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Old 11th June 2021, 07:55   #1
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Dear Team-BHPians, a hearty welcome to my ownership review of Benelli Imperiale 400. Sorry for the delayed post as I am currently on ship undergoing my assignment and could not get the time to post a review earlier.

The decision to purchase one was short and quick. I was split between RE Classic 350 and Benelli Imperiale 400. RE Classic had a long waiting period, and I went with Imperiale. I do not regret the decision.

LOOKS
On a first look, it is very indistinguishable from classic 350. The front and sides would fool any layman. The back is where all the action is. From the back, Imperiale looks more..."full". The usual enquiries I receive, apart from "kitna deti hai", "kitne ki hai" and the appreciative looks are "is this a new RE model?" and "What Bike is this?". I agree that there is only so much anyone can play around with a classic model, and I have no complaints there.
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Benelli Imperiale 400 | Ownership Review-img_3113.jpg

Hence, looks wise, I would say the difference is negligible.

INSTRUMENTATION
The instrument panel is twin pod analog cum digital. Analog speedometer with divisions in KMPH and MPH, Analog tachometer. The digital parts bein fuel level indicator, odometer and trip meters. There is also a gear indicator. The instrumentation is neat, clutter-free, backlit. The backlight is not very bright, so it would not give troubles while riding in the dark.
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The instrument panel is what tilted me towards the Imperiale. While on long trips, I would want all the information provided. Hence 10/10 for the layout and info provided.

ENGINE AND MECHANICS
The engine and gearbox is where this steed shines. I would not get down into the specifics and power figures, as it is easily available on the internet. The engine is a gem, Period!!. I have pushed the bike past 120KMPH, and have observed very, very minimal vibrations at that speed. Speeds upto 100KMPH are guaranteed to be vibration free. The gears are smooth, and slot with a reassuring feel. The 5-speed gearbox is well spaced, allowing for long throws.

The main problem with the engine comes from heating, and it would neatly fry your legs while driving in the city. But at highways and open roads, the cooling is not an issue. Kudos to the maker for making such a vibration free engine and chassis.

The only problem I faced with the engine was during city running, as the engine surges in-between shifts and while returning back to neutral. This is something I hope to resolve in subsequent servicing.

The bike has a long wheelbase and hence, turning radius is high, and also the weight becomes a bit unwieldy at low speeds. That said, the bike is a straight line champion, though I haven't pushed it around the corners, hence cannot comment on that aspect. From stop to go, the power delivery is linear and you would be amazed at the speed with which it pulls to higher speeds. The grunt is very nice, you actually feel the pull from the bike as you gain speeds, and before you realize, you would have crossed 60KMPH long before.

The brakes are spongy, with progressive feel. They would do their jobs at sane speeds. But they do not inspire much confidence. ABS works as it should during panic braking. A nice touch is the adjustable lever reach of the front brake lever. There are four settings which can be set by turning a knob on the lever.

Hence, for engine + gearbox combo and smoothness, 10/10, and for brakes, 7/10.

RIDE COMFORT
The seats are split and the seating upright. The rear seat is a bit narrow, and I would recommend cushioning for both the seats, as the foams are hard. Long drives would tire you solely because the seats are hard. Nothing else.

The suspension setup is a middle ground between too soft and too hard. It would be adequate for most of the adventures. The low ground clearance is of some concern. It has a tendency to scrape our unscientific back breakers a.k.a speed breakers. The centre stand will definitely scrape a bumper when there are two riders.

The tires are spoked and hence, are tubed tires. I still have factory fit nylogrip zappers which I found adequate.

The height of the seat from the ground is comfortable for people starting from 5'8" ( I am 6'). Below that and toes are your best friend. The stance is upright and the handlebars are a nice long way, so that the arms are not tired and shoulders need not be hunched. The weight distribution can be termed as even. The horn is weak, very weak and would be the first thing you might need to change.

The headlight beam and throw are very good. They ensure good visibility in both beams. The low beam is on by default and doubles up as DRL.

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LOW BEAM

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HIGH BEAM

A nice touch is the hazard blinkers setup which comes by default.

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CONCLUSION
Overall, I would say the bike is a beast, a capable tourer which is mechanically sound, vibrations free and very comfortable to ride, albeit the low tank capacity of 12L would make you visit fuel stations sooner than you would like. I have attained a mileage of ~30KMPL with 90% city riding. I did not get a chance to unleash the beast on the highway due to lockdowns.

All being said, I would like to mention here particularly that I do not know what is preventing Benelli from promoting such a capable machine. They have a clear winner on their hands and believe me when I say I haven't seen one single poster of promotion anywhere, be it newspaper, billboards, social media, anywhere. This bike is guaranteed to give tough competition to RE Classic series and also to Honda H'ness. Benelli has got a winner in their hands and they are squandering the opportunity thoroughly.

Also, it is surprising that for owners are not provided an owner's manual. All we get is a calendar and maintenance log book. I would have loved the calendar to be replaced by an owner's manual. We owners do deserve it.

Thanks for going through. Sorry for being so short but I could not get to spend more time with the bike due to my job. A detailed one would follow as soon as I get down and lay my hands on her sweet body again.
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Old 11th June 2021, 10:33   #2
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Default Re: Benelli Imperiale 400 | Ownership Review

Thanks a lot for putting up this ownership review. Wish you a long and trouble free ownership of this unique bike.

I was wondering how Benelli has been so lethargic when we see the sales charts.

To me, the bike looks good and the retro styling is backed up by a 3 year unlimited km warranty (am I right?). It was priced well at launch too.

They could have made hay while the Meteor and H'Ness were still in the pipeline.
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Old 11th June 2021, 10:45   #3
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Default Re: Benelli Imperiale 400 | Ownership Review

Hi Umahesh, a very good review of Benelli. Could you elaborate a little more on the general fit and finish of the bike. Also some more pictures of the frame and body, whenever possible.

I like Benelli as a brand and want to know how they are doing after the Chinese acquisition.
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Old 11th June 2021, 23:06   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tgo View Post
Thanks a lot for putting up this ownership review. Wish you a long and trouble free ownership of this unique bike.

I was wondering how Benelli has been so lethargic when we see the sales charts.

To me, the bike looks good and the retro styling is backed up by a 3 year unlimited km warranty (am I right?). It was priced well at launch too.

They could have made hay while the Meteor and H'Ness were still in the pipeline.
Hi Tgo, yes the warranty is as you advised. It was discounted at the beginning of this year too. I don't know what is going on in their heads. This is a machine to own up to and advertise to the world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by no_fear View Post
Hi Umahesh, a very good review of Benelli. Could you elaborate a little more on the general fit and finish of the bike. Also some more pictures of the frame and body, whenever possible.

I like Benelli as a brand and want to know how they are doing after the Chinese acquisition.
Hi no_fear. The bike overall has a very tight fit. Though how it holds up over the years remains to be seen. But you will find the job up to the standards. No squeaks or rattles or unwanted noises and vibes. Also service interval is 6000kms or 6 months. So that is also a boon.

As for pictures... you have to wait 6-7 odd months as I just joined my ship and will return home by that time only.

Last edited by ajmat : 11th June 2021 at 23:43.
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Old 12th June 2021, 13:14   #5
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Default Re: Benelli Imperiale 400 | Ownership Review

Hi, thanks for the review.
I got my Imperiale in Feb 2020 and have been using it for more than a year now.
I consider the bike as more suited for the highways and due to the Covid 19 situation, find it very difficult to get the most of it. The rear shock absorbers were very tough for me so I had to change over to RE units with the height enhanced. As you said, the horn was the first thing I got changed to a pair of mini Bosch horns, which are doing the job perfectly well.
The pic shows my bike in front of the Vadakkumnatha Temple in Thrissur. The only long distance my bike has been driven is the stretch between Kochi and Thrissur on three trips, two by myself and one by my son. The rest of the 9000 kms on the clock were pure city driving.
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Old 14th June 2021, 02:30   #6
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Default Re: Benelli Imperiale 400 | Ownership Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by sureshkumar View Post
Hi, thanks for the review.
I got my Imperiale in Feb 2020 and have been using it for more than a year now.
I consider the bike as more suited for the highways and due to the Covid 19 situation, find it very difficult to get the most of it. The rear shock absorbers were very tough for me so I had to change over to RE units with the height enhanced. As you said, the horn was the first thing I got changed to a pair of mini Bosch horns, which are doing the job perfectly well.
The pic shows my bike in front of the Vadakkumnatha Temple in Thrissur. The only long distance my bike has been driven is the stretch between Kochi and Thrissur on three trips, two by myself and one by my son. The rest of the 9000 kms on the clock were pure city driving.
Hi suresh, yes I do concede that rear shocks are very, very soft. But I believe they are adjustable by 5 steps. Did you try adjusting them for a harder setup?

That being said, congrats on your bike. Even I am not able to enjoy the bike because of Covid. This bike is a mile cruncher and a pleasure to ride because of almost non-existent vibrations.

A question. How are the brakes performing? Are they spongy or do they offer enough bite? I found my bike's brakes to be quite spingy. The action is progessive and adequate, but spongy nevertheless.
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Old 14th June 2021, 08:33   #7
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Default Re: Benelli Imperiale 400 | Ownership Review

Nicely written review. This bike has all the qualities of being a worthy RE classic 350 competitor however it is not selling!!

Ultimately, it is the time that is spent on the saddle that matters !!

Several factors I would say,

1. Benelli reach in terms of touch points.
2. Price tag was steep initially, however bs6 has now made things very expensive.
3. Competition- Jawa and then Honda, later has definitely grabbed the second position thanks to Honda reliability

I am not sure how many know the Chinese roots of most of the benelli off late. But it could be possible that buyers spending over 2 lakes are aware of this fact.
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Old 14th June 2021, 10:57   #8
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Default Re: Benelli Imperiale 400 | Ownership Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by umahesh612 View Post
Hi suresh, yes I do concede that rear shocks are very, very soft. But I believe they are adjustable by 5 steps. Did you try adjusting them for a harder setup?

That being said, congrats on your bike. Even I am not able to enjoy the bike because of Covid. This bike is a mile cruncher and a pleasure to ride because of almost non-existent vibrations.

A question. How are the brakes performing? Are they spongy or do they offer enough bite? I found my bike's brakes to be quite spingy. The action is progessive and adequate, but spongy nevertheless.
Hi Mahesh,
I found the rear shocks too hard for my back, especially on the very rough stretch of road near my residence. I had them reset to the softest (and longest) position but couldn't find any relief. That's why I had to go for the RE shocks.
I agree the bike is a mile cruncher. It's definitely not a street bike, due to the greater weight and larger turning radius. The seat height is also a little bit low for me (I am only 5ft and 10.5 inches, but still) and I am getting a knee pain. But I didn't go for adding a cushion to the seats since I would like to retain the original look.
The lack of heel-toe-shift mechanism is also a demerit as per my requirements, but it might not be so for the long-distance riders.
Regarding the brakes, I feel they have enough bite for my city driving.
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