Benelli Tre-K 899 first ride review

From the brink of oblivion (again), Benelli slip their smaller triple into the tall and funky Tre-K chassis. The result is pretty damn fine, but can it save their ass?

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Benelli describes its Tre-K 899 as an entry-level sports-tourer, and by the Italian firm’s standards that’s exactly what it is. Along with the 899 TNT, the Tre-K has the smallest engine and lowest price in Benelli’s range of triples. And, like its big brother, the 1130 Tre-K, the new 899 is a relaxed alternative to the naked TNT.

But you’ve only got to hook a leg over the 899’s tall seat and hit the starter button, bringing the 12 valve triple to life with a malicious burble from the underseat silencer, to realise Benelli’s definitions differ from those of most other firms. By the time you’ve howled through the gears and flicked through a few bends, it’s clear the new Tre-K is no sports-touring softie but a sweethandler big on three-cylinder character.

That said the downsized Tre-K does have some long-distance credentials. It’s closely based on the 1130 Tre-K, the first new model launched after ailing Benelli was taken over by Chinese giant Qiang Jiang in 2005. Like that bike, the 899 combines Benelli’s familiar aluminium and tubular steel frame with more relaxed steering geometry, increased suspension travel and a half-fairing with an adjustable screen.

The motor is a mildly detuned version of the smaller TNT’s 898cc, liquid-cooled motor. New camshafts and revised injection mapping combine to boost low-rev power while reducing the peak output from 120bhp to 106bhp at 10,000rpm. Benelli claim the 899K’s touring ability is enhanced by its leaner-burning engine, giving better fuel economy than the thirsty 899 TNT. Whatever, the detuned three-pot motor is brilliantly flexible, pulling from 2000rpm with the stomp you’d expect of a bigger engine. Accelerating out of bends with about 5000rpm on the tacho, the Benelli hauls hard, helped by a sweet-shifting six-speed box. Top speed’s about 140mph; fast enough for most.

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With all that suspension travel (the Tre-K boasts 50mm Marzocchi forks with 150mm of travel, 20mm up on the TNT) I didn’t expect the 899 Tre-K to handle as sweetly as the more firmly sprung TNT. But, like the bigger Tre-K, it was well-damped enough to be entertaining as we charged up the twisty roads towards Urbino. At a claimed 210kg wet, the Benelli’s not particularly light but its blend of wide bars and sporty geometry made it plenty flickable. The suspension isn’t as soft as I feared it might be, even when I gave the powerful four-piston Brembo front calipers a serious squeeze on the way into hairpins on the way back down the E78 towards Urbania.

You’d be well advised to fit a more comfortable seat as well as luggage before going touring, especially with a pillion. But with those additions the Tre-K 899 would make a handy long-haul bike, and it’s certainly a blast to ride.

Benelli’s big problem is that although the 899’s on-theroad price of £7999 undercuts the 1130 by £500, the bike’s still far from cheap. Is the Tre-K 899 an enjoyable, versatile bike I’d be happy to own and ride? Absolutely. Is it competitive enough to lead Benelli out of its latest round of financial trouble? I’m not so sure.


Nicely-styled all-rounder with a funky, flexible engine and a fine chassis. Too pricey?


Price: £7999
Top speed: 125mph (claimed)
Engine: 898cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 12-valve triple
Power: 106bhp at 10,000rpm.
Bore and stoke: 88 x 49.2mm
Compression ratio: n/a
Torque: 55lb.ft at 5000rpm
Front suspension: 50mm Marzocchi forks
Adjustment: None
Rear suspension: Sachs monoshock
Adjustment: Preload and rebound
Front brakes: 2 x 320mm discs, four-piston Brembo calipers
Rear brake: 2-piston Brembo caliper, 240mm disc
Wet weight: 210kg (claimed)
Seat height: 810mm
Fuel capacity: 20.7 l litres
Colour options: Silver/green, black