70 years after the Benelli Leoncino 125 was first rolled out of a factory in Italy, the latest version arrived from China at a budget price but retained its fantastic Italian styling. It certainly looks the part but is it any good? We had the chance to test the bike in various settings and find out what this budget motorcycle can do. Let's talk about it!
Styling | Designed in Italy, Made in China
The latest Benelli Leoncino is still designed in Italy and it really shows. The visuals on this 125 are fantastic, really nailing the neo-retro vibe that has been all the rage in recent years. Benelli has done a great job maintaining the same Italian street bike style the larger models have and in my opinion, at this price it is one of the best-looking bikes out there.
Despite the perfect Italian styling, as I mentioned before, the Leoncino is actually built in China and that shows too. While Chinese bikes are without a doubt making great strides forward in quality, they still can't quite match the performance of their European and Japanese counterparts.
The Leoncino is using a brand new 125cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine to meet Euro 5 regulations. It has a maximum of 12.8hp @9500rpm and 10Nm torque @8500rpm, so the performance is still respectable, just 2hp short of the maximum CBT allowance.
Acceleration on the Benelli Leoncino is surprisingly good at the low end, reaching 30-40mph nicely and swiftly. After that, it does take a bit of time to reach its top speeds but with a bit of patience, I was able to reach 71mph on the dual carriageway, so commuting in and out of town is possible.
Benelli Leoncino 125 Top Speed
The Benelli Leoncino 125 can reach a top speed of approximately 71mph.
Brakes and Suspension
For the brakes, we have a single 280mm disc with a 3-piston caliper on the front and a single 220mm disc on the rear. The Leoncino uses a combined braking system instead of ABS, hence the 3 pistons. Meaning that when you apply the rear brake it automatically applies a bit of the front brake, while the front brake functions independently as normal.
The front brake itself is excellent, the lever feels lovely and light and can be squeezed in with just a couple of fingers and the bike will respond nicely and bring you to a swift and smooth halt. The rear brake also feels great in terms of its stopping power however, one of my criticisms of this model is in its soft foot levers. The brake feels like it has a little bit too much travel time, having to be pushed in a few cm before the brake will even engage. As I said, once it does engage it feels good, I just would have liked it to engage faster with less travel time on the lever.
For the suspension, we have an upside-down 35mm fork on the front and a mono-shock on the rear. Despite being a budget model, the suspension was actually one of the high points here and feels excellent. I personally like a suspension to be on the firmer side and the Leoncino gets it just right. It feels nice and firm on the tarmac but still with enough give in it to absorb any of the lumps and bumps of Norfolk's back roads without delivering any nasty clangs or bumps. Impressive.
Technology, Dash and Switchgear
As you would expect from a brand-new motorcycle at this price point, the tech features are extremely basic. The dash is something that will divide opinions, I can see some people liking its simplicity and unique design from a style perspective. For me, I feel it is a little bit basic even for a budget model. It does have all the info you need, however, with a nice clear speedo, trip meters, fuel gauge, and gear indicator.
The switch gear is worth noting for its surprisingly high quality. Even some of the more premium models can have flimsy feeling switchgear, but the Leoncino's feels robust and well positioned.
Fuel Tank and MPG
The Benelli Leoncino 125 has a 12.5 litre fuel tank and its amazing economy is perhaps its stand-out feature, especially when combined with the budget price point. I wasn't particularly riding it economically, pushing it to test acceleration and top speeds, and yet after filling up the tank, it took 70 miles before I had lost a bar on the fuel gauge. I reckon you are looking at around 200 miles on a tank and combined with the £3,599 price tag, that is an extremely affordable commuter.
Seat Height and Riding Position
In terms of comfort, while the seat is a very accessible 795mm, it is a little on the hard side. I found after a few hours in the saddle I was suffering from a minor arseache.
The Leoncino also has a very unique riding position, with its pegs set quite far back, almost like a sport bike but with the bars and seat set to keep you in an upright stance. While I appreciate Benelli wanted to create something different, again it isn't the most comfortable feeling setup.
With a 155kg wet weight, it is fairly light for a Chinese model too although again for comparison, an MT125 is 10kg lighter with the 2 extra horses. But you won't get one of those for three and a half grand...
Benelli Leoncino 125 Price
At the time of writing, you can pick yourself up a brand new Benelli Leoncino 125 for £3,599.
Final Thoughts on the Benelli Leoncino 125
Now for perhaps the most important part, how does it actually feel to ride? Well, generally the Leoncino feels good, although it isn't without its problems.
My main criticism comes with its somewhat finicky gearbox. I mentioned earlier the foot levers have a bit too much give in them before engaging and that is most evident with the gear lever. You have to lift it a fair amount before it will engage, which when combined with the large roll distance of the throttle, leads to an exaggerated riding motion that isn't the most comfortable to use. It also means it is very easy to hit accidental neutrals when passing through 1st to 2nd gear.
Once upon a time those kinds of issues were completely normal on a 125 and I wouldn't even have mentioned it but in recent years, even on the Chinese models, these kinds of issues have been getting ironed out and make the Leoncino feel a little bit outdated in that regard. Still, if this is your first bike, you will just be getting a more traditional 125 experience. If you have become used to the more polished feel of modern 125 bikes then you will notice the difference.
Overall, the Benelli Leoncino 125 certainly isn't the most refined or the fastest ride in the category. It feels a little bit dated in places and a little rough around the edges. However, it is still well worth considering thanks to its affordable price, amazing fuel economy, and outstanding Italian visuals.
- Beautiful Italian styling
- Smooth suspension setup
- Agile handling
- Excellent fuel economy
- Bargain starting price
- Not the most comfortable ride
- Gearbox is a little finicky
- Not quite as fast as the premium models
The Last Stop!
So there you have it! I hope you have enjoyed my full road test review of the new Benelli Leoncino 125.
Lastly, if you have your very own Benelli Leoncino 125 you need to insure, or perhaps another motorcycle - make sure to get a motorcycle insurance quote direct with Lexham!
Benelli Leoncino 125 Specification (2022-onwards)
|Engine||125cc, Single cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled|
|Brakes||Front: Single disks ø280 mm with floating 3 pistons calliper (CBS)
Rear: Single disc ø220 mm with floating calliper 2 pistons (CBS)
|Suspension||Front: Ø35 mm Upside-Down forks
Rear: Rear swing arm with central shock absorber
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