2006 Benelli TRE 1130 K

We are assembled outside the paddock gates at Misano one sunny morning in September to ride the new Benelli Tre-K in conjunction with the “I love Benelli” weekend. In true Italian fashion the last bikes were finished the night before and there is chaos! I grabbed a key and a photographer and off we went on the most scenic roads offered on the Italian East coast. The bends are many and very tight, perfect to test a motorcycle on, but also slippery.

On the left hand side on the instrument panel Benelli have kept the Power management button from TNT that allows you to soften the power. A two-way ECU enables two different engine mappings and the soft power option can be useful when it rains or in other scenarios when you want softer throttle response.
I only used the button to be able to write about it as the Tre-K is much more fun to ride with full power. Full power is a claimed 125bhp @ 9000 rpm and 115Nm @ 6250rpm. Compared to Ducati Multistrada and Yamaha TDM900 this is a lot of horsepower! The 1130cc in-line triple is in a slightly lower state of tune than the TNT, but 125bhp is still plenty of power. Whilst the Tre-K wants to lift the front wheel when full throttle in first gear, nothing much happens when doing the same on soft power.
I could feel the engine management cutting power and I would only use the soft power option if it was dangerously slippery or to save fuel.

The triple engine is a very versatile engine that Benelli have in several different states of tune. The most powerful version sits on the new 163bhp Tornado 1130. Benelli claims that more than 100Nm of torque is available already at 4.500 rpm. This makes for a very strong midrange and on the motorway I could easily cruise in sixth gear all day as there are huge reserves in the engine.
The triple sounds a bit rough in the edges compared to a smooth Triumph 1050, but as soon as you use the throttle a bit the roughness on idle and lower rpms disappears into a hysteric three-way scream from the underseat exhaust.

The seat height on Tre-K is more like on a sportsbike than a big adventure bike. At 810mm the seat height is 40mm lower than on Ducati’s Multistrada. To try and categorize the bike it falls in between a mild adventure bike and a sports tourer.
The only Adventure about the Tre-K is a few styling details such as the belly pan and the adjustable windscreen. The handlebar is raised and makes for a upright seating position. The seat itself is very thin and stylish-nothing for globetrotters in other words. It is even worse for the passenger where only a thin and narrow seat separates the pillion from the underseat exhaust.
The windscreen can be manually adjusted by unscrewing one knob on each side of the half-fairing. The screen is not half as solid as something that you would find on a big BMW and the wind pushes it backwards-Probably best left in its lower position. The tyres are the latest cross-over tyres from Dunlop, the D270. They have been designed particularly for bikes such as the Tre-K.

The pattern is wide enough for some gravel, but still road-biased. On the slippery roads along the Adriatic coast they provided sufficient grip even though the rear can get a bit loose. The engine delivers a lot of torque and if I had felt it would be a problem I could always push the power button. Dimensions are 120/70-17 and 180/55-17.
Benelli are using lightweight Brembo aluminium alloy wheels. Brembo makes sure the bike stops too with double disc brakes with four pot calipers. I got a good feel through the front and they are plenty powerful enough. Benelli have used the Italian favourite combination of a USD 50mm Marzocchi front fork and Extremetech mono-shock at the rear.

This works fine in most situations on the road, but I would be careful on gravel not to get stone chipping on those fork legs. Suspension is fairly soft, but not too soft for some fast cornering.
Tre-K handles really well and feels nimble despite the claimed 205kg dry weight. The chassis is the same tubular work of art as on the TNT. The swingarm in particular deserves some admiration.
I rode the TNT Café Racer on Misano later in the day and the same chassis can handle most situations even on the roadracing track. With the wide handlebars on Tre-K it was very easy to change direction or correct the lines through the bends.

The triple engine and chassis really is something special, but there are other more hidden issues. Reports of bad batteries, faulting alternators, bad quality primary gear components and wrong throttle opening on idle causing the bikes to stall. In my group of four journalists only one Tre-K stalled and it started again. But during the whole day the alternator problem and/or cheap and too small batteries caused at least a dozen bikes that I could see to stall or break down.
In 2006 Benelli have reduced the problems to minor ones in terms of fixing them (and they have replaced bad suppliers with good ones). However, if a battery fails you when you are in the middle of nowhere the minor problem turns into a big problem. The German Benelli importer sold 1000 TNT’s in 2005. More than anywhere else in the world, but then he said, and I quote; “I also got a 1000 problems out of it”.

So there are some serious reliability issues throughout the company and organisation. You need to be seriously in love to buy one, but make sure the importer has sorted all of the known issues before handing over your hard earned cash. Knowing all this would always stop me from raving about the new Tre-K. But if all issues were gone and the reliability was just as good as let’s say the Multistrada, the Tre-K is one hell of a bike and really special. I love the looks, technology, engine and chassis, but wouldn’t buy one just yet.

Engineers had carefully considered the off-road factor so the frame created provides an easy ride while being sensitive to a rider’s actions. Also, a carefully positioned radiator allows high thermal exchanges when riding your own dusty path at low speed. Completing the chassis’s efficiency is the rear suspension system which manages to combine stability and comfort in the most efficient way.
But none of the previously mentioned features would have mattered if the bike wasn’t powered by the fuel-injected 1131cc liquid-cooled inline-triple engine. The powerful and efficiently-tuned motor is what practically launches this bike like a ramp in the customer’s eyes so we’ll be further studying it.

History

We’ve all witnessed Benelli’s launch of the Tornado Tre 1130 K in 2006 and couldn’t helped noticing what a refined bike it was from the very beginning. In fact, the Tornado Tre 1130 we’ve had the opportunity to swing a leg over the past days, even though a 2008 model, it is exactly what a buyer would have received two years ago, meaning that refinements didn’t rushed coming at Benellis, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the bike needs them.
If you’re reckoning the Tre 1130 K is not thrust-worthy enough it is also good to know that this maker has been produced the Tornado (only as a sports bike) ever since 2001 and the line-up doesn’t stop growing. So the engine, tranny are not recently developed, but more of relatively recently refined.
Competition

As much as the Benelli would try to individualize itself as one truly unique motorcycle, in the mind of its owners there will always be the Triumph Tiger. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t even decide on one so why judge you?
A fight between an Italian and a British motorcycle is indeed expected to be tight, but this is definitely the roughest competition ever. Both of these two are the kind of motorcycle on which you’re way up on the seat, plan to ride it outside the street limits and yet you wear a suit with knee-scrapers.


The Tiger is perfect for gathering miles and miles on weekend trips thanks to its ability to dress as much characters as the rider holding the throttle feels like. This bike can be a commuter, it can tour, and it can even find you scratching the asphalt while trying to leave behind the Tornado. And this will not be the easiest task for the electronically fuel injected 1050cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, in-line three-cylinder engine found on the jungle boy as the 114bhp and 74ft.lbf will have to beat Tornado’s 123bhp and 85ft.lbf.

So I guess everything now depends on the way the two competitors go through corners. The Triumph Tiger, as well as the Benelli Tornado benefit of wide bars which radically improve their easy maneuverability and determines me to call it even. I guess everything depends on each one’s tastes and preferences. But they can also be influenced by the Tiger’s $10,999 MSRP or $11,799 for the ABS version that is available.

Exterior

By simply taking a look at the Benelli Tornado Tre 1130 K the bike’s design will immediately establish an attraction that is hard to ignore even when the Tiger is seen. While riding the thing I noticed many people turning their heads after it and I reckon that it all has to do with its slender look. With one occasion while stopping for gas and a cup of coffee a nice citizen approached me to manifest its curiosity and amaze related to the bike’s exterior. I quote: “It looks like the air tunnel wind molded it or like a long-hair guy driving a convertible!”

This is how people tend to percept it, but for a half-faired motorcycle I must say that it attracts the eye, liking it or not. The headlights are stretched almost on the entire front fairing and the windshield is positioned at sport bike angle. There was no room for the signal lights in this harmony so they were simply integrated in the mirror’s support.
It has a nice, tall and stylish gas tank which underneath it reveals the three-cylinder engine heading its exhaust pipes to the silencer positioned under the seat.

TRE-K 1130

Engine: 4 stroke, 3 cylinders in line, tilted forwards 15°, fitted with anti-vibration countershaft
Bore x stroke: 88 x 62 mm
Engine Displacement: 1130 cc
Cooling system: liquid, served by two electrofans
Oil cooling system: with water-oil heat exchanger
Distribution: chain driven double head cam shaft with 4 valves per cylinder
Lubrication: wet sump
Max power/rpm: 92 kW at 9000 rpm
Max torque/rpm: 115 Nm at 6250 rpm
Carburation: electronic injection with 1 injector per cylinder
Ignition: single coil inductive discharge electronic ignition
Clutch: wet clutch
Gearbox: 6-speed extractable
Transmission: straight toothed primary gear, chain driven secondary

Frame: mixed solution. Front: ASD steel tube trellis, fastened to boxed rear section, aluminium alloy castings. Subframe: aluminium die-case
Suspension:
front: Marzocchi 50 mm diameter “upside down” fork
rear: ASD steel tube trellis swingarm with Extreme Technology single shock absorber with adjustable extension and spring pre-load

Wheels: in gravity moulded aluminium alloy front 3.5”, rear 6.00”
Tyres: Tubeless, radial;
Front 120/70 x 17”
Rear 180/55 x 17”

Brakes: Brembo;
Front: twin floating disk, 320 mm diameter, with 4 piston caliper;
rear: single disk, with twin piston caliper

Dimensions:
wheelbase: 1514 mm
seat height: 810 mm
Dry weight: 205 kg

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