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2023 Benelli Leoncino 800 Ride Review

Is the Leoncino 800 as good as it looks? We spent a few weeks with the bike to find out

Side view of the 2023 Benelli Leoncino 800
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Benelli is a name steeped in motorcycle history going back to 1911 when a mother bought a workshop for her six sons. I love the history of this company and when I had the opportunity to have one of their bikes on loan, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

Review Summary

  • With a weight of 222 kg I found this bike to be a little bit top heavy.
  • At $8,841 USD / $11,913 CAD / £6,999, you are getting a lot of bike for your money from a long established manufacturer.
  • 5” TFT screen which is clear and easy to read.
  • Benelli is a Chinese owned company and the bikes are built in China but the R&D is carried out in Italy which I think shows through in the design and feel of the bike.
  • No modes, no traction control etc., it’s just you and the bike.
  • There are three color options: steel gray, terrain brown and forest green but it would be nice to see some brighter colors or liveries on the bikes.

Specifications At A Glance

  • Weight: 222 kg
  • Seat height: 805 mm
  • 754cc, liquid cooled, four-stroke, twin cylinder engine
  • Power: 76.2 HP (56 kW) at 8500 rpm
  • Torque: 67 Nm (6.8 kgm) at 6500 rpm
  • 6 speed
  • LED lights front and rear and daytime running light
  • Three color options: steel gray, terrain brown and forest green
  • 5’ TFT display
  • For some European markets there is a 35 kW version available (A2 license compliant)
  • 15 liter fuel tank
  • Price: $8,841 USD / $11,913 CAD / £6,999

About Benelli

In 1911 Teresa Benelli, who was widowed, invested her capital to establish a service workshop for her six sons in order to provide stable jobs for them. Some spare parts for cars and motorcycles were also made but it was not until 1919 that the first engine was made – a two stroke 75cc which was incorporated into a bicycle frame.

In 1921 came the first Benelli motorcycle, a Velomotore which was a 98cc two stroke available in two models, the Touring and Sport (125cc) followed by a 147cc version in 1923 which Tonino Benelli started to win races with. In 1926 a 175cc 4 stroke engined bike was produced with numerous wins by Tonino who was the Italian Champion in 1927, 1927, 1930 and 1931.

In 1932 Benelli expanded with the purchase of a sawmill which was to be their new factory with two new racing bikes produced in 1934 – a 250cc twin cam and a 500. With the outbreak of the war, the company was forced to produce only military motorcycles but the Second World War destroyed the factory. The company was left with a pile of rubble and empty sheds.

Thank you to MotoGB for the loan of the Benelli Leoncino 800.

Rear view of the 2023 Benelli Leoncino 800

I love the styling of the Leoncino, it reminds me of a Scrambler from another Italian motorcycle company!

The Benelli brothers proved industrious and once they had retrieved machinery and equipment, they started to convert about 1000 military motorcycles left in the battlefields by the allies into bikes for civilian use.

In 1947 racing activities were resumed and in 1948 Benelli hired the motorcycle racer Dario Ambrosini who would go on to be very successful. On October 14th the Benelli brothers announced the decision to continue producing motorcycles and the company went from strength to strength.

Interestingly for the bike I have been reviewing, the Leoncino first appeared in 1951 when Benelli won the first ‘Motogiro d’Italia’ in 1953 with the racer Tartarini.

Lion logo on the front fender

The Lion in its prominent place on the front mudguard

In 1972 the company was bought by Alejandro De Tomaso and in 1989, the owner of the Biesse group, Giancarlo Selci, bought Benelli. In 1995 the Merloni Group of Fabriano purchased the majority stake of the company and then in December 2005 Benelli became part of the group Q.J. Qianjiang is a corporation located in Wenling where 14,000 people produce more than 1,200,000 vehicles and two million engines per year in a super modern factory as large as a city.

Today the Benelli motorcycles of tomorrow are still developed in Pesaro, Italy and I think this is evident in the styling of their bikes.

First Impressions

I have seen in the media a lot of reviews about bikes that are made in China, some positive and many not so, and was keen to find out for myself just what they are like.

The Leoncino arrived and when I first sat on the bike and was taken by just how nice the bike felt. Immediately it screamed that it did not feel like a bike that cost just $8,800. I was impressed by the quality of the bike and spent a little while just looking around.

I love the little lion on the front mudguard which looks as though it is standing proudly at the helm of the bike. The lion appears on the rest of the Leoncino range too.

I was even more eager now to get out for a ride.

The color suits the bike, looks way better than the photos do it justice

I had the bike in the middle of winter so the riding conditions were not the best to start with, there was a lot of salt on the roads, icy patches and it was cold.

As there are no modes on this bike as in rain, road, sport etc. the 5” TFT screen is easy to use and is very clear to read.

I love the sound of the twin engine, I mean who doesn’t love the sound of a twin! Although the Leoncino does sound nice, I would have to change the end can – the standard one is not particularly attractive and it is certainly not loud enough (for me anyway 😜)

Closeup of the exhaust on 2023 Benelli Leoncino 800

The end can on the exhaust needs to be more stylish although the branding on the standard one is a nice touch.


The engine in the Leoncino is an line 2 cylinders, 4-stroke, liquid cooled 754 cc engine with 4 valves per cylinder, double overhead camshaft DOHC giving you 56,0 kW (76,2 Cv) @ 8500 rpm of power and 67 Nm (6,8 kgm) @ 6500 rpm of torque.

2023 Benelli Leoncino 800 engine casing

The 2 cylinders, 4-stroke, liquid cooled 754 cc engine

What that means is, the engine sounds fruity and for a 76 bhp bike, it doesn’t half go well and it sounds great whilst it is doing it.

Even though the road conditions on my first ride meant I had to take it easy, I could feel how good the bike felt and I knew it had lots more to give. I just needed a crisp sunny winter’s day to find out.


The frame is a brand new tubular trellis with steel plates and the rear swing arm has a central shock absorber with spring preload and rebound damping.

The front upside down forks have 50 mm diameter legs with 130 mm travel of the front suspension which I found offered good stability and comfort.

There are twin brake discs on the front with a four-piston radial-mount caliper, and one on the rear with a double piston caliper.

2023 Benelli Leoncino 800 front wheel and caliper

The twin brakes on the front with the Benelli brand evident on the caliper

The Leoncino weighs in at 222 kg and although this is not necessarily heavy, I did think it felt a little top heavy which was noticeable when moving the bike around. Having said that, because of the weight, it does feel planted and stable in the corners.

The seat height of 805 mm meant for me, at 5′ 6”, that my feet were nicely planted on the ground thus giving me traction for moving in and out of the garage.

I really like the seating position of the Leoncino, it is fairly upright and it feels as though you are sitting on the bike rather than in it, but the bars are nice and wide making for a comfortable ride.

I felt the suspension was good, and handled the bumps in our roads nicely, it certainly made for a smooth ride.

2023 Benelli Leoncino 800 suspension

The distinctive yellow suspension

I really liked the way Leoncino made me feel when riding the twisties, it certainly felt happy in the corners and stuck to the roads nicely. Riding the bike seemed smooth and effortless and just left me with a grin on my face.

The engine braking was good. I tend to come off the throttle first before changing down the gears when slowing up and I felt the engine did a lot of the braking for me although when needed, especially in a tight situation, the brakes were very responsive and did what they needed to very well!

TFT Display

The 5” TFT screen is clear and easy to read. There is not too much on display which is good so when glancing down when riding, it is easy to see what you need to see.

There is your speed, gear you are in, revs, clock, fuel gauge, temperature gauge and trip meter. The Leoncino does not have modes, as in rain, road, sport etc., which is one thing that endears me to this bike. I prefer a bike with no modes, it’s just you and the bike.

Speedometer on the TFT display

When you first switch the ignition on, a lion runs across the screen followed by the Benelli logo with ‘Pure passion since 1911’ underneath. It is the little touches to the bike which shows that thought has gone into the design of the bike.

Lion display on the TFT screen

The lion ‘running’ across the screen when switching on the ignition


The tires on the Leoncino are Pirelli MT60 RS which are described as knobbly tires for road enthusiasts.

I was skeptical about these tires when the bike arrived as they look like they are designed for going off road and I had the bike in the middle of winter on cold, damp, mucky (from the salt) roads.

2023 Benelli Leoncino 800 exhaust

The rear Pirelli MT60 RS tires

Pirelli describes these tires as: ‘Pure adrenaline for on or off road. High-performance radial equipment upgrading the road performance of knobbly tyres’.

The knobbly choice of road enthusiasts with:

  • Specific radial carcass to ensure excellent handling
  • Tread pattern optimized for use also on wet surfaces
  • Special Superbike racing compound capable of maximizing grip and road holding for a pleasant riding sensation

I was impressed with these tires. They performed well in the road conditions that they were faced with. On damp, wet, cold roads the tires stuck to the roads very nicely, I did not have any ‘moments’ when the tires went away from me.


I like the way the Leoncino handles with the MT 60’s, they certainly gave me the confidence I crave from a tire.

LED Lights

All the lights are LED on the Leoncino. The headlight is a single oblong shape with “Leoncino Benelli’ in the center. The daytime running light runs around the top half of the light and does look rather cool.

Front view of the 2023 Benelli Leoncino 800

The front view does look good

The lights offer good visibility and the main beam at night has a wide expanse to it so it lights up the side of the road nicely.

LED headlight on the 2023 Benelli Leoncino 800

The rear light sits just below the seat and is an unusual shape but fits the bike nicely. The rear indicators also look good. Both sets of lights illuminate well.

LED taillights on the 2023 Benelli Leoncino 800

The rear light nicely housed under the seat

So, What is the Benelli Leoncino 800 like to Ride?

Way, way better than I thought it would be. Having heard all sorts of stories about ‘Chinese’ bikes and their quality, I was super impressed with the Leoncino.

This bike exceeded my expectations. The Leoncino feels like a nice bike even just when sitting on it, it does not feel like a bike that costs $8,841.

2023 Benelli Leoncino 800

The style and design of the Leoncino reminds me of a Scrambler of another Italian branded motorcycle company. Indeed, the bike was mistaken for this a number of times.

I really like the styling and the riding position is very comfortable. The attention to the little details with the Benelli or Leoncino brand and the little lion in its prominent place on the front mudguard add to the appeal of this bike.

When parked up the Leoncino garnered a lot of interest. Some were enthused by the styling and quality of the bike and a lot reminisced about Benelli, past and present. It was lovely to hear stories of fond memories from a motorcycle company steeped in so much history.

The seat height at 805 mm was perfect for me at 5’6”, my feet were nicely planted on the ground.

I did, however, find the weight of the Leoncino a little on the heavy side, not when riding but just moving it about. There were definitely a few grunts when getting the bike out of the garage! My other half who is taller and heavier than me did not have such an issue with the weight.

2023 Benelli Leoncino 800

Thought has gone into the design and housing of the seat

With 76 horses of power, the bike pressed on well and handled so nicely in the corners, it felt stable and planted. I could always feel myself grinning at the end of a twisty road because of how the bike made me feel and performed.

One thing I did have an issue with were the brake and clutch levers. Both of these are adjustable and were on their closest setting but even then I could about just reach the levers. I didn’t think my fingers were short. I would have to change these.

Closeup of the right handlebar controls

The brake and clutch levers, although adjustable, are made for very long fingers!

A tail tidy would have to be put on also. I think the rear end would look so much nicer tidied up and would enhance the look of the rear brake.

Although I didn’t particularly notice any wind blast when riding, a screen or front fairing would finish the front end nicely.

2023 Benelli Leoncino 800

A tail tidy is a definite must!

I like the Leoncino. This is a very nicely put together bike and you are getting an awful lot of bike for your pennies. The Leoncino certainly endeared itself to me and I am sure it will to you too.

2023 Benelli Leoncino 800 Video Review


  • The R&D of Benelli’s is done in Pesaro, Italy and I think this shows through in the design of the bike, it looks modern and stylish but with a nod to the history of Benelli
  • Seat height of 805 mm which for those of us of a shorter disposition is good, my feet were firmly planted on the ground giving me good traction when moving the bike
  • No riding modes which is how I like my bikes, it is just you and the bike when riding.
  • The 5” tft color screen is clear to read and easy to read especially when glancing down when riding
  • Three color options – steel gray, terrain brown and forest green


  • With a weight of 222 kg I found this bike to be a little bit top heavy
  • A front screen or small fairing would tidy the front end up as too would a tail tidy be good for the rear!
  • For a modern exhaust this does not look as bad as some on new bikes but I would have to change this and it definitely needs to be louder pipe to enhance the lovely sound of the twin engine

2023 Benelli Leoncino 800 Image Gallery