Benelli Registers TRK 702 ADV Bike
How do you perceive Benelli as a bike firm? It’s steeped in Italian heritage and still has a home base in Pesaro, Italy, where the company was formed way back in 1911, but for the last 17 years it’s been owned by the Qianjiang group with production shifted to China to cut costs.
The bikes appearing since then haven’t made the sort of waves that were seen when the Tornado Tre and later the TNT and TreK 1130 were launched in the pre-Qianjiang era, after European appliance company Indesit boss Andrea Merloni revived the Benelli brand in the late ‘90s, but they’ve been steadily improving and the current range, including the Leoncino and TRK 502 twins, are proving to be quietly successful, not least in Italy where the TRK 502 has been a bestseller for the last couple of years.
For 2022, the company took a big step toward a mainstream return with the unveiling of the TRK 800, based around its own parallel-twin engine, but the company is also planning the less expensive TRK 702 that will essentially match that machine in terms of performance but with a price closer to the TRK 502, potentially rivaling the likes of Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 as a mass-market offering on a global scale.
The TRK 702 has been in development for a while. An early generation was even type-approved for sale in China, using rather uninspired styling reminiscent of the TRK 502′s, only to be redeveloped without ever getting an official launch. Earlier this year, a revamped version of that machine—with new styling similar to the TRK 800′s much more refined appearance—was put through type-approval tests, and now the bike’s appearance has been filed as a registered design.
We saw the TRK 702′s new styling when the type approval was published in April, but while that included four versions of the bike—with different wheels and luggage options—it only showed one angle, making it impossible to pick out details. The new design images, while garishly colored, show the bike from every direction and confirm some unusual inclusions in its engineering.
We know that the bike’s power comes from a 693cc parallel twin that appears to be extremely similar to the unit driving the CFMoto 700CL-X. It gives the bike a peak of 75 hp, which is roughly what you’d expect of a machine this size and capacity. A Yamaha Ténéré 700 peaks at 74 hp, and in terms of weight the Benelli’s 485 pounds exactly matches the Ténéré 700 World Raid, even if the base Ténéré is a lighter 450 pounds.
The same engine is due to appear in a whole range of models carrying both the Benelli badge and Qianjiang’s Chinese-market QJMotor brand. The designs seen here even have “Benelli” superimposed over “QJMotor” on the right engine cover, while the left cover reads “SR700,” which is a QJMotor model. However, we know this is a Benelli, not a QJMotor—the paperwork accompanying the design confirms it—as does the “TRK” badge between the rider and pillion seats.
Seen directly from the front or rear, it’s clear that the larger-tanked World Raid version of the Ténéré is a closer match to the Benelli. Its tank is broad shouldered, suggesting a substantial capacity and long range, and even from these design drawings we can pick out elements of its technical equipment that couldn’t be seen before.
On the left-hand side of the tank, for instance, there’s a 12-volt accessory socket set into the bodywork, but more intriguing is the presence of built-in cameras on both the front and rear of the bike. The front one is in a housing just below the headlight, while the rear sits between the taillight and the license plate. Such cameras are a growing trend in China, but have yet to become commonplace elsewhere. Benelli’s own 1200GT—the large three-cylinder touring bike that’s yet to go on sale—also has a camera system, as does the Norton-engined, 650cc Zongshen Cyclone RX6 adventure bike. Operating like dashcams, the cameras can feed a live image to the TFT dash or be used to record rides, whether for fun or as a legal protection against other road users.
There’s no word yet on when the TRK 702 will be launched, but it might still be a couple of years away from showrooms. Eventually, Benelli is planning to offer a whole range of parallel-twin machines, all the way up to 900cc, as well as three-cylinder bikes in 900cc and 1,200cc sizes and a range of four-cylinders including a 650 and a literbike, expected to borrow its powerplant from MV Agusta. Made in China? Perhaps, but so are iPhones and virtually every other piece of technology we use on a daily basis. The real challenge for Benelli, beyond building the bikes themselves, will be establishing a global supply and dealer network to make them a viable alternative to more established rivals and ensuring that the bikes themselves are up to the same standard.