Usually, Benelli models didn’t impress people that much due to the poor finishing touches and the considered anemic engines, but with the 2008 model range we reckon that things are taking a dramatic change for the best. A great example is the brand-new Benelli BX 449 Cross, a bike that situates among Europe’s greatest dirt track machines.
The Italian maker intends conquering motocross riders with its brand new creation which’s name sounds like the one of a Citroen car, but has nothing to do with it at all. The BX 449 Cross, like its name says is fitted with a carefully engineered 449cc single-cylinder four stroke DOHC four titanium valve engine and a five-speed gearbox. It is good for a start and considering its looks, there is nothing to keep it from climbing the success mountain immediately.
Benelli had definitely knew what it was getting itself into as all its competitors were already good and rolling expecting for somebody new on the scene to smash. But I have a small feeling things won’t be going that way and Benelli will get out of 2008 not only with a clean face, but with a decent fan club too.
Clearly, its fiercest competition comes from Japan under the names every bike manufacturer is afraid of, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki.
The Honda CRF450R practically dominates every MX race that it enters and the recipe is as old as racing: a lightweight package with as many horses underneath as possible. And for 2008 the CRF450R is lighter and sharper than ever before due to its all-new works-style brake rotors, retooled frame geometry, and, hear me out on this one, Honda ’s new Progressive Steering Damper. This last unit helps the machine steer eve sharper and so exploit the 449cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder Unicam four-stroke engine better.
Yamaha has only created successful YZ450F models and the 2008 makes no exception. The thing is that a 449cc liquid-cooled DOHC four-stroke five titanium valves engine can’t make a bad figure in this battle so it simply does an excellent one. Its styling is indeed a bit old and not as sharp as Benelli’s, but the bike isn’t ugly either.
Suzuki entered 2008 with an even simpler looking bike, the RM-Z450. But the Suzi is among the best performing and innovative motocross bikes of 2008 because its 449cc four-stroke, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valve comes fitted with a fuel injection system, the first ever on a motocross bike. Also, due to the redesigned chassis, suspensions and brakes the RM-Z450 is one sweet ride.
For 2008, the Kawasaki KX450F enters the scene featuring a revised engine and gearbox, the goal being smoothness and linear power delivery. The bike is also less rigid so it will handle better on those sharp bends around the track. Powering it is the carbureted 449cc Liquid-cooled, four-stroke single with DOHC and four valves per cylinder.
From the old continent, the KTM 450 SX-F is characterized best by performance, reliability, and ingenious features making it perfect to be set up against the Benelli BX 449 Cross. Its engine is a 449.3cc liquid cooled single cylinder four-stroke and the four-speed gearbox is there to back it up. All of the other bikes in this category come with five-speed transmissions, but KTM is a little special and uses revs in order to prove its good point.
Even though we name it last, the Husqvarna TC450 isn’t the least. Revisions to the engine and tranny for 2008 consist into a new valve lifting system, new chain tensioner and clutch basket while the chassis is brand new, complete with 50mm Marzocchi forks and everything. The 449cc four-stroke, four valves, DOHC, liquid cooled single was a great performer from the start so we’re expecting a great motocross battle.
People can underestimate a Benelli as much as they feel like, but they can never call it unattractive. It is something about the bike’s stylish angular lines and the color combination that can knock anyone down, not to mention a passionate motocross fan that goes looking for the sharpest looking model out there.
In the front, a tall green fender will talk about the bike’s off-road abilities as well as the black mudguards. Further continuing the process is the boomerang-like side panels with the same coloring. What is different, I mean gray, is the front number plate which together with the rear fender makes a perfect color match with the frame.
The alloy wheels are painted black and the bike’s ergonomics are exactly what you will find on a Honda or Yamaha . What you won’t find on those bikes though is the aftermarket-looking standard exhaust fitted on the thing. I know it sounds strange, but take a look at it!
Finishing touches are excellent so the Benelli remains loyal to Italian styling reminding us of the famous saying that Japanese performance and Italian styling is the best recipe for the perfect bike, no matter category.
But it seems that this maker intends to turn things in its favor with the help of this machine performing similar to a Japanese bike. It is a truly great performer and it lets you know that from the second you’ve swing a leg over it.
Hit the push start button or give it a kick to start the fresh out of the drawing board single cylinder four-stroke DOHC four titanium valve engine displacing 449cc and you’ll be thrilled by the strong bang exiting the two muffler exhaust while letting it worm up a little bit. The unit provides the light bike with 53 horsepower so twisting the throttle and unchaining them is a great riding experience.
Pull the smooth clutch, hit first gear and the way we go. The first impression is that I’m actually riding a Japanese dirt bike, but hey…maybe that’s just me so we had to empty a couple of tanks before getting a better opinion on it. It is perfect for fast take offs in first and even second gear, with a little bit of enthusiastic twisting of the throttle, and if you don’t weight much it will easily pop up unwanted wheelies. But that’s never a problem in motocross even though in order to obtain the best lap times a rider would have to keep its bike’s wheels on the ground as much as possible.
From the bottom of the rev range, the big engine has a healthy pull while waiting for the revolutions to reach the mid range and start unchaining all of the horses, kind of like a small introduction for what the rider will experience when reaching top-end, no matter which gear he’s in. This made it perfect on the track’s straight line and before jumps. Wait…isn’t this what motocross is all about?
Taking it through corners is the easiest thing and that is all due to the light and versatile chassis and the ergonomics which accommodate the rider on the ideal riding spot in order to feel the bike properly and action as should. The result is a fast in fast out cornering procedure which will surely contribute at those much aimed lap times.
After spending an entire day on it and exploit it like there was no tomorrow I noticed that the bike isn’t uncomfortable at all. In fact, it will tire you, but you won’t come off of it beaten if you don’t try really hard.
The fully adjustable suspensions will definitely suit every potential customer as they suited me and offer the same great bottoming resistance for those aggressive landings. Front fork is 50mm in diameter and at the rear Sachs provided the shock absorber. Both ends feature 310mm wheel travel.
All those horses can be easily harnessed on the Benelli with the help of two wave rotors featuring 260mm front and 220mm rear in diameter. Grab a handful of its brake lever and apply the rear brake in the same time and stopping power will strike you like a great idea. This makes it perfect to be pushed strongly before a tight corner or before a quick stop to share your impressions.
One of the most aggressive looking motocross bikes I’ve ever ridden happens not to come from the country of the most popular dirt bikes, but from the beautiful, inspiring and nostalgic Italy. With the BX 449 Cross, Benelli delivers a great new alternative for those who feel like they don’t want to go with the crowd, but their own true way.
Engine and Transmission
Type: Single cylinder 4 stroke DOHC 4 titanium valve
Cylinder capacity: 449 cc
Bore x Stroke: 98 x 59,5
Compression Ratio: 12,5:1
Maximum Power: 41,3 KW @ 9500 rot/min
Maximum net Torque: RPM 45 Nm @ 7000 rot/min
Intake Valve Diameter: Ø 37 mm
Exhaust Valve Diameter: Ø 32 mm
Lubrication System: Wet sump and reeds
Fuel System: Carburetor, KEIHIN FCR MX 41
Clutch: Wet clutch 7 steel disks
Ignition: Kokusan CDI digital
Starting: Kick starter
Gearbox: 5 speed extractable
Transmission: Chain 520
Alternator: 60 w
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Aluminum alloy Perimeter with casting, moulded, extruded parts and structural carbon roods elements patent
Front Suspension: Ø 50 mm fully adjustable
Front Travel: 310 mm
Rear Suspension: Sachs shock absorber fully adjustable
Rear Travel: 310 mm
Trail: 110 mm
Offset: 24 mm
Front Brake Diameter: Wave, Ø 260 mm
Rear Brake Diameter: Wave, Ø 220 mm
Front Rim: 1,60’
Front Tyre: 80-100/21
Rear Rim 2,15’
Rear Tyre: 110-90/19
Steering Angle: 45°/45°
Length: 2160 mm
Width: 810 mm
Height: 1240 mm
Seat Height: 960 mm
Wheelbase: 1450 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 9 l
Weight: 108 kg