2019 Benelli 502C – review
Benelli 502C Review, by Bike Sales
Benelli continues to impress with its middleweight offerings, and the 502C cruiser is yet another example of how it’s getting things right
Benelli has quickly developed a knack for producing excellent middleweights with models like the Leoncinos and the adventure-inspired TRK 502s.
In its home country – at least in terms of design, if not manufacturing – of Italy, Benelli is particularly going gangbusters, and in other markets around the globe the growth curves have also been impressive.
The company is doing a lot right, which leads us to the latest Benelli to go on sale Down Under – the 502C cruiser.
The Benelli 502C, like the majority of its siblings, gets its motivation from the 499cc parallel-twin engine, which is a pearler – a broad range of power and excellent throttle response. It also has a fruity rumble as well, which adds to the dynamic package.
The flexibility of the powerplant is evident in the specs: peak torque (45Nm) is at 5000rpm, and then a decent gap to maximum power (48hp) at 8500rpm. That’s a fair chunk of strong, useable power to work with – and the urge off the bottom isn’t too bad either, so it’s a cruiser that can really be ridden in a ‘lazy’ fashion.
The full experience
The launch route encapsulated a typical Benelli 502C ‘day out’ – some city work and then a stroll into more open terrain. And if you fuel up before you leave – it has a huge 21-litre tank – your outing can literally last all day! Perhaps some level of fuel capacity overkill for an ‘urban cruiser’, but welcome nonetheless.
In terms of styling, the fuel tank certainly isn’t obtrusive, and the sculpted flanks proved to be perfect accommodation for my knees. Maybe not for taller denizens, but my 172cm frame made for a beautiful fit.
And that includes the saddle-type seat, which enhances the bike’s sit-in feel – and with footpegs well in front of the rider, there’s also plenty of legroom. And it’s low to the ground, too, with that 750mm seat height. The seat isn’t quite as comfortable as it looks, though, and did cause some mild numbness near the base of my spine after an hour or so.
The reach to the bars is quite pronounced, and when the levers are added into the equation it does make for quite a stretch. The brake lever is at least span-adjustable, so you can adjust to the shallowest setting if you have short – and also in my case, dumpy… – digits.
The Benelli 502C is fun at all speeds, but it’s not the type of machine that revels in being pushed exceptionally hard – although it does have excellent stability, and corners well despite the conservative front-end geometry.
That skinny 160-section rear tyre makes tip-in a cinch as the bike builds up to some decent lean angles. The pegs are the first items to hit the deck, but that’s only at a decent clip.
Instead, it’s the engine that probably doesn’t enjoy being pushed too far beyond its mid-range comfort zone, and excess wind buffeting can also become an issue a higher speeds.
However, the $9790 rideaway Benelli 502C is generally supremely easy to manage, and key attributes include a light clutch and a slick six-speed gearbox. The braking performance is also very healthy from the four-piston front calipers, and the TFT instrumentation isn’t overloaded with superfluous information.
Other than a few bits and pieces, the build quality is also very sound, which is another area where Benelli has made a quantum leap in recent times.
It does offer practicality in terms of luggage capacity however, as I found out during my long term stint with the now-superseded 125 (AMCNVol 67 No 09) when I took it camping, took it fishing, did the grocery shopping on it, as well as ferried the kids to school and back. It’s a bike that’s far more practical than it looks. Despite its $3390 (plus on-road costs) price tag, it boasts LED lighting all ’round and has a basic but informative LED dash offering a fuel gauge and a clock – two things every bike should have but don’t always – as well as the standard speed, odometer and two trip meters. For the rider who wants to dip their uninitiated toe into motorcycle waters, there’s no better, or less intimidating way to do it. And for the seasoned rider who needs a time- and fuel-efficient way to commute to work, there probably isn’t a more fun way to do it. And when you can ride away on the thing with two years roadside assist and still get change out of $4000, there’s probably not too many more economical ways to do it, either.
There’s no doubt the Benelli 502C shares some styling similarities with cruiser fare from its Italian neighbour just up the road in Bologna – Benelli is based in Pesaro – but for all intents and purposes the machine is quickly carving out its own niche.
And there isn’t a lot of choice in terms of middleweight cruisers on the Aussie market, with models like the ageing Yamaha XVS650 and the Honda CMX500 a part of the slim pickings.
The $9790 rideaway Benelli 502C trumps both of those machines in terms of styling and performance, and that’s why it has got the gong as our best LAMS cruiser in the 2019 Bikesales Bike of the Year Awards.
As we said in our BOTY critique, the 502C is – like its siblings – a great package with a fair dose of fun factor. Benelli continues to march on.