Welcome to the jungle, little lions.
The middleweight naked class continues to borrow from classic motorcycle styling. Whether we’re talking about the 2021 Ducati Scrambler lineup or the all-new Triumph Trident, manufacturers lean on heritage to push thoroughly modern machine—and Benelli is no different. Designed in Italy and manufactured in China, the Qianjiang subsidiary unveiled the latest middleweight nakeds with a retro twist with the Leoncino 800 and Leoncino 800 Trail.
Starting with the road-biased variant, the Leoncino 800 a tubular steel trellis frame topped with a traditionally-shaped 3.9-gallon gas tank and throwback tail section and seat. Leoncino branding on the side plates adds a touch of modernity while the brand’s long-established lion mascot adorns the front fender and the Benelli seal on the gas tank. The oval headlight and center stand also contribute to the mix of old and new.
Under all that modern-retro styling, the Leoncino houses a liquid-cooled 754cc parallel-twin that reaches 76 horsepower and 50 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed gearbox and slipper clutch help transfer all that power to the ground while Brembo brakes help bring the bike to a stop. A 50mm Marzocchi inverted fork offers rebound, compression, and preload adjustment as well as 5.1 inches of travel. At the back, a preload-adjustable monoshock suspends the Leoncino and 17-inch wheels at both ends run a 120-section tire at the front with a 180 bringing up the rear.
For the fashion-forward riders that like to play in the dirt (occasionally), Benelli also offers a Leoncino 800 Trail version that plays on all the stereotypical scrambler motifs. High-mounted pipes? Check. Nearly useless but really cool looking fly screen? You betcha. Faux racing number plate? Duh. Of course, the Pesaro-based brand also equipped the 800 Trail to do the business in the dirt with knobby-ish tires and a 19-inch front wheel. The Marzocchi front end and monoshock also bump up to 5.5 inches of travel, elevating the seat height to 32.6 inches.
While both models meet new Euro5 emissions standards, Benelli has yet to release pricing on the retro duo. Maybe they’re figuring out where to place the Leoncino between the XSR700 and the R nineT Scrambler, but we can’t wait to see how the lion cub holds its ground. Is it the last classically-styled middleweight naked? Nope. Is it exciting to see the Leoncino 800 join the fray? Sure is.