The basic architecture of this fuel injected, liquid-cooled 105bhp three-cylinder engine can be traced all the back to the original Benelli Tornado superbike. Last year it also featured in the TNT899 super naked, but in this guise the motor is tuned for lots of real-world grunt and has a nice flat torque curve. There’s a healthy kick of power at high rpm and a wailing three-cylinder soundtrack to die for. The throttle response isn’t completely smooth at low revs but Benelli put this down to the fuel mapping they’ve had to use to pass Euro 3 emissions tests. This motor doesn’t have the slipper clutch of its bigger 1130cc brother, so there’s lots of engine braking off the throttle, which isn’t a problem, it just takes getting used to.
In today’s market, the Tre K 899 looks good value for money. For your hard-earned you get exclusivity, a historic badge on the fuel tank, a rasping soundtrack, practicality, comfort and lots of fun. In short, it’s a superb machine.
The spacious riding position is perfect and the pegs and handlebars couldn’t be placed any more naturally for comfortable riding. The seat is nicely padded and there’s excellent wind protection from the manually adjusted screen. There’s a 20.7-litre fuel tank for big miles and it comes fitted with Dunlop’s brilliant RoadSmart sports touring tyres, which is MCN’s 2008 tyre of the year. The leverage offered by the wide bars make the Tre K 899 easy to flick through tight, twisty flip-flop corners. It’s as agile as a big supermoto, like the Ducati Hypermotard or KTM990SM or SMT. With a chassis set-up perfected by test rider and ex-Bimota works racer Gianluca Galasso, the Benelli is stable in the corners and offers lots of feedback, despite have non-adjustable 50mm Marzocchi forks and a Sachs rear shock adjustable for preload and rebound damping only.
There’s no denying Benelli had some quality and reliability issues in the past, but with the new Chinese owners aboard things have changed at Benelli. Although outwardly the Italian firm’s basic line-up doesn’t seem to have changed over the years, there has been a lot of research and development behind the scenes to make their motorcycles more rugged and reliable. Build quality on the Tre K 899 is very good, we’ll have to wait to see how it stands the test of time.
To keep costs down, the Tre K 899 doesn’t have fully-adjustable suspension and is missing some of the fancy panels and bellypan of the Tre K 1130, but there’s still an impressive level of equipment, like 50mm Marzocchi forks, Brembo brakes and a manually adjustable screen. There’s a full range of aftermarket goodies available from luggage to Ohlins suspension.