Benelli Imperiale 400: Can This Rival Royal Enfield Classic 350?

These two cruiser bikes will go head-to-head, once Benelli launches its sub-500cc bike in the Indian market.

Published09 Oct 2019, 03:01 PM IST
Car and Bike
4 min read

Royal Enfield has been racking up the numbers with the popular Classic 350 series in India. This bike sells over 40,000 units on an average every month, and none of its competitors have been able to match the iconic bike manufacturer.

However, with the launch of Jawa and upcoming debut of Benelli in the segment, cruiser bike options are increasing for buyers, which can only be a good problem to have for them.

Now that we’ve seen how the Jawa’s compare with the Classic 350, it’s time to see what Benelli will be offering with the Imperiale 400, which is reportedly launching in the coming weeks and whether it can challenge Royal Enfield’s monopoly.

Benelli Imperiale 400: Can This Rival Royal Enfield Classic 350?
(Photo: Kamran Akhter/The Quint)

Let’s Talk Design

There isn’t a lot of difference between what Royal Enfield and Benelli have to offer, with regards to the design of their bikes. Both have added a definite ‘cruiser’ touch to the bikes, with round-shaped headlamps, long-tailing silencer and naked engine unit that powers them.

Royal Enfield has thrived on its legacy, which goes way back to the days of World War. The Classic 350 has been rechristened with a modern design style, and features that marry its legacy with the needs of a bike rider in this era.

This is the Classic 350.
This is the Classic 350.
(Photo: Royal Enfield)
But unlike the Classic 350, Benelli offers a dual round-shaped instrument cluster, and more importantly, a fuel gauge meter as well. 
Different looking instrument cluster on the Imperiale 400.
Different looking instrument cluster on the Imperiale 400.
(Photo: Benelli India)

Both the bikes carry spokes, which means, reliance on tube tyres, not ideal when you’ve got the option to go tubeless these days. The Class 350 gets a heavier front tank, which, understandably manages to pack more fuel than the Imperiale 400.

More Power to Cruise

Benelli’s 400cc air-cooled cruiser engine offers 374cc displacement, which packs 19BHP of power and over 28Nm of torque.

These figures are similar to that of the Classic 350, however, it’s worth pointing out Royal Enfield uses a 346cc air-cooled motor. Which suggests, the Imperiale 400 will be able to push ahead of the Classic 350 by a few seconds less.

Both the bikes are mated to a 5-speed gearbox, and neither of them offer slipper clutch for smoother ride handling. Most of you might argue that mid-segment cruisers are not meant to fly off the roads/tracks and they’re probably right, but still, for the price one is paying, a little extra thrust won’t hurt.

Side view of the Imperiale 400.
Side view of the Imperiale 400.
(Photo: Benelli India)

Considering Benelli’s bike will cost upwards of 2 lakh, we’d have liked the company to offer a liquid-cooled engine, but they’re probably using air-cooled unit to keep the costs (of completely built unit) down.

Royal Enfield has loaded the Classic 350 with a 13.5-litre fuel tank, whereas Benelli seems content in offering 12-litre tank to fill up with petrol. Hopefully, they’ll tune the bike to offer better mileage than its competition, that too on crowded Indian roads.

What Else?

It’s heartening to see both the manufacturers are keeping safety of the riders in mind with these bikes, by offering the best they can, especially in this price bracket. The Imperiale 400 gets 300mm discs on the front, and 240mm at the back, ably supported by dual-channel ABS.

As for the Classic 350, you get 280mm on the front and 240mm disc brakes at the back. This one, also comes with dual-channel ABS, which has become mandatory for bikes with engine above 300cc. Both definitely offer kick and switch start option, and both of them get 19-inch wheels on the front, and 18-inch tyres at the back.

Benelli Imperiale 400: Can This Rival Royal Enfield Classic 350?
(Photo: Royal Enfield and Benelli)

Speaking of cruisers, Royal Enfield has a big range of accessories, that are ideally used by riders during their long trips to the hills. Benelli will have to offer something similar to appeal to riding enthusiasts.

Will Benelli Challenge the ‘Classic’ Monopoly?

So, does the Benelli manage to impress with its upcoming Imperiale 400 cruiser bike? It’s got a bigger engine compared to the Classic 350 but it’s still an air-cooled unit.

Feature-wise, both the bikes are equally matched, which speaks more about the ‘value’ factor that Royal Enfield manages to offer with its pricing.

The Benelli network needs further expansion, with support for its bikes, and availability of parts, to come anywhere close to the numbers that Royal Enfield manages with the Classic series month on month. And if Benelli manages to price the Imperiale 400 aggressively, we might finally have a ‘battle of cruisers’ on our hands.

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