Add Stoppies and Wheelies To Your Daily Commute

Benelli takes a calculated risk based on the popularity of the small-displacement neo-monkeybikes in the U.S. market with the release of the TNT135. A compact 47.8-inch wheelbase sets the tone with a minimal subframe and dinky tires with a 13-horsepower plant that drives the fun with plenty of grunt to pull off all your fancy tricks and whatnot. This pit bike really toes the genre line quite nicely with all the appropriate flavors and attitude, and could possibly pose a very real threat to the established rides coming from Honda and Kawasaki. Can it compete against members of the Big Four? Let’s dig in and see.

Continue reading for my look at the Benelli TNT135.

  • 2018 Benelli TNT135
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    135 cc
  • Price:
    2499
  • Price:

Design

2018 Benelli TNT135
- image 772585
While it is a 'small' bike, it is by no means a 'short' bike with a seat height that puts in the same neighborhood as many mid-size sportbikes.

Monkey bike, ankle-biter, pit bike, trick bike or jackass bike; no matter what you call it, the TNT135 fits the bill with sporty styling that really showcases its Italian heritage. Its other heritage, and indeed its origin, lies in Japan with Honda’s little minibike, the venerable Z50. Benelli honors these roots, but cleave to the modern design aspects with a look not unlike that of the Honda Grom and Kawasaki Z125 PRO.

The compact build and 12-inch hoops set the tone, but its the details that really make this little pitbike so attractive. A smallish front mudguard rides between inverted forks that lends the front end a certain beefiness that suggests great strength and resistance to torsional forces; just what you’re looking for if you plan on putting more miles on the rear tire than you do on the front, because coming down from that moonshot can beat the hell out of the front end not to mention the stresses caused by stoppies.

I can’t say I’m a fan of the Transformer-esque headlight housing that compounds the ugly with whisker-mount turn signals, but I’ll bet the intended audience probably thinks it looks great. One thing’s for sure; the four LED projectors really throw some light out front so you’ve got plenty of lumens to help you see and be seen.

The flyline is typically flat with a minimal tuel-tank bump and an almost-bench seat that overlaps the rear of the tank structure. I say “almost” because the pillion is actually separate from the pilot’s seat with just a skosh of rise to the P-pad. The end result is a look that is very sporty, if Lilliputian in stature. Well to be fair, the 135’s visual smallness is all due to the short wheelbase and small hoops. In truth, because the short frame forces the seat up and over the tank and engine, the 30.7-inch seat height puts the 135 in the same neighborhood as many mid-size sportbikes and taller than almost everything in the American cruiser market, so it is by no means a short bike, at least not along the vertical axis.

Cheek fairings and a visible Trellis frame add to the panache, but it’s the slash-cut, upswept exhaust pipes that follow the angle of the tail-high subframe that really adds an Italian flair. A molded-in, LED taillight and turn signals leaves the arse-end sleek for a very sporty finish with the license plate located down on the very cool-looking hugger mudguard.

Chassis

2018 Benelli TNT135
- image 772588
Inverted forks lend the front end a certain beefiness that suggests great strength and resistance to torsional forces, since coming down from that moonshot can beat the hell out of the front end not to mention the stresses caused by stoppies.

The tubular-steel Trellis upper frame and cast-aluminum lower frame provide the bulk of the assembly, and it uses the engine as a stressed member to complete the structure and reduce weight by replacing the cradle portion of the frame. A rectangular cross-section swingarm comes in the yoke-style, double-sided configuration with a single, coil-over shock tucked away under the subframe to minimize its visual impact. Shock-absorber travel is limited to 1.96-inches, but the swingarm acts as a lever so the travel at the axle is much greater at 4.7 inches. Inverted front forks run with a 41 mm tube diameter and 4.72 inches of travel and nothing in the way of adjustment; the rear monoshock gets the only ride-quality tweak with a spring-preload adjuster.

A 220 mm front disc comes with a twin-pot anchor and the 190 mm disc out back rocks a single-piston caliper to haul it down with no ABS interference. Aluminum rims help keep unsprung weight low, and the fat 120/70-12 up front and fatter 130/70-12 out back provide grip through the necessary lean angles.

Frame: Steel Trellis Upper With Cast Lower
Front Suspension/ Travel: 41 mm Upside-Down Forks/120 mm
Rear Suspension: Rear Swing Arm With Side Mounted Shock Absorber With Adjustable Spring Pre-Load
Rear Shock Absorber Travel: 50 mm (126 mm Wheel Travel)
Front Rim: Aluminum Alloy, 12 x 3.0
Rear Rim: Aluminum Alloy, 12 x 3.5
Front Brake: 220 mm Steel Disk With 2 Piston Caliper
Rear Brake: 190 mm Single Disc With Single Piston Caliper
Front Tire: 120/70-Zr12
Rear Tire: 130/70-Zr12

Drivetrain

2018 Benelli TNT135
- image 772590
No fancy slipper clutch here, just a good old-fashioned wet clutch for the kind of control you need for the...shall we say...'more advanced' styles of riding.

Power comes from a 134.7 cc, air- and oil-cooled thumper. A single over-head cam times the four-valve head with a 28 mm throttle body and electronic fuel-injection system to manage the induction. The long-stroke engine runs a 54 mm bore and 58.8 mm stroke with a 9.8-to-1 compression ratio that will demand mid-grade pusholine.

At the shaft, the dyno measures a total of 8 pound-feet of torque at 7,000 rpm and 13 horsepower at 9 grand, but in reality, only about 10 of those ponies make it to the rear wheel, the rest vanishes into the abyss of mechanical losses. A five-speed transmixxer crunches the ratios with a tough chain drive to carry power to the rear wheel.

No fancy slipper clutch here, just a good old-fashioned wet clutch for the kind of control you need for the, shall we say, more advanced styles of riding. A catalyst and O2 sensors help the plant meet DOT, EPA and CARB specifications.

Engine: Single Cylinder, 4 Stroke, Oil Cooled 4 Valves, Single Overhead Camshaft (SOHC), Double Spark
Displacement: 134.7 cc
Bore x Stroke: 54 x 58.8 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.8:1
Rated Output: 13 hp (9.5 kw) @ 9,000 rpm
Max. Torque: 8 ft lb (10.8 Nm) @ 7,000 rpm
Lubrication: Wet Sump
Fuel Supply: Electronic Fuel Injection With 28 mm Throttle Body
Clutch: Wet Clutch
Gearbox: 5 Speeds
Final Drive: Chain Drive
Starting: Electric
Primary Drive: 3.75

Pricing

2018 Benelli TNT135
- image 772583
While I keep making references to its abilities as a stunt bike, the truth is it makes a dandy commuter.

At $2,499, the TNT135 falls well within entry-level range, and while I keep making references to its abilities as a stunt bike, the truth is it makes a dandy commuter. This price point should make it accessible to entry-level and first-time buyers, or at least the parents who are likely paying for it.

Color: White, Red, Black
Price: $2,499

Competitors

2017 - 2019 Honda Grom
- image 679117
2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
- image 728443
Fit-and-finish can influence choice here, but price may be the deciding factor for the budget-minded buyer.

Benelli is squaring off against some tough customers with the likes of Honda and Kawasaki already entrenched in the market. First off, the Honda Grom that started this whole ankle-biter craze. The Grom sets the standard and the look, so naturally it has the most genuine appearance of the three. Usd front forks and an inconspicuous rear monoshock float the Grom on 3.9 inches of travel on the former and 4.1 inches of travel on the latter, about a break-even point after one factors in the 135’s swingarm length.

Brakes are likewise similar, but Honda offers an ABS version of its Grom, must be for the commuter crowd ’cause the stunt riders will hate it and prefer the non-ABS model. Honda claims 9.7 horsepower and 8 pounds o’ grunt, but that’s at the shaft as well and so actually falls well short of the Benelli’s numbers. Surprising, but there it is. Honda’s $3,349 price tag doesn’t help its case against the TNT, but of course, fit-and-finish will be superior with the Red Rider.

Next, the Z125 PRO from Kawasaki. Kawi rolls its model for a bit less at $3,199, but that’s still the best part of a grand more than the TNT. Power is even worse from the Z with 6.5 pound-feet of torque and 8.3 horsepower on tap, so the few extra cubes packed in the TNT mill serve it well. Kawi’s design varies but a little from the Grom and TNT, but if I’m honest, I gotta’ say I prefer the hugger rear mudguard to the hangey-downey sort that clutter up the subframes of the other two. As with the Grom, Kawasaki’s fit-and-finish will be superior to the Benelli.

He Said

“Sure, it can’t quite beat the big boys across the board, but good enough is good enough if you’re looking for a stunt bike or a commuter and are on a tight budget. Love the look of the hugger and the clean rear end, and of course, the Italian-style pipes don’t hurt. Not a bad contender for a slice of the U.S. market.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “This bike will easily hit 70 mph, so I feel like interstate commutes are on the table. That can be a concern when you get down into these small-displacement engines. It really is a fun bike. I don’t have the mad skillz for stoppies and wheelies and all that, but it’s still a blast to ride. It’s a little tall for a ’mini-bike’ so short folks like me will tippy-toe it at stops, but it’s not heavy so I don’t feel uncomfortable doing it.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Single Cylinder, 4 Stroke, Oil Cooled 4 Valves, Single Overhead Camshaft (SOHC), Double Spark
Displacement: 134.7 cc
Bore x Stroke: 54 x 58.8 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.8:1
Rated Output: 13 hp (9.5 Kw) @ 9,000 rpm
Max. Torque: 8 ft lb (10.8 Nm) @ 7,000 rpm
Lubrication: Wet Sump
Fuel Supply: Electronic Fuel Injection With 28 mm Throttle Body
Exhaust System: Underbody Muffler With Dual Exhaust With Catalytic Converter And Oxygen Sensors
Certification: DOT, CARB And EPA
Clutch: Wet Clutch
Gearbox: 5 Speeds
Final Drive: Chain Drive
Ignition: Delphi MT 05
Spark Plug: Bosch A7RC
Starting: Electric
Gear Ratio: 1st: 2.833 2nd: 1.824 3rd: 1.333 4th: 1.100 5th: 0.909
Primary Drive: 3.75
Chassis:
Frame: Steel Trellis Upper With Cast Lower
Front Suspension/ Travel: 41 mm Upside-Down Forks/120 mm
Rear Suspension: Rear Swing Arm With Side Mounted Shock Absorber With Adjustable Spring Pre-Load
Rear Shock Absorber Travel: 50 mm (126 mm Wheel Travel)
Front Rim: Aluminum Alloy, 12 x 3.0
Rear Rim: Aluminum Alloy, 12 x 3.5
Front Brake: 220 mm Steel Disk With 2 Piston Caliper
Rear Brake: 190 mm Single Disc With Single Piston Caliper
Front Tire: 120/70-Zr12
Rear Tire: 130/70-Zr12
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheelbase: 47.8 in (1,215 mm)
Height Excluding Mirrors: 40.4 in (1,025 mm)
Seat Height: 30.7 in (780 mm)
Length: 68.9 in (1,750 mm)
Width Excluding Mirrors: 29.7 in (755 mm)
Ground Clearance: 6.3 in (160 mm)
Unladen Weight: 255.7 lbs (116 Kg)
Road Ready: Weight 266 lbs (121 Kg)
Permitted Total: Weight 330.7 lbs (150 Kg)
Usable Tank Volume: 1.9 Gal (7.2 L)
Reserve: N/A
Fuel Consumption: N/A
Co2 Emissions: N/A
Details:
Color: White, Red, Black
Price: $2,499

References

Honda Grom

2017 - 2019 Honda Grom
- image 679120

See our review of the Honda Grom.

Kawasaki Z125 PRO

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
- image 679840

See our review of the Kawasaki Z125 PRO.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: usa.benelli.com, powersports.honda.com, kawasaki.com

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