Benelli Tornado Novecento RS review

The RS gets better the harder you ride it. It’s fairly horrible as a commuter, due to the heavy clutch and its inability to find neutral. But great fun on the track and it’s also fairly decent on the motorway

Ben Cope's picture
By Visordown on Thu, 1 Jan 2004 - 12:01

Details
Manufacturer:
Benelli
Category:
Sportsbikes
Price:
£ 13500
Overall
3
Need Insurance?
Keener to rev than the standard Tornado and has a few extra bhp in the mid-range.
A bit too harsh for road use and not very comfortable.

Compared to the standard Tornado’s £12,000 price tag, what does the extra £2000 cost of the RS version get you? First of all there are the obligatory radial brake calipers, uprated Marzocchi forks, forged OZ wheels and, of course, carbon mudguards. The engine gets new profile cams, a new fuel-injection map and an adjustable slipper clutch. It’s all wrapped in a very cool black painted frame and swingarm with a red and black fairing.

It’s basically the standard Tornado with a bit of a kick up its
arse and a few features that may be a bit too harsh for road use.
This sums the RS up pretty well. Riding it home on a cold, wet night through London I started to form a large dislike for the RS. Within just a few miles my left hand was hurting like hell from constantly having to use the super- heavy clutch and it was virtually impossible to get the bike into neutral at a set of traffic lights. This was the start of a vicious circle as not being able to find neutral meant holding the clutch in, which made my hand hurt more and my temper rise. Not the best start in the world.

The next day I rode it around the M25 towards Brands Hatch and was surprised by how pleasant it was on the motorway. The seat is actually quite comfortable, the riding position decent for miles and the motor has loads of grunt in the mid-range for rolling the throttle on and off to overtake cars. Compared to the standard Tornado, the RS is keener to rev and feels like it definitely has a few extra bhp in the mid-range without being breathless low-down.

On track, the RS has the same balanced feel of the Tornado. To be fair, it was so cold on the day I never really got up to a pace where the difference in feeling from the new forks at the front-end became apparent, but it certainly feels no worse. The RS still turns beautifully and feels fantastically balanced in a corner but, over the standard Tornado, it has the added benefit of suspension that can be tailored with far more precision to your particular requirements.

The RS looks stylish with its red and black colours and, while they aren’t Öhlins, the Marzocchi forks are real quality, as are the other components on the RS. And at £500 it is still cheaper than a less specced-up Ducati 999S.

Saying that, I wasn’t very impressed by the new radial calipers. It may have been the cold weather or slightly glazed pads but they didn’t seem to have the same amount of power or feel as the standard style callipers on the Tornado, which are excellent. Brembos are usually very good, so I reckon it was more likely due to something being awry.

The extra power of the RS isn’t really significant enough to affect which gear you need to be in for the corners, as the standard Tornado has a decent amount of mid-range, but the RS does drive out of corners harder and faster thanks to the altered cams. It isn’t a huge difference but it just feels that bit crisper when accelerating.

The next day, I rode the Benelli back through London to the office and I have to confess I was riding like a bit of a twat because I was running a bit late. I was banging down the gears running up to roundabouts, braking late for traffic lights and generally riding quite aggressively. This style suited the RS perfectly and made it a much more enjoyable ride home than the cold one a few nights earlier. I suppose that’s riding without compromises for you.

Compared to the standard Tornado’s £12,000 price tag, what does the extra £2000 cost of the RS version get you? First of all there are the obligatory radial brake calipers, uprated Marzocchi forks, forged OZ wheels and, of course, carbon mudguards. The engine gets new profile cams, a new fuel-injection map and an adjustable slipper clutch. It’s all wrapped in a very cool black painted frame and swingarm with a red and black fairing.

It’s basically the standard Tornado with a bit of a kick up its
arse and a few features that may be a bit too harsh for road use.
This sums the RS up pretty well. Riding it home on a cold, wet night through London I started to form a large dislike for the RS. Within just a few miles my left hand was hurting like hell from constantly having to use the super- heavy clutch and it was virtually impossible to get the bike into neutral at a set of traffic lights. This was the start of a vicious circle as not being able to find neutral meant holding the clutch in, which made my hand hurt more and my temper rise. Not the best start in the world.

The next day I rode it around the M25 towards Brands Hatch and was surprised by how pleasant it was on the motorway. The seat is actually quite comfortable, the riding position decent for miles and the motor has loads of grunt in the mid-range for rolling the throttle on and off to overtake cars. Compared to the standard Tornado, the RS is keener to rev and feels like it definitely has a few extra bhp in the mid-range without being breathless low-down.

On track, the RS has the same balanced feel of the Tornado. To be fair, it was so cold on the day I never really got up to a pace where the difference in feeling from the new forks at the front-end became apparent, but it certainly feels no worse. The RS still turns beautifully and feels fantastically balanced in a corner but, over the standard Tornado, it has the added benefit of suspension that can be tailored with far more precision to your particular requirements.

The RS looks stylish with its red and black colours and, while they aren’t Öhlins, the Marzocchi forks are real quality, as are the other components on the RS. And at £500 it is still cheaper than a less specced-up Ducati 999S.

Saying that, I wasn’t very impressed by the new radial calipers. It may have been the cold weather or slightly glazed pads but they didn’t seem to have the same amount of power or feel as the standard style callipers on the Tornado, which are excellent. Brembos are usually very good, so I reckon it was more likely due to something being awry.

The extra power of the RS isn’t really significant enough to affect which gear you need to be in for the corners, as the standard Tornado has a decent amount of mid-range, but the RS does drive out of corners harder and faster thanks to the altered cams. It isn’t a huge difference but it just feels that bit crisper when accelerating.

The next day, I rode the Benelli back through London to the office and I have to confess I was riding like a bit of a twat because I was running a bit late. I was banging down the gears running up to roundabouts, braking late for traffic lights and generally riding quite aggressively. This style suited the RS perfectly and made it a much more enjoyable ride home than the cold one a few nights earlier. I suppose that’s riding without compromises for you.

Height (mm) 1160
Dryweight (kg) 198
Seats 1
Seat Height (mm) 810
Suspension Front Telesopic fork with upturned stems, helical spring/damper oil
Suspension Rear Oscillating fork, helical spring/damper gas
Adjustability Rear 10mm
Wheels Front 17xMT3.50 cast aluminium
Wheels Rear 17xMT6.00 cast aluminium
Tyres Dunlop D208TL RR
Tyres Front 120/70 ZR17
Tyres Rear 190/55 ZR17
Brakes Front 240mm Single disc with twin piston caliper
Brakes Rear 320mm Double floating disc with twin radial 4-piston caliper
Wheelbase (mm) 1419
Cubic Capacity (cc) 898
Valves 12
Max Power (bhp) 141
Max Power Peak (rpm) 11500
Torque (ft/lb) 74
Torque Peak (rpm) 8500
Bore (mm) 88
Stroke (mm) 49.2
Valve Gear DOHC
Compression Ratio 11
Ignition Electronic
Valves Per Cylinder 4
Cooling Water Cooling
Stroke Type Four Stroke
Drive Chain
Top Speed
Score Breakdown
Overall
3

Follow Visordown

Win / Promotions

Latest News

Latest Features

Latest Bike Reviews

Crash Media Group
Visordown is part of the CMG Full Throttle Network© : welcoming over 3 million consumers each month