Hmmm… the Benelli 300’s VIN plate says Made in China, but if it said Italy you could just as easily believe it: Check the nice welds on that red trellis frame, respect the braided steel lines leading to the dual front discs which are clamped by calipers that look like Brembos. Behold an instrument panel and switchgear that wouldn’t look at all out of place on any Japanese motorcycle. The stylish pointy footpegs look like something from an MV Agusta, and both shift and brake lever tips are eccentric-mounted adjustable. Eyeballing it, this is the nicest Chinese bike we’ve seen – by a long shot. Heck, it even has a cute little switchblade-style ignition key.
And why not? According to Mel Harris at SSR Motorsports (who was a VP at American Suzuki for 27.5 years), Benelli motorcycles and scooters are engineered and designed in Italy, then produced in China by QJ(Qianjiang Group), which has been the owner of Benelli since 2005. Benelli, if you believe Wikipedia, is Italy’s oldest motorcycle company, established in 1911. SSR is the U.S. importer, a 2002 startup that began with pit bikes and keeps branching out; SSR HQ is in Norwalk, California. (Correction: the TnT300 is the nicest Chinese bike we’ve seen since the Razzkull 125 we played with last week – also an SSR product.)
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