Riding Impression: 2009 Benelli Tre-K 899

The Tre-K 899 is the best conceived, best executed and most attractive Benelli in production today.

2009 Benelli Tre-K 899 - Riding Impression

2009 Benelli Tre-K 899 - Riding Impression

Despite production issues that have delayed the introduction of the new parallel-Twin Due 756 (Roundup, February), Benelli continues to refine its present model lineup, releasing new models within the existing streetbike families, all of which are currently powered by the company's 1130 and 899cc Triples.

Each three-cylinder family includes a naked roadster (TnT) and now, with the introduction of the new Tre-K 899, an upright adventure-styled bike. The 899cc inline-Triple has twin overhead cams with less duration and overlap than the TnT's. The cylinders are essentially destroked versions of the 1130's, running oversquare (88 x 49.2mm) bore and stroke dimensions and a higher, 12.5:1 compression ratio. The fuel-injection system is anchored by 53mm throttle bodies.

In Tre-K form, the 899cc engine's characteristics have been altered to provide a much broader spread of power than that of the TnT. While the roadster produces 120 horsepower at 9250 rpm and 65 foot-pounds of torque at 8000, the Tre-K makes 105 hp at 10,500 rpm and 56 ft.-lb. at a much lower 5000 rpm.

In its 899cc displacement, the Benelli Triple is immensely smoother than its long-stroke siblings. What is lost in peak torque and low-end response is somewhat regained by an extended range of usable revs. Its healthy and flexible engine is very much in tune with the spirit of the Tre-K model, which was conceived as a versatile motorcycle mating sportbike-like running gear to a tall, comfortable and relaxed riding stance, a la the Ducati Multistrada.

A hybrid steel-trellis/aluminum-alloy frame is a new design and said to offer better rigidity than those of the previous Tre-K models. Chassis specifications include a 59.7-inch wheelbase, 25 degrees of rake and 4 inches of trail. Benelli claims a 452-pound dry weight, which is a bit optimistic.

Suspension up front is handled by a 50mm Marzocchi fork with just under 6 inches of travel. Out back is a steel-trellis swingarm joined to eccentric chain adjuster/axle plates and a single shock with preload and rebound damping adjustments and 5.7 inches of travel. A pair of Brembo four-piston calipers with 320mm rotors up front and a 240mm/twin-piston setup out back provide excellent braking performance.

So incredibly versatile is the Tre-K's 899cc engine that one wonders why Benelli keeps the other versions in production. It pulls cleanly (virtually vibration-free) from almost any rpm, even in sixth gear, accelerating progressively harder with that crescendo of sound that only a Triple can make.

In the windscreen's low position, wind protection is good, and the shield can be adjusted to a higher setting, although this causes more turbulence. Up and down the twisty mountain roads from Pesaro to the tiny Republic of San Marino and back to the Adriatic coast of Italy, the Tre-K felt most at home in big fast sweepers—not surprising, as the chassis is set up to ensure good stability.

Overall high quality, very palatable styling and the best engine in Benelli's range should help the Tre-K 899 become a much-needed success.