. The 600i’s USP lies in its user-friendliness. It is quite easy to ride despite its weight and is easy to potter around at slow speeds. It has more touring intentions than corner carving and the upright seating, wide seat and touring-spec Pirelli Angel ST tyres attest to that. The non-adjustable 50mm upside-down forks and offset rear monoshock (preload-adjustable) are tuned for good ride than outright handling. Combine that to the weight and you have a bike that will glide over bad roads. A consequence of the weight is that the brakes have to work overtime and despite having a 320mm dual disc brake setup the earlier bike took a fair distance to come to a stop.
The inclusion of switchable ABS now reduces braking distance by a large margin. The ABS feels a tad intrusive and the bike requires more than a jab of the fingers to stop, which can be unnerving the first time you ride it. However once you get the hang of it, the ABS works quite well on different road surfaces and on the wet roads we were subject to courtesy the heavy showers.
The 600cc in-line four makes 85bhp and 54.6Nm of torque at the highest reaches of the powerband so to extract a substantial modicum of performance, you have to wring the throttle past the 7000rpm mark. The gearbox has short ratios which helps while riding at slow speeds though when trying to overtake, the delay for the shove to come into effect can be frustrating. With the motor on the boil, the 600i will get to triple digit speeds with the same efficiency as its Jap counterparts and will cross the double ton given enough road. All this is accompanied by a glorious exhaust note that is a quiet rumble at low revs and past 5000 revs turns into a glorious wail that transcends into a high pitched shriek past 9000rpm. It is by far the best sounding 600 in the market and the 600i’s best party trick.
It is not as much about the fuel efficiency of larger capacity bikes as is the range. Expect a fuel efficiency of 18kmpl and coupled with the 15-litre tank, the 600i should give a range of around 270 kilometres which is good for the class.
The TNT 600i is sold in India as a CKD and that keeps the price at Rs 5.42 lakhs (ex-Delhi) which was good value if you consider the four cylinder motor and power output. The inclusion of ABS adds around Rs 31,000 to this and the revised price now stands at Rs 5.73 lakh which is still pretty good value for the segment. The TNT 600i might not be an outright sports bike but it is accessible to most users in terms of performance and is flexible enough to be used on a daily basis. And that glorious soundtrack more than makes up for its shortcomings.