Benelli 600 launched (again)

No, not the hub-centre-steered supersports they promised a few years ago

TODAY sees the release of pictures of Benelli's new BN600 – an inline-four-cylinder naked due for its unveiling at next week's Milan show. But it seems somewhat familiar.

That familiarity is probably thanks to the fact it's virtually identical to the Generic GRS600 revealed in Cologne last month. Which, in turn, was the same as the Qianjiang QJ600 that appeared in China last year. Which was the same as the Benelli BJ (snigger) 600GS that emerged before that. Welcome to the confusing world of Chinese motorcycle manufacturing.

Benelli is, of course, owned by Qianjiang, so despite its traditional Italian name, this bike is actually more significant in being a real step forward for the Chinese bike industry – and in Benelli-badged form is much more likely to appear on a street near you than a Generic or Qianjiang-branded version.

To be fair, the BN600 has gained a revised tank and side panels compared to its siblings, and while the motor's 82bhp output is on a par with Honda's first-gen CBR600 (circa 1987), it's got a reasonably modern on-paper spec including injection, a DOHC four-valve head and six-speed gearbox. A part-steel, part-aluminium frame is reminiscent of the Tornado, while the 50mm USD forks and radial brakes certainly look the part, even if they don't carry big-name brands.

No word on prices yet apart from the claim it will be “competitive” but the bike is due on sale in mid-2013. We're guessing it will be one of the cheapest new four-cylinders on the market.