Benelli Imperiale 400

Benelli Imperiale 400 Review (Baujahr 2024)

The cheap Italo retro classic for only 4,199 euros

Benelli Imperiale 400Photos:
The Benelli Imperiale 400 is an affordable retro bike that was developed in Italy and manufactured in China. For only 4,199 euros, you get a single-cylinder consistently trimmed for classicism, which seems to come straight out of the sixties. We have taken a close look at the Benelli Imperiale 400.

More retro is hardly possible

There are many alleged retro bikes. But many of these bikes don't really look retro. Be it a BMW R nineT or a Yamaha XSR - great machines, but retro?? The Benelli Imperiale 400 is different: It is really trimmed from A to Z for classic and therefore looks the same.
It starts with the double-loop tubular frame and goes over the separate seat, the teardrop tank with knee pads, the peashooter exhaust, the analogue instruments and the round headlight to the wire-spoke rims. We also find stereo shock absorbers, lots of chrome and a free-standing horn - wonderful. Only one "retro feature" has been strangely forgotten by Benelli: bellows! But you can get them anyway. In any case, you really don't have to worry about stylistic inconsistencies with this machine.
FarbenChoice of colours: silver or black - both very chic. Bellows should be retrofitted ...
Dimensions and seat test
The wind of classical music also blows during the seat test. The Imperiale is neither big nor small, the handlebars neither wide nor narrow, you sit neither high nor low. Everything tends to be in the middle, which also applies to the weight and wheelbase. You sit completely upright and quite defined thanks to the solo saddle. Sliding back and forth is not possible, unlike with the pillion passenger - he has a surprising amount of space and finds cable-attached, official grab handles made of chrome. Actually, this machine would be wonderfully suitable for long tours with two people in terms of space, but the manageable power and the pretty firm suspension at the rear stand in the way, but more on that later...

That's what it's like to sit on the Benelli Imperiale 400.


360 degree tour of the Benelli Imperiale 400

CockpitBeleuchtung vorneBeleuchtung hinten

Technology of the Benelli Imperiale 400

The technical equipment of the Imperiale is classically thin. At least there is an ABS on both wheels, otherwise no technical bells and whistles, which have no place on such a machine!

We look at a beautiful cockpit with two analogue clocks and a few control lights, like in the old days. In addition, there is - as modern - a gear indicator and a display for the fuel level. Of course, that didn't exist in the past, but Benelli can be forgiven for giving the Imperial these modern achievements. But it doesn't hurt the retro look of the cockpit, so it's okay.

It then becomes strictly classic again when it comes to lighting. Of course, there is no LED, light bulbs and H4 lights dominate the picture. We find the fist-thick turn signals and the chrome surrounds of all lights that are available on all sides really chic.

Peashooter AuspuffThat's a rear silencer. And it sounds good too!

This is how it sounds and how it drives

We also find the Peashooter rear silencer made of stainless steel super chic. And best of all, it not only looks strong, it also sounds great. The sound (soundcheck top right) is typical for a single-cylinder: Herllich pötterig and a bit out of round, the Imperiale rumbles around in the area. We forgot to look at the vehicle registration document for the registered stationary noise, but the machine will not have more than 95 dbA. So it sounds good, but not too loud.
The next look is at the engine. The single-cylinder is of course air-cooled and therefore has the cooling fins typical of motorcycles in the past - including crackling noises when stationary after the ride. The engine has an overhead camshaft and produces a manageable 21 hp and 29 Newton meters of torque. Sounds like little and is also little and that's also like it used to be.
21 hp and 29 Nm from 374 cc. Racing engines look different.
Even while driving, the engine turns out to be not exactly temperamental. But who cares? If you choose this machine, you definitely don't want to ride fast, but enjoy the ride in peace and quiet - and that's exactly what happens more or less automatically on the Benelli Imperiale 400. So the low performance doesn't really bother you. It only becomes problematic as soon as a truck is to be overtaken. In pairs and with luggage, you shouldn't even think about it.
Everything else about the Imperiale is also intended for the quiet ride. The chassis is quite firm and especially at the rear, the short suspension travel when crossing bumps is quite clear. Or to put it another way: The Imperial acknowledges potholes with a strong blow to the back.
The brakes are also not exactly dimensioned for riding on the race. At the front there is a single disc with a two-piston floating caliper. With a ready-to-ride weight of 205 kilograms, no new braking distance record values are to be expected. But even that doesn't interest the driver very much, because if you ride chilled (which you like to do on the Imperiale), you don't need Brembo stylemas.
Bremsen vorne
Single disc front with 2 piston floating calipers. Brakes okay, but needs some manual force.
Otherwise, the Benelli Imperiale 400 is quite good-natured in terms of driving. The 5-speed gearbox shifts precisely and gives good feedback. There is no windbreak, but hopefully no one will come up with the idea of installing a windshield here! The view to the rear in the beautiful chrome rear-view mirrors is good, you can see about 2/3 of the mirror surface the traffic behind. The tyre type used is a classic version from Maxxis. There are certainly better tires, but here too, what the heck, are tires and also look good because they are classic. Who cares about the grip in the wet on a machine with 21 hp??
Benelli gives a two-year warranty on the Imperiale 400. Since hardly anything can break on this bike (there's nothing to it), the risk of buying it at this price is more than manageable. In addition, the machine is so solidly built, just look at the footrest system in the style of "heavy agricultural machinery" or the metal fenders! In this respect, too, the Benelli Imperiale 400 reminds us very much of Royal Enfield's retro bikes, e.g. the Classic 350.



That's how beautiful retro bikes can look. But not only look, but also feel. This credo applies to the Benelli Imperiale 400 from A to Z, because the developers in Pesaro/Italy apparently took a very close look at how the old Benelli Imperiale looked in the 60s. Only Royal Enfield can do this so consistently trimmed to classic, apart from the Kawa W800.

The performance of the Imperiale is of course very manageable, you should be aware of that. If you get involved, you get the total deceleration of a lovingly designed machine that you could also put in your living room. At this price, one or the other potential buyer should also think about buying it as a second bike. Probably no one will regret that, especially for the evening round or the trip to the ice cream man the Imperiale is ideal - and you are guaranteed to be asked on site how old the machine is and who has already restored it!

Price/availability/colours/years of manufacture

  • Price: 4.199€
  • Used (3 years old): 2.800€
  • Availability: since 2021
  • Colors: Black, Silver

Zubehör für die
Imperiale 400

  • Moneta
  • Polo
  • Amazon

Pro & Kontra

  • consistent classic look
  • Simplest operation
  • Wire rims at no extra charge
  • nice peashooter exhaust with corresponding sound
  • favourable price
  • Manageable performance
  • somewhat clunky footrest system
  • mediocre brake
Von unserem Team geprüft:




2,170 mm
1,120 mm
205 kg
Ab. Weight
395 kg
800 mm
1,440 mm

Driving Performance & Range

Tank contents
12 l
3.1 l
387 km
120 km/h

Motor & Power Transmission

Engine design
Single cylinder, 4-stroke
Number of cylinders
374 cc
72.7 mm
90 mm
21.1 hp
29 NM
Number of gears

Suspension & Brakes

Double-loop steel tube frame
Suspension front
conventional telescopic fork Ø 41 mm, not adjustable
121 mm
Strut rear
Double shock absorber, spring preload adjustable
92 mm
Suspension rear
Box Two-Sided Swingarm Steel
Brakes in front
Single disc, 2 piston calipers
300 mm
Tyres at the front
100/90 - 19
Brakes rear
Single disc, 1-piston brake caliper
Rear tyres
130/80 - 18