Bikes

New Benelli 302R Is on the Way

Benelli looks to be coming back to the sportbike arena soon with a restyle of its entry-level 302R. (Benelli/)

We’ve yet to see any significant launches from Benelli for 2021, but the company has been busy developing new models that are sure to be officially revealed soon. One of them will no doubt be this new 302R baby sportbike based on the engine from the naked 302S.

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While Benelli has made a 302R before (the number reflects its 300cc, two-cylinder configuration), and the old version remains on sale in some markets, it’s a dated-looking bike these days. The new version, seen here thanks to published type approval documents despite the fact it’s yet to be officially unveiled, solves that problem with entirely new bodywork, though the chassis and engine beneath are largely unaltered.

Beneath the refreshed bodywork, mechanics should be similar to this current 302S naked model, with ABS included.

Beneath the refreshed bodywork, mechanics should be similar to this current 302S naked model, with ABS included. (Benelli/)

The styling starts with a vertically stacked pair of headlights, perhaps a nod to the design of the Tornado Tre that marketed the rebirth of the Benelli brand at the turn of the millennium. The light unit is set into a nose that manages to look slimmer than before by featuring separate side sections to reduce its visual mass and create mock air intakes with LED light strips inside. Further down, the side panels are actually much the same as the previous version, though new graphics and the addition of black paint to the lower section help make them look less bulky than before. It’s a similar story with the fuel tank, which retains the same uncomfortable combination of creases and bumps as the old 302R. Behind it, the seat unit is completely new, with some hints of KTM in both its orange paintwork and the use of flat surfaces and sharp creases.

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Mechanically, the bike appears to be largely unchanged. It’s got the same steel tube frame as the old 302R, and the engine is still a 300cc parallel twin. Power is actually down a fraction, from 38 hp to 35 hp, probably due to emissions-related internal changes, but fortunately the new bodywork is also lighter than before—giving a fully fueled curb weight of 182 kilograms (401 pounds) compared to the old version’s 190 kilograms (419 pounds).

The 1,410mm (55.5 inches) wheelbase is unchanged and the suspension looks to be the same as before, but Bosch 9.1 ABS has been added to the braking system to bring the bike into line with European regulations that make antilock brakes mandatory on new bikes over 125cc. As with the rest of Benelli’s new models for 2021 and 2022, we’re still waiting on official information and details about which bikes will be sold in the USA, but the new type approval means there’s no doubt that this machine is heading for production soon.

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