Small to mid-displacement sportbikes are incredibly popular in Asia and Europe, as they allow novice and beginner riders to swing a leg over a sporty machine without having to worry about the neck-snapping performance that accompanies a liter bike. More often than not, motorbikes with engines smaller than 500cc are compliant with A2 licensing parameters, with some bigger bikes even coming with restrictor kits to meet said licensing restrictions.
While sporty bikes like the Kawasaki Ninja 400, KTM RC 390, and Honda CBR500R are indeed very popular, they’re facing new challengers in the form of competition from Chinese brands. We’ve seen the likes of the CFMoto 450SR (450SS in the US), and now, the Benelli Tornado, a new sportbike range from the Chinese-owned Italian company. Unveiled in all its glory at EICMA 2023, the new Benelli Tornado series is offered in three flavors for riders of all backgrounds, 300cc, 400cc, and 500cc. Let’s take a quick look at each model and see what they have to offer.
Kicking things off with the Tornado 300, it’s definitely a bike that’s late to the party, as there aren’t many 300cc sportbikes on the market these days anymore. It really only goes up against the likes of the Yamaha YZF-R3 – a bike which many believe is in dire need of an update, and the Kawasaki Ninja 300 – a model which has pretty much been discontinued in the global market, save for a few markets in Asia.
Nevertheless, the Benelli Tornado 300 picks up from where these bikes left off with a 300cc parallel-twin engine with 35 horsepower and 27 Nm (18.9 pound-feet) of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheel via a standard six-speed manual gearbox, and the Tornado 300, like all sportbikes in the market, rolls on 17-inch wheels. Benelli has thrown in dual-channel ABS to keep the bike in control when slowing down on all surfaces.
Moving a step up, we find the Benelli Tornado 400, a bike that slots itself squarely within the crosshairs of today’s entry-level sportbike market. Equipped with a 399cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, parallel-twin engine, it produces almost the same power and torque figures as the Ninja 400, at 47.6 horsepower and 38 Nm (26.6 pound-feet) of torque. Here, the Tornado 400 sets itself apart with a fancy single-sided swingarm and upmarket features such as a fancy five-inch full-color TFT display. The bike also boasts Bluetooth connectivity, and has a built-in tire pressure monitoring system.
Last but not least, the Tornado 500 was launched as the biggest of the parallel-twin sportbikes in the Tornado series. It shares the same platform as the Tornado Naked Twin 500, and features a similarly aggressive design as its smallest siblings. Now, you may be thinking that the 500 is redundant with the 400, and in a sense, you’d be absolutely right. In essence, Benelli differentiates the Tornado 500 with premium components designed for performance. Up front, we find an inverted Marzocchi fork, while the brakes consist of Brembo hardware. The bike also gets a full-color TFT display with Bluetooth connectivity.
On the performance side of the story, the Tornado 500 has a 500cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, parallel-twin engine that outputs the same 47.6 horsepower as the 400cc model. However, it does get more torque at 46 Nm (32.2 pound-feet). It’s also worth noting that this model receives a large fuel tank with 16.5 liters of capacity. The seat height is also adjustable catering to riders of varying sizes.
Of course, just because Benelli has launched these three models together at EICMA 2023 doesn’t mean that they’ll all be sold in the same markets. Chances are these models will be distributed to different markets where Benelli deems them a perfect fit for the wants and needs of enthusiasts in the region. That being said, we’ll have to wait and see as Benelli releases more information about the new Tornado series in the weeks and months to come.