Now With Fuel Injection

SSR Motorsports continues its full-court press for a slice of the U.S. market by importing Benelli’s Caffenero 150 scooter to attract the entry-level crowd and maybe some urban-commuter traffic with its youthful looks and modern styling. A water-cooled plant churns out almost 13 horsepower with the expected twist-and-go operation courtesy of the CVT transmission so it’s easy to manage and control, even with no prior riding experience. Two-up seating and ’tween-feet storage lend the Caffenero a certain amount of inherent utility as well, so let’s jump in and see what else Benelli has going on with this ride.

Continue reading for my review of the Benelli Caffenero 150.

Design

2018 Benelli Caffenero 150
- image 773277
The wheelbase puts it in the mid-size scooter category, but it's the cast 16-inch wheels at both ends that really give it such a “little-bigbike” look.

Benelli falls under the Chinese-based Q.J./Keeway umbrella, but the Caffenero retains plenty of Italian DNA in its overall appearance as well as its performance. The wheelbase puts it in the mid-size scooter category with 54 inches between contact-patch centers, but it’s the cast 16-inch wheels at both ends that really give it such a little-bigbike look.

A cut-down front fender rides between proper motorcycle-style telescopic forks, and that minimalist theme continues through the rest of the machine with a narrow build that pulls the sides in and leaves the Black Coffee (seriously, that’s what the name translates to) with a minimal footspace and step-through. The good news is that since there’s no tunnel to interrupt the floorboard area, you get to use the ’teen-feet storage to expand the Caffenero’s meager cargo-carrying capacity.

Flip-up footboards and a grabrail join the pillion-pad to complete the passenger’s gear, and if passenger and pilot aren’t good friends at the beginning of the ride, they likely will be by the end of it because the p-pad is rather short and will place pillion and pilot in very close proximity indeed.

A black grille leads the way with recessed turn-signal housings in the edges of the false cowl formed by the fairing lowers for some clean lighting to match the headlight in the handebar fairing and the tail/turn-signal group out back, all with LED tech to put out the lumens. The handlebar rocks a fairing similar to the classic Italian-style rides but puts a contemporary spin on it with some sporty angles and a miniature flyscreen that looks cool, but probably shelters little beyond the instrumentation that rides just behind. Overall, a fairly sleek visage greets the eye, and it’s clear that the Caffenero is catering to the younger end of the buyer spectrum.

Chassis

2018 Benelli Caffenero 150
- image 773275
These large-diameter tires lend the Caffenero handling characteristics far beyond what you can expect from scooters rolling on the typical 12- to 14-inch doughnuts.

Rather than relying on a complex monocoque assembly to provide the structure, Benelli runs with the underframe option that I vastly prefer for its ease of body repairs compared to the alternative, generally speaking. Hydraulically-dampened telescopic forks float the front end on 3.54 inches of travel with a pair of coil-over rear shocks that dampen the motion of the swingmount drive system.

As for the wheels, it’s impossible to overstate the value of those 16-inch rims along with the 100/80 and 120/80 hoops they mount on the front and rear, respectively. These large-diameter tires lend the Caffenero handling characteristics far beyond what you can expect from scooters rolling on the typical 12- to 14-inch doughnuts.

Benelli kept the brakes modern as well with fore-and-aft hydraulic discs. Thank goodness; it is an unending source of amazement for me that so many manufacturers cling to their rear drum brakes, only to inflict them on their patrons. The discs measure out at 250 mm with straight up honest braking and no ABS to complicate the plumbing.

Front Suspension/Travel: Telescopic Forks/ 90 mm
Rear Suspension/ Stroke: Telescopic Coil Spring Oil Damped/ 50 mm
Front Brake: Disc, Ø 250 mm
Rear Brake: Disc, Ø 250 mm
Front Tire: 100/80-16
Rear Tire: 120/80-16

Drivetrain

2018 Benelli Caffenero 150
- image 773285
Keep it around town, 'cause on the highway, it's going to take everything you've got to keep up.

A water-cooled thumper drives the Caffenero, and as with most scooters, it is a stressed member that bolts up to the transmission housing that also mounts the rear wheel to form the swing-mount drive unit. The single cylinder displaces 150.1 cc and uses EFI to manage the induction and help it meet emission standards which are relatively lax on these small-displacement mills.

At 7,500 rpm, the plant generates 12.9 horsepower at the shaft with 9.8 pound-feet to torque at 6 grand, and that power flows through the V-belt, continuously-variable transmission for the twist-and-go operation sans clutch or foot shifter. A centrifugal clutch decouples the system at idle to act as a sort of neutral.

Numbers on the top speed are scarce and/or questionable. I’ve seen one dude claim 82 mph, but I know for a fact that he had significant help from the terrain to hit some artificially high speeds. Suffice to say, if you try to take this thing on the interstate, you’re going to be spending a lot of time looking over your shoulder ’cause it’s going to take everything you’ve got to keep up.

Engine: Single Cylinder, Water-cooled, 4-stroke
Displacement: 150.1 cc
Max Power: 12.9 hp @ 7,500 rpm
Max Torque: 9.8 ft lb @ 6,000 rpm
Fuel System: EFI
Starter Electric:
Transmission: V-Belt Automatic

Pricing

2018 Benelli Caffenero 150
- image 773282
MSRP makes it attractive for folks on a budget.

The price should make it attractive enough to riders on a budget with a $2,399 MSRP. A destination charge of $235 gets tacked onto that, and you can seriously inflate that figure if you visit the accessories catalog.

Colors: White, Black, Silver
Price: $2,399

Competitors

2018 Benelli Caffenero 150
- image 773287
2016 - 2018 Yamaha SMAX
- image 733515
Fit-and-finish goes to the Tuning Fork Company, but on-a-budget buyers may go for the Benelli.

If it’s more important for you to stick near the same engine size than to bargain hunt, then Yamaha’s SMAX may also be on your short list. Now to be fair, at $4,099 there’s a bit of a price gap to be sure, but you aren’t bargain hunting, remember? What does that get you? Well, another modern-looking ride for starters. The front end is reminiscent of the larger-displacemnt XMAX wth a tall vented windshield that beats the socks off the Caffenero’s flyscreen as far as rider protection goes.

A full step-through leaves room for storage and easy mounting/dismounting, just like the Benelli, but Yamaha scores major points with an underseat storage compartment that the Caffenero doesn’t seem to have room for. The powerplants are similar in their layout and cooling method, but Yamaha crams in more cubage with a 155 cc thumper and claims 10 pound-feet; 0.2 pounds more than the Benelli; barely worth mentioning, but there it is. Of course, there’s the fit-and-finish to consider, and the win goes to the Tuning Fork Company on that point so that goes a long way to justifying some of the price difference.

He Said

“No way around it; it may have an Italian name and look, but this is a Chinese-built scooter and you are welcome to read anything into that you like. Wink, nudge. It ain’t a bad-looking ride, but it doesn’t exactly stand out from the crowd very well, except for that bitchin’ grille on the front, that’s a nice detail. It’s probably good for a short/easy commute, but if price isn’t an issue, that SMAX gives you a lot more bike for your buck.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I am happy to see fuel injection this year. Along with front and rear disc brakes, that tells me this scooter can be a contender. When we first started looking at this scooter, I was joking around calling it the “caffeine-a-reno” and it turns out I wasn’t far off the mark. When translated, the name is Black Coffee.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Single Cylinder, Water-cooled, 4-stroke
Displacement: 150.1 cc
Max Power: 12.9 hp @ 7,500 rpm
Max Torque: 9.8 ft·lb @ 6,000 rpm
Fuel System: EFI
Starter: Electric
Transmission: V-Belt Automatic
Chassis:
Front Suspension/Travel: Telescopic Forks/ 90 mm
Rear Suspension/ Stroke: Telescopic Coil Spring Oil Damped/ 50 mm
Front Brake: Disc, Ø 250 mm
Rear Brake: Disc, Ø 250 mm
Front Tire: 100/80-16
Rear Tire: 120/80-16
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 81.5 inches
Overall Width: 29 inches
Overall Height: 48 inches
Seat Height: 31.5 inches
Wheelbase: 54 inches
Ground Clearance: 5 inches
Fuel Tank: 1.98 gallons
Weight: 330 pounds
Details:
Colors: White, Black, Silver
Price: $2,399

References

Yamaha SMAX

2016 - 2018 Yamaha SMAX
- image 733514

See our review of the [Yamaha SMAX->art171238

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: benelli.ssrmotorsports.com, nyc-motorsports.com, phillycycle.com, picautos.com, yamaha-motor.com, benelli.co.id

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