I can recommend it to those who wanted the Yamaha “SR400”! Classic air-cooled single-cylinder Benelli “Imperiale 400”

The “Imperiale 400” from the Italian brand “Benelli”, which was unveiled at the ” Tokyo Motorcycle Show 2022 ” and attracted a lot of attention. I remember that the car body equipped with an air-cooled single-cylinder engine was put together in an orthodox design to the details, and many motorcycle fans checked every detail. In fact, it has remained very popular since its launch in June 2022, and the first rod is already sold out. It is said that the reservation for the next rod is also quite full. I tried a test drive on such an Imperiale 400.
Classic looks of Italian roots
The Imperiale 400 is a new model that pays homage to the famous “Imperiales” released in collaboration with Benelli and Motobi (a manufacturer founded independently of Benelli) in the 1950s. The 374cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine is mounted on an orthodox steel pipe double cradle frame to create a classical atmosphere. Speaking of the classical single-cylinder model, many people will think of the Yamaha “SR400” , which was unfortunately discontinued in 2021 . In fact, the SR400 was the number one machine in the 400cc class in 2021. And second place is Honda “GB350” which appeared as a new model in 2021 and also equipped with an air-cooled single cylinder engine . It is interesting that the simple air-cooled single-cylinder model occupies the first and second place among the machines equipped with the latest electronic control and powerful engine.
However, some people may be wondering if the currently sold GB350 will replace the discontinued SR400. The GB350 is also a very attractive machine, but because it uses cast wheels, it is a little different from the SR400 in terms of its classical atmosphere. In that respect, the Imperiale 400 is equipped with spoke wheels and the details are classically designed, so it will be a concern for bike fans who want a machine like the SR400.
Even if you look at other parts, you can feel the commitment. The seat is a separate type that divides the tandem seat used in European cars in the 1950s and 1960s. It is elaborate, such as having a spring on the back. Lights do not use LEDs, and the classical atmosphere is emphasized, and unless you are familiar with motorcycles, you would not think that the Imperiale 400 appeared in 2022. Even so, the rear is equipped with a pipe that prevents it from getting caught in the wheel when the side bag is attached, and usability is also taken into consideration.

Reproduce the classical ride with modern technology
What kind of ride is the Imperiale 400, which has been selected with classical parts in every detail and has a look that does not seem to be a modern motorcycle? I drove on the highway and winding from the city and tasted its performance and feeling.
The riding position is quite upright, with a stretched back. The handle is in a position where the grip is just where you reach out from there. Compared to modern bikes, the steps are slightly overhanging, and the rubber for knee grips just hits your knees. The visibility is good and you can relax in the city or touring, but at high speeds, the wind is likely to hit your upper body.

The cell type engine start is a design that is easier for people who are not confident in their physical strength compared to the kick type of Yamaha “SR400” which is close to the character. Some riders may want a “ritual” to start, but the benefits of being able to ride casually are great. Then, when the engine is started, a lively exhaust sound with a pulse feeling reaches the ears. However, surprisingly no vibration is transmitted to the seat or grip on which you are sitting. Unlike the old single cylinder that was a set with vibration, the Imperiale 400 makes you feel that it is a modern design.

There is no unpleasant vibration even if you start running with the clutch engaged, but the attractive parts of the single cylinder engine, such as the pulsating feeling of the engine and the traction that the tires kick the ground, are left properly. With a displacement of 374cc, there was torque from low speeds, and I didn’t feel powerless not only in the city but also in winding.
It’s hard to say that it’s powerful on the highway, but it’s necessary and sufficient because you may not feel like flying too much in the riding position where your upper body is raised. When you twist the accelerator a little, the pickup is unexpectedly sharp, and the tachometer needle jumps up to 7,000 rpm where the red zone starts. This area seems to be an Italian brand that does not like to run slowly at low revs.

And when I run the winding, it’s surprisingly rude, but it’s a lot of fun to drive on the road where the corners continue. The handling is stable like a 19-inch front wheel and an 18-inch rear wheel, but there is no feeling of waiting for the direction to change, and you can bend more compactly than you imagined. Compared to modern sports bikes, it has a smaller bank angle and is not a machine that attacks corners, but the feeling of turning with the bike by taking advantage of its straightforward handling is indispensable for operating the bike.

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