Agile, good looking and easy enough for a beginner to throw its weight around, Leoncino 250 is a compact fun package.
This little Benelli can steal some eyes, I can tell you that for sure. Looking like a true Italian adorning the Lion of Pesaro on its front mudguard Leoncino 250 is for the left-field experimentalists amongst you. As an idea it is something producing a modest amount of power, scrambling character and game all the time. But also it sits in a bracket brimming with characterful motorcycles who all hold a candle of their own. Leoncino 250 still qualifies as the ‘exotic’ amongst them all.
Its good looks are perhaps the strongest parameter that made me develop a liking for it. The full-LED light headlight has a nice and bright semi-oval DRL outline. The oval shape itself lends is a unique face. Paint schemes are smartly laid out too, with an excellent white thrown in. And it has the most colour options available in the segment, red, white, grey and brown, as should be for its good looks. It has a short slim body with a compact saddle and upright seating position.
The nicest thing I liked about the entire package is the attention to detail. Everything from the panels to paint finishes, alloy wheels with those petal style ventilated disc brakes, the ‘jack-knife’ key and the big chunky inverted forks, etc look and fit well indeed. The exhaust can too is great to behold and has been finished properly. Even the foot pegs have been sculpted to make them part of the design package. Yes this is one good looking scrambler. But the instrument panel, dear God, is just plain damn boring. And I’m going to stop talking about it now.
Engine and Performance
All that grandeur is circles around a 249cc liquid-cooled single cylinder engine. It makes a decent 25.44bhp of maximum power and 21Nm peak torque at a high 8,000rpm. Pair that with a 6-speed gearbox and nearly get a sub-10sec 0-100kmph sprint. Good thing is that the power delivery is very predictable and linear making it ideal for first-time riders. You crack open the throttle and the power arrives giving you ample time to prepare for it.
Gearbox too is not the slickest around, but you’ll need lesser gearshifts for sure. It’s very tractable in nature and demands less inputs from the rider. So, it carries everything from its bigger sibling, Leoncino 500, but not the parallel twin setup for the engine. I understand that is for cost saving purposes of course, but I would urge Benelli to give it the brakes it deserves. The feel from the lever is not effective on any parameter except for relying on the ABS completely and start abusing it. Vibrations too can be a cause for concern if you like pushing your machine mid-to-high levels.
Ride and Handling
It’s an Italian machine, right, so they had to get this right. And they did! The handling is a mix of quick directional changes but not firm enough to break your back. And the rubber choice is superb, with Metzeler Sportec M5s performing duties. I’ve developed a special liking for good quality tyres on regular motorcycles, and these Metzelers are one of the best balance in business. They also help improve the braking performance from the ok-ish brake setup. Another good bit is that it holds its lines true when you push it across fast corners. The steel trellis chassis and the upside-down fork up front helps keep it stable while riding hard. The handlebar is wide so you get more aid while tackling slow speeds. You can just about use it every day and occasional leisure riding both. It does not like rough unpaved surfaces though so keep it on tarmac at all times.
Oo dear! I really like this bike in isolation. Surely it cannot hold a candle to my trusty age-old Ninja 250R, but it is exotic enough to make me fall for its likable character. But the pricing puts it in the direct line of fire of very aggressive and meaner competition. KTMs 390 Duke is a killer, Honda’s CB300R is another piece of quality and the Royal Enfield’s Interceptor has giant muscles. And the cheaper crop of Suzuki’s Gixxer 250, KTM’s 250 Duke and Bajaj’s Dominar 400 perform just as well for cheaper. Leoncino 250 is a great looking agile scrambler which can be used every day in the city. Its looks and rarity alone can win some favours. Look at it this way, Batman does not have any superpowers, but he can swirl the entire Justice League on his fingertips.
Ride Safe, Ride Hard, and always wear a helmet while riding. Stay Tuned for more from the world of motorcycling.