Give Italians metal and the power of fire and electronics, and they create works of art that you can ride. The Benelli Tornado Naked Tre, or TnT, is just that: explosions in the palm of your hand, riding glove and all. Before we get carried away and blow things out of proportion however, it's time to rewind.
DSK hasn't fired a shot in the dark; they've gone ahead and brought an iconic Italian superbike brand to India, a name I never imagined I would see on sale here. That morning the TnT 899 was all sparkling in the artificial lighting we had around the office building in the wee hours of the day. That red swing-arm and frame sure do stand out in contrast to the bike's white.
The massive 320-mm wave petal discs glistened as light bounced off the sharp edges. The flip key was like a dagger and looked almost as sharp as the bike. Stick it in the ignition slot, wait for the blue back-lit display to calm down and thumb the starter.
The 898-cc in-line triple makes 122 PS at 9,500 revs with a peak twist of 88 Nm coming in at 8,000. The motor is extremely flexible, with a good amount of that torque coming in low down the rev-range, not forcing me to work that six-speed gearbox. The clutch felt a mite heavy at first, but it's easy to get used to.
The TnT 899 uses beefy Marzocchi upside down front forks
On the move, the whole package gives you confidence like few others. The big brakes, although sans ABS, are very progressive. The fat 190/50 rubber at the rear puts the ample power down very well indeed and can handle bends well. Approaching the narrow mountain roads at speed is not disconcerting and the TnT dips into the corner fluidly and emerges infallibly, all set for the next one.
The intuitive handling characteristics are likeable and the riding position, with recesses almost seeming specifically carved out, made me feel like it was built just for me. Needless to say, it inspires confidence and lets one get about going quickly round corners as well as hunkering down while speeding on straights. At 202 kg, with some fuel in the 16-litre tank, the TnT 899 is a joy to ride and feels very nimble.
The carbon fibre combines with the red of the metal with eye catching flair that only Italians can boast of. Pics/Rommel Albuquerque
In the end, the TnT is the stuff of posters and wallpapers, and I, for one, am just happy to see it on sale here. It's not too much money either (relatively, of course), with its price tag of Rs 11 lakh, on-road in Pune. How is it as a personal ride? Let me rephrase the words of AC/DC's Brian Johnson: It's TnT, it's dynamite!