Is Benelli’s faired 300cc sports tourer worth your money over the Kawasaki Ninja 300 and the Yamaha R3?
On the outside
The 302R is based on the TNT 300 naked bike but is significantly modified. The eye-catching 302R looks fantastic, and thanks to its bulky proportions, it easily stands out in a crowd of bikes. Benelli has used neater graphics on the bike and there are design details like the lion motif along the sides, funky exhaust end can and plastic inserts near the tail section that add to its appeal.
From the saddle
The dials are clear and fairly straightforward – you get all the information you need outside of fuel-efficiency. Fit and finish is decent, however, oddly enough, there’s no hinged fuel filler cap. The bike is powered by the same 300cc, parallel-twin liquid-cooled motor as the TNT 300. Benelli has done a fabulous job with this engine, you can ride around at speeds of as low as 25kph in 6th gear. It’s exhaust note is also great. You can feel vibrations, depending on what speed you’re on, through the pegs, bars and seat pan. They’re never painfully intrusive though.
With 38.8hp, the 302R is as powerful as the Kawasaki Ninja 300, however this bike favours being ridden in a more relaxed manner. Make no mistake, this bike is still a pretty quick machine and it’s happiest cruising on the highway at high speeds, between 110 and 130kph. The relaxed riding position and well-padded seat ensure you’re comfortable on the long haul.
This bike is quite heavy though – at 198kg, it is nearly 30kg heavier than some of its rivals. However, it handles this extra weight well and you only really feel it when you’re pushing the bike around a parking lot or at a u-turn. The bike’s decent turning radius, good heat management and realistic ground clearance aid city riding.
Ride quality is good – it absorbs bad roads well and you feel confident riding it. Handling is better now thanks to the Metzeler M5 Sportec tyres, which are great for both wet and dry weather performance. The 302R is, in fact, the most dynamic handler in Benelli’s current line-up, it’s not as sharp as some of its rivals though. The brakes could have been more effective though, however, this is the first bike in the segment to offer ABS.
Is it worth the money?
The 320R costs ₹.48 lakh (ex-showroom), that’s ₹12,000 less than the Ninja 300 and the company has positioned it more as a sports tourer rather than an outright sports bike. It doesn’t offer the outright thrill of the others, but it has great street presence, is comfy and easy to ride on long journeys. It’s definitely worth considering if long rides are your preference.