We lent our Tractionator equipped Benelli Lenocino to Rex from Himalayan Heroes last week with one request, we wanted an honest review and some cool photos. Enjoy😆
“It was the annual Perth Café Racer Tiddler ride for bikes with a capacity no larger than 500cc and as my tiddler was in the shop getting a makeover, I asked Ric if I could “test ride” a bike from the showroom floor. He offered me the Honda Dream 50cc which is the ultimate tiddler with a weight of 70kg and a tyre shredding 7hp at 13500rpm. I was up for the challenge but when I arrived to pick the bike up for the day, plans had changed. I was given the Benelli Leoncino that had stupidly fat knobby tyres fitted. Was Ric trying to kill me? Everybody knows that knobbies on a street bike is a death wish; even Shaun9lives – a Bike Exif commenter said, “knobby tires = pure posing or utter disaster”.
I jumped on the little Lion Cub, which is what Leoncino loosely translates to and slowly took off, mentally prepared to slide off under a bus at the next corner. Approaching the onramp, I calibrated my internal protractor and nervously lent it over 12 degrees. I didn’t die so I opened the 500cc parallel twin up and gave it the berries. With a slight modification to the exhaust, the bark from the pipes was a much sweeter sound than when it passed through a converted cat. The punch down low was surprising. It certainly felt faster than the quoted 47hp and 170kg stat sheet. Maybe the exhaust mods had released a few ponies or maybe as my mate Marcus said, the sound of a decent exhaust adds 5hp to one’s butt dyno. I quickly accelerated up to 140kmh before slowing to 100kmh and then back up to 140kmh as I imagined myself a character from Road Rash, darting in and out of traffic. Like Suzy, a Durex condoms reviewer said, “I couldn’t feel the knobs”. The bike felt totally smooth on the road as the tacho climbed in a straight line without any hiccups all the way to the redline. I was having fun and I wasn’t dying.
We met the other riders who were on an eclectic mix of small capacity bikes (and a few ring ins) such as a Royal Enfield Classic 500, GB400, CB400f, TX500 and a two-stroke single cylinder ag bike that struggled with the 5kmh headwind. We took off towards the hills and the fuel light started flashing which was weird as it still had 3 bars. It seems that if you go around corners or accelerate hard, the fuel sensor has a little freak out. I refuelled just in case and headed for the “rollercoaster” which should really be a road race course. Although I found the steering a little slow even with the wide bars, it was still easy to flick left and right through the rolling hills. With standard tyres instead of the fat 130 knobby tyre on the front, it would have carved the hills up quicker than George Colambaris could dodgy his books. With confidence growing in the grip, I started to play and as I leant further, my smile grew wider. I was smitten within the first 5 minutes, but I was really starting to fall for this bike after a couple of hours on it. A couple of missed up changes early in the day had been forgotten as the gear lever action was now hard wired and I felt I could do no wrong. All I needed now was to go hunting for power rangers on sports bikes to see what the bike could really do.
As we approached the traffic lights and said goodbye to the last of the tiddlers, an MT09 and some indistinguishable sports bike being ridden by a the most rotund leather clad power ranger I’ve ever seen were in front of us. It was time to play. This wasn’t going to be a fair fight, the MT09 has twice the torque, 150% more power, it weighed the same as the little lion cub and of course it had “proper” tyres. The sportsbike, although handicapped by the power ranger who looked like he’d eaten the forbidden 3 course meal chewing gum that Violet Beauregarde selfishly but bravely ate in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie, had even more ridiculous stats. It was Napolean Dynamite versus Andre the Giant and Butterbean. It was going to be a knockout at the first corner but hopefully not Jorge Lorenzo style. The lights turn green and the Thruxton I’m next too is at full throttle trying to keep up, the MT09 rider’s go fast PSB hoodie flapping in the wind in front is taunting me. Speeds pick up but we’re not doing anything stupid so it’s easy to stick with them. Approaching the roundabout, which is the start of the twisties, the bikes in front get serious but they can’t use their power advantage and the knobbies are proving to be stickier than inquisitive fingers at a teenager’s party. I start to move my arse off the seat on the corners, but I don’t really need to. As we head past the weir up the hill, the big bikes start to move, and I need to keep the corner speed up and use upper end of the rev range to stay with them. They were having fun but they weren’t maniacs so I could keep them in my sights on the straights and catch up on the corners.
It’s hard to take it easy on this bike, it just wants you ride it fast. It makes you feel like you’re a much better rider than you are, egging you to lean further, get on the gas earlier, brake later. The Leoncino will commute if you want it to, but the little lion cub really wants to party. If you’re looking for a fun bike, this bike hands it out in spades. “