Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.
Back in March we revealed that Chinese firm Benda is planning to launch a new four-cylinder power-cruiser and now we’ve got the first pictures of the machine courtesy of the company’s design patent filings.
It’s an interesting machine and the designs show some innovative styling; while the overall stance might have overtones of Ducati XDiavel in the stance and proportions, it’s by no means a rip-off.
Most notably, the bike features Benda’s own four-cylinder engine, making it only the second inline four to emerge from a Chinese company after Qianjiang’s Benelli-designed 600cc unit.
The bike’s codename – BD700 – suggests the motor’s capacity is around 700cc, although parts of the Chinese press have suggested the bike is nearer 750cc.
As we noted in April, the engine design is very similar to Honda’s CB650 four. Back then we’d only seen raw castings of the cylinder block, which looked very much like a straight copy of the Honda design. The new design images show that while the engine’s bottom end is much the same as the CB650’s – all the bolt patterns and engine mounts look identical – the cylinder head is quite different.
There’s no indication that there’s anything untoward about the similarity between the Benda and Honda engines. It’s quite possible that Benda has bought rights to the design, that its version is different enough to be considered a completely new engine or the elements that are similar aren’t covered by Honda’s intellectual property rights.
In terms of styling, there’s plenty to take in here. The profile is XDiavel-esque, with most of the visual mass towards the front, forward-mounted foot pegs and wide bars allied to a slim, low seat that ends well short of the back of the rear wheel. However, the Benda’s frame is either aluminium or a steel design with faux-alloy covers, giving a very different style to the Ducati’s trellis design. There’s also no single-sided swingarm – instead the Benda has a very long, aluminium dual-sider – and of course the inline-four engine is miles away from the XDiavel’s V-twin in appearance.
The Benda’s headlight and exhaust are both notable styling features in their own right. The light appears to use a small, projector-style LED in the centre, sunk into a turbine-style outer section that gives a distinctive look. Meanwhile, the exhaust system is all packaged under the engine, with a four rectangular outlets on the right hand side of a single, shared collector box, reflecting the engine’s inline-four layout.
On Benda’s early teaser image (below), the exhaust downpipes were clearly visible, but we can now see that those pictures lacked the radiator of the final design, which hides them from view.
In terms of other tech, we can see that the BD700 features upside-down forks and radial four-pot calipers at the front, and the ABS sensor ring on the brake discs is clear to see. A small flat-screen instrument display is incorporated into the handlebar clamps, rather like the Diavel’s dashboard – a solution that skirts the need for clocks further forward that might spoil the bike’s low-slung side profile.
At the back, the final drive is via chain to a massively-wide rear tyre. Given the engine’s likely performance – somewhere in the region of 100hp seems reasonable – that rubber is overkill in practical terms but it’s essential to the bike’s proportions.
While we haven’t heard whether Benda plans to export the new machine, it appears to represent another step forward for the Chinese motorcycle industry.