Effectively the TRK 502 X is a full-sized adventure bike that happens to be powered by an A2-compliant, 47bhp motor. In that sense it’s a little different to its closest rival, Honda’s CB500X, which is a more novice-orientated, more manageable machine. But the Benelli is undoubtedly a winner as well, with appealing (for some) full-sized proportions, great spec and nearly-as-good performance – all for a brilliant price. Ride is adequately plush, steering, while not as sharp as some, is OK, it wears decent Metzeler Tourance semi-knobbly tyres and its big seat and broad screen means it’s all-day comfortable as well. Yes, it could do with a touch more quality and refinement, but it’s also far better than you might expect. The star is the Benelli 500cc, 47bhp, A2-compliant parallel twin. Beforehand I’d half expected something crude or wheezy, maybe a rehash of the old KLE500 motor or similar. In reality it matches its closest rival, the purpose built 471cc, 47bhp parallel twin of the Honda CB500X, for performance (it’s only slightly slower due to the TRK’s extra weight), betters its character, slick gearchange and exhaust note and only lags in terms of frugality. Yes, the Benelli’s a budget, Chinese-built bike so questions inevitably remain about dealers, durability and residuals. But when an entry into motorcycling is this desirable, stylish and cheap (and the base version, is even cheaper), how much of that really matters? For me, it’s the first Chinese bike I can take fully seriously… Wow! If you want a full-size adventure bike at a budget price, can cope with the Benelli’s big, full-adventure size and trust in the now Chinese-owned company’s infrastructure, dealers and residuals, the TRK 502 X is simply a brilliant-value all-rounder. Don’t forget, at that money you could get an X, luggage, heated grips and a posh can and STILL be cheaper than its closest rival, Honda’s CB500X. Who said adventure bikes had to be expensive? There’s no getting away from the fact that the Benelli’s impressively equipped. There’s the base TRK 502 at just over £5K, which has more street-orientated 17in cast alloy wheels, lower seat height and so on; while the 502 X here, a bit like BMW’s Adventure version of their GS, is more off-roady with 19/17in wire wheels, longer travel suspension (so is 10mm taller), bash plate and crash protection bars - all for around £5K. It also has twin disc brakes, beefy 50mm inverted forks, 12v socket, hand guards, mainstand and luggage rack. Some of this may not be the very latest (the clocks, for example, are a little old-fashioned) or even best quality (on our test bike there was already the odd spot of rust and some of the fasteners weren’t the best), but for the money it’s difficult to complain.
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