A Metro-Commuter With A Healthy Dose Of Sporty Sass

SSR Motorsports brings Benelli’s Zafferano 250EFI to the U.S. market as an alternative to the big-name, high-dollar marques. A metro-commuter visage greets the eye with sweepy, modern looks and a healthy dose of sporty sass. A 20-pony plant pushes the Zafferano, so the sporty looks are not just for show. All-around disc brakes and a CVT gearbox round out the modernized features.

Continue reading for my look at the Benelli Zafferano 250EFI.

  • 2018 Benelli Zafferano 250EFI
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    250 cc
  • Price:
  • Price:


2018 Benelli Zafferano 250EFI
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Yeah, the thing looks like it's going fast even when sitting still.

It seems the Zafferano is meant to appeal to urban commuters who want that scooter convenience without that old-school look. A chiseled front fender rides between blackout fork sliders for an edginess right off the bat that continues throughout the design. The fairing resembles nothing more than the nose of an aircraft with split, recessed headlights and a stylish windscreen up top; all of which falls on the same angle for a smooth visual flow that suggests a decent amount of penetration. Yeah, the thing looks like it’s going fast even when sitting still.

Tucked away behind the windshield is the instrument cluster that sports a pair of round, analog clocks for the speedo and tach, plus a backlit LED screen for the other important metrics that includes a digital fuel-level display. That’s right, no watching the trip meter to guess at your fuel state, just glance at the screen.

The saddle comes with a 31.75-inch height and a dramatic taper at the front end that is meant to give the rider’s thighs some room when it comes time to deploy the training wheels. Fairing lowers form a shelter for the lower legs with recessed turn signals for a super-clean front end and full-size footwells, but unfortunately, the tunnel drastically reduces the room in the step-through and eliminates any chance at storing some swag between your feet.

An elevated P-pad, J.C. handles and floorboards provide the passenger with their five points of contact, and the handles serve as a handy place to hang a bungee net for a little backseat storage. And speaking of storage, it’ll hold a full-face helmet but not much more. I was a little disappointed.

The rear end is as clean as the front with turn signals and taillights recessed in the subframe above a mudguard-mount plateholder. You can’t hide the exhaust system on a ride like this, but you can dress it up a bit, and that’s what the factory did with a stylized and cut-out heat shield. A nifty coat-of-arms-looking graphic graces the flanks with a lion and wreath in black paint for a nice final touch.


2018 Benelli Zafferano 250EFI
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Dual front discs with twin-pot calipers and a disc in rear, too, so you'll have as much brakeage as your skill and bravery will allow

A steel Trestle-type frame serves as the main structure, something I’m glad to see since I really don’t care for monocoque, or “stressed-skin” assemblies very much. Another feature I’m happy to see is the motorcycle-style telescopic forks instead of the aircraft landing gear-type front end we see from some manufacturers, not sayin’ any names (cough, Piaggio).

The standard swing-mount system articulates the rear wheel with a preload-adjustable, coil-over shock to tame the motion. Surprisingly, the front end sports dual, 190 mm discs with twin-pot calipers and a third 190 mm disc out back, so you can forget about the typical token rear drum brake. You can also forget about ABS protection, as well, but at least you’ll have as much brakeage as your skill and bravery will allow. Cast wheels round out the rolling chassis with a 120/70-14 up front and 140/60-14 out back. Traction control? Dude, it’s still just a scooter after all.


2018 Benelli Zafferano 250EFI
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I can tell you that it will come out of the hole like a champ.

Power comes from a water-cooled, 249.8 cc thumper that, like the vast majority of scooters, comes married to the transmission case as a stressed member that actually holds the rear wheel on and makes it go roundy-round all at once. A cable-type throttle controls the induction with an electronic fuel-injection system to meter the fuel. Slightly oversquare, the mill runs a 69 mm bore and 66.8 mm stroke with dual over-head cams to time the four-valve head.

Twist-and-go operation is what you can expect with the continuously-variable transmission and centrifugal clutch that decouples engine power from the tranny at idle. Speed figures aren’t readily available, but I expect this to be capable of highway travel, but probably should avoid the interstate. The final power numbers from the dyno show 20.1-horsepower at 7,000 RPM and a max of 17.3 pound-feet of torque at 7,500, and I can tell you that it will come out of the hole like a champ.


2018 Benelli Zafferano 250EFI
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MSRP is in the affordable range for an urban or suburban commuter.

U.S. MSRP is listed at $3,299 with a $295 destination charge. That kind of sticker makes it attractive for college students and folks looking for some inexpensive urban or suburban transportation.


2018 Benelli Zafferano 250EFI
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2018 - 2019 Yamaha XMAX
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Yamaha looks enticing until you get to the checkout counter.

Let’s face it; Benelli’s Zafferano is going to come up against some pretty big names in this market, so I don’t feel bad one bit for going to a proven urban commuter, the Yamaha XMAX. Yamaha shows a maturity of design here that is sure to appeal to someone looking for something a bit less sophomoric than the Zafferano. The XMAX hits all the usual high points with a little lagniappe in the form of some lockable storage under the seat; something the Benelli seems to lack.

Yamaha also finds a way to get a 12-Volt power port on board so you can charge your devices on the go, something else the Zafferano lacks. The Xmax packs in a few extra cubes with a 292 cc plant that cranks out 27.6-horsepower and 21 pound-feet of torque, significantly more power than the Benelli mill with its 20.1/17.3 figures.

So far, the Yamaha is looking pretty good, but Benelli gets the last laugh at the checkout with its low sticker versus the $5,599 tag on the XMAX, and that difference is liable to buy it quite a bit of business from the budget-buyer crowd.

He Said

My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, “It looks fast standing still, but it takes that sweepy look almost to the point of comedy. Just me? Oh well, just callin’ it like I see it. Like most mid-size scooters, you’re going to have to pick your routes to avoid the interstate, or be prepared to use every ounce of power just to keep up. I’m sure there are plenty of places you can use such a ride, but it’s something to keep in mind.”

She Said

“For folks that might recognize the Zafferano, it’s called the Keeway Silverblade in other markets, Europe and such. With my short legs, I’m fine, but the stadium seating of the pillion reduces the room that tall folks might have had to push back in the saddle and get a little legroom so you all might feel a bit cramped. Overall, I think it’s fairly comfortable. The suspension seems quite adequate, power delivery was good, and seriously? Dual front brakes? Yeah, they’re only 190 mm discs, but still. Braking seemed confidence-inspiring.”


Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Single Cylinder, Water-cooled, 4-stroke
Displacement: 249.8 cc
Max Power: 20.1 hp @ 7,000 rpm
Max Torque: 17.3 ft·lb @ 7,500 rpm
Fuel System: EFI
Starter: Electric
Transmission: V-Belt Automatic
Front Suspension: Telescopic Forks
Front Travel: 70 mm
Rear Suspension: Telescopic Coil Spring Oil Damped
Rear Stroke: 70 mm
Front Brake: Dual Disc, Ø 190 mm
Rear Brake: Single Disc, Ø 190 mm
Front Tire: 120/70-14
Overall Length: 84.25 inches
Overall Width: 31.5 inches
Overall Height: 55.75 inches
Seat Height: 31.75 inches
Wheelbase: 58.75 inches
Ground Clearance: 4.1 inches
Fuel Tank: 2.83 gallons
Weight: 427 pounds
Colors: Red, Grey, White
Price: $3,299


Yamaha XMAX

2018 - 2019 Yamaha XMAX
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See our review of the Yamaha XMAX

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: Bule doyan motor @Youtube, yamaha-motor.com, benelli.ssrmotorsports.com

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